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The Return of ProElite: Looking at the Rise of Strikeforce as a Model to Reach For

ProElite~

The new ProElite is beginning to turn its gears and is looking for an August or September launch to whatever their new vision is. ProElite is the company that was known in the past for its main subsidiary, EliteXC that ran live fights on CBS and Showtime Sports before ProElite filed for bankruptcy. The concept behind ProElite was confusing at best, as they seemed to simply be a public company (first off -- bad idea for a new company) that had capital behind it to go out and purchase smaller organizations to bring them all under one roof.

The main problem with ProElite was that EliteXC was always the only show in town and those in charge of ProElite were not in the mindset of slow, steady growth as much as making an immediate splash on the MMA world and competing with UFC right off the bat. Fans watched as EliteXC did their best to compete with UFC, while at the same time a San Jose kickboxing promotion was putting on their own series of MMA cards that had people talking.

Strikeforce took a much different approach to the Mixed Martial Arts world, as Scott Coker at the helm had a lot of experience with the martial arts world as the former head of K-1’s USA operations before Mike Kogan as well as promoting Strikeforce as a kickboxing promotion in the Northern California region. Coker knew what to expect in Northern California, knew what would bring fans to the arena and how to organize these events.

Strikeforce for a long time was the little engine that could, the promotion that was in the background; they did well but they never stepped on any toes or overreached their boundaries. Dana White even had a grudging respect for Coker and would never talk bad about him. The Strikeforce formula was unique for MMA; the undercards were entirely taken from the local scene, with local up-and-comers who would fight for cheap and even help with the event (ticket sales, set up/tear down of the ring, etc.). The main card was full of fighters who were a little bit more established names but could still not command a king’s ransom to be booked, guys like Joe Riggs, Bobby Southworth, Clay Guida, Tyson Griffin, etc. You might know a lot of these names from the UFC, but their UFC tenure was either over or had yet to begin.

Continue Reading to read about how they built on weak divisions and made stars.

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Yohan Lidon vs. Akihiro Gono, August 7 in Tokyo

yohanlidon

Thai Fight Extreme's Tokyo event on August 7 is set and It's Showtime 73MAX World Champion Yohan Lidon will take on MMA veteran Akihiro Gono at -75kg.

After many years fighting MMA, Gono recently switched his focus to pure striking this year. Gono started off his kickboxing career, jumping straight into the deep end, dropping a decision to Yuya Yamamoto. Gono then went straight into Thai rules, winning a 4 man tournament to qualify as the Japanese representative in the -70kg Thai Fight final tournament later this year. Once again, Gono will go straight into the deep end again when he takes on a high level fighter in Yohan Lidon.

Yohan Lidon recently won the It's Showtime 73MAX World Title, topping Marat Grigorian in a tough 5 round bout. Lidon returned to action just a month later, getting a 5 round devision over Kongjak Sor Tuantong, a fighter who had previously stopped Lidon in Thailand. Lidon is riding a 3 fight win streak and Gono will be a notable step down in competition.

Lidon really shouldn't have much trouble here, as Gono is quite inexperienced and hasn't fought anywhere near the competition of Lidon.

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-70kg Tournament July 16 in Spain plus Stevelmans, Zeben Diaz, Chabrani, Chahbari in Action

Real-Fighters
On July 16 in Malaga, Spain the Spanish promotion Real Fighters will put on a one night 4-man -70kg tournament along with many big names in super fights for their card at the Polideportivo Carrangue de Malaga. The four fighters in action will battle it out for the Real Fighters -70kg Title. Featured in the tournament are It's Showtime veteran Rachid Belaini, Fran Palenzuela, Jonay Risco and Javier Maiz. The quarter final match ups are set up as follows:

Quarter Final Match Up #1:

Rachid Belaini vs. Jonay Risco

Quarter Final Match Up #2:

Fran Palenzuela vs. Javier Maiz

Belaini has recently fought in Spain at the K-1 MAX Madrid 2011 tournament, losing in the first round to Nick Beljaards by TKO. Fran Palenzuela is coming off a KO loss to Yodsaenklai Fairtex on June 18 and Jonay Risco is coming off a decision loss to Naruepol Fairtex on the same card.

In the super fight portion of the card, many familiar names are on hand. Here's what fights we've got:

-70kg: Zeben Diaz vs. Warren Stevelmans

-72kg: Bruno Carvalho vs. Faldir Chahbari

-73kg: Khalid Chabrani vs. Emad Kadyear

If you saw It's Showtime Madrid this past weekend, you probably saw Zeben Diaz showcase his skills as he dominated Yavuz Kayabasi. Not many knew of Diaz before the bout and now he's taking on another name in the veteran Warren Stevelmans. Faldir Chahbari is coming off a win in April over Anthony Kane and face the man from Portugal, Bruno Carvalho. Khalid Chabrani recently defeated Errol Koning in May and faces Emad Kadyear who is coming off a stoppage win at It's Showtime Madrid this past weekend.

All in all, a solid card. Keep your eye out for more here on Liverkick.com


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61-63kg in Kickboxing: What Will It Emerge As?

javierhernandez

Recently, the weight range of -61kg to -63kg in kickboxing has started to catch on with fans. It's Showtime has had two title fights, crowning two different champions so far this year in the -61kg division. This upcoming Saturday, June 25 plays host to the K-1 World MAX 2011 -63kg Japan Tournament Final. K-1 introduced their -63kg weight class last year and it definitely didn't disappoint. Last year's -63kg Japan Tournament didn't get as much attention, mostly due to the delay, not being shown until a few weeks later. This year, you have the option to watch live on Youtube.

With K-1's absence this year, their -63kg Japan Tournament event has garnered more attention, as some fans are starving for K-1 action. Memories of last year's spectacular -63kg series in K-1 are also contributing to the hype. While it may not be the typical faces we see in K-1 like Badr Hari, Andy Souwer, Peter Aerts and the like, kickboxing fans are being exposed to more fighters, and all in all a somewhat "new" division that casuals haven't seen before. It's Showtime has showcased their -61kg division just this past Saturday with an amazing fight between then champ Karim Bennoui and present champ Javier Hernandez. It's Showtime still doesn't generate the same interest as K-1 yet, due to the brand name alone though. K-1's foray into the -63kg division is what will look to showcase this weight class to casuals and hardcores alike.

The division has massive potential. K-1 has started off their -63kg division using only Japanese fighters. Recently, K-1 posted open applications to -63kg fighters from around the world. With these open applications for worldwide -63kg fighters, you have to think that K-1 has further plans for the division, that go beyond just Japan Tournaments with only Japanese fighters. Already, with only Japanese participants we have a wide array of personalities from the brash Kizaemon Saiga to the no nonsense Tetsuya Yamato. K-1 adding fighters from around the globe in this division would not only diversify it but also attract more fans.

Little is known about the weight range between -61kg to -63kg to most. It's Showtime has had three champions in the weight class, them being Sergio Wielzen, Karim Bennoui and Javier Hernandez in order. Each fighter was relatively unheard of to the masses until they became champions in It's Showtime. The same can be said for K-1's -63kg fighters. Most of them also compete in Krush. Here's where a little problem arises for the time being. With K-1 using only Japanese fighters at the moment, and mostly the same ones, how can we compare them to the fighters in It's Showtime's -61kg division? How would we determine who the best is? K-1 and It's Showtime divisions here are apart by 2kg (Approx. 4.5lbs). Is that too big of a gap for these fighters to ever compete against each other? It'll be interesting to see the approach that K-1 takes with their "applications" for -63kg fighters around the world, especially if there ends up being an overlap between K-1 and It's Showtime. It's Showtime venturing into Japan and recruiting talent from the soon-to-be established It's Showtime Japan will only spice things up a bit.

In the end, what will emerge of this weight range in kickboxing is the question. Will K-1 build up their fighters in this division and successfuly incorporate talent from around the world, much like they do in the -70kg MAX or Heavyweight division? What's next for It's Showtime's -61kg division? This all remains to be seen.

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