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The Voice: "Inside a Real Kumite"

KumiteAsk any Jean Claude Van Damme fan about the toughest event in martial arts and they can name it - The 100 man Kumite.  Made famous by Van Damme in Bloodsport, this legendary and near mythical event is, contrary to what you may believe, real.  One challenger faces 100 opponents in succession, each bout lasting 90 seconds.  Over the years, there have been spotty stories about Kumites, but it's often been hard to sort the legend from the truth.  Until now.

In 2009, K-1 commentator Michael "The Voice" Schiavello had the honor of witnessing a Kumite.  The challenger was Armenian Artur Hovhannisyan.  The 100 opponents included K-1 legends Glaube Feitosa and Francisco Filho.  Schiavello has now written an article on the event that is absolutely required reading.  A small sample:

IN A GYM ON THE FOURTH FLOOR OF ICHIGEKI PLAZA IN TOKYO, Artur Hovhannisyan stands by a full-length window and looks down upon the streets of Ebisu though his thoughts are miles away. His white gi is pristine and a black belt adorns his waist with three gold bars on the tip (one for each dan ranking). With his shaved head and clean appearance, the 33-year-old Armenian could pass as a banker or an accountant. Indeed it’s not until you see his calloused knuckles and stare into the black abyss of his eyes that you realize who you’re really standing face-to-face with.

“It’s time,” says a voice from across the room.

“Osu!” grunts Hovhannisyan. He slams his fist into his palm, lets out a loud breath and is led out of the gym by two officials with all the solemnity of wardens leading a death-row inmate to the chair.  Hovhannisyan enters the tiny Honbu (headquarters) dojo and the wooden door slides shut behind him. The eerie thud of a Taiko drum renders the room silent. As he gazes around the dojo his eyes widen; only now does he truly comprehend the gravity of what lies ahead. On the floor sit one hundred black and brown belts, legs crossed, perfectly postured. They’re bare knuckled and hungry, like a pack of jackals ready to rip Hovhannisyan apart at the limbs.

The entire article is available on the HDNet blog - click here.

Seriously folks, I can not stress this enough - you MUST read this.  Drop whatever you're doing, click the link, read it.

Highlights of Hovhannisyan's Kumite, including footage of him facing Feitosa and Filho below.

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New It's Showtime Fights for March 6

Leroy KaestnerSome interesting updates to the It's Showtime Amsterdam card on March 6:

In an undercard bout, the #22 ranked Leroy Kaestner (pictured) faces Ramzi Tamaditi. Kaestner is a young fighter training under Peter Aerts, and is looking to move up the ranks. He's had a number of big fights, including wins over Gago Drago last year, and Marco Pique in the K-1 MAX Europe GP 2009, but he's not yet been able to put together a string of wins that really pushes him up to the next level. Still, at just 22 years old and only 5 years as a pro, he has time to develop, and remains one of the young fighters to watch. His last fight was a loss to Armen Petrosyan in December.

Ramzi "The Professor" Tamaditi is a lesser known fighter, though he has received some accolades, and is well regarded as an unknown prospect. He defeated Imro Main on an It's Showtime card last year, and has done some training at Chakuriki. A win over Kaestner would definitely elevate his status. Watch a video package on Tamaditi below, put together by the always great AFAV.

Also on the undercard: Warren Stevelmans vs. Mo Medhar.  Stevelmans is a K-1 MAX veteran who is always a tough opponent, although he has struggled a bit lately.  His last fights were at the K-1 MAX Madrid show, where he made the tournament finals before losing to Rafi Zouheir.  Medhar is looking to capitalize on his 2009 It's Showtime victory over Gago Drago.  Like Tamaditi, he has another opportunity here to really establish his name in the 70kg division.

Finally, It's Showtime has not yet made it official, but Fighting Stars, the company co-promoting the event, announced a bout between IS 77kg champion Artem Levin and Younes el Mhassani.  Their announcement indicates it will be a title fight, although it's also listed as 3 rounds, when IS does 5 rounds for title fights.  This would be Levin's first fight since winning the belt against Aussi in December.  The Russian fighter had a huge 2010, defeating two of the world's best in Yodsaenklai Fairtex and L'houcince "Aussi" Ouzgni, establishing himself as the clear #1 at 77kg.  Levin is currently scheduled to face Kaoklai on February 23 - not sure if this would impact that fight, as IS typically doesn't like having their fighters compete so quickly after another bout.

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Watch AFAV's Awesome It's Showtime Promo

AFAV is a group that tosses together some really awesome video packages for the Dutch kickboxing scene, so it is no surprise that they lent a hand in recording the recent promo for the upcoming It's Showtime/Fight Stars event on March 6th. AFAV took all of the footage that they took for the upcoming event and tossed together their own, epic promo for it. [source]

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Yasuhiro Kido in Exhibition Bout at MA-KICK BREAK.9

Yasuhiro Kido has had a really strange run of bad luck. Most of the Japanese 70kgs fighters that K-1 has brought up in hopes of becoming the next Masato have had this bad luck. Think about it; Yuya Yamamoto imploded against hard competition, Yoshihiro Sato has had mild success, but can never piece things together, Taishin Kohiruimaki is now retired due to injury and the list could probably go on. The truth is, living up to the high standards set by Masato is impossible. I know lots of people have only seen Masato's fights and don't get what there is to live up to outside of being a champion kickboxer. Masato had the talent, charisma and good looks that every fight promoter dreams of. His television appearances popped gigantic ratings, film directors wanted Masato to cameo in their films so they could put him on the promotional materials.

Enter Yasuhiro Kido. Kido tore up the scene from 2003 until 2007 when K-1 decided to call him up from RISE and MAJKF/MA-Kick (whatever you feel like calling it today). His first year of 2008 showed promise, where he won the World MAX Japan tournament and made it to the Final 8. Then came the 4-loss streak, followed by two wins in 2009 and another loss streak, 3, in K-1. Kido was returning to his roots this weekend, participating in MA-Kick's BREAK-9 event at Shinjuku-FACE (think tiny bingo hall). Kido was taking place in a Super Middleweight tournament when his opponent dropped out due to injury, so Kido took on Tiger Hiroshi in an exhibition bout.

So Kido will have to fight another day, at least he got to show off and promote his blog.

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