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Robin van Roosmalen, Hicham El Gaoui Return + Chahbari vs. Grigorian on Feb. 26

Some of the top names in Dutch kickboxing will be stepping into the ring on February 26 in Den Bosch. Recent breakout fighter Robin van Roosmalen, Faldir Chahbari, Harut Grigorian and Hicham El Gaoui are among some of the names on the card.

Robin van Roosmalen will be taking on the gritty vetran from Mike's Gym, Rachid Belaini. Belaini didn't have a great 2011, losing four of his five fights and he's getting up there in age (36). Robin has emerged as a top fighter at 70kg after his win at the It's Showtime Fast & Furious 70MAX tournament and will look to continue on a roll, just about a month after he fights Murat Direkci for It's Showtime on January 28.

Another great match-up on the card is between Faldir Chahbari and Harut Grigorian. Grigorian is probably most known by the trouble he gave Andy Souwer early on in their fight, before losing in an extra round. Chahbari only fought three times last year, winning all three, but not over the best competition. Chahbari may be getting a bit old and he may be past his prime, but he's still a very difficult fight for anyone.

Other match-ups include our #3 ranked fighter at Light Heavyweight, Hicham el Gaoui taking on Masoud Rahimi. Solid 85kg fighter Hakan Aksoy faces Said el Bouanani and the man who beat Rico Verhoeven in early 2011, Jamal Ben Saddik, returns to face Clyde van Dams. And Bob Sapp is also on the card...Full fight card after the break:


More on the Giorgio Petrosyan/It's Showtime Situation

The big news came out the other day that Giorgio Petrosyan had terminated his management contract which kept him linked to It's Showtime and would now simply be working with his original manager, Carlo Di Blasi. LiverKick has spoken with both Di Blasi and officials at It's Showtime about the matter in an attempt to clarify exactly what is going on with Petrosyan and this management situation.

I feel like there is a need for some backstory to get a clearer picture if you are not well-versed in the current atmosphere in Kickboxing. As we all know, K-1 had an extremely rough 2011 while It's Showtime had an active year that involved running many successful shows as well as a successful 70kg tournament. A Korean investor, known simply as "Mr. Kim" came into the equation later on in the year, looking to purchase K-1 and strike up a working relationship with Rutz's It's Showtime organization. This is why when the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 was being organized, most of the fighters were under contract to It's Showtime or affiliated companies. The official word that we got from Simon Rutz on this matter is that It's Showtime is not looking to buy a part of K-1, but are more than willing to help anyone who does invest in K-1, as the Kickboxing market is a difficult one right now.


Nieky Holzken Returns on February 12

After going 5-1 in 2011, Nieky Holzken will return to the ring on February 12 in Eindhoven for his first fight of 2012. Holzken will be defending his WFCA -76.2 world title.

His opponent will be Grega Smole, a fighter from Slovenia. Little is known about Smole, and he somewhat seems like a last resort opponent, after talks to acquire other opponents like Faldir Chahbari and Khalid Bourdif didn't pan out. Smole fought in a one night, four man tournament in Germany in October on October 15, winning his quarter final match-up against Deniz Ilbay before losing to Frenchman Patrick Djanand in the final. There's not much out there on Smole. Here's a video of the win he picked up on October 15.

Also on the card, long time Dutch veteran Marco Pique takes on the familiar name from It's Showtime, Mohammed Medhar. Medhar didn't do too well in 2011, losing three fights so he'll look to rebound but it won't be easy against the much more experienced and bigger Pique. Pique went 4-2 in 2011, with the losses being to Nieky Holzken and Naruepol Fairtex.

Ali Cenik and Rodney Glunder round out the card's most notable match-ups. Cenik is still trying to break out as one of the better fighters at -95kg. A draw against Zabit Samedov in May raised some eyebrows, but he went on to lose to Sebastian Ciobanu in October. Glunder is a long time veteran at 37 years old, last losing to Loren Javier Jorge and Fred Sikking in October.


Krush.15 Preview: Hirotaka Urabe vs Naoki Ishikawa -60kg Title Fight

Krush kicks of 2012 tomorrow with Krush.15 headlined by a pair of title fights. 55kg champ Shota Takiya defends his title in a rematch against ISKA World Bantamweight champion Nobuchika Terado and 60kg champ Hirotaka Urabe defends his title against former AJKF Super Featherweight champion Naoki Ishikawa. This post will break down the latter matchup and see how these fighters match up.

Hirotaka Urabe (c): 11-5-1 (5 KO) // 22 years old // 169 cm(5'6")

Naoki Ishikawa: 33-18-4 (18 KO) // 32 years old // 176 cm(5'9")

Hirotaka Urabe is one of the many products of the K-1 Koshien system that have found success in Krush. Though he did not have the success of his brother in the Koshien system, he has found success in his post-Koshien career. Heading into his first fight with Ishikawa, Urabe was a pedestrian 7-5, but his upset win vaulted him to his current 6-fight win streak which saw him knock out Kyoken Yuji Takeuchi to capture the Krush 60kg title. Ishikawa was a long-time All Japan Kickboxing Federation fighter who was one of the many fighters from AJKF who had a rough year or two after the promotion's demise. Heading into their first fight, Ishikawa had lost 3 of his last 4 and was struggling to adapt to fighting under K-1 rules. Since their fight Ishikawa is 2-1, though all 3 of his fights have come under a ruleset that allowed clinching and elbows. After his last fight, Ishikawa stated he wanted to fight the winner of the Krush Supernova Tournament and retire following the fight, but Ishikawa has not stated whether this will be his last fight. Should he lose, I expect him to consider it more than if he wins.

Urabe, much like his brother, possesses excellent boxing which he couples with good head movement, good footwork and flashy head kicks and knees. He throws in combination extremely well, as he did in finishing Yuji Takeuchi. He puts together his boxing with powerful head kicks very well. Defensively, Urabe is one of the more sound fighters in the division, using footwork and head movement to move in and out of range, taking little damage. His weaknesses come out when his opponent stays at distance and picks him apart with kicks, which Masaaki Noiri was able to do successfully in a close fight. Urabe also has trouble controlling his emotions sometimes as he allowed young Mike's Gym fighter Maik Redan to get into his head at the beginning of their fight and it caused Urabe to focus on other things and he got hit for his troubles. Ishikawa's biggest weapons will be completely useless in this fight because he excels in the clinch and with elbows, both of which are not allowed under Krush rules. With his best weapons unavailable, Ishikawa's best offense is in his kicks. Should he keep Urabe at range and tenderize his legs and body, Ishikawa can win the fight. His weaknesses are his lack of boxing defense. Coupled with his not so great chin, Urabe could end the fight with a nicely put together combination.

Urabe's key to victory is coming forward and pressuring Ishikawa with combinations, using his head movement to avoid any of Ishikawa's boxing. While I don't believe he possesses the same boxing prowess of his brother, he has very good hands and I feel as though he has more power than his brother. Like their first fight, hurting Ishikawa and roughing him up will allow Urabe to get a decision or stoppage victory. Ishikawa's key to victory is staying at range and keeping Urabe from landing combinations with sharp leg and body kicks. If Ishikawa can tenderize Urabe he can cruise to a decision victory or he could soften Urabe up for a flying knee.

My pick for this fight is Hirotaka Urabe. At some point, he will land in combination and Ishikawa will not be able to stay standing. Ishikawa has been resilient even in his later years so I don't think Urabe will finish him, but it will be more one-sided than their first fight.

Fight videos of both fighters after the break


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