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Interviews (83)

K-1's Ned Kuruc Talks Amateur Open and K-1 World MAX Finals

Since the formation of K-1 Global there have been some ups and downs for the K-1 name, but we’ve definitely all come to a consensus that under K-1’s current management they want the best for the brand and for the sport. K-1 is set to continue pushing forward over the next few month with a few events that will look to solidify the brand’s place in the current market for kickboxing. The first is in September in the UK, being touted as an open amateur scouting event. We’ve spoken with Ned Kuruc of K-1 a few times before and he’s spoken about how important they feel that an amateur system is for the future of the sport and this Amateur Open is just further proof of that. The second event is, of course, the K-1 World MAX Finals, where Buakaw Banchamek will compete against Enriko Kehl and other great fights.

We caught up with Ned Kuruc to discuss both of these events as well as the future of K-1. The first thing is that K-1 will be holding an Amateur Open on the 13th and 14th of September in the UK, which has attracted a lot of attention thus far. “As of right now we’ve had 500 inquiries and 50 countries have shown interest. We don’t really have hard numbers on this yet because the deadline is September 2nd. Tons of interest shown already, though.”

How does it play into the future of K-1, though? K-1 has always been the home of the top level of fighters, so it is an interesting turn to shift some of their focus to the future. “There is a bit of a generation gap -- or a generation loss -- and I believe that through the amateur system that it’s the best way to get the K-1 brand associated with kids that are coming up and for all martial arts. K-1 isn’t just about kickboxing, it’s about martial arts and it’s a platform for those involved to test their skills and see who is the best in the world. With that being said, the amatuer system is, what I feel, is the best way to get the brand associated with those up-and-coming fighters and kids who don’t remember K-1 like you or I do.

“Not only is this a good way for us to raise brand awareness across generations right now, but there are a lot of fighters out there who want to test their skills. K-1 is a high, high level, it’s the pinnacle of standup sports. There are amatuer groups out there that already have K-1 rules and make champions in these weight classes. K-1 is okay with that, because it is a sport unto itself. Our brand is its own sport,” he explains. “In the past no one has wanted to venture into amatuer sports. Just like when K-1 was founded, we want this to be an open tournament where we really are able to find the best fighters from across the world to compete under the K-1 banner.”

It’s a point that will ring true for fans of K-1, where the K-1 concept originally started under the premise of pulling all of the best fighters from across the world together under one banner and to have them compete against each other. As with anything else, though, it was a business and building stars became the main focus. So the scene began to only host the top few names year-in and year-out, which was exciting, but may have led to excluding other talents who were coming up through the ranks of amateur and professional leagues but couldn’t break into K-1 because fans in Japan wanted to see the names that they knew and loved.

“We want to give opportunities to the best fighters out there. The old K-1 was a bit of an old boys club where if you didn’t have the right management or the right trainers you’d never get that opportunity to compete in K-1. I’m not saying that it was a bad system,” he adds. “They were the best managers and trainers in the world and they produced some of the best fighters. But now we have Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all of that with the internet and a fighter can post a video of themselves and send it to us and some doors might open up for him. This Amateur Open is for my team and myself to be able to physically see some of these fighters and get them involved with K-1. It’s a direct feeder system. We’re also willing to work with professional fighters who haven’t had a chance before, if you look at our cards we’ve given a lot of young, up-and-coming talent a chance on a bigger stage. Some have done really well and others haven’t, this is how you can really find the best fighters in the world.”

K-1 understands that their brand, name and rules are important in the world of kickboxing and have been adopted throughout the world. They aren’t looking to strip that away from anyone, because they feel that the sport of K-1 has taken on a life of its own, which they are willing to use to their advantage in promoting the brand of K-1. They look at K-1’s rules and see so many amateur events and championships around the globe that even see a possibility for K-1 to be considered an Olympic sport at some point, although not in the near future. This, looking towards building up a strong amateur feeder system, is a good first step. K-1 wants you to know that they aren’t just a brand, but they are a sport.

K-1 is now focused on Thailand, though, where K-1 will present the very first K-1 event on Thai soil in October. The show is the K-1 World MAX Finals where Buakaw Banchamek and Enriko Kehl will fight for the K-1 World MAX Championship, a title that the winner will wear proudly and defend as K-1 moves away from the yearly tournament format. 

“A lot of things had to fall in place for this to happen,” Ned explains. “First was Buakaw fighting for the championship. It’s a lot more evenly-matched fight than people think that it is, but when the officials from Thailand were talking with us, we understood how important it was to have a star like Buakaw on the card. It would mean a lot to Thai fans to see Buakaw win a K-1 title in Thailand, if he can get by Enriko, that is. We had to be creative in making this show happen. Everyone who works in this sport only tries to work with other people who work within the sport, which isn’t always the right way to do things.

“From what I’ve seen in my time with K-1, they generally aren’t the best business people. When I try to work with people I try to work with people who aren’t just in fighting and promoting. We try to work with entertainment companies and legitimate businesses. The group, people that I’m working with on this show aren’t in the fight game. They are from the business world in Thailand, so I had a different approach and it’s worked. This should be a very, very exciting show.”

The topic of the direction of the sport of kickboxing came up after last week I wrote about a growing movement among fans to err on the side of negativity for the outlook of the sport. “In my opinion, at this certain point, it’s gotten the most exposure that it has. We’re in the age of the internet, which helps. As far as K-1, it’s no secret that we are in a rebuilding phase. That’s my job, to rebuild it. Some people might think that it’s been a slow process or that it’s taken too long, but we’re in a very definite transition phase in kickboxing and the sport of K-1. You have K-1, who is still in the game, but yeah, we are a bit slower. Time will tell how my strategy unfolds. 

“Then you have other organizations, you have GLORY who have been putting a lot of money into their shows. They have a lot of talent, great production, but it’s not much of a business plan. Am I a fan of their product? Absolutely. Would I do things the way that they are doing it? Absolutely not, it just doesn’t seem like it’s a viable business plan that can go on for years. I just wouldn’t do it that way. You have other promotions like Enfusion that are doing a good job, you have SuperKombat, Rise, KRUSH. There are a lot of organizations out there, the problem that I have is that I have a massive brand and that I have to do it properly,” Ned explains. “My ideology is to not keep throwing millions of dollars into a show to generate small revenue. I think that there are a few organizations that are playing monkey-see, monkey-do with the UFC and I don’t think that is the proper way to do things.

“Kickboxing doesn’t sell PPVs. We know that, I feel like we’ve always known that. People have tried, but it just won’t work. That means that you can’t copy the UFC model because they are all about PPV. That’s where their revenue comes from. My idea is that it has to be done in steps, it has to be built, you need a foundation. If you look at the brands that have existed for years and not just a few before going away. That’s how K-1 has existed for so long. I feel that kickboxing is in a good state, generally, I would just hate to see some of the organizations make mistakes and go away. The way I see it, the more the merrier, the more that the sport is built up. It only helps all of us in the long run.”

The K-1 World MAX Finals takes place on October 11th in Pattaya, Thailand and the K-1 Amateur Open takes place on September 13th and 14th in the UK. For more information visit http://www.k-1.tv/

 

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Exclusive Interview with GLORY Fighter Saulo Cavalari

There are some fighters who gradually work themselves into the hearts of fans with their personality or by demonstrating great skill in the ring. For some this recognition comes after years of hard work. Then there are others that have such a dynamic debut and who also possess such charisma and charm that the press and fans are almost instantly addicted. Saulo Cavalari falls into the latter category. Making his Glory debut in Chicago, October 2013, Cavalari took to the ring with a decision victory over the Belgian Bull, Filip Verlinden. He was just warming up. The following month, Cavalari faced Mourad Bouzidi at Glory 12 at Madison Square Garden where he delivered one of the most brutal knockouts witnessed by Glory fans. If you didn't know his name before Glory 12, surely Cavalari was on the radar of press and fans alike after his brutal knock out of Mourad Bouzidi.

Recently I had to opportunity for a Q & A with Saulo. Here are some of his thoughts about muay thai, his career and his future.

SW: Depending on the source, your professional record is listed as 31-3 or 28-3. What is your actual professional record?

SC: My professional record is 28-3.

SW: Where did you get the nickname "Cassius Clay?"

SC: Cassius Clay was a icon and one of the best fighters of all time. He was always an inspiration for me and that's why people started calling me with that nickname. But I'm Saulo Cavalari and I hope to build my own career, if I get 50% of what Cassius Clay accomplished I'll be very satisfied.

SW: At what age did you begin training?

SC: I was still a 9 years old boy.

SW: How long have you been with Thai Brasil?

SC: Since it was founded in 2007.

SW: Your knockout of Mourad Bouzidi at Glory 12 was one of the most spectacular of 2013, did you expect to knock him out so quickly and with such force?

SC: I always go for the KO and I always fight with aggressive style. I know that the crowd loves it and since when I was very young I knew I'd be a exciting fighter. All punches that I land in a fight have KO power and I was very happy that I could throw it perfectly in the beginning of the fight.

SW: What are some of your goals for 2014?

SC: My goal is to be the GLORY Champion. I wasn't able to pass the semifinals so my main goal in 2014 is to win my next fight whoever the opponent they send me.

SW: Who has been your most difficult opponent to date?

SC: Tyrone Spong. His skills are perfect and he defends himself very well. I remember that I was trying to hit him with my best shots and his defense was very strong and he always counter attacks with precision. He's the best in the world but I know I can beat him.

SW: There's a rumor that you would like to fight Saki. Besides Gokhan is there anyone else you would like to fight?

SC: I'd like to fight whoever wants to fight me. That's my message to the division: if anyone is brave enough to fight a young and hungry lion please call Mr. Cor Hemmers and ask for me: I'll be waiting.

SW: What specifically is your message to Saki???

SC: Saki you are a legend and I'll always respect you but I want this belt, I want to be the champion of GLORY. So as long as I'm alive I'll be hunting this belt.

SW: If you were not involved in muay thai/kickboxing, what kind of profession would you have chosen?

SC: Since the first time I trained I knew that I'd be a fighter. So since 9 years old I'm training to be the world champion - nothing else never crossed my mind.

SW: Who are some fighters that you enjoy watching?

SC: Mike Tyson, Tyrone Spong and Cassius Clay

SW: When you are not training, what are some of your favourite activities?

SC: I like surfing, skateboarding, basketball and being with my friends.

SW: Recently, I spoke with Thom Harinck about training you. What was your experience like training with such a legendary figure?

SC: He is the best trainer I've ever met. He has so much experience and knows everything. I'd like to say that I'd like to be trained by him again.

SW: Your style has been characterized as very aggressive, how would you describe your fighting style?

SC: I'm a aggressive fighter who always looks for the KO. I can win round 1 and 2, I'll never take a rest in the last round. I'm not satisfied if I don't KO my opponents

SW: What do you consider as the most difficult part(s) of a fighter's life?

SC: Sponsorship deals are very hard to find in Brazil.

SW: You have been successful in K-1, Tatneft and WAKO South America and are currently ranked number three in Glory. Once you’ve achieved the number one ranking what else do you see in your future?

SC: I'll try to remain the #1 for as long as possible and show that Brazil is not only a BJJ / MMA country. We also have Kickboxing here.

SW: Do you have any message to your fans?

SC: Thank you for supporting me. I'll ALWAYS go for the KO.

With the year at the 3/4 mark, one can only guess that GLORY still has a few surprises for us. Whether his next match comes this year or next, one thing is certain, Saulo will be ready and will approach his opponent in a manner that is sure to leave us all stunned and wanting more!

 

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Interview with Zsolt Zathureczky

It's not unheard of that fighters of a specific principle want to try themselves out in a different style. Mirko CroCop, Tyrone Spong, Dustin Jacoby to name a few, have all dipped their feet and crossed the boundaries of their chosen sport. So why would it be any different in other parts of the world?

For many years the 193 cm tall (6'3"), 104 kg (230lbs) physical phenom Zsolt Zathureczky was one of the most sought after fighters in Hungary when it came to MMA shows. Despite his young age (Zsolt will be 26 this December) it was unthinkable to organize an event without him being on the card.

At Age 17 Zsolt hit the gym and chose Team Pit Bull at Soroksár (a district of the capital, Budapest). In two weeks he was competing. And he never stopped since.

His results speak for themselves. Amongst countless MMA, Kempo and even street fighting tournaments he won: 

  • He became the K-3 Hungarian champion in 2009
  • Won the Hungarian K-3 HW title in 2010 and
  • Became the Hungarian HW Muay Thai champion the same year

After some hiatus he recently participated in a well-known tournament series in Hungary, Fight Club's 12th event. The 8 man tournament provided quality production and fights to the fans in K-1, Muay Thai and MMA rulesets. Zsolt beat all three opponents and won the tournament by finishing his last with a powerful bodyshot.

Q: - Hello Zsolt! First of all congrats for winning the 8 man tournament! Apart from this how's 2014 so far?

A: - Thanks, yeah Fight Club 12 was an awesome experience because of many reasons. It was very well organized and I was really happy that I had this opportunity to show my standup game. Because of my history with MMA people usually think that I'm more of a ground fighter. When I accepted the invitation my opponents seemed a bit way to eager to accept it as well...

Q: - Do you think they were looking at you as a heavy underdog?

A: - Well they must've thought that they're going to have a big advantage over me simply because of their background (K-1, Muay Thai) so I think I've managed to suprise them big time when my combinations and knees started to land.

Q: - How do you like K-1 rules by the way? Do you feel comfortable competing under such rules?

A: - I'm missing the clinch. My knees are one of my main weapons and I like to land them from there you know. YOu have to work around it otherwise you get separated quickly.

Q: - Is it safe to say that this was the biggest challenge then in fighting under K-1 rules?

A: - Yeah, I think my first fight was kinda rusty if you know what I mean. The second fight was way better and when the third came I was really feeling it and managed to finish with that body shot. It was a great test for me to see where my striking and cardio at and I was really happy as I felt fresh through the very end.

Q: - So was this your favorite KO maybe?

A: - To be honest this was my first time I managed to get it in a fight but I really liked it. I've caused painful moments with body shots before in sparring but I hope I'll get it again soon in an actual fight.

Q: - How does training look like nowadays?

A: - We put the plan together with my brother, set goals and a strategy which we follow. There are always things we focus on like the things we feel as weak links and we attack those until it gets fixed. He's helping me a lot with getting information, reading up on articles, translating for me and so on. We are truly a team so when I get to the gym I have nothing else on my plate just training.

Q: - What's next for you? DO you have any plans for the remainder of the year?

A: - Yes I have a fight in Germany in the Winter but I'd like some fights in the Fall too. I'm focusing a bit more on opportunities abroad and I'm trying to get as many fights I can.

Q: - You seem to be ready all year round..

A: - I have to. I don't have to be that strict with my diet but still I have to pick things. I need a lot of energy for my training. It's really easy to lose from cardio for example.

Q: - How can you coordinate and put everything together - traveling, training, fighting with your personal life and work?

A: - This is something extra you have to be able to do as a pro athlete. I meet my limits every week, every day and I have to confront them so I can grow beyond them with will and a lot of work. This is a lifestyle for me. Something that I chose. Certainly being a bit ascetic helps but you'll need the right partner as well to support you. Luckily I have all this. Sometimes it is hard but you know how it goes: "victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay it's price".

Many thanks Zsolt! Best of luck with the upcoming fights!

 

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Exclusive Interview with Marco Tentori

We had a chance to speak with Australian Muay Thai champion and Kung Fu specialist Marco Tentori before his biggest fight to date against "Stone Cold" Steve Moxon. Marco did beat Frankie Giorgi in December of last year, and Giorgi holds a win over Moxon but Moxon has been very active fighting big names. So it will be a tough test, that Tentori is more than willing to take on.

LK: Ok first off lets start with your fight record, height, weight, stance?

MT: Current fight record 26 wins 6 losses(but i dispute some) 8 KO's. Height: 179cm / 5feet 10.5 inches. Weight: middleweight 160lbs/72.5kg, though this is the middleweight class in pro Muay Thai & boxing, it would be closer to the welterweight div for MMA & Glory. Stance: variable. Age - 30

LK: Do you have any nicknames? If so whats the story behind it?

MT: Machine Gun, Alan Pond gave it to me the promoter who put the shows on for which I fought my first few fights (though now he is my coach). He had a habit of giving nicknames when a fighter didn't have one to help with the promotion of shows. He nicknamed me "Machine Gun" due to my high work rate and it stuck

LK: You are in Australia, have you been there your whole life? Trained in any other countries?

MT: Yes I have been here my whole life and only trained and fought in Australia, though keen to get out & fight internationally. Can be difficult to get fights in other countries due to our location.

LK: You have a big fight with Steve Moxon coming up in two and a half weeks, hows training and how are you feeling?

MT: Training is going great! So far one of the best camps I have had. I am feeling as good as ever and feel ready to go right now! Like a hungry wolf being held back on a leash. I can't wait to get in there.

LK: I noticed that you have already beat names like Frankie Giorgi but do you think Moxon will be the biggest test?

MT: Given Moxon's level of competition & activity I would say that he would be the biggest test so far, although Frankie Giorgi did beat Moxon not too long ago. I am not phased by Moxon's reputation or record, I welcome the chance to challenge him.

LK: So, i was told your main fighting style is Kung Fu, what type, what gym do you train at and have you been there from the start of your training?

MT: My background & base is Buk Sing Choy Lay Fut. I started my training in this style at the Chinese Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy. For my first few fights I trained solely out of this gym & in that style, but since there were no full contact kung fu tournaments here at the time I jumped in & fought muay thai instead. A kung fu guy fighting against muay thai under their rules, not something that happens too often. While I was winning I had some holes in my game so Alan Pond invited me over to spar & do some training in his gym. Since then I have been based out of both gyms, the kung fu school & Alan Ponds gym, splitting training between both.

LK: What age did you start at the Chinese Kung Fu Academy? Also whats the name of Alan Ponds gym?

MT: As a teenager, around 14 years old. Alan's gym is the Midland Martial Arts & Ultimate Fitness Center, formerly the Chinese Boxing Club (his background being western boxing & Kung Fu, off the top of my head he had around 78 fights between boxing & thai boxing)

LK: You said that you don't agree with a few losses, which was the worst and why?

MT: Most of them were very very close. The worst one was when I fought Jason Lea for the Perth Cup in my 13th fight, while Jason had around 36 fights at the time. While I & the crowd felt that I won the fight, one judge had it for me, the other for Jason & the other had it a draw. As there was no provision for an extension round the drawn judge was told to pick a winner & chose Jason so it was awarded to him. Not much of a story there really, though I feel that one of the judges was not completely impartial. Not taking anything away from Jason, he is a top bloke & I respect him a lot he went on to fight on one of the first big Thai Fight tournaments in 2010. I say that I feel that one judge was not impartial, as he also judged the fight I had after that against the New Zealand champion. He had it 50-50 a draw, while the two other judges had me winning every round 50-45, So something not right there.

LK: What titles have you held?

MT: In order: former WPMF super-middleweight & middleweight state titles. WBC Muay thai middleweight national title, ISKA light-middleweight national title, OTBA middleweight national title, WKA south pacific title, WMC middleweight state title - challenging for the WMC national title in October. Again the weight categories are the standard ones for Muay Thai, not the MMA or Glory ones with the same names but different weight categories

LK: Would you say you have a rival at all? If so who and why?

MT: Rivals, none at the moment but I feel that I have unfinished business with those that I had the close losses to.

LK: Okay last one, it's something I ask every fighter,

Hardest puncher you've fought? MT: Pat Doherty

Hardest Kicker you've fought? MT: Ruan DuPlessis

Hardest fight? MT: what aspect of difficulty are you talking here? The hardest fight I had was against Dusan Salva, but it was my hardest as I was stupidly sick for a few days before (and after) the fight, vomiting & bad diarrhea. Was a struggle to eat at all & could not keep much down. I had to try very hard not to shit myself or vomit during the fight. I had to get stitched up after & spewed on the doctor. But hardest fight due to opponent & not circumstances, was probably Ruan DuPlessis.

Favourite Fighter? MT: Roberto Duran

LK: OK thanks a lot Marco, is there anything you feel I've missed and you would like to say, or anything you want to tell your fans and sponsors?

MT: Statement for fans: keep watching as the best is yet to come! I have called out the WMC champion Mike 300 and will be taking him on in October after Steve Moxon. Once I am through with them I will be looking for something even bigger. 

I would also like to thank my sponsor WMD Fight Gear.

There is probably more I would like to cover but its 1:30am and having trouble thinking of topics at the moment. It will likely come to me when I try to fall asleep..... haha

LK: Thanks again Marco and keep training hard, we will be looking forward to hearing about your next wins.

 

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‘Hope for the best and prepare for the worst’ - An exclusive interview with Hungary's 22 years old Patrik "Titan" Vidákovics

K-1, Muay Thai, kickboxing, Low-Kick, Light-Contact - whatever comes the -75kg Patrik takes it. And the results speak for themselves - Multiple times National and European cup winner, European champion,  World cup 3rd place, 2x world champion, Professional K-1 Hungarian Champion, Professional K-1 Intercontinental Champion. But how did the story beging for the young Titan?

As Patrik was walking down the streets of Baja, - a city in Bács-Kiskun County, southern Hungary -, in 2008, at age 16 he noticed a poster about upcoming kickboxing classes. He went to check out the training of renowned trainer András Mezőfi and fell in love with the sport immediately. Seven years have passed and Patrik is just as passionate as ever. Despite the success he remained a down to earth guy thankful to his coach, team and to the sport for everything it brought him.

He's grateful for the transformation the sport made him go through. To his own admission kickboxing has made him turn his life around as he was really shy and insecure as a boy.

"My mother has never would've thought that I'll ever try my hands at something like this" - said Patrik. Since he started he has not only managed to get two world titles, won pro championships but grew a lot physically and mentally, as a person.

Patrik is a total fanatic when it comes to training and he credits all his success to the hard work, perseverance he put in throughout the years at Kick-Thai-Boxing Team Baja. Due to this mentality and being ready all year round he managed to capture the K-1 Intercontinental belt last November in Berlin in a clash what started as an exhibition fight.

"I traveled to Berlin as a wingman really for the Hungarian team. The event had multiple championship, world championship and intercontinental championship fights and when I've arrived the organizers asked me if I could jump in for an exhibition fight. A few hours passed when it surfaced that the winner can bring the Intercontinental Championship belt  home. I was fighting a weight class above my natural -75kg (~165lbs) and after five rounds of war I managed to get the belt."

Q- How does your training look like nowadays?

A- We focus a lot on functional training with my coach András Mezőfi to get me in the best shape possible and I have a schedule for every day of the week. We train striking and the kicks separately and then we sync them and bring everything together. There's a lot of emphasis on cardio, S&C. In an actual training camp when I prepare for a fight I traing twice a day - in the a.m and late in the afternoon.

Q- Tell us about your next fight!

A- My next one will be in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 15 Aug at an event called No Limit 7. my opponent will be a dangerous 27 year old local fighter, 86kg (~189lbs), 185cm (6'1") Mesud Selimovic. He has won several international cups, and became Balkan kickboxing vice-champion in 2011. We were studying some tape and found some weaknesses. He's a smart, disciplined fighter setting up his attacks nicely. I'll have to watch out and will put some extra time in when training cardio. I think it can be a deciding factor because of the weight difference.

Q- I know that fighters in general don't like to think ahead than their next fight but what are your plans for the remainder of the year and for the near future?

A- I'm not looking past my opponent by any means but I want to capture my 3rd K-1 world championship in October and after that get the European championship belt too at the event organized by Kick-Thai-Boxing Team Baja.

Thanks for the interview and best of luck Titan!

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Sharing a Six-Pack with Justin Greskiewicz

8/1/14, Mashantucket Reservation, CT - The night before a fight can be a weird time for a fighter.  Some go into seclusion, turning off their phones and locking themselves in a room.  Some go out to a big dinner with the team or friends and family.  Some just eat, watch movies, visualize and pass out, or try to.  I was lucky enough to catch Justin Greskiewicz, the Purple People Eater, the night before the biggest match-up of his professional Muay Thai career, Malaipet Sasiprapa in the Lion Fight 17 show at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.  

Not wanting to take up too much of his time, especially while he was eating, we shared a quick six questions, and then I let him get back to it:

Okay, the weigh-ins over, the hard work is done, time to eat rest, relax and get ready to have some fun tomorrow... if you have the time it'd be great if you can answer these any way you see fit.

The Arbiter: What makes tomorrow's match-up different or more challenging than previous fight? Do you think it's your toughest?

Justin Greskiewicz: This fight is definitely going to be tough. He keeps talking about how hard he trained and that we're gonna see the old Malaipet again. That will make my victory that much sweeter. This will be one of my toughest fights to date for sure.

T.A.: What are some challenges that you faced in training and teaching/running Stay Fly at the same time?

JG: Training hard for a fight is difficult with my own business to run. I'm pretty much the Lone Ranger running stuff there. Also, I don't really have a coach, but lots of people have helped me out along the way for this fight and so many people have stepped up so I could train hard.

T.A.: How has your training differed from prior fights? Any new wrinkles?

JG: I trained hard for this fight. My last 2 fights I had a tough time finding training, but I still did very well. For this fight, I had the help I needed to get ready to do it.

T.A.: What are the weaknesses in your opponent’s game that you think you can exploit?

JG: Malaipet's biggest weakness has been his conditioning, recently. I think I can exploit that if I really push the pace of the fight. Also, his boxing is not really great, he looks for one big shot at a time, and I'll be looking to take advantage of that.

T.A.: Which part of your game or personality would you say is your most reliable or central to victory tomorrow?

JG: My biggest ally in this fight is my will to win. A win here at Lion Fight would be great for my career, especially against one of the best in the game. I want it bad, and tomorrow I'm gonna take it.

T.A.: And lastly, are there any special combos or techniques we should watch for? Old favorites, new experimental stuff? 

J.G.: I will be looking to mix it up a lot in there tomorrow. You might see a fancy technique or two thrown in, which isn't normally the style that I fight. It should be exciting.

T.A.: Thanks for your time brother, I'll let you get back to your visualizations or Tekken or watching Dolomite, whatever your routine is.

J.G.: Ha-ha! Thanks still stuffing my face…

T.A.: Enjoy, asta manana!

J.G.: Werd up!

T.A.: Thanks again for taking time to answer even a couple if these. Best of health and luck tomorrow, CHOK DEE, BROTHER!!!!

Justin will be fighting Thai Champion Malaipet Sasiprapa tonight as the main event of Lion Fight 17 from the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Casino and Resort tonight.  If you can’t be there live you can catch it on AXS TV, starting at 7:00pm.

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A Few Questions With Glory Middleweight Israel "The Last Style Bender" Adesanya

Earlier this week we were lucky enough to get to chat with Israel Adesanya and ask few questions before his King in The Ring 8 man tournament in Auckland, NZ on August 30th. Israel is the first fighter from New Zealand to sign with Glory and is the current WKBF Cruiser & Light Heavyweight, IKBF Cruiserweight and WMC Oceania Cruiserweight Champion.

LK: Hi Israel, first of all tell us your fight stats, height, weight, record, etc?

IA: Fight record is 34 wins/ 2 losses/ 0 draws/ 16kos, Height: 190cm/6'3", Weight: 84kg/185lbs, Stance: Orthodox, Age: 25yrs old.

LK: What nickname do u go by? I've heard Style bender?

IA: The last Style Bender. Lol big fan of cartoons, 1 of my faves being the Avatar series. Love the story behind it and the idea of me being the last of my kind, so I have to master all the elements of fighting to realize my destiny as the Avatar.

LK: You have an 8 man tournament coming up Aug 30 in Auckland, hows training going, how are you feeling?

IA: Yup for King in the Ring. I'm feeling great man, all I do is train eat sleep and repeat. I could fight tomorrow that's how ready I am.

LK: Do you know any of the other opponents? Who do you think is the best man in the tournament after you of course?

IA: Yup a lot of the guys in the tournament are friends of mine. We've traveled and trained together for years. But it makes no difference, I've had fights with my brothers and sister growing up. I'd fight anyone! I'd fight my grandma even...but she's dead. Makes no difference who has the bad luck to face me that night, I'll pull no punches and I expect them to come at me. I'm not the defending King in the Ring champ, but I know these boys all wanna beat up the Glory fighter. So that keeps me sharp.

LK: What do you think of the 8 man tournament format? Do you like it better than a single fight?

IA: I like the spectacle of it. 7 men will fall and 1 will rise, it's so throwback. But I prefer to have a single fight for the most part. 8 man tournaments are taxing on the body. I won my 1st 1 in 2010 for the IKBF 8man.

LK: You train at City Kickboxing, is that where you first started training? How's the attitude/ atmosphere/sparring partners?

IA: I started in TKD as a kid. Stopped for almost or over 10 years then training in Wanganui New Zealand with Derek Broughton. Then decided to move to the big smoke of Auckland city after visiting City Kickboxing on a road trip. One of the best decisions to train at City Kickboxing with Eugene Bareman and Doug Viney.

LK: I have to ask about your fight with Simon Marcus, how did you feel about that decision?

IA: Man, I know, the people know, and Simon knows he didn't win that fight. He hit me with 2 clean punches the whole fight, I rocked him twice and he wanted cuddles, I bent around all his strike attempts and hit him clean more times in the fight while doing the moonwalk. He'll get this work soon...hopefully on the Glory stage so the world can witness!

LK: How did you find the experience of your first Glory fight?

IA: It was awesome! Turkey was dope. I wasn't nervous at all cuz in China I did 15000 seat shows, so this was nothing. I should have embraced the nerves a bit and stayed true to my style rather than charge him in the opening round. But Verlinden used strong basics and years of experience to keep me at gear to and steal momentum, I respect that... but he still couldn't break me and I know without a doubt I can beat him.

LK: Any talks with Glory about about your next fight?

IA: Yup, classified at the moment. But it's coming soon and I can't wait to make my USA debut. The world gon' luuuurn haha!

LK: What got you into kickboxing in the first place? How old were you? Did you ever imagine you would be at this level?

IA: I was 17, I saw the movie Ong Bak and months after started training Muay Thai. Had my 1st novice fight within 6 weeks and my 2nd fight ever was full thai rules (and won). After UFC 90 witnessing the way Anderson Silva beat Coté, I had the misconception of fighters/ action heroes movies and media put on us shattered. Soon after I made the decision to be the best in the world and I moved to Auckland.

LK: Last question is something I like to ask every great fighter

Hardest puncher you've fought? IA: I don't take many shots in fights, but Doug Viney spars like a mad man and had hit me full clip a full times and I still stand.

Hardest Kicker you've fought? IA: Jamie Eades in a novice fight in 2008/2009. He made me realize to check leg kicks, but I returned the favour years later in a full Thai fight and had him limping with a gangsta lean.

Hardest fight? IA: Still waiting...

Favourite Fighter? IA: Anderson Silva, Mohammed Ali, Prince Naseem, Roy Jones jr, Rickson Gracie, Conor McGregor, Nick Diaz...etc the list can go on. I'm a fan of combat sports

LK: Thanks a lot for your time Israel, is there anything more you would like to say to your fans, sponsors etc?

IA: Just wanna thank those that have followed and believed in me through all this, my training partners, my sponsors Bow Fighters, FX Nutrition, Combat Kings, Stained Skin Tattoos. Stay tuned for this man, just getting started.

LK: Once again thank you, good luck on your upcoming fight, not that you need it.

 

 

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Iman Barlow on Enfusion Win, Her Start in Martial Arts and More

Iman Barlow is somewhat of a phenom in Women’s Muay Thai. The 21-year old from Melton Mowbray, UK, defended her 54kg Women’s Enfusion world title this past weekend with a decisive victory over challenger Iman Ghablou.

JS: So first off Miss Barlow, congratulations on another dominant victory this past weekend, how did you evaluate your own performance and what was your game plan coming into the bout?

IB: The fight went well, I thought I won every round convincingly. After the first round I felt in control and from there I just enjoyed the fight and was sampling different techniques. We (My Dad and I) knew Iman Ghablou was a good boxer so our plan was to utilize the teep a lot but apart from that was just to go out there and bring my title back home to England.

JS: It's interesting that you mention your usage of the teep as that was something I was going to ask you about. The vast majority of strikers look to utilize the teep to the body, in this bout you looked to throw it regularly to the chin of Ghablou. Is this a technique you specifically drilled for this opponent or is it a move we can expect to see from you more often?

IB: Yes, I looked to throw it but then I saw she was open a lot for straight shots, like down the middle with teeps and straight punches. I saw the gaps and went for them but also I heard my Dad in my corner and he had also seen the gaps.

JS: It was a fairly one-sided affair and was your seventh appearance with the Enfusion promotion. Are there any current fighters on the Enfusion roster or outside the organization, which you would like to fight next? 

IB: Haha it was actually my 8th bout! Not really I am happy where I am at the moment, Enfusion have given me the opportunity of a lifetime to travel around the world doing what I love. I don't really like to call fighters out but all I will say is that I will fight the best to become the best slowly but surely. -54kg is dangerous division with me in for many years to come.

JS: You've already travelled to various different locations throughout your career, are there any other countries you wish to compete in?

IB: Yes I've seen some amazing places and the best thing about the whole experience is the people you meet along the way, I have friends from this sport all around the world it's amazing! Of course I've always said I'd love to fight in America that's my number one choice. Australia would also be pretty cool. 

JS: I've read previously online that you were introduced to martial arts at the age of 2! Could you give us a brief insight on your introduction and the martial arts you have trained?

IB: Yes my Dad Mark Barlow and my Mum Maxine Adams run Assassins Muay Thai gym so when I was little I used to go and sit down while they used to teach and I started to join in when I was around 2 and a half. I used to hit the bag and the fighters used to mess around with me and take me on the pads. I had my first fight when I was 4. I've always been into Muay Thai and it's all I have ever known, I’ve struggled to get fights sometimes when I was younger so I have done a few kickboxing and K-1 rules fights to keep busy. 

JS: Have you ever trained in other disciplines or would consider making the switch over to MMA?

IB: I've trained in Boxing before and a little bit of Judo. Apart from that I once had a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lesson with a friend but I don't think it's for me I much prefer to be a stand up fighter. I can't see myself going into MMA but I'd never rule it out. 

JS: Last but not least, your hometown of Melton Mowbray is renowned for it’s pork pies and Stilton cheese. Now your fight is out the way, will you be indulging in either or do you have another post-fight snack of preference?

IB: Haha it sure is. They’re definitely not on my list of favorites to indulge in; my problem is that I love food of all kinds. I love pad thai and also a good Nandos after a fight makes me happy, I also drink a lot of tea so it's nice to drink that after a fight also. I'm not indulging too much as my next fight will be on Enfusion’s reality show victory The Vixen in September and to win you have to have four fights in the space of about 5 days so I'll have a few days off and get back into training for that; sixteen women and only one winner. It's going be one of the hardest things I’ll go through but that will make it even more rewarding when I win.

JS: Best of luck with your fights in September and thank you very much for your time Iman, is there anything else you wish to say, anyone to thank?

JB: Yes, I'd like to first thank my family for always being a great support system and for helping me follow my dreams, all of Enfusion family, Vinny Shoreman and my sponsors Gold standard nutrition, Fairtex UK, Booost oxygen, Dirty 3rd Clothing and thank you to everyone for their continued support and messages, they always means a lot.

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Talking With Al Wichgers Glory Referee

Safety, fairness and entertainment are the primary goals of Glory referee, Al Wichgers. A thirty-seven year veteran this is a man who has seen nearly everything and made the calls that people sometimes love to hate. In anticipation of Glory 17 and The Last Man Standing event, I had the pleasure of talking to Al about his career as well as about kickboxing in the United States. Currently a referee at Glory, Al has also, over the course of his career, been the man in the middle for K-1 the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator. His knowledge of combat sports is not unfounded as he also has spent time facing off against other fighters as a boxer as well as being a practitioner of martial arts. When asked what is the key to being a good referee he cites his mantra of striving to ensure safety for the fighters as well as making sure the fight is fair and at the same time entertaining. Al also cites that knowing the fighters is a critical element in determining when a fight should be stopped. It’s a much more difficult situation being the referee with fighters you don’t know. Knowing the fighter’s limits and how they react to a punch makes the difference between ending it early or letting the fight continue. When asked about his favorite fight, he cites a K-1 bout between Hong Man Choi and Sylvester Terkay as particularly amusing if for no other reason than the sheer amazement at the size of Choi (2.18m) and the possible dilemma of how he would go about stopping such a large fighter.

His response to the inevitable criticism that comes from fans and the fight community when it comes to fight stoppages, is that it’s all about perspective. Being inside the ring and understanding the figher’s body language is what often makes the difference. It is a completely different experience viewing the fight in the arena or on television. Those vantage points don’t allow an observer to pick up on many of the cues that indicate when a fighter has had enough. Thirty-seven years of experience doesn’t hurt either. On maintaining professionalism in the ring, Al states that it’s his job and that’s the way he handles it, he also emphasizes the importance of being objective. Surprisingly enough with the amount of adrenaline pump during fights Al states that his relationships with the fighters all over the world have been relatively peaceful with some fighters even thanking him afterward for stopping the fight.

Having experience with boxing, kickboxing and MMA, Al expresses a particular love for kickboxing with its fast pace and non-stop action. Finally we spoke about whether Glory will succeed in their mission to repopularize kickboxing in the United States. On this subject he reveals optimism, having been around since the heyday of K-1, but acknowledges that efforts to interest the public in anything new is often a hard sell. Al, however appears to be in it for the long haul and the combat sports community should feel grateful to have him in their ranks.  

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Melvin Manhoef Pre-GLORY Last Man Standing Interview

(C) Esther Linn/MMAFighting.com

They call him “No Mercy” and that is exactly what you will get in the ring.  Melvin Manhoef, a man whose professional career has spanned nearly two decades takes the stage at Glory’s inaugural PPV event, The Last Man Standing on Saturday, June 21, 2014 at The Forum.  Since 1995, Melvin Manhoef has delivered brutal blows in both MMA and kickboxing also showing the world that he is dangerous in nearly every weight class.  Who has he fought? A better question probably would be who hasn’t he fought?  In the kickboxing ring he has faced the likes of Spong, Bonjasky, Leko, Karaev and Slowinksi.  Although in all of these match-ups he has not been the victor, one thing is certain, a match involving Melvin promises to bring heavy hits and hardcore action.  It is well and widely known that Manhoef is a knockout artist and does it very well.  For those who know Melvin Manhoef, they are well aware that he is dangerous from all angles, having brutalized his opponents with left hooks, right hooks and knees.  He is legend.  In anticipation of his debut with Glory I had the opportunity to talk to Melvin about his past, present and his vision for the future. 

SW: Melvin, you made it here to Glory and this very exciting event.  How do you feel?

MM: I think I am ready.  I had very good training and I am prepared.

SW: Is there anyone in particular that you would like to fight?

MM: No, I’m a fighter and I will fight whoever they put in front of me.  All of the guys are dangerous in the tournament but I feel prepared to fight any of them. 

SW: You are known for having a very aggressive style and have had some brutal knockouts in kickboxing and MMA. Do you have any prediction about how your fight with Verlindin will end?

MM: I like the knock out, but we will just see, but of course I like the knockout!  My goal is to be the champion. 

SW: For your training, you were training at Mike’s Gym or somewhere else?

MM: Well I train at Mike’s Gym sometimes but I also have my own gym.

SW: Many fighters have their own gym is this your eventual plan to do as maybe you move away from fighting in the ring, spending more time as a coach?

MM: Well I do that now in my gym and I won’t be fighting until the point that I can’t see.  Right now, I feel good and don’t think it’s any problem for me to fight. No injuries right now, so I’m ready. 

SW: Kickboxing or MMA, which do you prefer?

MM: I have a lot of experience in both.  With kickboxing, it’s very fast and there’s a lot of action.  I like MMA too, it’s just a different style of fighting.

SW: Glory is doing some very exciting things, revitalizing kickboxing in America. 

MM: Yes, and I am happy to be a part of this.  I thank Glory for having me at this event, it is very big.  June 21st will be very good for the fans.

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