|Heavyweight (Per 10/13)|
|1.||Semmy Schilt (?)|
|7.||Mirko Cro Cop|
|Light HW (per 10/13)|
|Middleweight (per 11/25)|
|Welterweight (per 10/13)|
|70kg (Per 11/25)|
|2.||Robin van Roosmalen|
|65kg (per 10/6)|
Last week we talked about the much discussed Strikeforce Heavyweight tournament and why fans of K-1 and kickboxing should have some interest in these events, even if they don't care at all about Fedor Emelianenko. Well, Strikeforce is not the only MMA game in the US to feature notable K-1 veterans, as the UFC has a handful of fights on tap worth a look. At the moment, the UFC has 3 former K-1 heavyweights on contract (a 4th, Antoni Hardonk, quietly retired last summer with little notice), and all 3 have fights scheduled in the coming weeks. Let's take a look at what's next for our former kickboxing names, and take a quick look at their chances:
MIRKO CROCOP vs. Brendan Schaub, UFC 128: Shogun vs. Evans, March 19 - Without a doubt, Mirko CroCop Filipovic remains the gold standard by which to judge any K-1 fighter looking to make the transition to MMA. After leaving K-1 behind in 2003, CroCop was dominant in MMA, terrorizing Pride with his brutal head kicks. But in recent years, that dominance has looked more and more like a thing of the distant past. He's had a lackluster 4-4 run in the UFC, and is coming in off a dull loss to Frank Mir where the former K-1 GP finalist was KO'd by jiu jitsu fighter Mir. There were flashes of the old CroCop in his fight with Pat Barry, but those flashes are increasingly rare. Schaub is a young fighter and relatively new to the UFC, but is currently on a 3 fight win streak. His last win was a career best victory for him, as he defeated Gabriel Gonzaga - the man who famously CroCop'd CroCop in what was the beginning of the end for the Croatian's career. No doubt at all I'll be rooting for CroCop here, but Schaub is young, hungry, and a deceptively tough challenge.
MARK HUNT vs. Chris Tuchscherer, UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch, February 27 - Like CroCop, Mark Hunt traded in K-1 success for a strong run in Pride. And like CroCop, he's recently fallen on hard times in the ring. The 2001 K-1 Grand Prix champion is on a dreadful 7 fight combined losing streak in MMA and K-1, and has not won a fight since retiring Tsuyoshi Kohsaka back in May 2006. Recent fights have seen the once unstoppable Hunt KO'd by Melvin Manhoef and repeatedly submitted, seemingly with ease. This show takes place in Australia, and maybe this will be a good opportunity for Hunt to take part in his final fight, as he just doesn't seem to have the drive any more. His opponent, Chris Tuchscherer is a training partner to Brock Lesnar, and has yet to show much of note in the UFC, but I still find it hard to pick Hunt over him. Despite Hunt's recent troubles, I'm still glad to see him in the UFC, and it's particularly satisfying that with this fight and Overeem vs. Werdum in Strikeforce, MMA fans will see two of the K-1 Grand Prix champions in action next month.
PAT BARRY vs. Joey Beltran, UFC: Fight for the Troops 2, January 22 - The least K-1 experienced fighter of the bunch, Barry is also the youngest and the one with the most potential for a future MMA career. While CroCop and Hunt are winding down their decorated careers, the 31 year old Barry seems to be just getting started. Barry competed in a handful of K-1 events from 2005-2007, with his biggest wins coming against Gary Goodridge and Rickard Nordstrand. A former Ernesto Hoost trainee, Barry has now been in the UFC for just over two years. His last fight was a good match with CroCop, where the young kickboxer seemed a bit star-struck and allowed himself to be awed by Mirko's legend before being choked out. Previous to that fight, he showed good skills against Antoni Hardonk, proving that he is a worthy prospect. He faces the unfortunately nicknamed "Mexicutioner" Joey Beltran, best known for wrecking the much anticipated UFC debut of Rolles Gracie at UFC 109. Beltran is a lot like Barry - another tough young fighter looking to move up, making this a good, even match. In the end I think it will be Barry's stand-up skills that earn him the win, although his 7 month layoff could make him rusty.
Add in Alistair Overeem, Ray Sefo, and Sergei Kharitonov in Strikeforce and that's 6 current or former K-1 fighters competing in major American MMA promotions in the upcoming months. Definitely should be some exciting fights to watch.Add a comment
Here's a show announcement that kind of snuck up out of nowhere - this weekend in Madrid, Spain will be a regional K-1 MAX show. The show is being put on by K-1 MAX Madrid, and will feature a traditional 8 man tournament. These kind of regional events are not out of the ordinary for K-1, who brand many smaller, local shows as K-1 shows. While these shows are affiliated with K-1, they are typically not a part of the official K-1 season - meaning don't expect mention of this event on the K-1 website, or for the tournament winner to automatically enter the GP Final 16.
The biggest name in the tournament is definitely Warren Stevelmans. A K-1 MAX veteran who won the MAX 2008 Netherlands tournament, Stevelmans has been in there with the division's very best, including Andy Souwer, Giorgio Petrosyan, and Albert Kraus among many others. He fights often, and almost always against tough competition, so his record only stands at 4-5 in the last 2 years, but those loses all come against tough opposition. I would consider him the favorite in this field.
Stevelmans's toughest challenger here is likely Rachid Belaini, who comes in off a huge win over the top 25 ranked Khem Sitsonpeenong at It's Showtime in September. If Belaini can keep that momentum going, he can definitely win this event and use that victory as the start of a big 2011.
Also in the tournament are WBC champion Alex Asumu; Hassan Ait Bassou, a good fighter making the move up to 70kg from his normal 63kg weight; Jonay Risco; Manzy Pauwels, a Muay Thai fighter who won a similar regional tournament in 2009; Rafa Del Toro; and Rafi Zohueir, a Muay Thai fighter who was slated to represent Spain on the ill-fated The Contender Asia Season 2.Add a comment
Another year and what we can expect is another year of K-1 Grand Prix tournaments. Nothing is set in stone yet, as FEG is currently amidst a restructuring and planning period for a better part of the month, but if they decide to run the standard Grad Prix tournaments this year, there could be a lot of interest going into each one.
This one will hold the most interest for Western fans, and rightfully so. In 2010 we saw the "sure bet" of a Semmy Schilt victory derailed at the skilled hands of Peter Aerts in what might very well be his last K-1 World Grand Prix tournament. To say that Aerts went out on his shield is an understatement, Peter Aerts is Mr. K-1 and will always be remembered for his World Grand Prix runs, and his last run to the finals will be remembered fondly.
The big story going into the 2011 World Grand Prix will be the return of Badr Hari. We've received confirmation from Mike's Gym that Badr Hari is indeed back in training and will be ready to compete this year, and after making the finals two years in a row an taking 2010 off, Hari will be poised to take the Grand Prix by storm, and it very well could be his year, finally.
We'll also see Semmy Schilt return with a vengeance, with no Peter Aerts to foil him, his only big obstacles would be Badr Hari or the returning champion, Alistair Overeem. With all of the media hype Overeem has been receiving, look for him to return to K-1 and defend his title, unless this Strikeforce Heavyweight GP gets in the way.
There will be other names involved as well, with Peter Aerts possibly not involved there would be an open slot for a new fighter to make the Final 8, but expect strong showings from Tyrone Spong, Gokhan Saki, Kyotaro and Daniel Ghita. All four of these fighters could very easily find themselves the king of the K-1 mountain in short order. Also expect Ewerton Teixeira, Errol Zimmerman, Jaideep Singh, Hesdy Gerges and Jerome Le Banner to make their way into the Final 16. If JLB can keep his temper in check, I fully expect him to make the Final 8 and give the World Grand Prix a run to remember.
There could be a number of other entrants into the Heavyweight field, with Ben Edwards, Ray Sefo, Raul Catinas and Mighty Mo all be solid additions.Add a comment
Results are in from this weekend's Krush First Champion Tournament Round 2 show, and while the favorites did win in the big fights, things didn't go as smoothly as some may have expected.
In the main event, Yoshihiro Sato squeaked by Shemsi Beqiri via split decision victory. Scores were 30-28, 29-28, 28-29. I have to consider that a moral victory for Beqiri, who was making his Japanese debut here. Going to a split decision with the top 5 ranked Sato in front of a Japanese crowd should be a great boost for the 24 year old Beqiri, and will hopefully open the doors for him to return to Japan this year. Beqiri had an excellent and very busy 2010, going a whopping 10-2 including a tournament win in Klash and a 2nd trip to a Klash tournament final. He definitely has earned a shot at K-1 MAX - let's hope he gets it in 2011.
In the semi-main event, Koya Urabe (pictured) edged out Son Hyun Lee, though it took an extension round for Urabe to claim the unanimous decision win. Urabe is on a great win streak and is clearly establishing himself as the man to beat in Japan at the 63kg ranks. With this win he moves onto the tournament semi-finals, where he will be the heavy favorite. Good performance from Lee as well, who was coming in off his K-1 MAX win over Kizaemon Saiga. Expect to see him on K-1 shows coming out of Korea this year.
Speaking of Kizaemon Saiga, the brash youngster also advanced in the tournament, defeating Naoki Terazaki by unanimous decision. In the other tournament fights, Takuya Shirahama defeated Yuki Yamamoto by unanimous decision after an extension round, and Ryuji Kajiwara scored a unanimous decision win over TaCa. Saiga, Urabe, Shirahama, and Kajiwara will now meet in the semi-final and final rounds, both to be held on March 19, with the winner becoming the first ever Krush 63kg champion.
In non-tournament action, former K-1 MAX Final 4 competitor Yuya Yamamoto added another KO win to his belt. This one came at the expense of Masahiro Watanabe, who Yamamoto KO'd in the 2nd. While Yuya had some struggles in K-1 MAX through 2010, he still puts on very entertaining fights and remains a threat at 70kg.
Also in the 70kg division, Yuji Nashiro decisioned Daisuke Tsutsumi. Both Yamamoto and Nashiro will likely be involved in the Krush 70kg tournament beginning April 30, and both could be early favorites depending on the field.
Filing out the results: Kenta KO'd Hidetora in the 2nd, Yu Hirono defeated Takuma Konishi via unanimous decision, Yoshi KO'd Asamisaurus in the 2nd, and Yuzo Suzuki took a unanimous decision win over Minato Kato.
Next show for Krush is the March 19 event featuring the 55kg, 60kg, and 63kg semi-finals and finals in what should be a superb night of action.Add a comment
2010 Shootboxing S-Cup champion Buakaw Por. Pramuk has just been announced for an upcoming fight. On February 12, the 2 time former K-1 MAX champion will main event the "Nuit des Titans" card held in France. His opponent will be Youssef Adgham-Boughanem, a French-Moroccan Muay Thai fighter. The fight will be under full Muay Thai rules.
Boughanem has good experience, and is coming off a strong 2010 where he made the finals of the Isuzu Thai Fight tournament, ultimately losing to Fabio Pinca. He's definitely not a can, but he is a huge underdog again Buakaw. There's no shame in that as Buakaw is the clear #2 70kg fighter in the world at this point, and is currently riding a nice 6 fight win streak that includes his S-Cup championship run.
Since parting ways with K-1 at the end of 2009, Buakaw has been fighting in various organizations throughout the world. This announcement also comes on the heels of Shootboxing revealing that Buakaw would be featured in their 2011 season. Although it's unfortunate to have him out of K-1, it's nice seeing him compete in these different settings, and particularly great to see him back in Muay Thai competition as we see here. It feels like he has transitioned into a new phase of his career where he faces various regional talents looking to take a shot at the legend. These may not be the most competitive match-ups, but it is fun to see Buakaw do his thing.
Come Feb. 12, Buakaw's 2011 begins. I don't expect Boughanem to provide much of a challenge just yet, so we will see just who can indeed challenge the champ in the new year.Add a comment