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Programming Note: Peter Graham Fights Cheick Kongo Tomorrow Night in Bellator

  • Published in Kickboxing

Graham

If you would have told me in 2006 that Peter Graham would be fighting in MMA regularly and that he'd not only do okay, but do pretty well, I'd probably not believe you. Not because Peter Graham isn't an awesome fighter, but because I just couldn't imagine the man behind the Rolling Thunder navigating the waters of wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Peter has always been known as an exciting, no-nonsense fighter who isn't afraid to pull out all of the stops.

Well, here we are in 2013 and the 38 year old Graham is making a serious go at Heavyweight MMA as he'll fight his second fight under the Bellator banner this Friday night against none other than Cheick Kongo. Kongo is himself known for being an exciting striker with a Kickboxing past, but then again, he doesn't have a KO win over Badr Hari with a Rolling Thunder, now does he? Graham's hard work and dedication to MMA have shown in his recent MMA outings, with him picking up a decision victory over Eric Prindle in his Bellator debut. He also isn't at all deterred from Kongo's size or reputation.

"I know who Cheick Kongo is but I haven't followed his career. He's been a great athlete for a long time. He's got a bit of kickboxing and wrestling skill. It'll be a good fight and I'm ready to go. I hope he doesn't underestimate me. I know he's been famous and had a big name for a while and, when it comes to MMA, I'm somewhat of a newcomer. I've come from the worst record to one of the best heavyweight win streaks there's been. I went from going 1-6 to 9 wins a row with 8 of them being KO's over some really good fighters. I want to get to the top and I'm not there yet, but I'm relentless. He needs to bring his A-game, which I'm sure he will. He's got that inner strength to keep going but I have it more than ever and I've worked harder than ever to make every performance better than the last."

Now if only we could see a Rolling Thunder in the Bellator cage, I'd be a happy, happy man.

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Overeem and Fedor Play Nice, For Once

  • Published in Kickboxing

I was just reading the mothership, MiddleEasy.com, and saw a photograph that I can only describe as absolutely, 100% insane yet somehow adorable and lovable. If you've been following MMA for a while now, you know that Fedor Emelianenko is a very earnest, down-to-earth and likable guy. He does some really cool things and seems like the kind of guy we could all get along with. From wearing comfy sweaters, double-fisting ice cream cones and just being a sort of goofy dude, he has endeared us all. While he is still a chubby robot bent on destroying your face when his thumb circuits aren't malfunctioning, he is a real guy and shows it a lot more than he ever did in the past.

Then there is Alistair Overeem. Overeem has been making the media rounds like crazy the past few weeks, and it is clear that Overeem is truly becoming a star in the United States. The media have gotten over their rabid questions about PEDs and treating Overeem like they would any other world champion. When the media treat someone like a star, fans see them as a star, and thus, the 2-year long odyssey that is the ascent of Alistair Overeem continues, and his management team, including Bas Boon look brilliant for the PR work they've done and the feeding of "cans" for him to dispatch and build up a highlight reel.

The proposed bout between the two fell apart when Emelianenko was defeated by Fabricio Werdum last year, which led us to where we are today. The fight between the two is still one that fans would love to see and one that Overeem still wants, but he believes, correctly, that Werdum deserves the first crack at him, hence the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP. Enter fight week in New York this week, and we get... well, this incredible photo. [source]

Fedor/Overeem

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HeadBlade Offering Discount to Benefit Mark 'Fightshark' Miller

  • Published in Kickboxing

Fightshark

I’m sure that you’ve heard by now, but if not, Mark “Fightshark” Miller is going through a tough time over the past few months. Mark’s story is well known by fans far and wide; Mark was fighting throughout most of his career with a heart defect as well as diabetes -- without knowing -- then discovered the heart condition and was forced to undergo open-heart surgery. Mark was then the first fighter to come back from open-heart surgery in May of 2011. His heroic comeback story is the stuff of legends now for American Kickboxing, with his giant knockout of Nikolaj Falin at Ultimate Glory (the precursor to GLORY). Since then it has been a rollercoaster ride for Miller, including huge ups and rock bottom downs.

Most recently there have been a series of downs, when he was forced into the hospital for complications with his CHD as well as suffering from renal failure. Those complications led to boatloads of medical bills on the un-insurable Mark Miller due to “pre-existing conditions.” Crazy, right? Now he’s facing down a kidney transplant as well as $250,000 in medical bills with his mind still set on another comeback fight. If one thing is for certain, you cannot keep Mark Miller down.

HeadBlade, one of Mark’s sponsors has recognized how tough this HeadBlade user has been over the years and now they are looking to give back to Miller with your help. HeadBlade will be running a special, two-week long campaign to help raise money for Mark where using the coupon code “FightShark” at checkout will get you a 10% discount off of their entire stock, with a portion of the proceeds going to help Mark with his medical bills. So if you are sporting a freshly-shaved head, want to, or know someone that does head over to http://www.HeadBlade.com and enter the code “FightShark” at checkout to receive an instant 10% discount and to help out the storied Kickboxer.

HeadBlade was first approached about helping Miller through this difficult time by Kristen Brown, a two time cancer survivor and Founder of Livetofight.org, a charitable cause dedicated to “Fighting relentlessly for those in the martial arts, mixed martial arts, and combat sports community who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses."

You can donate directly for Mark's medical bills through his GoFundMe.

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Why You Should Be Amped for Sergio Wielzen This Weekend in It's Showtime

  • Published in Kickboxing

Time gets the better of all of us once in a while, and for me, there has been a lot of combat sports lately, enough so to where I kept putting off discussing this weekend's It's Showtime event. Now here I am early on Tuesday morning trying to sell you on watching the fights this weekend. The big fight coming up is a 61kg MAX It's Showtime World Championship bout between the champion, Sergio Wiezlen.

Wiezlen, for a fighter at a mere 61kg (135lbs) has a ton of power to go with his speed. If you need proof, watch this video from a fighter last year, where Wiezlen faced off against a former Lumpini and four time Rajadamnern Stadium Champion (this was of course 2003 - 2006ish) and annihilated him with a right head kick.

Not sold yet? OK, in December Sergio defended his newly won It's Showtime 61kg MAX crown against a game challenger in Masahiro Yamamoto. Yamamoto was able to match him with speed, but not in power. One of my favorite moments in this fight is the left knee in the first round that puts Yamamoto down. Wiezlen looks to use those knees like a mini Ubereem, granted he is just about half the size and uses his kicks a bit more liberally.

A nice, commanding performance and what we get to look forward to this weekend. Will Wiezlen make this his 19th professional knockout?

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LEGEND 3 Set for April 5th in Milan, LEGEND 4 with Badr Hari in June

  • Published in Kickboxing

Legend

Interestingly enough, if you follow the exploits of LEGEND's Ruslan Suleymanov you'd know that he appeared at UFC 169 to have some discussions with Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita about a possible UFC event in Russia, just like he had been in discussions with GLORY officials recently and plans to again. Suleymanov has money and a love for the world of Kickboxing and MMA, so he seems steadfast on promoting more big events around the world.

According to an interview with MMAFighting's Ariel Helwani from this weekend, the next LEGEND event will be on April 5th in Milan, Italy. There have been no bouts announced yet, but we have learned that it will be a co-promotion with Carlo di Blasi's Oktagon promotion, which promotes Muay Thai in Milan. This has added to it rumors of using Giorgio Petrosyan on the card, as Di Blasi is Petrosyan's manager. This could be an explanation for the meetings with GLORY officials, as Petrosyan is signed to GLORY. The next LEGEND event afterwards will be in June, where Suleymanov expects Badr Hari to appear.

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Raul Catinas and Hesdy Gerges the Latest Fighters Confirmed for K-1 WGP Final 16

  • Published in K-1

GergesThere has yet to be anything official from K-1 yet when it comes to who is fighting in the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16, but that is alright as we've already heard from a few fighters' camps already, talking about their inclusion. So far we know that Dzevad Poturak, Paul Slowinski, Mirko Cro Cop, Ben Edwards and probably Daniel Ghita will be fighting in the K-1 tournament. There are other names rumored, like Sergei Laschenko and Catalin Morosanu, but we've yet to see anything official to that effect yet. The latest names added to the list are that of Raul Catinas and Hesdy Gerges, confirmed by their coach, Thom Harinck.

Catinas is a great addition, as a young fighter who has been continually improving over the past few years. Catinas, a Romanian fighter, has primarily been fighting for SuperKombat for the past two years in his home of Romania. His signing hints at the possible SuperKombat partnership we've been hearing about for a while, but regardless, Catinas serves as a great addition to the tournament at age 24 riding on a five fight win streak.

The addition of Gerges helps to legitimize the tournament, as Ghita will serve as the third participant in the tournament, on top of Ghita and Laschenko, who are ranked in LiverKick.com's Top 10. Daniel Ghita is a strong #2, Laschenko is #6 and Gerges is at #10. Gerges has had a tough few years after looking incredibly strong in 2010. This doesn't mean that he can't rebound, as this tournament will be a perfect chance for him to string a few quality wins together and get himself back in the discussion as one of the elite Heavyweights.

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Fighters are Human, Too, and We Need to Treat Them That Way

  • Published in Interviews

(C) GLORY

“These are the gladiators,” my father is fond of saying, “The people who agree to damage each other for our entertainment and money, and by god we’ll gladly pay them to do this until they are too beat up and brain damaged to do it anymore.” My dad is a fight fan. His favorite fighter is Fedor Emelianenko. He says this not to be crass, but to make a point: who accepts moral culpability for the violence entailed in combat sports? There’s three positions you can take: 1) You unequivocally reject combat sports because you reject violence. 2) You take the position of the opening quote, that the contract signed between the “gladiators” absolves everybody (including the fans who watch) of any moral responsibility for the outcomes and consequences of the fight, or 3) You acknowledge the violence but also appreciate and accept the moral consequences. I hope that if you’re a combat sports fan (and especially if you’re a fighter) that you take the third position.

To begin with, I don’t think that people who sincerely make statements like those above actually believe them. Serious acute or chronic injury, or worse, fatality, is not a permissible contingency held by many, and I would question the motives of those for whom it is. There may be those who genuinely believe in the idea that we shouldn’t feel bad about fighters getting seriously hurt, but I would argue that upholding this belief in even the most extreme circumstances is really testing its limits and challenging the scope and expectations that many fighters have about their own careers. No fighter wants to suffer a career ending injury, or worse, die.

Fighters are human beings. We get to see them get hurt, but we seldom see them suffer--physically, emotionally, and financially. They routinely suffer the types of injuries that most people would occasionally if ever experience and they experience more head trauma on a regular basis than most people ever would in a lifetime. We don’t get to experience and understand the personal sacrifices that they make to pursue their passion: career choices, time spent apart from loved ones, medical expenses, debt. Our insight is limited to a promoter’s media package and information publicized through outlets like this one. Fighters desire a quality of life just like anyone else. They have similar desires to make a living and provide for loved ones, even if this is very hard to do in their line of work. Their choice of profession is driven by a passion that any individual should aspire to find in their own careers.

Thus, to fans who believe that fighters have nothing to feel bad about when they hurt their opponent, why deny them their compassion? Why deny yourself compassion? The martial arts is for many practitioners a form of human expression, and while it is the practice of hand-to-hand combat, its prevalence as a component of the healthy lifestyles of many caring and compassionate individuals demonstrates that it doesn’t have to dehumanize; the countless moments of comradery throughout the span of kickboxing illustrate that. A quasi-Cobra Kai-like philosophy of violence without limits or control is malignant and destructive--and is thankfully not shared by many. Those who truly lack compassion in their hearts or who have a desire to inflict suffering when they step into the ring warrant our concern, not praise. It’s ok to care for the well-being of other people no matter what their chosen profession is.

This is the mentality that was reflected in the actions of Gokhan Saki at Glory 15 and articulated by other fighters in the aftermath of the event--there’s something to be said when professional fighters come forward, express their compassion, and demand the same from the fans. It should be the norm for anyone, fan or fighter. We should maintain the humanity to uplift people and celebrate their value, and we should also denounce voices who would seek to dehumanize, demean, reduce, or commoditize the people who we as fans have given our time, money, and appreciation. It’s the human thing to do.

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Go Ahead and Watch Tyrone Spong's MMA Debut

  • Published in Video

So Tyrone Spong finally made his MMA debut this weekend at the World Series of Fighting's inaugural event. WSoF is headed up by Ray Sefo, whom you should all know, so there is no surprise that this is where Kickboxing and Muay Thai fighter Tyrone Spong decided to make his debut. Spong fought, well, some dude named Travis Bartlett that we give all of the credit in the world to for stepping into the ring with Tyrone, but yeah. This was what it was. Watch it and marvel at why Tyrone hasn't been super active in Kickboxing.

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Ultimate Glory is Coming - Bloodstain Lane Has a Message For You

  • Published in Kickboxing

There are some people that for some reason, really dislike Bloodstain Lane, find him abrasive, crass, over-the-top and antagonizing. The truth is, he embodies all of those things with a pure, raw passion for MMA and kickboxing that I find refreshing. I feel like I'm on the same page as him a lot of the time, I just tend to choose my wording a bit differently when expressing my disdain. It works for Lane, though, as he has mentioned a few times in more candid moments, it is a character that takes parts of himself and just amplifies them. As a person who has performed on stage, I can respect and understand that, as well as understand that not everyone gets it.

The point I'm getting at here is, BSL has done a lot to promote some of the world's best fighting, and Ultimate Glory's next show is rapidly approaching. There is a very good chance that you'll be able to watch that event from the comfort of your computer or TV. So watch as BSL hooked up with Team Golden Glory's Martijn de Jong at the last Strikeforce show and gave a message about the show. Make sure to catch the show, March 19th.

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Watch The Reem Episode 12: The Final

  • Published in K-1

Follow Alistair Overeem in his online documentary "The Reem" as episode twelve shows the culmination of Alistair's hard work; the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals. This is a must-watch for K-1 fans, as it is like having an all-access pass to the K-1 World Grand Prix. To those that believed that there was some controversy over Gokhan Saki fighting Overeem you get to see Cor Hemmers backstage with Overeem and makes no mention of Saki being injured, only that both men had a war and that he will only be at ringside and let both men fight it out without providing support for either individual, only the team.

THE REEM EPISODE 12: THE FINAL from THE REEM on Vimeo.

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