The main attraction on this card is obviously the eight man 70kg tournament that everyone is raving about. Initially, Giorgio Petrosyan was slated for the tournament but a recurring hand injury forced him out. Robin van Roosmalen stepped in to take his place. While not as stacked as the usually yearly K-1 MAX World Grand Prix, it's great to see a tournament consisting of top talent in a down year for kickboxing. We'll start with the quarter final match-ups and work our way up.
Artur Kyshenko vs. Gago Drago
These two met back in March, with Kyshenko not having any trouble as he cruised to a unanimous decision. Drago has lost four in a row and could desperately use a win. As talked about by Dave Walsh and Steven Wright, Drago sometimes just doesn't show up and puts on mediocre performances, which lead to the ugly losses he has on his record. Drago is tough when he shows up though, and if he really brings it, Kyshenko could have some problems. Everyone has Drago figured out by now though, and with Kyshenko having fought him twice, shouldn't have too much trouble. Artur Kyshenko by decision or stoppage if he really turns it up.
Andy Souwer vs. Harut Grigorian
This is the easiest fight in the tournament to pick. Harut Grigorian is solid, but we're talking about Andy Souwer here, a top three kickboxer at 70kg since 2005. I think a good comparison to this fight is back when Souwer fought Leroy Kaestner. Kaestner is a solid fighter and was up and coming at the time, but it was clear Souwer was on another level. I think Souwer will finish this one though, in the second round after showing Grigorian who's boss in the first.
Robin van Roosmalen vs. Chahid Oulad El Hadj
Rematches seem to be a common theme for this tournament, as these two have also fought once before back in March, with van Roosmalen taking a decision in a competitive fight. I expect the same outcome as the first fight. Chahid has stayed the same for the past few years, while van Roosmalen continues to improve. This fight will definitely be back and forth. Expect to see traded combos throughout the fight, with van Roosmalen getting the better shots in. This has all the makings of another great Dutch style battle. Robin van Roosmalen by decision.
Chris Ngimbi vs. Murat Direkci
This is a rematch of their title fight back in December where Ngimbi emerged the new champion. Both looked lackluster, and I personally had Direkci winning. Since then, Direkci hasn't fought and Ngimbi defended his title in spectacular fashion against Willy Borrel in May. Ngimbi has a lot of hype with him, and while he's improved, I think he needs to prove himself more. He didn't look great in winning the title, and Willy Borrel was just outmatched. That being said, I still think Ngimbi takes this. Direkci isn't getting any younger and is coming off a long layoff. Ngimbi is improving and has found a great home at the Siam Gym. Chris Ngimbi by decision.
Now onto the semi finals. If everything goes the way I see it going, Andy Souwer matches up with Artur Kyshenko and Chris Ngimbi with Robin van Roosmalen. I see Souwer tiring Kyshenko out. Kyshenko has conditioning problems at 70kg, and he'll probably have to be working the whole time against Drago. He won't have a full gas tank by the time he gets to Souwer, and it'll show. Kyshenko is incredibly tough to finish so I'll take Souwer by decision.
Robin van Roosmalen vs. Chris Ngimbi would be quite an interesting match-up. van Roosmalen is always in the fight and if Ngimbi goes into one of the inactive phases he seems to have from time to time, he'll be jumped on. Ngimbi would need to sneak in counter shots and of course, find a spot for his knee strikes. van Roosmalen would need to pressure and land combos. He can't let Ngimbi have any space to get going. I think I'll go out on a limb here and take van Roosmalen by a tight decision in this hypothetical match-up.
That leaves my hypothetical finals at Andy Souwer vs. Robin van Roosmalen. I think Souwer can outgun van Roosmalen with with more firepower and more experience in big time tournaments. There you have it, winner of my hypothetical It's Showtime 70kg tournament, Andy Souwer.
Enjoy the show tomorrow.