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The Voice Versus Wanderlei Silva; A Look at the Axe Murderer

  • Published in Kickboxing

(C) SusumuThere are very few MMA fighters that I consider an all-time favorite of mine, as I tend to prefer the exciting, intelligent striker who can handle himself on the ground. There are a lot of good strikers who have made the move to MMA, but a lot tend to play it safe or have no real ground game to speak of, but then there is Wanderlei Silva. Wanderlei did not make a huge impression on me at first in his UFC fights, he was pretty good at the time, but the Tito Ortiz fight was enough to make me forget about him for a while.

So you can only imagine how I felt in 2001, yeah over a year later, when I saw him again in PRIDE and saw the absolutely path of carnage and destruction that lay in his path; I was hooked. The wrist roll, the stare of a madman, the crazy, brawling Chute Boxe Muay Thai and the ability to defend himself on the ground and work his way back to his feet to continue to symphony of violence. From 2000 until 2005 Wanderlei Silva was an absolute machine. If there ever was a fighter that I could get behind it was Wanderlei Silva.

As I'm sure you can imagine, since he moved over to a much more local fight scene in the United States, it has been a lot more difficult to be a Wanderlei Silva fan. Since his return to the UFC Wanderlei has a 2 - 3 record with only one knockout under his belt and doesn't seem to be moving as fast or hitting as hard. Lot's of people will say that Wanderlei was simply not that great, as he is a mere 34 years old right now, but to that I argue the man started his fighting career training at age 13 and was fighting within the next year of his life and has not slowed down since. He peaked before moving to the UFC and you have to be comfortable with that.

Enter the Voice Versus Wanderlei Silva. The latest in HDnet's interview series with Michael Schiavello. Unlike Fighting Words with Mike Straka, which tends to err on the side of serious journalism, the Voice Versus is a more friendly sit-down interview style that feels like a conversation between old friends. It doesn't matter if Schiavello has only met each fighter in passing or is good friends with him, his demeanor, tone and candor makes it so fighters can feel at home with him, as does his knowledge of each fighter's history and of tall tales. There is nothing different when it comes to the Wanderlei Silva episode as he discusses coming up in Brazil, the origins of his name, that Jiu-Jitsu photo of him being lovingly embraced by Shogun Rua and Wanderlei customizing Schiavello's head with a Team WS tattoo.

What really comes through loud and clear is how nice of a guy Wanderlei is, he talks about how he has to build up a rage inside of him when he fights and how the adrenaline changes him, but the man himself is gentle, quiet and very funny. Seeing "the Axe Murderer" in a setting like this is refreshing, as you get to see just how much he enjoys laughing and telling stories about the legendary Chute Boxe gym and how he considers most of the fighters he has faced and knocked out our been knocked out by as good friends now. Did you know that Kazushi Sakuraba calls Wanderlei up at 2am to discuss fights? Because he does. We also see that Wand has no desire to do kickboxing post-UFC, as he understands they are entirely different sports and he is not prepared to fight high level strikers.

So do yourself a favor and tune in on Friday Night at 8pm Eastern for the Voice Versus Wanderlei Silva on HDnet.

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UPDATE: HDnet and It's Showtime Ink Deal; K-1 Soon to Return

  • Published in Kickboxing

It's ShowtimeWith K-1's stunning silence throughout the year 2011 there is no doubt that Dutch promotion It's Showtime has picked up the slack that K-1 left and then some. It's Showtime has grown from a smaller organization that promoted a few scattered events, which from 1999 until 2004 involved one big event a year, which eventually turned into one big event at the Amsterdam ArenA until 2005 when the promotion decided to branch out and run more events. In 2005 they held a series with Gentlemen's Promotion that revolved around a massive 75kg tournament. The next year saw them co-promote with K-1 for the first time in what turned into a longstanding and beneficial relationship for both sides until recently, when K-1 fell upon massive financial woes and It's Showtime decided to move forward in the wake of K-1's absence.

This year is primed to be It's Showtime's biggest year yet, with last year holding 7 events and this year having 6 events already on their calendar and another three to four events in the works, but it doesn't stop there. LiverKick.com has been speaking with It's Showtime officials for a while now, and have understood that It's Showtime was not just happy with European expansion and was indeed looking to expand into the United States. This led to talks with a few television stations and promotional partners, some deals falling apart and then some rumors over the past week of big things brewing for It's Showtime.

Simon Rutz is no fool, as can be seen with the gradual growth of It's Showtime over the past 12 years. It's Showtime was not simply looking for a television deal for the United States, they were looking for promotional partners. Like we've seen with all of It's Showtime's recent events, they partner up with another company for all of their shows; BFN Group, Fight Group, Fighting Stars, Oktagon and even individuals like Yiannis Evgenikos and Kader Marouf. They wanted nothing different when it came to the United States and would not even think about promoting shows here without strong support from another promotion or entity, the same goes with television. They simply did not want to be on television, they wanted a working partnership that would expand the company.

We've dug pretty deep and found out that It's Showtime and HDnet finalized a deal earlier this week that will change the kickboxing world as we know it. It's Showtime has been added to HDnet's fight library, starting as soon as the May 14th Lyon, France show. That event will be aired on the following Friday at 11pm Eastern time. It is not airing live because of the short notice for the deal working itself out. We do know that Michael Schiavello is in Lyon, France right now most likely to commentate live on the event. To say that HDnet is going to give It's Showtime the "K-1 treatment" is an understatement.

Multiple sources have claimed that HDnet actually went and bought It's Showtime, or at least bought into the company. It was announced today that HDnet will begin airing It's Showtime immediately, through an agency called Fighting Spirit. LiverKick.com has also learned that HDnet is very interested in possibly purchasing K-1 to add to their stable of original programming. HDnet has aired K-1 in the past, but this would be different. K-1 has been having financial problems and many have been critical of their management, HDnet would look to have the legendary promotion turn a corner and help fully realize its potential in the United States.

UPDATE: Andrew Simon clarified that HDnet has only purchased the rights to It's Showtime in the U.S., not outright purchasing the promotion. They will work with the promotion to promote the shows, but won't hold an actual stake in it. As for K-1, HDnet will look to possibly further air their programming when live programming is available.

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The Voice Versus Badr Hari Takes a Long, Hard Look a K-1's Bad Boy

  • Published in K-1

BadrBadr Hari's public image has been dragged through the mud over the last few years, which has both earned him the ire of many fans but in the same vein made him larger than life and one of the biggest names in the kickboxing world, bar none. Some say that no attention is bad attention for the famous, and in Badr Hari's case the mythos surrounding him, his skill and him as a fighter has only grown. There have been a few interviews over the past few months which have painted Badr Hari in a very, very shades of grey light, with him looking like a sociopath at times. So when it was announced that Michael Schiavello would interview him for his Voice Versus series on HDnet, I wasn't sure how to feel. Then when Schiavello talked about how it was a rather "dark" episode for the usually light-hearted series I was expecting a lot more of the no-good Badr Hari.

Thankfully Schiavello, who is himself a huge Badr Hari and kickboxing fan knows how to walk the line really well in interviews such as this. Schiavello made sure to switch things up from the tough questions that Hari seemed to pause and really have to stop and think during and the questions that had Hari laughing and joking around. Some of the questions, such as how does he feel about knocking out opponents and what happened in those terrible DQ losses where his temper got the best of him show the darker side of Hari, and just how intense he really can be. Then he switches things up to talk about what kind of movies Badr Hari likes and plays the knock out, choke out, wedgie and bowl of fried shrimp game.

I think for Badr Hari this interview was important, as in the United States a lot of the interviews we've seen from Hari have been in Dutch and translated, sometimes a bit too literally and do not paint him in the best light. Hari showed some serious signs of growth when it came to talking about some of his criminal connections in the past, and he talks about him being an impressionable kid and that he has matured a lot and moved away from that. Badr Hari's career came into the limelight at the tender age of 20, where it is entirely possible to imagine a kid who worked hard to come up and become a name being offered things and not knowing how to say no.

Kudos to Schiavello and HDnet for taking the time to interview one of the most popular kickboxers in the world and actually taking the time to let him tell his side of the story as well as have some fun with him. Be sure to watch it on HDnet this Friday evening, June 24th at 10PM Eastern, followed by It's Showtime Amsterdam.

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It's Showtime 55 Set to Air LIVE on HDnet on January 28

  • Published in Kickboxing

It's Showtime is easily one of the world's top kickboxing promotions, putting on some of the best fights within the past few years and having some of the greatest fighters alive today under contract. So when HDnet's schedule finally dropped for the next few weeks, something stood out, and that something was on January 28th that HDnet will be airing It's Showtime 55 absolutely live.

This means that Badr Hari vs. Gokhan Saki will be airing live in the United States at 3pm Eastern time on Saturday, January 28th. On top of that, the It's Showtime Heavyweight Title is on the line between Champion Hesdy Gerges and challenger Daniel Ghita. This also includes Errol Zimmerman vs. Rico Verhoeven, Harut Grigorian vs. Chris Ngimbi, Murat Direcki vs. Robin Van Roosmalen and hopefully more. For some reason Melvin Manhoef vs. Tyrone Spong is on the undercard, but we've reached out to It's Showtime and HDnet to see if there is any way for fans to be able to see one of the fights on the card that is going to provide fireworks, without a doubt.

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Watch the Mark Fightshark Miller Return Hype Video

  • Published in Kickboxing

Mark Miller comes back to the ring after heart surgery on May 28th in Moscow, Russia for The Glory World Series event. There he will be facing Nikolaj Falin, an accomplished Heavyweight Kickboxer in his own right, while the world will be able to view it. The Glory World Series will air in over 90 countries worldwide, including the United States on HDnet on June 17th. If you aren't already hyped up, this will help. Spread this around, post it onto your Facebook, post it on Twitter, email it to your friends. Get the word out that Mark Miller is coming back.

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The Voice vs. Wanderlei Silva Preview

  • Published in Kickboxing

Yes, it is that time again, as our favorite announcer in combat sports continues his series of interviews on HDnet with The Voice Versus Wanderlei Silva. For many, this is a huge episode, as it should be. Wanderlei Silva is known to be one of the absolute all-time greats when it comes to the 205lbs weight class in MMA. He absolutely dominated PRIDE for years, with his era being right up there with Fedor Emelianenko's. Sadly by the time that he made it to the UFC, his career seemed to be winding down a bit. We, the fans, finally got the dream fight with Chuck Liddell, but it was at the point in both men's careers where the explosiveness and raw power that we came to know and love just wasn't there.

Regardless, any time Wanderlei Silva fights it is a big deal. He has had mixed success in the UFC, but his legend precedes him. So enter Michael Schiavello's interview with Wanderlei Silva. Wanderlei has been living the life of a legend for the past few years, training and living the life in Vegas. On March 25th at 8PM Eastern on HDnet, the latest in the Voice Versus Series makes its debut, and we have two questions between the Voice and Wanderlei, and as always, Schiavello is on point with his MMA internet memes.

Sheer brilliance, as always. MMA needs more of a sense of humor to go with the serious approach, and Schiavello always provides.

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It's Showtime Takes Legal Action Against K-1

  • Published in K-1

Hot on the heels of K-1's reaction to It's Showtime Japan, announcing the K-1 MAX 63kg Japan tournament and Tanikawa mentioning anyone that fights for It's Showtime Japan will no longer be able to fight for K-1, It's Showtime has once again fired back. It's Showtime's head, Simon Rutz, posted today on the It's Showtime homepage that It's Showtime's fighters are still owed around $400,000 from FEG, and while they have been patient, they have decided with K-1 organizing shows to take legal action.

Until now, we have never contacted a lawyer to claim our credits because we granted K-1 the time they need to financially recover. However, we were very surprised to hear that DREAM and K-1 want to organize a number of smaller events. In our opinion that isn’t possible before K-1 first pays its debts to fighters which already have fought. Therefore, now is the time for us to hire a lawyer.

Also, fighters are even receiving phone calls from Mr. Tanikawa with a threat to not fight for IT’S SHOWTIME JAPAN. If fighters would fight for IT’S SHOWTIME JAPAN, they can wave their money goodbye. Mr. Tanikawa is not in the position to act this way, and subservience would fit him a lot better. Mr. Tanikawa doesn’t understand that K-1 has to pay their debts because the fighters have already delivered their service to K-1.

The second paragraph is extremely interesting, as Rutz claims Tanikawa has contacted fighters possibly working with It's Showtime Japan and threatening to not pay them for past due balances. If this is true, this could be big. Part of the problems It's Showtime could now face in regards to Japan could be huge, as most of us know how the fight industry in Japan works (and how the fight industry everywhere works, let's be honest here), It's Showtime could encounter problems putting on shows in Japan if FEG still has enough pull. Full press release after the jump.

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Kevin Ross Talks About Lion Fight 9 With LiverKick

  • Published in Interviews

Kevin Ross (C) Galen OkazakiThe ability to overcome adversity is what can make or break a fighter and take them from being just a fighter to a legend. In the case of American Muay Thai fighter Kevin Ross, the adversity has never been his skill, abilities or drive, but instead an ACL injury that he suffered last year. He spent months rehabbing it after surgery and everything was built up for his comeback fight this January at Lion Fight 8. We spoke with Kevin back then about his comeback trail as well as the details of what he goes through in his personal life, what actually makes Kevin Ross tick and we were all treated to seeing Kevin’s successful comeback against Chris Kwiatowski.

It was the first step of many for Ross after coming back from an injury that would have stopped most fighters in the prime of their career and this Friday, live on AXS TV, Ross looks to once again enter the ring and take on a very game opponent in the UK’s Bernie Mendietta. Part of his last fight was not knowing exactly what Chris would bring to the table, and in the case of Mendietta he expects the same.

“I think that I know less about him than I did Chris,” he joked. “I’ve just really seen clips at this point, where with Chris I had at least seen a full fight or two. I know that he’s a tough guy, though, I know that he likes to brawl, so I know what I’m in for.”

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Michael Schiavello's Cry: Good Night Irene

  • Published in Kickboxing

Our good friends at HDnet have been working hard to make their website all sorts of new, and a part of that is their blog section, which has brought us some great Michael Schiavello content. Schiavello has been one of those love him or hate him characters in the MMA community. Many of us love the absolute passion he brings to every fight that he calls, loves the way he puts himself right there into the action and makes the fights come to life. Other people enjoy more subdued commentary and want the fights to speak for themselves, to each their own I guess.

Schiavello is known for his now legendary cry of "Good night Irene!" whenever a fight has the pace pushed so hard that you have to reach a spectacular conclusion. Well, for those of us that have wondered the exact origins of the cry, he fills us in. For those who missed the part of their childhoods that involved professional wrestling, it involves Adrian Adonis and Gorilla Monsoon.

For a big man Adonis had an amazing repertoire of techniques including a sleeper hold finish called “Good Night Irene.” Nothing gave me more pleasure during my days of wrestling fanaticism than seeing Adonis put an opponent in a sleeper and hearing Gorilla Monsoon announce “he slaps on Good Night Irene.”

To this day Iʼm not really sure what caused those words to come out of my mouth while commentating the APS Track and Field Championships as a 16 year old. I would later use the phrase when commentating Victorian Premier League soccer on radio, and eventually made it my fight sports catch-cry when I began commentating Muay Thai and kickboxing as a 21 year old on Fox Sports.

To find out how a track and field meet plays into a sleeper hold, read the rest of the entry and support every fight fans' best friend, HDnet.

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