|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)|
There's still plenty to discuss about the end of 2010. From the poor Dynamite!! ratings, to the K-1 v. MMA debate, to the Fight of the Year, we definitely remain in year end wrap up mode. But now that it's 2011, and now that we've officially joined the awesome new MiddleEasy.com network (click the link!), let's stop looking back for a moment and look ahead. Because even though K-1 may not be producing any fights for a few months, there's plenty of action upcoming. In fact, we're just a few short days away from the first major event of 2011.
On January 9, Krush presents the Krush First Generation King Tournaments Round 2. Which is a fancy way of saying this show will feature the first round in Krush's tournament to crown an inaugural 63kg champion. The four tournament fights include:
-Koya Urabe, whose last fight was a win over K-1 63kg champion Tetsuya Yamato v. Korea's Sung Hyun Lee, last seen scoring a decision win over Kizaemon Saiga at the K-1 MAX Final 16
-Team Dragon member Ryuji Kajiwara, who defeated Naoki Ishikawa at Krush.9 last year v. TaCa
-Yuki Yamamoto, a WBC Muay Thai Japan champion v. Krush Rookies Cup winner Takuya Shirahama
-Kizaemon Saiga, one of the breakout fighters of 2010 v. Naoki Terasaki
Winners move on to the March 19 finals.
Urabe is the clear favorite to win the tournament, as he has looked more and more impressive with every outing. I would love to see him meet both Saiga and Kajiwara before the tournament is done.
The main event this weekend is a big one for Krush, as the #5 ranked Yoshihiro Sato faces Shemsi Beqiri. Sato is the definite favorite here, but don't rule Beqiri out. He had a great 2010, including a win over Alviar Lima, and is just outside the top 25. He has his work cut out for him, but is an exciting fighter, and this is a good match-up.
Two other MAX veterans are on the card - #17 ranked Yuya Yamamoto faces Masakazu Watanabe, and K-1 MAX Japan 2010 tournament participant Yuji Nashiro looks to continue his strong 2010 as he faces Daisuke Tsutumi.
This is the first of 4 shows Krush already has scheduled for 2011. Up next is the March 19 event featuring the 55, 60, and 63kg tournament finals. After that will be the 70kg quarter finals on April 30 with the finals on July 16. With these tournaments, Krush has great potential to capitalize on the strong year they had in 2010. Thanks in part to K-1 emphasizing the smaller fighters with their new 63kg division, Krush stars have begun to gain greater prominence in the larger kickboxing world. But Krush has always been boosted by a relationship with K-1, and while that helped them in 2010, it may cause them trouble in 2011. If K-1 de-emphasizes MAX and the 63kg division, it will definitely have an impact on Krush. In the short term, it may help them to book more big name fighters who now find themselves with less Japanese fights. But in the long term, if MAX fades, Japanese interest in the smaller weight classes may also fade, which would be a great trouble for Krush. This is definitely a pivotal year for the company as they look to further establish their own identity apart from simply a K-1 feeder.
But that's all down the road. For now, the next 6 months of Krush are bright and full of good fights - and those fights begin this weekend.Add a comment
Ever since Dynamite!! completed last Friday morning, I've heard a lot about how the show, and the format as a whole, is a waste. Some dislike the match-making. Others are not fans of the special rules fights and think they serve no purpose. I, on the other hand, think the Dynamite!! event succeeds in one key area better than any other: entertainment value.
Let's compare Dynamite!! to the gold standard in the MMA world, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. UFC events aren't predicated on entertainment value. Instead, they are mostly about what goes on inside the cage. It's conjecture on my part but I believe this may be due to the constant comparison of the UFC to the WWE. Dana White seems willing to do whatever it takes to seperate himself and his company from the circus that is modern Pro Wrestling. I applaud him for that and think it's a great idea. I'm glad there are no locker room confrontations and pre-fight dialogue from the fighters. And let's be honest, nobody can do that as good as Ric Flair, anyways.
Dynamite!! gives fans the entertainment aspect that is missing in American MMA promotions. When you pack a stadium full of fans, it gives the viewer a feeling that what they're watching is truly a big event. The sets and light shows combined with the fight introduction videos, work the crowd into a frenzy before the fighters do battle. I may not know every combatant before they take to the ring but the intro videos are done so well that I feel familiar with the fighters and their motivations to put it all on the line by just watching a few minutes of video.
The staples of Japanese fight sports are another huge plus. Lenne Hardt and her banshee screams to announce the fighters before they embark down the ramp towards the ring. Yuji Shimada and the exuberance he displays by throwing his arm in the air while pointing to a fighter and asking if they want to submit. And who can forget the stalwart officials outside of the ring that are there ready to slap a fighters hand for holding onto the ropes or wiping blood away from a bleeding forehead at a moments notice.
These are things we won't see in the States. Some, because they're impossible with the fights taking place in a cage while others just don't fit into what American promoters envision for an MMA event. I believe this plays into Dynamite's favor as it adds to the feeling of exclusivity among fans.
Sure, Aoki vs Nagashima was a bust and had no real value when it comes to each fighters career. Of course, Jerome Le Banner vs Satoshi Ishii wasn't a matchup that will go down as a pivotal bout in the history of Mixed Martial Arts. But each fight was just goofy enough to make viewers tune-in. Couple that with legitimate fights such as Kawajiri vs Thomson and you have what has made Dynamite!! such a big success - entertainment.Add a comment
I've finally had a chance to sit down and watch Dynamite!! and there is a lot to say reflecting upon the events from that show. There has been a bit of an ongoing debate over the "level" of K-1 strikers and how they compare to MMA strikers. The general fallout from the internet seems to be that the disparity between K-1 kickboxers and MMA fighters is slim, with K-1 fighters being overrated by fans and the talent pool being shallow at this point in time.
Of course, it didn't help that at Dynamite!! we saw Gegard Mousasi take K-1 Heavyweight Champion Kyotaro to the distance and win the fight via decision. Mousasi even scored a few knockdowns, and this comes off the heels of his 2008 victory over Musashi.
The year 2010 was also the year that saw Alistair Overeem, a fighter primarily known for competing in Mixed Martial Arts take home kickboxing's most coveted prize; the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship. Overeem has long been an interesting topic for debate; is he good? Is he just alright? Do his poor Light Heavyweight performances from a few years ago reflect upon him now? What lengths has he gone to improve his performance? If he isn't that good of a striker, what does it say about K-1 competition?
The truth is, kickboxers are being beaten at their own game. Overeem holds wins over Badr Hari, Peter Aerts (twice), Ewerton Teixeira, Dzevad Poturak, Tyrone Spong and Gokhan Saki. That list is impressive and contains some of K-1's best fighters. Mousasi only holds two K-1 victories, over an aging and ready to retire Musashi and a sluggish if not exhausted from competing weeks before Kyotaro, but is still being used as an example of a MMA fighter making K-1 look bad.
It seems foolish and unfair to label these fighters as either this or that. What really makes a fighter? Alistair Overeem has been training kickboxing since he was a teenager, making his pro debut at age 17 before switching over to MMA. Gegard Mousasi began his career as a boxer and kickboxer, transitioning to MMA and using his judo background combined with his striking prowess to be successful.
As we saw at Dynamite in Satoshi Ishii vs. Jerome Le Banner and Hideo Tokoro vs. Kazuhisa Watanabe, a striker moving into MMA put in grappling situations can be easily lost and frustrated, while a MMA fighter put in a pure striking situation can appear to be competent.
To use Gegard Mouasasi and Alistair Overeem as examples of Mixed Martial Artists "clowning" K-1 kickboxers is crass and an exercise in semantics at best. As I posed before, what really makes a fighter? Do the fact that both fighters' records in MMA are more prolific mean that they are Mixed MArtial Artists, or does the fact that they began as strikers mean that they are strikers that adapted a grappling game for Mixed Martial Arts, found success in MMA and stuck with it?
Both men train at kickboxing gyms with some of the best kickboxers in the world (Mousasi trains with Golden Glory when preparing for fights). The Golden Glory gym is primarily a kickboxing gym, while they train MMA fighters, they will always be known (rightfully so) as one of the best kickboxing gyms in the world. To me, Alistair Overeem's affiliation with Golden Glory just speaks of how serious he is about his striking.
Kickboxing and Muay Thai are arts in and of themselves and are incorporated, at least partially, into Mixed Martial Arts. If someone wants to make this argument maybe the survey field needs to grow; take a fighter who grapples as their primary art, toss them into a ring with Kyotaro or an injured Gokhan Saki or Peter Aerts and see how they fare. Rinse, repeat, because we all know a survey from a shallow test field does not yield exact results.Add a comment
I've returned from my mini-pilgrimage (read: girlfriend and myself) to the Pacific Northwest to rock out and have been catching up on the overload of fight news from the past few days, and let me tell you, a lot happened. Thankfully, you've been reading LiverKick.com and your needs are fulfilled for SRC and FEG stuff. So, much to my dismay, before I've even had a chance to watch Dynamite!! from the comfort of my DVR, the word seems to be that while the show was incredible as always, the Japanese press were not so happy with it. As always, the Japanese care about things that not many else do when it comes to their national programming.
Japanese headlines coming out of Dynamite!!? They are scary. Essentially, the headlines all revolve around Satoshi Ishii and his poor performance. Ishii was booed at Dynamite!! The hype around Dynamite!!? Gone. SportsNavi, a popular news outlet run by Yahoo! has headlines about UFC 125, with the feature story about Clay Guida choking out Takanori Gomi and how Nagashima's KO of Aoki made him MVP. NikkanSports is similar. All of the more fight-oriented websites were obeying the unwritten rules of don't trash in public, the mainstream media? No such luck. Headlines about the boos that Ishii received were deafening. Ishii the ace of Japan is all-but-dead. The goofy interviews, the terrible performance, the inability to make press conferences and so forth have done him no favors. He needed a dominant win and a solid post-fight interview, ala Sakuraba and Minowaman. Of course, he did not deliver.
The Japanese ratings were out a few days ago, and TBS pulled in an average of 8.8% (9.8 and 7.8 for each hour). Last year had a peak of 16.7% and an average of 13%, over 3 points higher overall. The help of Ishii and Inoki were simply not enough for the fledgling Dynamite!!. It is just proof that Japan needs new star power. Zach Arnold takes his usual, exhaustive look at the implications of it all. If you care about Japanese MMA and kickboxing, I feel like Zach is a must-read when he writes about it. The point Zach makes is a strong argument as to why Ishii is a giant failure, basically, and he breaks down FEG's situation.
FEG announced that by the end of January they would announce their future plans for the year, which includes restructuring the company from the inside out (much-needed) and to incorporate funding from Chinese and American investors. For those expecting gloom and doom, expect this funding to last for a while. From all that I've heard and discussed with insiders, FEG will be healthy for at least 2011. Their television deals are possibly in limbo again, though. With the poor ratings on TBS, TBS might cut loose the FEG shows they carry (K-1 MAX, DREAM and Dynamite!!). Understand that these shows are the brainchild of TBS to assault other strong network programming, and don't think they like losing. It has nothing to do with fighting, MMA, kickboxing, etc., everything to do with star power and roping in fans. Sapp's fight being barred from TV didn't help matters, as he is a yearly staple and ratings draw, nor did the younger Ologun brother only fighting. Ishii's aura is gone and no Masato means TBS cannot be happy right now. For those concerned, K-1's heavyweight shows are affiliated with Fuji TV, who is happy with K-1's programming.
What this means for DREAM, though, is unsure. Fuji TV has a strong relationship with Kazuyoshi Ishii (K-1 founder and tax evader), so don't be shocked if FEG's relationship with Fuji TV increases over the next year. I also expect a really strong push internationally, as K-1 has always built strong foreign stars and Alistair Overeem is a huge, hot prospect right now and could help propel DREAM and K-1 into the stratosphere in the USA over the next year.Add a comment
Voting is now open for the 2010 LiverKick.com Fight of the Year. Cast your vote in the Weekly Poles section in the left hand column. As a reminder, here are links to videos and write-ups on the 10 nominees:
Pictured: 2009 Fight of the Year Masato v. Andy SouwerAdd a comment