Last year, Masato was chosen by one of Japan's largest newspapers, NikkanSports as their Combat Sports MVP. It was an honor for the retiring fighter, and a great way to cap off his stellar fighting career. This year, they chose Alistair Overeem, the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Champion. It is safe to say that the man known as "The Reem," "The Dutch Cyclone" as well as "Ubereem" had a banner year, with five victories in K-1 competition (Poturak, Edwards, Spong, Saki and Aerts), with fourKO victories. To top it off, he defended his Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship against Brett Rogers in May and looks to be competing at Dynamite!! against Todd Duffee for the DREAM Heavyweight Championship. For any fighter, this would be a good year, for Ubereem, it was another year in the life.
The showdown between Badr Hari and Gokhan Saki is just two days away now, with things reaching a critical mass for both fighters. At this point both men are done training and are simply wading through the final preparations before the big fight. In an interesting interview with Fighters Only, Gokhan Saki interrupted his training earlier in the week to discuss the upcoming bout with Badr Hari as well as a bunch of other issues. One of the big topics was K-1, and he says that he knows "many things" about K-1, but that he can't talk about them right now. This goes along with a lot of the rumblings we've been hearing behind the scenes.
When asked about MMA and if he is interested, his answer is simply, "Yes, of course, I'm a fighter, you know?" Saki mentioned maybe MMA, maybe Boxing, that he has been training in both, but that his "thing is K-1" and that is his main focus for right now. [source]
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.
Muay Thai legend Saenchai has landed in New York and is all set for his round of seminars that are set to go down on the 13th, 14th and 15th at the Striking 101 Gym in New York City. Pakorn was initially supposed to accompany Saenchai, but due to visa issues Saenchai will be going it alone without Pakorn.
There are a host of UFC, MMA and Kickboxing stars that are to be in attendance for Saenchai's NYC seminars, with Uriah Hall's name being tossed around as one of the names that has requested some time with the legendary Thai fighter. We'll have an update with what his schedule looks like further in the coming days. Here's a look at some highlights from his seminar in Kuala Lumpur.
This Friday, July 4th at 9pm Eastern time on AXS TV the world will be treated to Lion Fight 16. Lion Fight 16 will take place at the Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada and be an official part of UFC's International Fight Week. That means that the UFC will be helping Lion Fight to promote the event throughout the week and it should be an electric atmosphere on Friday. The event is headlined by Kevin Ross taking on Michael Thompson with the Lion Fight Super Lightweight Championship to be decided.
The event will also feature muay thai legend Rungravee Sasiprapa and Tiffany Van Soest in action. Here is a look at the full fight card.
Super Lightweight Title Bout Kevin Ross vs Michael Thompson Co-Main Event Tiffany Van Soest vs Sindy Huyer Super Fight Rungravee Sasiprapa vs. Adrian Morilla Tyler Toner vs. Gaston Bolanos Josh Shepard vs Casey Parlett
AXS TV has also released the bloody, awesome video from Lion Fight 15 of Kevin Ross vs. Chris Mauceri. Check it out.
Former UFC fighter and current GLORY fighter Pat Barry was announced as an addition to January's Legacy Kickboxing event promoted by Legacy Fighting. The fight goes down on January 16th in Houston, Texas and Pat Barry will be fighting Demoreo Dennis. Barry is still under contract with GLORY but GLORY has given both Pat and Legacy the go-ahead for the fight.
The fight will air on AXS TV and will be using a variation of the K-1/GLORY rule set, which means no elbows and limited clinch work. This is already adding to a card including Michael Corley and Cosmo Alexandre, which is great. It's good to see more kickboxing hitting the airwaves soon and bringing the heat.
Bill Goldberg appeared on Ariel Helwani's MMA Hour this afternoon and the sole purpose was for Bill Goldberg to talk about his relationship with GLORY. That relationship has been much-publicized over the past few months after GLORY learned about Goldberg's admiration for the sport of kickboxing and the organization itself. Goldberg, of course, still trains seriously and there has been talk about a possible fight between Goldberg and an unnamed opponent.
According to Goldberg on the show the fight that was offered to him was none other than Alberto Del Rio/Alberto el Patron/Rodriguez, or the guy that was formerly Dos Caras Jr. and fought Mirko Cro Cop. The fight was offered to Goldberg for May 8th but he decided that it wasn't the right direction that he'd like to see GLORY move in but remains steadfast that he wants to work with GLORY in some capacity, possibly even fight if the situation was right. Apparently a fight with Del Rio was a bit too much of a freakshow fight for him to justify it.
Goldberg reiterated that he is willing to do whatever it takes to work with GLORY and to help promote the brand, even if it means working in the front office, hosting shoulder programming or appearing as a commentator on events. While Goldberg's heyday in WCW was just under 20 years ago now he still commands a loyal following and has been involved in Mixed Martial Arts and sports since departing the WWE. It'll be interesting to see where this goes from here.
You knew it was a hard road for Todd Duffee. Facing the rampaging Alistair Overeem, on short notice, under MMA rules where The Reem can use his killer knee? That's a tall order, and unfortunately for the ex- UFC fighter, he wasn't up to it.
In just 19 seconds, Overeem landed a series of blows, including that murderous knee, to knock Duffee down and out. Duffee's chin has been a question mark since his UFC loss to Mike Russow, but those blows would have put almost anyone away. Such is the power of the K-1 champion.
With that win, Overeem claims the Interim Dream Heavyweight title, making him the current Dream, Strikeforce, and K-1 champion. I know he has his detractors, but that's an impressive accomplishment.
As always, FEG has put together some absolutely epic video packages for this year's Dynamite!! It is split into four parts and each part ranges around 9 minutes or so. You can see, very clearly, who FEG and TBS are appealing to in these video packages. Part 1 is Satoshi Ishii vs. Jerome Le Banner. About 10 seconds of JLB footage is shown.
There have been rumors about Spong for weeks now, with the former K-1 Heavyweight being a hot commodity on the open market. It appeared that Spong was linked to K-1 for a while, as he was used in the promotional materials for the K-1 Open Tryouts in Los Angeles, but those close to him in the Netherlands were saying the opposite; that he was unhappy with K-1 and didn't trust them. In a press release yesterday (sorry, we've been down for 24 hours), Glory announced that Tyrone Spong had signed with them and will be a participant in their tournament in December in Japan.
Spong makes a welcome addition to the Glory World Series tournament in what could be one of his last active years as a Kickboxer, as he resides in Florida, training with the Blackzilians team (also known as Team Jaco) and is managed by Authentic Sports Management. Spong is essentially surrounded by MMA and talk of him making a MMA debut at some point in the near future has not died down at all. Whatever his decisions for signing with Glory over K-1 are, they are his own and he has not publicly explained it, but his reasons are his reasons.