Gokhan Saki is a guy that fans of Kickboxing have been high on for quite a while now, as he might be a bit undersized for the Heavyweight division but that has never stopped him from being one of the best in the world. Saki has carved out a space in the world for himself over the past few years with big wins over Tyrone Spong, Daniel Ghita and Anderson "Braddock" Silva. He also has shown a ton of heart in big fights against top names like Badr Hari and Semmy Schilt, which gave him a place in the hearts of fans across the world.
Apparently, Nike has been listening, at least Nike in Turkey, that is. Fans in Turkey are very proud of Gokhan Saki -- and they have every right to be -- and he has become a national hero accordingly. So it comes as no real surprise that Saki has been included in this Nike ad that is currently airing in Turkey that features some of the best Turkish athletes that are known the whole world over. Saki takes place in the GLORY 11 Chicago Heavyweight tournament this October, airing live on Spike TV.
2010 was a rough year for K-1 MAX. Three of the division's very top stars fought their (for now) last MAX fights in 2009, including Masato, the man MAX had been built around from the start. Shows were planned, then canceled. Only two qualifying Grand Prixs were held, and one of those 2 never aired. Half of the Final 16 fights were shoved onto the 63kg GP finals almost as an afterthought, and at one time, there were rumors that the 2010 MAX Grand Prix might not even happen. Fans of MAX were looking at the year as somewhat of a disaster.
That changed on October 3. Amidst all this chaos and confusion, the MAX Final 16 event in Seoul was a grand slam of an event - an all around fantastic card with every fight delivering. The next day, no one was talking about how K-1 MAX was struggling. Instead, they were talking about what a show it was. And they were talking about one fight.
That fight is your 2010 LiverKick.com Fans' Fight of the Year - "Iron" Mike Zambidis vs. Chahid Oulad El Hadj.
Coming into the event, this was a fight that on paper looked like it could be a good one. Both Zambidis and Chahid are exciting fighters who like to push the pace and have turned in plenty of fun bouts. But they are also two men whose presence in the Final 16 was questionable, as neither had claimed a significant K-1 win in some time. From the moment the two men meet in center ring for the staredown, any concerns about them not belonging flew out the window. Because right from the opening, you can tell this is going to be something special. Both men looked hungry, out for redemption, and just plain pissed off. They looked ready to tear into each other. And that's exactly what they did.
For four epic rounds, Zambidis and Chahid engaged in an all out war. By the end of the 3rd, the announcers are all on their feet waiting for the judges' decision. By the end of the 4th, fans are already writing their friends telling them what they just saw. And by the next morning, all the focus was on this classic.
Watching it now, I'm reminded of another all-time K-1 great contest - Ray Sefo vs. Mark Hunt (and if you've never seen that, watch it, seriously, now). Like Sefo vs. Hunt, this is a fight that doesn't need any backstory. It's a moment that stands on its own, where even if you've never heard of either man, the combination of heart, determination, technique, and aggression they show is enough to grab you. At a time in combat sports where the UFC is the clear top dog, and where Dana White's love of wild stand-up brawling has come to define how many fans view stand-up action, this fight is a definitive example of what stand-up can be. Yes it's a brawl, but it's also two supremely skilled fighters never losing track of the technique needed to fight at this level. It's a fight every fan of Griffin vs. Bonnar, Garcia vs. The Korean Zombie, or countless other recent fights really owes it to themselves to watch.
Chances are good you've already seen this fight, probably more than once. But as we say our final good-byes to 2010, do yourself a favor and watch it once more. You'll thank yourself later.
A big thanks to all our fans who voted in this poll. In the end, Zambidis vs. Chahid was the clear winner, drawing 34% of the vote. #2 and #3 were only separated by a handful of votes, with the sentimental favorite Peter Aerts vs. Semmy Schilt at #2, and the battle of the new guard in Gokhan Saki vs. Daniel Ghita at #3. For full results, click here, and don't forget to vote on our new polls every week here at LiverKick.com.
If for some reason you were like me, that means that you were sleeping a few hours ago when the Glory World Series live presser went down. That is kind of a bummer, as it was live on YouTube for the whole world to watch, in English, and hosted by none other than Mauro Ranallo. Lucky for us who enjoy sleeping, the internet is a marvelous thing and it was archived. This means you can watch it at your leisure as you get hyped up for what is one of the biggest kickboxing weekends in a very long time.
What is important when watching this video is to note just how far Glory has come. This press conference was uber professional and exactly what you'd expect from a worldwide combat sports brand working its way to the top.
Don't forget to watch the Glory World Series live this Saturday morning at 10:00am Eastern time/7:00am Pacific time. If you are worried about where to watch it, well, never fear, as you don't have to leave the comfort of your chosen web browser or even leave this very site. Just load up this page right now and order the video by clicking on it and plonking down $15 USD. Seriously, if you don't have a problem buying multiple UFC PPVs a year to fund Dana White's Bruce Lee t-shirt collection, this should be no sweat. Help out Glory and help out LiverKick, by doing so you will help me expand my own Bruce Lee t-shirt collection, which as of right now is a lone shirt. I have to beat Dana White in this category guys, and you can help.
Our fight of the year march through the Grand Prix continues today with a pair of bouts from the Heavyweight GP. Up first...
Gokhan Saki v. Daniel Ghita (K-1 Grand Prix Finals, December 11)
Heading into the GP finals, this was the fight many were most looking forward to. Post event, it kind of got lost in the hype of a certain other fight that we'll discuss later today, which is a shame as this is a great fight. What you have here are two of K-1's new guard competing in one of the year's finest technical battles. In particular, the kicks thrown by both are simply phenomenal - this whole thing could be an instructional video on how to throw kicks effectively in kickboxing. Ghita and Saki mix it up, attacking the legs, the body, the head, and they do it all with accuracy, set-ups, and beautiful timing. There's so much skill on display here that you can watch this fight again and again and pick up more.
Rewatching it now, I am reminded of Ernesto Hoost v. Peter Aerts from the 1993 Grand Prix - two young fighters with the future standing ahead of them ready to take the next big leap forward. I suspect this fight will age well with time, and will go down as a classic early encounter between two men who will be major players for some years to come. Be happy to be here when they first met.
There will be 10 fights total posted. Fights 7 & 8 on Tuesday, and 9 & 10 conclude on Wednesday. Fights are featured in chronological order moving through the year. Voting will be open Wednesday night to determine the winner.
Next weekend at GLORY 15 Tyrone Spong will take on Saulo Cavalari and potentially move on to another fight to vie for the GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship. Spong has had a storied career up until this point and while there won't be a new episode of King of the Ring for a while still (we confirmed this with Tyrone earlier this week), that doesn't mean that there will be a lack of awesome Tyrone Spong content. The Blackzillians had someone put together this awesome highlight package on Tyrone Spong. What makes it even better? Look at the name in the beginning, it's a StillWill Presentation, which just makes me super happy.
In what the world thought would be one of Glory's best match-ups of 2016, the bout between Brazil's heavy hitter, Saulo Cavalari, and Gokhan Saki will most likely not be happening at Glory 28 in Paris. Yesterday on social media it was reported that Saki is potentially out with an injury.
Helaas hoor net dat Saki niet kan vechten tegen mijn jongen Saulo Cavalari wegens een blessure in Parijs. pic.twitter.com/IiOknmCdvd
This leaves us with a veritable who's who in the list of opponents who can take Saki's place. Most formidable a among his contenders are Mourad Bouzidi, Danyo Ilunga, Zack Mwekassa and Artem Vakhitov. Also within the same division are Filip Verlinden, Brian Collette and Aleksandr Stetcurenko. How it will all hash out in Paris is any body's guess, but it will be an exciting ride.
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]
Well, you ask for it and you get it, right? We've heard about GLORY 15 Istanbul and now we almost immediately get the fight card for it, which is really awesome. It looks like my article yesterday about Championships and tournaments was well-timed as today GLORY announced a Championship tournament at Light Heavyweight. How this will differ from past tournaments is the winner won't only be a tournament champion, but they will be the Light Heavyweight Champion as well. The test subject on this matter will be Light Heavyweight.
If you are noting the glaring omission of Danyo Ilunga, the word is that he'll have a title fight with the winner of the tournament shortly after GLORY 15.
GLORY 15 ISTANBUL
Tournament Final Bout C: Semifinal Bout A Winner vs. Semifinal Bout B Winner
Headline Bout: Errol Zimmerman vs. Ben Edwards
Co-Headline Bout: Robin van Roosmalen vs. Marat Grigorian
Tournament Semifinal Bout B: Gokhan Saki vs. Nathan Corbett
Tournament Semifinal Bout A: Tyrone Spong vs. Saulo Cavalari
Tyrone Spong Saves Lives at the It's Showtime 2010 Amsterdam Press Conference
This was back in 2010, so a bunch of you may have seen it already, but Tyrone Spong keeps humorous and awkward from becoming a genuine fracas. I smiled. The eventual Saki/ Manhoef match was pretty good, too!
Tensions between them might still be high, if you remember Saki's half-serious Tweet about wanting to submit Manhoef in MMA.
Tomorrow in Istanbul, Turkey, GLORY will present GLORY 15 Istanbul. GLORY 15 is slated to feature the GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship tournament, featuring Tyrone Spong, Saulo Cavalari, Gokhan Saki and Nathan Corbett. The winner will walk away as the first GLORY Light Heavyweight Champion, which is a huge, huge deal. So let’s run through the card.