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How Don Quijote Pulling Event Support Hurts Kickboxing in Japan

(C) SusumuDon Quijote is a clothing company based out of Japan, that through the support of such DQ board members like former professional wrestler and MMA fighter Tadao Yasuda, has supported kakutogi (martial arts) in Japan in various forms. The most obvious form was their support for MMA promoters WVR, who hosted SRC/Sengoku events. Don Quijote was one of the premier supporters for such a promotion, and over the past few weeks the top foreign fighters from SRC have been in mass-exodus mode. Usually, that is not a good thing.

NOB had a translation up from a Japanese publication, and apparently DQ had made up it's mind; it will continue to support martial arts in Japan. The bad news? They might pull support for live events, such as Sengoku events, which if you'll remember correctly, the Sengoku NYE martial arts festival featured a lot of kickboxing bouts on top of MMA fights. This was just a few weeks ago and now at this point, it appears that DQ has officially pulled their support and Sengoku is freaking out, claiming that they are as good as dead.

Apparently, Don Quijote's support of Sengoku was wholly, everything from Sengoku's offices, fighter contracts and event bookings were at the good graces of Don Quijote, thanks to Tadao Yasuda. For Japan, this means that Sengoku, easily the #2 MMA promotion to come out of the ashes of PRIDE is appearing to be going under. On top of that, there is a whole slew of uncertainty behind the future of their top rival, DREAM, which just compounds how crummy of a situation this is (of course, at the time of this article I'm watching the news showing the aftermath of the Japanese Earthquake, rated at 8.8, as well as a possible tsunami) for the Japanese fight industry.

To pull this all together, consider how this also hurts the kickboxing world. At first glance, losing the #2 MMA promotion shouldn't hurt the kickboxing world, but after Sengoku's New Year's Eve event, it was clear that Sengoku was looking to support kakutogi as a whole, including muay thai and kickboxing. Sengoku's martial arts festival was a lot more than MMA and showed promise for a positive impact in the world of fighting.

This was another bigger promotion willing to promote kickboxing who has fallen by the wayside, this isn't a good day for Japan.

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Simon Rutz Believes Hesdy Gerges Will Be Released on Thursday

We've been sitting on some information about Hesdy Gerges recently, where we've spoken to a few people close to the situation and the general thought is that Hesdy Gerges will be released from prison on Thursday and should be able to compete on March 6th against Daniel Ghita. Everyone close to the situation has felt a need to not talk about it as to not possibly interfere with the court proceedings.

Well, Simon Rutz spoke with FightstarTV today and the cat is out of the bag. Simon Rutz believes that Gerges will be released after his hearing on Thursday and maintains his innocence. Rutz speaks about lots of things, including the relationship with K-1 and possible replacements for Gerges. Watch. [source]

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Badr Hari vs. Tony Gregory Official For It's Showtime, May 14 in Lyon, France

The Bad Boy is Back!They say that the news never sleeps, and in that regard, neither do I, apparently. Keeping Dutch hours leads you to find pretty cool stuff in the wee hours of the morning, and it turns out that Badr Hari's return opponent has been announced by It's Showtime, officially, as has the rest of the Lyon card and it is lining up to be absolutely incredible.

The main event features the return of the Bad Boy, Badr Hari! Badr will be coming back after a year layoff due to some nagging legal issues, and his return opponent has been hotly debated for the past few weeks or so. The long-standing rumor was that the fight between Gokhan Saki and Badr Hari that was originally airmarked for the Amsterdam ArenA show would materialize in Lyon, but instead local kickboxer Tony Gregory has been called back into action to fight Badr Hari. This is a great return bout for Badr Hari, as it gives him a chance to hone his skills and gives him a bit of a cushion before heading back into the deep waters. Tony Gregory retired from kickboxing a few years ago to pursue a boxing career, but after disappointing results he finds himself back in the kickboxing mix, this time against one of the most dangerous fighters in the kickboxing world.

Tyrone Spong steps back into the It's Showtime ring, this time at Heavyweight as he'll take on Igor Mihaljevic, a Croatian Heavyweight. Igor provides a stiff challenge at Heavyweight for Spong, who is right now training with King Mo Lawal in Holland. Spong looks to cement his spot as one of the elite Heavyweights in the world by taking the fight to Igor here. Paul Slowinski's jam-packed year doesn't stop just yet, as he will take on the man that is more of a beast, the Romanian Daniel Ghita. Ghita looks to be heading into his fight with Hesdy Gerges in a few weeks, and a fight against Slowinski will provide another challenge, but will Slowinski just be a stepping stone for Ghita?

Then we move down from Heavyweight to Middleweight, as It's Showtime's 70kg MAX division fills out the rest of the card, with two-time K-1 MAX World Grand Prix Champion Giorgio Petrosyan takes on a fighter that last year put on one of the best fights imaginable against Mike Zambidis, Chahid Oulad El Hadj. This is a huge fight for Chahid, and for Petrosyan it is just another day at the office. With It's Showtime planning a 70kg MAX tournament in July and both men rumored to be involved, a win here is huge for momentum.

It's Showtime's 70kg MAX champion defends his crown finally, as Chris Ngimbi looks to ward off Willy Borrell. Ngimbi's title win has been disputed by some fans, so a strong performance by Ngimbi can help solidify his spot in It's Showtime this year and help build momentum for the MAX tournament in Russia this July. Rounding out the card is Abder Penda facing off against Marat Grigorian at 70kg, with both men looking to leave a big impression on the international kickboxing scene.

I'll say this, It's Showtime hasn't disappointed yet and keeps marching forward for what looks to be a banner year. I know many fans are upset with the lack of K-1, but It's Showtime is really churning out the big cards. [source]

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Upcoming Australian Shows

Evolution 23If you don't watch anything from the Australian kickboxing/Muay Thai scene, you are sadly missing out on some great action.  There are a number of great promotions running in Australia, and the shows consistently deliver top end fights with a combination of veterans like Paul Slowinski and John Wayne Parr, along with hot prospects like Thor Hoopman and recent K-1 star Ben Edwards.  It's a very busy scene, with multiple upcoming shows; here are four shows definitely worth a look:

Feb. 26 - Knees of Fury 32: This show is all about the main event, which is a great battle of old guard vs. new.  On one side is Paul Slowinski, who for years has been the top Australian representative to the international Heavyweight kickboxing scene.  He faces the young Thor Hoopman, a John Wayne Parr trainee who is on the cusp of big things.  Hoopman defeated Slowinski via decision in late 2009, and will look to score the 2nd victory here.  Hoopman is still developing, and is not yet perfectly consistent, but I have high hopes for his future, and would love to see him get another good win here.  The rest of the card includes: Kym Johnson vs Wes Capper; Myles Simpson vs Flip Street; Martin Olczak vs Jye Demmrich; Charlie Chau vs Hiki Hanui; Tenille May vs Sarah O'Connell; Steve Behan vs Cameran Murcott; and Tom Boyle vs Jun Lee.

April 2 - Kings of Kombat 3: More from the busy Slowinski, as this time he takes on the legend Peter Graham.  This is a sort of battle of generations, as Graham was one of K-1's main Australian representatives through the early 2000's, winning a number of big fights, including a defeat of Badr Hari, until he saw that spot taken by Slowinski in the middle part of the decade.  These two have met twice before, splitting the battles 1-1.  While neither man is at his peak any more, this will still be a battle that Australian fans are excited about, and it should be close.  Both men have had recent successes, including an MMA victory over Aleksander Emelianenko for Graham.  The semi main event is also a big fight, as reigning K-1 Oceania champion Ben Edwards faces the former K-1 Vegas champ Carter Williams, who continues to try and make a comeback after a lengthy absence from the ring. Also signed is Jordan Tai vs. Steve Moxon and Atal Kakar vs. Supi Lanumata.

April 9 - Evolution 23: In this crowded scene, Evolution is leads the way.  They put on shows featuring full Muay Thai rules that spotlight both local fighters along with some names from Thailand.  Their 23rd show is coming up, and the main event is a good one, as longtime Aussie veteran Bruce "The Preacher" Macfie faces Frank Giorgi.  This is a rematch from Evolution 22 where Giorgi scored the somewhat surprising win over Macfie, who at the time was riding high off a win over John Wayne Parr.  The other fight I'm really looking forward to is Michael Thompson vs. Flip Street.  Thompson is one of my favorite younger talents in this scene, and this is a good fight for him.  Also on the card: Leonard Sitpholek vs. Danny Derdowski; Dane Daddy Cool vs. Serrachino; and Eli Madigan vs. Jason Scerri.

May 27 - Payback Time 3: Finally, the first fight in John Wayne Parr's 2011 retirement tour sees him main event here against his longtime rival Mike Zambidis.  Zambidis is coming off his resurgent 2010 that saw him win the fight of the year against Chahid in K-1 MAX, while Parr has announced that 2011 will be his last year as a fighter. These two men are 1-1 against each other, with their fights held up as some of the greatest in the history of the Australian scene.  With Parr's career coming to and end, Zambidis on the comeback trail, and both men looking to definitively win the series, this could be the Fight of the Year.

For more on these shows and the entire Australian scene, check out International Kickboxer magazine.

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