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2010 LiverKick.com Fans' Kickboxer of the Year: Alistair Overeem

  • Published in News

If you'll remember way back, way back to a few weeks ago, we ran a poll on LiverKick.com to determine who you, the fans believed to be the kickboxer of the year in 2010. There really was not much of a gamble involved in this, as it was going to come down to one of the two K-1 World Grand Prix Champions, either heavyweight or MAX. Even then, it seemed like a no-brainer as to who the fans were going to vote for, due to his popularity in Mixed Martial Arts and now holding three combat sports world championships, affording him a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records.

That's right, Alistair Overeem.

Alistair Overeem ended 2008 by knocking out Badr Hari, which many conceived to be insanity at the time. Overeem was a MMA fighter with a losing kickboxing record from when he was just a kid. We all knew that Alistair Overeem was a good, not great MMA fighter and was best known for making Cro Cop's testicles hurt, a lot. For the rest of 2009 he had dedicated himself to a K-1 career, which incited Western fans who just wanted the absurdity that was the Strikeforce title situation to come to an end. Alistair Overeem was living out a dream in 2009, which was competing with the best kickboxers in the world and holding his own, while fighting MMA fights to keep himself active in between. If anything, people should have taken a step back and looked at the sheer brilliance of what his manager, Bas Boon was doing. Bas Boon was creating the next big international breakout star, something the world of fighting had not seen since the days of PRIDE.

Of course Overeem's dedication to his training, his diet and keeping a sound mind are things he himself has to accomplish, but Bas Boon's role in the whole thing is that of a mastermind. Fans cried out that Overeem was ducking fighters, but Bas Boon was signing the contracts and negotiating for different fights. In a way, it follows the old professional wrestling rules where you build a monster up through public slaughterings of lesser opponents while still placing him in real competition. The real competition in 2009 for Overeem was the K-1 World Grand Prix.  He did better than anyone really expected of him and built up a big enough name for himself to where 2010 he had another shot at K-1 glory.

2010 was the year of "the Reem." 2009 ended with a strategic slaughtering of Kazuyuki Fujita, which Western fans once again complained was not elite competition, but was a solid name who was once a very competitive gatekeeper in the heavyweight division. The Yokohama GP show in April was meant to be sort of a "Feature" show for certain fighters going into the Final 16, and Overeem was one of them, being given an opponent of a tough, but outmatched Dzevad Poturak. Contrary to popular belief, this was very real competition and Overeem proved a lot in a dominant victory. Overeem defended his Strikeforce title, while was enough to calm some of the rabid Western fans (not all, you can never please them all), and then finished out 2010 with a flawless K-1 record, ripping Ben Edwards to shreds at the Final 16, scoring a tough decision over Tyrone Spong in the quarterfinals, stopping an injured Gokhan Saki in the semis and putting an exhausted and injured Peter Aerts down like Old Yeller in the finals.

All throughout this, Overeem's name was kept fresh in everyone's minds. How? Brilliance and marketing. Overeem was in attendance when Fedor Emelianenko was submitted by Fabricio Werdum to challenge the winner, and express his disappointment with Fedor's loss but loved the idea of avenging a previous loss to Werdum later on. Then throughout the year, the viral documentary that followed Alistair Overeem's career, "The Reem" was a hit, making headlines on every website the day a new episode was launched. Marketing, as well as top performances against tough competition made Alistair Overeem a superstar.

In 2011 he looks to defend his K-1 World Grand Prix Championship, his DREAM Heavyweight Championship and enter the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP to defend his title three times in MMA competition. At this point, the line between kickboxer and MMA fighter is blurred, as Alistair Overeem is just The Reem.

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Former K-1 Head Kazuyoshi Ishii Making Headlines in Japan Again

  • Published in News

Ikumi Yoshimatsu

Former K-1 owner and founder Kazuyoshi Ishii is making waves in Japan again, only this time outside of the ring.

In December, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, the current Miss International, filed criminal and civil charges against one of Japan’s most powerful talent agencies’ executives for stalking her and attempting to ruin her career.

Yoshimatsu filed the complaint against Genichi Taniguchi, a powerful executive with the talent agency K-Dash and president of the firm Pearl Dash.

Ishii entered a meeting and demanded Yoshimatsu ride with him to the most powerful talent agency in Japan, Burning Productions. Ishii then introduced her to "the Don" of the Japanese entertainment industry, Ikuo Suho. Burning Productions has a tainted past and in 2007 was listed as a client company of the Yamaguchi-gumi.

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Sakuraba Injured at Dynamite

  • Published in K-1

I'm sure I'm not the only one here who holds Kazushi Sakuraba in high esteem.  One of my absolute favorite MMA fighters of all time, Saku is rightly hailed as the God of Japanese MMA.  But tonight was yet another hard to watch loss for the legend.

Facing Dream champion Marius Zaromskis, Sakuraba suffered an early ear injury that brought the fight to a close before it could get going.  The owner of one of the worst cauliflowered ears in all of MMA (and that covers a lot of ground), Sakuraba took a quick shot that popped the ear, causing it to bleed.  A few minutes later, he took another blow and immediately recoiled, holding his hand to his ear.  Doctors stepped in, and it looked like Sakuraba's ear had been partially torn away from his skull, resulting in a much needed stoppage. The stoppage was reminiscent of Kimbo Slice v. James Thompson on CBS, but unlike the Kimbo fight, we thankfully did not get any graphic footage of Sakuraba's ear.

Overall, it was a fight that didn't say much about Zarmoskis, and once again demonstarted that Sakuraba's time is done.  He's had a lot of loses recently, and sadly has looked old in those loses.  The lasting image of him here, with his hand covering his bloody ear, is not the way anyone wants to keep seeing this legend. 

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How Don Quijote Pulling Event Support Hurts Kickboxing in Japan

  • Published in Kickboxing

(C) SusumuDon Quijote is a clothing company based out of Japan, that through the support of such DQ board members like former professional wrestler and MMA fighter Tadao Yasuda, has supported kakutogi (martial arts) in Japan in various forms. The most obvious form was their support for MMA promoters WVR, who hosted SRC/Sengoku events. Don Quijote was one of the premier supporters for such a promotion, and over the past few weeks the top foreign fighters from SRC have been in mass-exodus mode. Usually, that is not a good thing.

NOB had a translation up from a Japanese publication, and apparently DQ had made up it's mind; it will continue to support martial arts in Japan. The bad news? They might pull support for live events, such as Sengoku events, which if you'll remember correctly, the Sengoku NYE martial arts festival featured a lot of kickboxing bouts on top of MMA fights. This was just a few weeks ago and now at this point, it appears that DQ has officially pulled their support and Sengoku is freaking out, claiming that they are as good as dead.

Apparently, Don Quijote's support of Sengoku was wholly, everything from Sengoku's offices, fighter contracts and event bookings were at the good graces of Don Quijote, thanks to Tadao Yasuda. For Japan, this means that Sengoku, easily the #2 MMA promotion to come out of the ashes of PRIDE is appearing to be going under. On top of that, there is a whole slew of uncertainty behind the future of their top rival, DREAM, which just compounds how crummy of a situation this is (of course, at the time of this article I'm watching the news showing the aftermath of the Japanese Earthquake, rated at 8.8, as well as a possible tsunami) for the Japanese fight industry.

To pull this all together, consider how this also hurts the kickboxing world. At first glance, losing the #2 MMA promotion shouldn't hurt the kickboxing world, but after Sengoku's New Year's Eve event, it was clear that Sengoku was looking to support kakutogi as a whole, including muay thai and kickboxing. Sengoku's martial arts festival was a lot more than MMA and showed promise for a positive impact in the world of fighting.

This was another bigger promotion willing to promote kickboxing who has fallen by the wayside, this isn't a good day for Japan.

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No K-1 Until at LEAST July, Maybe

  • Published in K-1

Amidst all of the talk of the possibility of Sakikabara, formerly of PRIDE, involved in one of the biggest yakuza scandals in Japanese MMA that led to the death of PRIDE and the Zuffa purchase, returning to promote MMA again, there is some news on FEG's future.

Daniel Herbertson spoke with FEG USA's Mike Kogan, and by the looks of things, FEG is planning on still hosting K-1, K-1 MAX and DREAM events in 2011, as long as things pan out. The voluntary shut down was supposed to last until March, and with March fast approaching, it looks like the new target date is May.

FEG USA's Mike Kogan this week confirmed to MMA Fighting that the leading Japanese promoter's internal restructuring will not be completed until at least May and no FEG events are expected until at least July. 

At the moment, FEG is planning to continue all three of its major events (K-1, K-1 MAX and DREAM), although that is obviously subject to change and it is clear that the events will be scaled down.

The financial state of FEG is still uncertain and Kogan was unable to confirm whether Chinese backer PUJI or any sponsors are still involved in FEG events. It seems as though Dynamite, K-1 MAX and DREAM broadcaster TBS has not signed on for 2011 yet, all signs are indicate that a new contract will be discussed after FEG's restructuring process is complete.

Dan's awesome Nippon Weekly has lots of information about Sakakiraba and what's new in Japanese MMA, so check that out. [source]

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Does Tim Sylvia Get What He's Getting Into Against Jerome Le Banner?

  • Published in Kickboxing

While it is understood that Tim Sylvia has participated in IGF's brand of professional wrestling before and probably has an understand of what to expect, Tim Sylvia's last IGF match was against Josh Barnett. Josh Barnett is a rare example of a MMA fighter who went ahead and learned the art of pro wrestling and participated in pro wrestling for the past few years outside of his MMA obligations. To be brief, Barnett knows how to work with an untrained wrestler and make sure that they don't get hurt.

Jerome Le Banner, who Tim Sylvia will step into the ring against, is a different story. Jerome's run in IGF has involved some absolute maulings. The line between fake and reality is blurred when JLB steps into the ring and starts raining down blows. Sure, he'll pull as many as he can, but when he hits, he hits, and hard. I guess the question is, will this bout remain civil and planned, or will having two professional fighters without a lot of professional wrestling experience end up in two guys trying to legitimately beat each other up? Watch JLB's bout from July against Erik Hammer and decide for yourself.

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Watch Michihiro Omigawa "Train UFC"

  • Published in Kickboxing

Nothing makes me laugh more than the term "train UFC." It has permeated into our popular culture and become a term of endearment for most fans. Most of us have known a guy who has gone to a gym and then boasts to his friends that he "trains UFC." Of course, that isn't the case with one of the top Featherweights in the world. Michihiro Omigawa. Omigawa is a case study in how a fighter dropping weight can go from mediocre to a world beater.

Omigawa's record since dropping to Featherweight is 8-2-1, with his first loss being the first time he cut against a now legendary fighter in the US, "The Korean Zombie" Jung Chan-Sung. The second loss was a close decision loss to Masanori Kanehara in the Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix Finals. Omigawa's run in the Featherweight Grand Prix is now that of legend; a fighter who was down and out, who saw himself as a failure and goes into a tournament with a losing record as fodder for bigger stars emerges as the biggest star in the promotion. To this day, there has not been a fighter in Japan during this era who has went from nobody to big star like Omigawa.

I know certain Japanese MMA pundits will disagree with me, but in today's landscape in Japan everything is leftovers. Omigawa was becoming the first home-grown star since the days of PRIDE. Omigawa just went on a five-fight tear through SRC, ASTRA and DREAM where he demanded his title shot over and over again, when it didn't happen and UFC was set to begin promoting Featherweight bouts, it made perfect sense for Omigawa to accept an offer from UFC and head to the West yet again. Japan's loss is America's gain, as we get one of the most exciting, talented and emotionally charged Featherweights in the world fighting in the UFC yet again. Fighters like Omigawa would make me watch a UFC event.

Here is a video by Dan Herbertson of MMAFighting.com of Omigawa training for his return fight to UFC against Chad Mendes.

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Yamato and Wicky Draw at Dynamite

  • Published in K-1

The final K-1 fight at Dynamite!! 2010 featured K-1's 63kg Grand Prix champion Tetsuya Yamato facing Dream fighter Akiyo "Wicky" Nishiura.  It wasn't a fight that received a lot of hype heading into the show, but turned out to be a very entertaining affair.

Through the first two rounds, the fighters were mostly even, with Wicky perhaps edging out a slight advantage by using his speed and unorthodox style to keep tagging Yamato.  Open scoring was on, and all judges gave the first two rounds 10-10.  With no extension rounds at Dynamite!!, the fight came down to the 3rd.

Both men really stepped up their game in that 3rd round, turning in a fun final stanza.  Nishiura reverted to some of his MMA habits, making things a bit sloppy at times, but both men kept the speed up, working hard to take the win.  In the closing minute, Yamato finally started to land, rocking Wicky and stumbling him.  Great ending to the fight there and some of the best action of the night so far. 

I thought that final exchange earned Yamato the round and the win, but only one judge saw it that way.  The other two again went 10-10, resulting in a majority draw.  That's not a great result for Yamato, who sould have been able to defeat the MMA fighter, but it was the kind of fight that will earn both men new fans regardless of the outcome.

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Dynamite Videos All Week

  • Published in Video

Dynamite!!Under a week until FEG presents Dynamite!! 2010 - the year end super show of the Japanese fight scene.  To get ready, check out the VIDEO OF THE DAY all week as we feature highlights from years past.

Dynamite!! has always, for me, been a show all about the spectacle and joy of Japanese fighting.  It's a chance to kick back, relax, and enjoy some fun fights.  So while a fight like 2008's Kyshenko v. Sato may have been technically great, it doesn't really capture that same crazy Dynamite!! spirit the same way Bob Sapp fighting a comic book character does.

Today's feature: We end with a personal favorite of mine - KID YAMAMOTO v. GENKI SUDO

Sunday:  BOB SAPP v. AKEBONO

Monday: SHINYA AOKI v. MIZUTO HIROTA

Tuesday: GENKI SUDO v. BUTTERBEAN

Wednesday: DON FRYE v. JEROME LE BANNER

Your picks for Dynamite!! highlights?

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Programming News and Notes on This Weekend's K-1 and It's Showtime Events

  • Published in K-1

K-1/It's ShowtimeWe have a very busy schedule coming up for us after a bit of downtime. First off, DREAM.17 marks the return of live Japanese MMA to HDnet on September 24th.

That isn't the end of the action for fight fans, though. Not by a long shot. For kickboxing fans there are two huge 70kg tournaments happening in the two kickboxing hot beds of the world. It's Showtime puts on their Fast and Furious 70kg MAX tournament. The Fast and Furious tournament is shaping up to be the biggest tournament of the year, hands down, in any weight class in the kickboxing world. The event will be streamed on It's Showtime's website, ShowtimeFights.com for the usual 10 euros live, and according to Andrew Simon from HDnet, there are plans of airing the event on the 14th of October.

On top of that, It's Showtime has promised today that on Friday they will announce the fight card for the January 28th It's Showtime event, including the location and they've promised "REALLY breaking news."

We aren't done yet, with K-1 putting on their second tournament of the year. The 70kg MAX Japan tournament marks K-1's biggest tournament so far this year after the -63kg MAX Japan tournament. The event happens on the 25th in Japan and it is unclear if or when the event will air. We have yet to hear back from K-1 on our query about a possible streaming option and HDnet has confirmed that they have no current plans on airing the event.

Stay logged into the LiverKick.com all this week for updates and previews of these huge events.

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