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Fights To Watch In December: Part 2

I've already given ten fights to keep an eye on this month, now here's ten more. December is a really busy month with tons of great fights going on. Even with two parts to this post, I'm still leaving out a ton of good fights.

December 8: Duoli Chen vs. Shkodran Veseli - Vendetta VI - Vienna, Austria

Duoli Chen looks to be a promising up and coming fighter at 77kg, with a dominant win at It's Showtime Brazil last month. He lost to L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni in October but there's no shame in that and seems to be getting better under the tutelage of Lucien Carbin. This fight should be another fight for him to showcase why he's been featured on It's Showtime, as well as to get some more momentum going into 2013 as GLORY looks to utilize his weigh class.

December 9: Stephen Meleady vs. Seeoui Sor Sunantachai - Muay Thai Warriors - Macau

Stephen Meleady has made a name for himself this year, beating Kongnapa Sirimongkol and giving a very tough fight to Rungravee Sasiprapa. Here he's in another fight that is bound to be action packed. Seeoui is an action fighter himself so this promises to be a great fight.

December 9: Toni Milanovic vs. Dragon Jovanovic - Supreme FC - Belgrade, Serbia

Originally scheduled to fight Nenad Pagonis, this is now a full on heavyweight fight as Toni Milanovic fights Dragon Jovanovic. Put this into perspective: Milanovic just won a four man tournament in the Czech Republic on November 24 - but the tournament was at 86kg. Now Milanovic steps all the way up to heavyweight and faces an opponent who significantly outweighs him. Having fought Sahak Parparyan and Andrei Stoica this year, I don't put it past Milanovic to do well here, as he's a bright up and comer at only 22 years of age.

December 14: Hirotaka Urabe vs. Naoki Ishikawa - Krush.25 - Tokyo, Japan

Hirotaka Urabe is Krush's champion at 60kg and at times lately has made easy work of some opponents but that won't be the case here. Ishikawa has given some very tough fights to Urabe, although Urabe has a win and a draw against him. Their second and last encounter was the one which ended in a draw and still stands as the only blemish on Urabe's record in his last twelve fights. Ishikawa has won two in a row since that fight and there's no doubt that he'll be up for this fight.

December 15: Aikpracha Meenayothin vs. Jordan Watson - Bangkok, Thailand

Aikpracha has had a breakout year in 2012, winning a Lumpinee title and getting many international fights. This time he gets Jordan Watson, who already faced Saiyok Pumphanmuang this year. Aikpracha fights are never boring

December 15: Vladimir Mineev vs. Ali Cenik - Battle at Moscow 9 - Moscow, Russia

Vladimir Mineev is one of the best up and comers in kickboxing at just 22 years of age, having won ten fights in a row. Mineev is in a similar position to Roman Mailov, having built up a name in Russia and gradually increasing the level of opposition that he faces. In Ali Cenik its one of his toughest tests yet. Cenik gave Danyo Ilunga a tough fight and was able to hit him a lot. Look for Mineev to work some slick counters as Cenik tries to throw big power shots.

December 15: Halim Chibani vs. Alyssane Sy - Saint Raphael, France

Halim Chibani may not be well known outside of France but in October he scored a big win over another one of France's best 85kg fighters in Yassine Ahaggan, which probably makes Chibani the top 85kg fighter in France. This should be an interesting fight to see just how good Chibani is, as Ahaggan also defeated Sy.

December 16: Singmanee Kaewsamrit vs. Andrei Kulebin - Thai Fight 2012 Finals

Singmanee and Andrei Kulebin fought back in June with Singmanee getting what was to many a controversial decision. Now they'll meet again, with Singmanee looking in better form in his last fight especially. Kulebin hasn't looked spectacular so far in Thai Fight but he's done what he's needed to do to win and gave Singmanee trouble last time. A three round fight is completely different so it'll be interesting to see what kind of pace the fight is fought at, considering that some weren't too fond of their first fight.

December 16: Buakaw Por. Pramuk vs. Vitaly Gurkov - Thai Fight 2012 Finals

This might be Buakaw's toughest test in a while (that might not be saying much considering the competition he's faced this year) in Gurkov. What Gurkov brings is a smothering clinch game that allowed him to defeat Kem Sitsongpeenong at the IFMAs. Gurkov seems to have found his place as a clincher in Muay Thai as opposed to fighting kickboxing and its paid dividends in Thai Fight so far. I'm interested in seeing if Gurkov will be able to trouble Buakaw and make for a competitive fight. And well, Buakaw's fighting.

December 21: Artem Levin vs. Simon Marcus - Ekaterinburg, Russia

Artem Levin and Simon Marcus are two of the best light heavyweight Muay Thai fighters right now and they'll finally meet after a number of delayed fights on December 21. Levin was given a lot of trouble by Steve Wakeling in July and hasn't fought pro since, although he did win the IFMAs. Marcus just won on Saturday very impressively against Sadibou Sy. This is what everyone wants to see, two top guys fighting each other.


Franci Grajs Stakes Claim To Being #1 85kg Kickboxer With Enfusion Win

With yesterday's Enfusion tournament, we saw a series of fights that helped determine who the number one kickboxer at 85kg really is, with Franci Grajs laying stake to that claim.

Franci Grajs, Andrew Tate, Sahak Parparyan and Ritchie Hocking all had won two fights on the Enfusion TV show to qualify for this tournament. Going in, Tate and Sahak were the favorites, and at the time, if you were forced to pick a number one at 85kg, you'd probably say Sahak, with Tate close behind.

But that's why they fight the fights, and it sure didn't play out like it looked like it might on paper. In previewing the tournament I was sure to make note that Franci Grajs was a very formidable opponent and not a pushover for Sahak. I can't say that I wasn't expecting a Sahak Parparyan vs. Andrew Tate final though.

Franci Grajs fought a very smart fight against Sahak, staying on the outside and using his range to set up kicks. When Sahak would try to storm in with power punches, Grajs would clinch and land some effective knees. The fight was close but to me, Grajs was the clear winner. Already in the semi final, the perceived number one heading in had been beaten.

In the other semi final, Andrew Tate had made quick work of Ritchie Hocking. After that, I won't lie, I expected Tate to win the final in impressive fashion. What was most impressive about the final however, was the way in which Franci Grajs just completely turned it up a notch from the semi finals. Grajs knew what his plan was right away, and that was to enforce the clinch on Tate, landing some damaging knee strikes while Tate tried to punch out. Grajs ended up just being too much in the clinch, winning via KO in the first round from a series of punches and knees against the ropes.

With the win, Grajs won $30 000 and the third season of Enfusion. Aside from that though, he also laid stake to the claim that he is the number one kickboxer at 85kg. We don't have rankings for that weight, but if we did, he'd surely be at the top. Grajs beat two top fighters that are still top fighters, including Sahak who was probably number one going in.

Another thing I'd like to emphasize is what I talked about in the preview; how aside from being the number one, we now have another established name in a division without many established, top fighters. Franci Grajs made the most of his opportunity in winning this tournament. He went from a relative unknown to now being the number one kickboxer in his weight division. Not only is it huge for his status, it will also probably advance his career, with more potential fight offers coming his way, and potentially offers from the likes of GLORY, who I'm sure are now interested.




Krush Completes 58kg Tournament Field; Announces 55kg WILDRUSH League

Earlier today, Krush made two big announcements regarding Krush.26 on January 26th.

First, Krush added the final 4 competitors to their 8-man 58kg tournament field which kicks off at Krush.26. As I did not do a post for the first 4 fighters, here are the 8 fighters competing in the tournament:

Nobuchika Terado - 32 years old // 29-8-1, 13 KO

Takeru - 21 years old // 7-1-0, 5 KO

Yuzo Suzuki - 28 years old // 5-2-1, 2 KO

Tsuyoshi Nakajima - 29 years old // 8-5-0, 0 KO

Koji - 23 years old // 12-5-0, 6 KO

KO-ICHI - 28 years old // 11-10-1, 1 KO

Shota Kanbe - 19 years old // 3-1-0, 1 KO

Kenta Yagami - 26 years old // 13-5-0, 6 KO

My rankings for the tournament would have to be Terado > Takeru > Kanbe > Koji > Nakajima > Yagami > Suzuki > KO-ICHI. Despite being the oldest, and likely most battered, of the tournament field, Terado should be a big favorite as he is really the only one who has fought any sort of elite competition, and he has been doing so for the last 5 years. I believe his biggest competition will be Takeru, who may have been on his way to a 55kg title shot with a recent win over Yuya Suzuki. Terado, Takeru and KO-ICHI are moving up from 55kg while Suzuki, Nakajima, Koji and Kanbe move down from 60kg. Yagami is the only one who has not fought in Krush, spending his entire career in J-Network where he fights at 57kg. Suzuki and Nakajima were both participants in last year's 60kg tournament, facing each other in the first round. Nakajima won that fight, but also has a loss to tournament participant Koji, while Suzuki has a loss to Shota Kanbe. Outside of that, none of the other participants have faced each other in the past. Krush also announced a reserve fight between Yuta Otaki and SATOI. The first leg of the tournament is January 26th at Krush.26, with the semifinals on March 20th and the finals on May 12th.

The other big announcement was the return of the WILDRUSH League, although this time at 55kg. Last year's 63kg WILDRUSH League was an overwhelming success, turning prospect Hideaki Yamazaki into a star while producing some of Krush's most exciting fights of the year, mostly thanks to Yukimitsu Takahashi's wild, flashy style. This year's tournament will be exactly like last year's, with 6 fighters in a round robin format, with 3 points being awarded for a knockout win, 2 points for a decision win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss. The winner will receive a shot at the 55kg title, likely in early 2014. The opening leg will start at Krush.26 with the subsequent 12 fights taking place over the course of 6 or 7 other events and is scheduled to conclude on November 10th. So far, Krush has announced 5 of the 6 participants and they are:

Takumi - 23 years old // 12-3-0, 5 KO

Yuya Suzuki - 24 years old // 5-6-0, 0 KO

Yuki Masato - 25 years old // 2-2-1, 1 KO

Masanori Shimada - 15 years old // 2-1-1, 1 KO

Kazyosi - 20 years old // 2-0-0, 2 KO

The big favorite here has to be Takumi, who already fought his way to a title shot, where he gave champion Shota Takiya one of his hardest fights in recent memory. Suzuki, while owning a win over Namito Izawa, has looked extraordinarily average, especially in his most recent outing, a TKO loss to Takeru where he seemed entirely apathetic to checking leg kicks. Masato and Shimada also have recent losses to Takeru, but I give the 15 year old Shimada, who turns 16 a week from today, a better shot than Masato, as he compiled a 36-2-2 record as an amateur. Kazyosi is the biggest unknown as he has just 2 pro fights. While I don't think he will be able to defeat Takumi, his KO power could possibly help him overtake Takumi in points. 


Fights To Watch In December: Part 1

December is another huge month with a ton of great fights taking place to end the year with. We've got GLORY, K-1, RISE, Krush, Enfusion and heaps of other events with marquee fights going down. As usual, the main focus will be put on fights that I consider to be under the radar, not the fights that everyone already knows about. Here's ten for you to keep an eye on.

December 1: Simon Marcus vs. Sadibou Sy - Muay Thai in America - Playa Vista, USA

Muay Thai in America takes place tonight, and this fight is the main event, and for good reason. Simon Marcus has established himself as the top fighter at his weight in North America while being one of the best in the world at his weight also. Sadibou Sy comes in not being very well known but don't let that fool you, he's a very capable fighter and I think his style will make for a very calculated fight. Sy usually fights higher in weight than Simon and likes to fight from range while Marcus can fight from anywhere but often takes fights with his clinchwork.

December 2: Masahiro Yamamoto vs. Mansour Yaqubi - RISE/M-1 - Tokyo, Japan

Yamamoto is LiverKick's #3 ranked lightweight and looks to continue being amongst the top lightweights. This is a huge opportunity for Yaqubi, who is a teammate of Raz Sarkisjan and sees himself in his first big fight. I definitely favor Yamamoto here but like Sarkisjan with Noiri back in May, there are a lot of variables that could play out and we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Yaqubi is similar to Sarkisjan in that he's a power puncher and that's what his game is based around. Yamamoto handled Javier Hernandez's similar style quite well, so I wouldn't be surprised if he put on another great performance.

December 2: Raz Sarkisjan vs. Koji Yoshimoto - RISE/M-1 - Tokyo, Japan

Raz Sarkisjan comes off a November 10 loss to Marcus Vinicius at It's Showtime Brazil but he's right back at it tomorrow, taking on RISE's 65kg champion. Raz made his name by going into Japan and upsetting one of its top fighters in Masaaki Noiri. Yoshimoto will be yet another tough test for the 20 year old Dutch-Armenian fighter, who will only get better as time goes on. This year there's been a lot of fights like this one between top fighters from opposite realms of the world and they're great in helping us evaluate the landscape of the fight scene on an overall level.

December 2: Koya Urabe vs. Mickael Peynaud - Krush.25 - Tokyo, Japan

Originally scheduled to fight Karim Bennoui, Koya Urabe now faces Mickael Peynaud. Even though he lost to Javier Hernandez last month, Peynaud is still a very formidable opponent and can hang with most lightweights. Once again, it's great to see some international fights to get a sense of the lightweight division's landscape. Urabe is right outside the top ten and has been in better form lately. With the fight being at 61kg, a weight that I've always thought Urabe would be better off at, we'll see if it benefits him. I expect this fight to be pretty competitive, much like Hernandez vs. Peynaud was.

December 7: Diesellek Aoodonmuang vs. Petboonchu F.A. Group - Lumpini Birthday - Bangkok, Thailand

This fight is for the 135lbs title of Thailand. Diesellek has had a breakout year, most recently dominating Damien Alamos en route to a decision win, and also thanks in part to his infamous haircut. Petboonchu is really tough to fight and has given trouble to pretty much everyone, coming off a win over Nong-O in October.

December 7: Superlek Wor Sungprapai vs. Saengmanee Sor Tienpo - Lumpini Birthday - Bangkok, Thailand

The Lumpini 115lb belt is on the line here with Saengmanee at just 15 years old looking to add to his collection of accolades, already being a champion at 105, 108 and 112. Saengmanee is a candidate for Fighter of the Year and a win here would add even more to those claims. Superlek has had a very good year himself, last beating Mondam Sor Weraphon in November and is also in the running for Fighter of the Year. We saw the weight ultimately be too much for Pentai Singpatong when he went up and lost to Wanchalong Sitzornong and while I don't think that will be the case here, Saengmanee moving up yet another weight class makes this even more interesting.

December 8: Sergio Wielzen vs. Sasa Jovanovic - Vendetta VI - Vienna, Austria

2012 hasn't been good for Sergio Wielzen, who has three losses on the year but I still believe he has the ability to mix it up with some of the top lightweights. Once again he takes a fight at a prety high weight for him, 63.5kg, against Sasa Jovanovic. I do like Wielzen to win here but I also thought the same for his fight last month against Emerson Falcao. Jovanovic is one of the main "tests" for guys looking to get to the next level in kickboxing and Wielzen will surely need a win here to ensure that he doesn't go winless in 2012, and to get some momentum going for 2013.

December 8: Steve Moxon vs. Mostafa Abdollahi - King of Kombat 8 - Keysborough, Australia

Steve Moxon is one again back in action and faces Mostafa Abdollahi after Dzhabar Askerov withdrew. Moxon and Abdollahi have the styles that could make for a very exciting fight. The fight is also five rounds which will provide for even more action. Moxon makes his debut in GLORY in March and for now he's doing his own "Road to GLORY" by staying active. Whenever Moxon fights it's worth noting.

December 9: Liam Harrison vs. Saenchai PKSaenchaimuaythaigym - Muay Thai Warriors - Macau

This will be the third fight between Saenchai and Harrison and I think this one is Liam's best chance to win. Saenchai is coming off two five rounders against top opponents in November and the time seems perfect for Liam to strike. Harrison has shown devastating low kicks in his wins over Angelo Campoli and Andrei Kulebin this year and will have the size advantage going in. Of course, Saenchai has beaten Harrison twice and beats bigger opponents on the regular, but Harrison is still a very formidable opponent.

December 15: Alexander Stetsurenko vs. Karapet Karapetyan - Battle at Moscow 9 - Moscow, Russia

Alexander Stetsurenko is one of the top light heavyweights in kickboxing, further establishing that by avenging a loss to Hicham El Gaoui at the Tatneft Cup Finals in October. This is a fight he should win, but Karapetyan has shown some improvements since his losses to Nieky Holzken and Joe Schilling earlier this year and should be able to hang. Stetsurenko's fights are always good with the endless pressure and thudding punches that he brings and if Karapetyan can match him, it should make for a great fight.


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