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Shootboxing Star RENA Fighting MMA at Rizin on New Year's Eve

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Everyone has been waiting with baited breath for more information on Sakakibara's latest venture into the world of MMA after the untimely death of PRIDE FC. Well, we at least have a name now as well as a few other details. The name of this promotion will be Rizin Fighting Federation, or Rizin FF. The show on New Year's Eve will be the Rizin Fighting World Grand-Prix 2015 and while the main even will be Fedor Emelianenko vs. Jaideep "Heart" Singh, the card will also feature BJJ competitor Gabby Garcia, Shinya Aoki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba and female Shootboxing superstar RENA.

That's right, RENA. 

For a long time now RENA (Rena Kubota) has been one of Shootboxing's biggest stars. Shootboxing itself is not exactly huge in Japan, but has a good following and RENA often appears on mainstream Japanese television. Apparently she is MMA-bound now, making her MMA debut this December at Rizin against an unnamed opponent. What is fascinating about this is that RENA could be a huge, huge breakout star in Japan beyond where she is now. Shootboxing is just, well, a bit weird and might never be more than a niche sport. MMA has proven to be a sport that fans can get behind and with her innate starpower on this show it could mean big things for both Rizin and herself.

More when we have it.


Wayne Barrett Ready to Return to Greatness at GLORY 24

This Friday at GLORY 24 Wayne Barrett is set to return from an absence from the ring to fight recent GLORY tournament winner Dustin Jacoby. For many, Wayne Barrett is one of those raw talents in kickboxing who could easily become a major player for years to come, which is especially rare considering that he is an American. Perhaps the feather in the cap of his relatively young kickboxing career is a win over Joe Schilling. The Schilling win came at a time when many saw Schilling as unstoppable, putting a considering dent in the armor of the myth that was Joe Schilling at the time. The win over Bogdan Stoica that came at GLORY’s Last Man Standing tournament was purely academic at that point.

After that, though, things haven’t been all sunshine and happiness for Wayne Barrett. On a three fight skid right now, Barrett elected to take time off to get his head back into the game. “You know, they offered me fights, man. They offered me fights to get myself a win, to build my confidence up and everyone thought that I should do it, but I turned them down. What’s the point if I’m not the Wayne Barrett that I truly believe that I can be? I took time for myself,” he explained. “And let me tell you, I feel incredible right now. This fight is all about me, it’s all about Wayne and getting everything right.”

What he means is that during his time away from the ring he made sure that everything was in order in his personal life as well as his professional life. As a father it was important to him to feel that he was doing his best and to set the right kind of example. A lot of that had to do with how he was training, as well. “I went through so many coaches at this point, I’ve had coaches telling me what to do, trying to change me and make me more of an orthodox fighter. But that isn’t who I am. I’ve got, for lack of a better word, a sort of swagger to me and how I fight. I’m unlike anyone else in the world in the ring and that’s what I bring to the table, so I’m not trying to be someone else anymore, I’m just being me right now.”

I brought up a young Rico Verhoeven, who at the time was incredibly talented with a ton of potential, but if you would go back and watch Rico’s early fights you’ll see a stiff, rigid and uncomfortable Verhoeven. The confidence to be himself wasn’t quite there yet compared to the Rico Verhoeven of today. “Oh man, absolutely,” he was getting excited now. “I love Rico, man. He’s just incredible. He’s his own man out there. Does he honor the whole Dutch style? Of course he does, but he’s making it his own, what he’s doing is an evolution. That’s how I view myself. They wanted me to do this you kick-I kick thing and that wasn’t who I am so it just didn’t work.”

Barrett, while in his late 20’s, is still relatively fresh into his professional career. “My second professional fight,” he said, “that was in the GLORY ring against a guy like Mike Lemaire.” Indeed it was his second professional fight, that fight being a knockout of Lemaire. What is astonishing about Barrett’s professional career is that upon joining GLORY he was immediately thrust into the spotlight, fighting some of the biggest names in the world. He stepped into the ring for his fourth professional fight against Joe Schilling, arguably the top dog in the division at that time, and he didn’t only handle himself well, but he won. There was no carefully curated career here, Barrett was simply there, with a rocket strapped to his back going full steam ahead.

When it came time for him to step into the ring with the notorious Romanian slugger Bogdan Stoica he felt ready, although the more that we talked about how kickboxing worked overseas, the more he opened up about how different his career has been. “There is no padding on my record,” he laughed. “I remember looking at Stoica’s record and thinking -- as a fan -- that I had no clue who some of these people that he was crushing were. Even some of the guys who beat him I had never heard of before.” The fight ended with Stoica going down to a left hook, Barrett moving forward in the tournament only to meet Joe Schilling. When I brought up the decision and how there was controversy over it he quickly interjected, “You could say that again.” 

Even if his next two fights were indeed losses, one to Jason Wilnis and one to Simon Marcus, they were still against two of the top fighters within the division. While most would look at that, shrug and take an easy fight, Barrett decided to go back to the drawing board and wait for another opportunity down the line. Now, though? “I’m going full force now,” he said. “I want to fight again this year, as long as they’ll let me. I think they probably will. Then next year I want to stay as active as I can.”

Tournaments, though, don’t seem to be in the immediate future for Wayne Barrett. “Nah,” he said. “Just single fights for me right now. Too much is out of your control in those tournaments. In the future? Yeah, if there is a big tournament I’ll be a part of it, but I want to focus on one opponent for right now and I want to prove to everyone that Wayne Barrett really is as good as everyone thinks that he can be. Man,” he laughed. “Now I’m talking in third person about myself. I still can’t believe that I’m at that point where I can talk to people about myself in third person.”

What I took away from my time talking to Wayne Barrett is that he’s in a very, very good place right now. He’s both mentally and physically ready for the road ahead and understands that while it was sort of shocking to initially see himself on a list as a top middleweight that he has to keep proving himself and earn his top spot. We’ll see what he brings to the table against Dustin Jacoby at GLORY 24 on Friday night in Denver.

Read more...'s Glory 24 Predicitions

With Glory 24 in Denver just around the corner we figured it was a good time to do some predictions on the show and find out everyone else's opinions as well. All the fights on the main card seem quite well matched which always makes predictions a little more difficult. For example the main event between Joe Schilling and Jason Wilnis you could look at 2 ways. First of all with Joe Schilling you know you can expect excitement but sometimes that comes at the expense of his chin which makes him unpredictable. Also Schilling has never really fought a true dutch kickboxer in a kickboxing match, so we don't know how he will handle the constant forward pressure. On the other hand with Wilnis he never really changes his game plan which works for him most of the time, until he faces someone tricky and different like Artem Levin. So the "safe bet" you could say is Wilnis, but then you can never count out Schillings power and unpredictability.

Now the tournament is also a tough one, lets start with Benjamin Adegbuyi vs Mladen Brestovac. First of all if you don't know much about Brestovac check out his fight with Jahfarr Wilnis at Glory 14 in Zagreb HERE. Those type of high kicks from a heavyweight can change the outcome of any fight so Adegbuyi will have to make sure to keep his hands tight and out box Brestovac all fight. Then we have Ben Edwards vs Jahfarr Wilnis, when I look at this fight I feel the biggest factor at the moment is activity. Wilnis has been fighting consistently in china and recently became the Kun Lun heavyweight tournament champion by defeating Hesdy Gerges in the final, where as Ben Edwards has been boxing a little lately but hasn't had a kickboxing fight since Glory's last time in Denver which is well over a year ago, but Edwards always has one punch KO power and a huge heart.


Joe Schilling vs Jason Wilnis (JJ - Wilnis / DW - Joe)

Wayne Barrett vs Dustin Jacoby (JJ - Barrett / DW - Barrett)

Benjamin Adegbuyi vs Mladen Brestovac (JJ - Adegbuyi / DW - Adegbuyi)

Ben Edwards vs Jahfarr Wilnis (JJ - Wilnis / DW - Edwards)

Tournament Winner ( JJ - Adegbuyi / DW - Adegbuyi)



Card for This Weekend's Enfusion 32

This Saturday in Belgium Enfusion Live presents their 32nd event, headlined by Nordin Ben Moh vs. Sergio Sanchez. This is looking to be one of Enfusion's better cards of the year, featuring a 61kg title fight between Anke Van Gestel and Aleide Lawant. Brice Guidon returns to action against Dexter Suisse, Mohammed Jaraya takes on Youssef Boulahtari, Ilias Bulaid fihgts David Mejia and Hafid El Boustati takes on Harut Grigorian.

Enfusion Live #32 Gent, Belgium Saturday 10.10.2015
21.00 Local start time (19.00 GMT)
Watch Live
If you live in the following countries the stream will be blocked due to your broadcaster showing Enfusion Live soon... Switzerland, France, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Belgium
1. 3X3 -70Kg
Hafid El Boustati (Morocco) Vs Harut Grigorian (Armenia)
2. 3X3 -67 Kg
Ilias Bulaid (Morocco) Vs David Mejia (Spain)
3. 3X3 -70Kg
Mohammed Jaraya (Morocco) Vs Youssef Boulahtari (Belgium)
Dexter Suisse (The Netherlands) Vs Brice Guidon (France)
Anke Van Gestel (Belguim) Vs Aleide Lawant (The Netherlands)
6. 3X3 -70Kg 
Nordin Ben Moh (Morocco) Vs Sergio Sanchez (Spain)


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