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Former K-1 Fighter Raul Catinas Returns To The Ring At SuperKombat

It's been a year and three months since Raul Catinas last stepped in the ring. The stocky 5'11" Romanian fighter, along with Daniel Ghita, is one of two Romanian fighters to ever make the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16. He lost to Mighty Mo in a slugfest at the Final 16 in 2010 and most were expecting to see him in K-1 again, where he'd also fought in official regional qualifiers.

Catinas fought once more in 2010, beating Imani Lee at Local Kombat (Now SuperKombat) in November of that year. He hasn't fought since then though, claiming injuries have held him back from returning to the sport.

Catinas will face French-based Turkish fighter, Yuksel Ayadin, at SuperKombat's first event of the year on this Saturday, February 25 in Podgorica, Montenegro. For this fight, he's done his training at the famed Mike's Gym with trainer Mike Passenier, Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoef, and the list goes on. He says he feels stronger than ever, having trained at Mike's Gym for six weeks. He referred to Mike's Gym as "barbarian training" and compared it to the movie Spartacus, saying that it's the gladiators' room.

Catinas is only 23 years old and if he keeps training at Mike's Gym, there's some potential for him. Over a year off may seem like a long time but he's got age on his side. In the heavyweight division, fighters often have longer careers. Ayadin is a tough test, especially after such a long layoff and both are pretty exciting fighters so it should be pretty fun. I think we can expect to see more of Catinas under the SuperKombat banner this year. [source]



Koya Urabe vs Kizaemon Saiga Added to Krush.17

Krush has announced a matchup between K-1 Koshien standouts for March 17th's Krush.17 and it holds major implications in Krush's 63kg division. 2011 Krush Supernova and 63kg Tournament and K-1 -63kg Japan Tournament runner-up Koya Urabe will take on 2010 K-1 -63kg Tournament semifinalist Kizaemon Saiga. Despite fighting for K-1 and Krush their entire careers, Urabe (17-3-0, 2 KO) and Saiga (8-4-1, 1 KO) have failed to cross paths despite being top fighters. While in Koshien, Saiga competed in the first K-1 Koshien tournament, a 4-man tournament where he took on HIROYA in the semifinals, a fight he lost by decision. Urabe also took part in only one Koshien tournament in 2008 where he made it to the finals, losing to HIROYA in the extension round. However since then, both fighters have had more successful careers than HIROYA.

Both were invited to the initial qualifying round of K-1's first -63kg Tournament and though Urabe defeated Shunsuke Oishi while Saiga defeated Fire Harada, Saiga was invited to the Final 8 while Urabe was not. At the Tournament Final, Saiga scored an upset of Naoki Ishikawa before being knocked out by eventual champ Tetsuya Yamato while Urabe won a reserve fight against Yuji Takeuchi. However, Urabe faced Tetsuya Yamato in his first fight after winning the tournament and outclassed Yamato, making Urabe the uncrowned king of 63kg. Urabe took his momentum into 2011, entering three separate tournaments: the Krush 63kg tournament, the K-1 -63kg Japan tournament and the Krush Supernova tournament. Despite his offensive skills, Urabe's lack of defense cost him as he made it to the finals of each tournament, but fell just short in each case. In Krush, Ryuji Kajiwara knocked Urabe down to earn himself the Krush title. In K-1, Urabe's leg was badly injured by Yuki in the quarterfinals, giving Yuta Kubo an easy win in the finals. And in the Krush Youth tournament, Urabe again took some leg damage that threw him off guard and opened him up for a flying knee from Masaaki Noiri that ended his night. Saiga has been a bit of an up and down fighter since his K-1 tournament run, showing he can hang with the top fighters in the division, but his flashy style can only carry him so far as he has failed against the division's elite. In his first post-tournament fight, he dropped a one-sided decision to Korean prospect Sun-hyun Lee and, after a quarterfinal win in the Krush 63kg tournament, dropped a decision to eventual champ Ryuji Kajiwara in the semifinals. He followed that up with a loss in the quarterfinals of the K-1 -63kg Japan Tournament to Yuta Kubo, but has since put together 3 straight wins, most recently against Katsuya Goto at Krush.16.

Going into this, one would have to give the edge to Urabe. It's not the greatest style matchup for Urabe as Saiga struggles more with fighters who come forward constantly, but Urabe's offensive boxing should frustrate Saiga and maybe even score him a down or knockout. The fight should be pretty exciting and especially flashy as Urabe brings strong boxing combinations and flashy knees while Saiga tries his hardest to make sure every strike is thrown with style. It will be interesting to see how Urabe reacts to the huge KO loss against Noiri. I expect Saiga to throw various spinning and jumping attacks to keep Urabe off his rhythm and off guard and to remind him of the knee that Noiri ended his night with.

Should Urabe win, I think he would be more likely to be chose as 63kg champ Ryuji Kajiwara's next challenger, but since they are teammates, Urabe may try to wait it out. Should Saiga win, he would be in great standing for a title shot, but I feel as though either Rashata or Masaaki Noiri would take presidence over Saiga when it comes to a title shot, as Rashata was Kajiwara's initial opponent for his first defense and Noiri holds a win over Kajiwara from last year.

Also announced for the card is 2009 K-1 Koshien 70kg champ Shintaro Matsukura taking on fellow Koshien participant Taisei Kondo. Matsukura (4-4-0, 3 KO) broke onto the 70kg scene last year with an upset win over Yuya Yamamoto in an exciting fight in the Krush 70kg tournament. However, since then Matsukura has lost his last three fights: a decision loss to Yutaro Yamauchi in the semifinals of the Krush tournament, a decision loss in a rematch with Yuya Yamamoto at the K-1 MAX Japan Tournament and a knockout loss to Yasuhiro Kido back in December. Kondo competed in the 2010 K-1 Koshien tournament, scoring an upset win in the first round over Tsukasa Fuji, but losing in the subsequent round.

Already announced for Krush.17 are a 70kg title fight between champion Kenta and Yasuhiro Kido, a 63kg bout between Masaaki Noiri and Cedric Peynaud and the second leg of the 63kg WildRush League which has what could be the deciding fight as current points leaders and tournament favorites Hideaki Yamazaki and TaCa square off in a rematch. The other two WildRush League fights pit 3rd place fighters against 5th place fighters as Yukimitsu Takahashi takes on Naoki Terasaki and Hitoshi Tsukagoshi takes on NOMAN.{jcomments on}


Action Packed Week Ahead

Although the big time promotions are absent this month, there's still a lot of great action going on around the world. There's a number of strong, quality events taking place that feature some great talent. 2012 is already turning out to be a great year in kickfighting, with or without K-1. With smaller shows showcasing great talent popping up often, we don't have to wait very long to catch some good fights. Click "Read More" to check out the upcoming action for this week.


Watch Mark "Fightshark" Miller's United Glory Vlog

On March 23rd, America's Mark Miller once again ventures into Russia to fight on the next United Glory card, this time in a step up in competition against Sergei Kharitonov. Sergei is best known for his MMA fights, but has quite a few K-1 fights under his belt. Mark was out of the public spotlight after a rough K-1 fight come the turn of the century due to a multitude of issues, but made a roaring comeback with a nine-second knockout of Nikolaj Falin on May 28th last year.

Mark has been bulking up quite a bit, as when 2011 started he was weighing around 175lbs, when he walked into his fight with Falin he was weighing in at 95kg/209lbs, and by the time he steps into the ring with Kharitonov should be pushing the 230lbs/105kg mark, which is insane. That is just the amount of dedication the forty year old Miller has shown, and that hard work is looking to pay off once again in the ring for him if that right hand can fight its mark yet again. Go ahead and check out Mark's first Vlog for the upcoming fight as he sports his clean-shaven look and does a few interviews at the LA Fit Expo.


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