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Mark "Fight Shark" Miller Returns to Action May 28th Against Nikolaj Falin

Mark MillerSometimes you work really hard for something and the payoff isn't immediate, other times you just get lucky and are in the right place at the right now. Other times you wait what feels like a lifetime and have to prove yourself and it can drive you mad. If you've been following K-1 religiously for the past 15 years, you'll know the name Mark Miller. No, I don't mean the IFL Middleweight MMA fighter that competed on UFC's The Ultimate Fighter, but instead the Heavyweight kickboxer who participated in a few of the K-1 Las Vegas Grand Prix tournaments at the turn of the century.

If you don't know Miller you are missing out, not only missing out on an incredible story of overcoming the odds and facing a lot of tough competition, you are missing out on an incredible talent and a great guy. Mark is the first fighter to ever stage a comeback after open heart surgery. I'm not kidding you. Check out the trailer to his upcoming documentary about his trials and tribulations as well as his comeback. After his comeback fight it will be a wrap on the film and it'll be released, telling his awesome story to the world.

His opponent is stiff competition in Nikolaj Falin, who many should know as the fighter who competed in the first round of the GLORY World Series against Gokhan Saki. If you saw that fight you know that he is no slouch at all and will absolutely be game competition for the man who was once talking with Kazuyoshi Ishii about being the American face of K-1 with both men in agreement that he was the future for American kickboxing.

This fight goes down May 28th at the Ultimate GLORY World Series final round as a K-1 Heavyweight Superfight. This fight will be huge for Miller and in the world of fighting this is absolutely a first as a fighter returns from open heart surgery and is doing so in tip-top shape.

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It's Showtime Announces New May Show

It's ShowtimeMore news from the ever-busy It's Showtime - this time it's a new show added to their 2011 schedule.  On May 21, the company returns to The Sand in Amsterdam for It's Showtime 48, and there is already a solid partial line-up announced.

In a Heavyweight fight, It's Showtime HW champion and top 10 ranked Hesdy Gerges will face Chris Knowles.  Knowles is a well regarded English Muay Thai stylist.  He was originally set to face Rico Verhoeven for IS late last year, but was forced off the card due to travel difficulties.  He's a good pick up for It's Showtime, and will make a strong addition to their Heavyweight ranks, although he definitely has a tough task ahead of him here.  Gerges will be coming in off his career high win over Daniel Ghita, and will look to continue his rise through the ranks.

The fight that most has my attention is a 70kg bout between Mohamed Khamal and Robin van Roosmalen.  Khamal made the jump up to 70kg last year, and promptly made an impact, winning the K-1 West Europe GP, knocking Artur Kyshenko out of the MAX GP, and putting on one of the best fights of 2010 in his defeat of Mosab Amrani.  He has quickly established himself as both a dynamic fighter, and a real force in the Middleweight division.  van Roosmalen is in almost the exact same position as Khamal was not long ago.  The young fighter is currently on a five fight win streak, including defeats of William Diender and an impressive win over Chahid Oulad el Hadj.  Like Khamal, he is a rising fighter, and is poised to be one of the break out fighters of 2011.  This will be a rematch, as the two men met in the semi-finals of last year's 2010 K-1 MAX West Europe GP - Khamal took that fight via 2nd round KO en route to claiming the tournament crown.  With two exciting, young, hungry fighters, this has all the ingredients to not only steal the show, but be a highlight fight of 2011.

One other fight to note is Anderson "Braddock" Silva vs. Jamal Ben Saddik.  Saddik is the fighter who scored a surprise KO win over Rico Verhoeven at It's Showtime 46 last month.  If he can score back to back win over Verhoeven and Silva, he will have immediately established himself as a serious challenger, and a name to watch.  Silva is a tough challenge though, as he holds some big wins over the likes of Hesdy Gerges and Freddy Kemayo, who he KO'd with a spectacular head kick to close out 2010.

The full line-up announced so far:

HESDY GERGES vs. CHRIS KNOWLES

ROBIN VAN ROOSMALEN vs. MOHAMED KHAMAL

ANDERSON SILVA vs. JAMAL BEN SADDIK

MOHAMED MEDHAR vs. HAFID EL BOUSTATI

AMIR ZEYADA vs. SAHAK PARPARYAN

JASON WILNIS vs. LAURENT ATRIFFI

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Andy Souwer vs. Yoshihiro Sato Set for Shootboxing

Souwer SatoK-1 may be quiet these days, but that doesn't mean the rest of the kickboxing world is just sitting back.  Shootboxing has their 2nd big show of 2011 coming up later this month, and they have just announced quite the main event.  Headlining Shootboxing 2011 act.2 on April 23 will be former multi-time Shootboxing S-Cup and K-1 MAX Grand Prix champion Andy Souwer vs. Yoshihiro Sato.  According to our rankings, that's a clash between the #3 and #5 fighters in the world at 70kg, and no matter how you see it, this is undoubtedly a great fight.

Souwer will come into the fight with a considerably edge in Shootboxing rules; an edge he has used to his advantage before, including his quick submission victory over Hinata last year.  He also has the advantage of already holding a win over Sato - the two men met once before in K-1 MAX in 2007 with Souwer scoring the decision win (video below).  But Sato is an incredibly skilled fighter, and an opponent you can never underestimate.  After a rocky 2008, the Japanese star has regained his footing somewhat, going 9-3 in the last two years.  He will be coming in off an upset loss to Armen Petrosyan, while Souwer has two recent upset loses of his own, to Abraham Roqueni under K-1 rules, and to Toby Imada at Shootboxing's 2010 S-Cup.

I see this being a highly technical affair, with both men using superior skill.  The trouble for Sato is that Souwer may just have a few more skills in his arsenal.  In addition to the experience in Shootboxing's unique rules, Souwer also is skilled at fighting in the clinch - and area that has shown to be a weakness for Sato, as seen most recently in the Armen Petrosyan fight.  As he typically does, Sato will have a reach advantage here, and as always, he'll know how to use it.  I expect he will try to keep on the outside and pick Souwer apart, but Souwer should be able to break through that range, get inside, and cause Sato enough damage to take the win.  This is definitely one of those fights where the old adage of a human chess match will come to life.

This show will serve as a benefit for disaster relief in Japan, with many of the fighters already promising to donate their purses to relief efforts.  Also announced for this card are some of Shootboxing's biggest homegrown names: Girls S-Cup champion RENA, Shootboxing 55kg champion Ryuya Kusakabe (who is also scheduled for Krush on April 30, so may end up dropping out of one or the other), and the popular Hiroaki Suzuki.

Andy Souwer vs. Yoshihiro Sato, K-1 MAX, 2007:

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Training Diary: April 1

It’s all about the little things.

The pivot on your foot. The rotation in your hips. The placement of your hand after the jab. The step through on your punch. The little things.

Last week’s entry led to a great discussion in the comments about these sorts of issues. As a result, they were fresh in my mind this week, and as fate would have it, they were also a big theme of this week’s training. I started the week paired up with a new sparring partner – one who was considerably above me in terms of experience. This ended up being a great thing, as he went out of his way to give me very specific pointers on ways to improve my form – all of which were very helpful and most appreciated.

The only difficulty is – there are just so many little things to remember. Let’s take one combo we worked: a relatively simple jab/cross. Combining instructor Andre’s pointers with my partner’s tips, I ended up with this list of things to watch for:

1. On the jab, snap my hand back up into place after the punch in order to protect my head.

2. Keep my hands a bit off to the side of my head, not right in front as boxers do.

3. On a double jab, don’t bring the first jab back all the way, and step forward as you bring it back so that the second punch has more forward motion.

4. Give a small pivot on the foot to the jab.

5. On the cross, pivot my whole body, especially in the hips.

6. Bring the cross back right away.

I think that’s it for this 3 punch combo, though I’m sure as I get these down there will be more to add to that list.

When I write them out and think about them one by one, each seems simple and easy to execute. But when throwing the combo at anything resembling a decent speed, it becomes much harder. I get in my head and before I know it, I’ve remembered to bring my hand back, but the second jab has come and gone and I forgot the step. Clearly the key is to drill, drill, drill. Put these motions into your muscle memory so that your brain doesn’t need to do the work – your body does it for you. I suspect that will come, and I look forward to it – because right now I can’t possibly imagine adding responding to an opponent’s moves into the mix. And luckily, I don’t have to. For now, I’ll keep my mind on the hips, the pivot, the step, the guard, the... well, the little things.

For those of you who have been training, I’m sure it varies quite a bit from person to person, but when did you notice yourself getting out of your head and letting your body guide these motions more?

And one more highly practical question for the day – best way to wash hand wraps?

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.


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