Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, is available now via Kindle and Paperback.
This weekend in Dublin, Ireland Enfusion returns to your screen with Enfusion Live #30. There are two title fights on this show, including the women's -54kg Enfusion World Title with Iman Barlow fighting Samantha van Doorn. The main event sees the Men's Enfusion World Title at -67kg between Ilias Bulaid and Simon Santana. The event can be viewed on EnfusionLive.com for free with registration.
Karl McCallig (Ireland) Vs Mateusz Janik (Poland)
2. 5X3Enfusion World Title-54Kg
Iman Barlow (England) Vs Samantha van Doorn (The Netherlands)
Connor White (Northern Ireland) Vs Antonio Gomez (Spain)
Conor Cooke (Northern Ireland) Vs Ibrahim El Boustati (Morocco)
Paul Norton (Ireland) Vs Tomasz Marcisauskas (Lithuania)
If you've been following muay thai and kickboxing for a while you definitely know the name Liam Harrison. Harrison, based out of the UK, has been one of the best non-Thai fighters to compete in the muay thai ring over the past few years and has built up quite a name for himself. Over that span of time he has fought a whopping 99 times and his 100th fight will not only be a big deal, it'll be a huge deal. At Yokkao 15 on October 10th he will face multiple-time Lumpinee champion Singdam Kiatmoo9.
Singdam is revered as one of the top fighters in the world at 135lbs, trading wins with the best fighters in the world over the past few years at Lumpinee Stadium, the mecca for muay thai. This headlining bout will be joining the other headlining bout from Yokkao 14 on the same night between Greg Wootton and Saenchai in what should be another crazy double header of a night for the fans in the UK.
WGP will return with WGP 25 on July 25th in Sao Paulo, Brazil featuring GLORY standout Alex Pereira vs. Cesar Almeida for the WGP 85kg Championship. Also on the card is a 71.8kg tournament featuring K-1 veteran Wallace Lopes.
Super Fight 1 K1 Rules - 60 Kg Felipe Suekuni (Inside Munil Adriano) x Hector Santiago (Santiago Team / Seven Fight Team) Super Fight 2 K1 Rules - 78 Kg Michel Pope (UFT) x Thiago "Golden Boy" Conception (Thailand Top Team) Super Fight 3 K1 Rules - 66.8 Kg Maycon Oller (ABKB / Serginho Team) x Johnny "Kabeça" (TCT) Super Fight 4 K1 Rules - 94kg Wallyson "Magilla" Carvalho (A2F Arena / Yoshinaga Team) x Thiago "Beowulf" (China Team) Co-main event: Challenger GP Semifinal 1 K1 Rules - 71.8 kg Bruno Gazani (ABC Union) x Alex "Kangaroo" Alves (Corinthians Kickboxing) Co-main event: Challenger GP Semifinal 2 K1 Rules - 71.8 kg Marcelo "Zika" Dionysius (San Martino Team) x Wallace "Negão" Lopes (FX Fight Team) Super Fight 5 K1 Rules - 75 Kg Alvaro Gonzalez (Uruguay) x Tadeu San Martino (UFT / San Martino Team) Super Fight 6 K1 Rules - 69.1 Kg Damian Segovia (Argentina) x Munil Adriano (Inside Munil Adriano) Co-main event: Challenger GP End K1 Rules - 71.8 kg Winner of semifinal 1 semifinal 2 x Winner Main Event: WGP Kickboxing ChampionshipK1 Rules - 85 kg Cesar "Cesinha" Almeida x Alex "Po Atan" Pereira
The sport of kickboxing is one that has been around for a while under different rules, names and appearances, but has gone through periods of interest and disinterest alike. Without a doubt kickboxing was at its highest point in Japan from the mid-90’s through the late 2000’s under the K-1 banner. K-1 was an undeniable force in combat sports that wowed fans all over the world and kept up its level of mystique. K-1 was a monolith in the combat sports world, a Japanese organization that seemed to always have a small stable of fighters that it promoted while rarely swapping them out for newer, younger talents.
Throughout the years K-1 earned some scorn and derision from fans and insiders, claims of corruption, fight-fixing and organized crime ties behind the scenes would eventually tear the organization apart, yet fans still came out in droves right up until the final gong. Now here we sit, just shy of five years after FEG’s K-1 imploded and we are watching organizations like GLORY, K-1 Global, K-1 Japan, Enfusion and SuperKombat struggle to gain traction in their respective markets. To many, it is a mystery to mull over why brands like GLORY haven’t caught on with more fans, but it seems clear as day what the key differences were between K-1’s glory days and the current marketplace is; creativity.
If you go back and watch the first K-1 World Grand Prix that was won by Branko Cikatic you can see the roots of what would become the K-1 that we knew and loved, yet something was missing. Branko was a fine fighter, but he wasn’t the type of fighter that the Japanese audience would fall in love with or be featured on television like many future K-1 champions would be. Everything from the lighting to the stage setup and presentation was good but not quite there yet. Then professional wrestling god Akira Maeda helped K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii to meld professional wrestling ideals into the sport and everything changed.
Looking back at K-1’s list of champions and fighters that endured the passage of time as icons you’ll always find something to latch onto about these fighters. A young Peter Aerts was called the Dutch Lumberjack, entering the ring wearing a flannel vest and hat. Ernesto Hoost was called Mr. Perfect because of his immaculate technique and lived up the gimmick whenever he was on camera as the perfect fighter. Andy Hug was the karateka with a profound love and admiration for the Japanese culture so he was always seen in his signature gi in promotional videos and so on.
What I’m trying to say is that K-1 had characters. These characters were of course real-life fighters and maybe just small exaggerations of the fighters’ personalities, but each fighter that K-1 sunk considerate amounts of time and energy into marketing had a larger-than-life personality that when placed on a large stage was able to enthrall fans. Many have written off such things as simply “Japanese” and that they wouldn’t work anywhere else, but a cursory look around the world at the legions of fans of K-1 and those fighters shows just how effective that was.
I’ve heard the arguments as to why this current crop of kickboxing stars can’t be presented in that way, everything from “well, they aren’t as charismatic” to “fans want real, not manufactured hype,” but the proof is in the pudding. Chi Lewis Parry has been one of the fighters that GLORY has been heavily marketing in part due to just how much he can talk. When Chi Lewis Parry opens his mouth people listen, which is part of the magic of Chi Lewis Parry. I’m not sure that he’s ready for Rico Verhoeven just yet, but he’s found himself an audience much like Chael Sonnen did years ago and how Conor McGregor has done in the UFC recently. Chi Lewis Parry’s talent hasn’t been nurtured or curated, though, just thrust at the screen once discovered without much thought put into it.
A large part of what made K-1 so successful has to be on the shoulders of Kazuyoshi Ishii, who had the vision and talent to find these personality traits in his fighters and to amplify them. Peter Aerts was nowhere near the level of a talker as a Chi Lewis Parry or a Conor McGregor, yet he made a ton of money for K-1 and became a world famous personality off of being the “Dutch Lumberjack” and later “Mr. K-1.” In fact, Aerts is rather soft-spoken and is one of the kindest guys that you’ll ever talk to who enjoys laughing and not taking himself too seriously, yet fans were always invested in Aerts.
That was the magic of K-1. You didn’t need to be Bob Sapp to become a star. In fact, while fighters like Bob Sapp who could talk and looked imposing did great business for K-1, they wouldn’t last because of the lack of talent. Where K-1 really shined was finding legitimately talented fighters and building them into something special. In fact, there was one great project near the end of K-1’s run that deserves special attention; Alistair Overeem.
Overeem was a moderately successful MMA fighter with an imposing physique, vicious knees and a great standing guillotine that never seemed to really catch on with fans. Yet, somehow, in 2008 after wins over Paul Buentello, Mark Hunt and a draw against Mirko Cro Cop he was brought into K-1 to fight their golden boy Badr Hari on New Year’s Eve. Badr Hari was coming off of a rather embarrassing display where he essentially imploded under the pressure during the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals against Remy Bonjasky and got himself disqualified, so K-1 thrust him into a New Year’s Eve freakshow fight to defend the honor of K-1 against the MMA world’s Overeem. The thing is, Overeem knocked Badr Hari out and all hell broke loose.
Alistair Overeem is a relatively quiet, soft-spoken guy. In fact, he’s a pretty nice dude for a guy who is as muscular and scary in the ring as he is. The cocky Badr Hari who had just earlier in the month lost the K-1 World Grand Prix via disqualification was there to get his win back, to get back on track and regain face after his in-ring meltdown, but instead a new star was born in Overeem. Overeem tried his hand against the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion of Remy Bonjasky a few months later and looked scary, but ultimately lacking experience against a tactician like Bonjasky and dropped a decision. That wasn’t the end of Overeem in K-1, oh no, not by a longshot.
The K-1 marketing machine quickly went to work with Overeem, producing perhaps one of the most amazing hype videos that I’ve ever seen for a fighter leading into the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16. This video showed Overeem on the streets of Holland with his signature mallet that he used to bring to the ring with him smashing a bike into pieces. It encapsulated the fury that we saw in the ring from Overeem, the raw power and emotion that he brought into fights without him having to cut an eloquent interview. After smashing a bike and a camera tripod he pointed to the camera, took a few deep breaths and uttered “Everybody’s gonna die.”
It was beautiful. I remember seeing it at the time and just being awestruck by it. Alistair Overeem held a victory over Badr Hari and nearly defeated then-champion Remy Bonjasky and was going to fight the legend Peter Aerts in the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16. Overeem was being billed as the outsider, the invader who was looking to usurp the throne that was always held by the best kickboxers in the world for his own. It was a simple, effective narrative that was only exacerbated when he defeated Peter Aerts in the Final 16, securing his spot in the K-1 World Grand Prix.
K-1 did a series of vignettes with Overeem leading up to his entry into the K-1 World Grand Prix, focusing on his raw strength and his crazy, unorthodox training in Holland. While all of that was good, perhaps what was the most effective was showing him eat. Sounds weird, right? But Alistair Overeem is a huge dude who needed a lot of protein and when they sent a camera crew to show him cooking his own food and talking about how he ate horsemeat for its protein value, well, everyone went nuts. Alistair Overeem filmed inside of a tiny Dutch kitchen that he could barely fit inside of cooking horse steaks to prepare for the K-1 World Grand Prix was an image that endures to this day as one of the defining moments in the career of “Ubereem.”
His first fight was to be against the Kyokushin fighter from Brazil that was popular in Japanese karate circuits in Ewerton Teixeira. Teixeira was always a skilled guy who wasn’t the most exciting fighter to watch, but he connected well enough with fans and filled an important role for the organization by representing Kyokushin. The video package that they created leading into that fight hammered home their narrative of Overeem being an “invader” from MMA, showing highlights from his fights with Badr, Remy and Aerts. The visual of Overeem literally bullying around the K-1 legend Peter Aerts and tossing around Remy Bonjasky was a powerful one, so was the interview footage of Badr Hari talking about his loss to Overeem. They also sowed the seeds of Overeem vs. Badr Hari meeting again in the tournament in a rematch for the ages, which played a big role in the 2009 K-1 World Grand Prix.
Overeem scored an absolutely brutal knockout on Ewerton Teixeira with a clinch knee, which helped to lead to the legend of the UBERKNEE and only made Overeem look that much stronger heading into the semifinals against Badr Hari. The rematch with Badr Hari was the story of the show, by far, which overshadowed what would become another Semmy Schilt victory. The real story of the show was that Alistair Overeem’s stock was on the rise and that it was part skill and talent and part marketing and narrative-building. This fight was the culmination of a lot of work and storytelling where a lot of credit should go to Michael Schiavello’s absolutely brilliant narrative-driven call throughout this event.
I’ve heard many a fan decry Schiavello, Sefo and Kogan’s call during that match, or their celebration on-camera after the fight as “cheesey” or “unprofessional,” but the reality was that they were genuinely excited and engaged in the narrative, as was the entire crowd. That finish still gives me chills to this day because of just how perfect of a moment it was. The thing is, I’ve heard a lot of people say that narratives in combat sports are “impossible” because of the unpredictable nature of people getting hit in the face, but the truth is that a deft storyteller will find a way to weave a complex narrative that can be altered along the way to be just as effective.
Due to Badr Hari once again losing his cool in the ring in 2010 he was on a bit of a sabbatical from the sport, leaving the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix wide open for new blood. The tournament saw a lot of top names involved, including newer names like Tyrone Spong and Gokhan Saki becoming dark horses to win the entire tournament and to bring new blood into the K-1 lineage. K-1 continued their push for Overeem, though, pushing the narrative of Overeem more focused than ever on K-1, but still slightly arrogant and the outsider heading into the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix.
They focused on his raw strength as one of his selling points. We know in combat sports that raw strength and physique aren’t what makes a fighter “good,” but by pushing this narrative they kept building up Overeem as a larger-than-life character, even having him talking about how he grew up watching Hulk Hogan in WWF.
Overeem, of course, would go on to win the K-1 World Grand Prix, becoming one of the most famous fighters in Japan. His stock also rose within the United States as well, with more and more fans calling for him to step back into the Strikeforce cage to defend the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship, maybe even go to the UFC and challenge Brock Lesnar in a dream match. In fact, Overeem now had an aura about him when he stepped into the ring. He was the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion and that not only meant something, it meant everything at the time.
Regardless of your opinion of Alistair Overeem, K-1 took a fighter that was talented and driven and helped to push him beyond the level that he was at the time. They helped to make him a star and a featured attraction that they were drawing money off of up until scandal struck and the company lost their television deal and ultimately disintegrated.
Alistair Overeem is simply the last example of starbuilding that K-1 did and how that work that they did on pushing Overeem’s larger-than-life character was able to carry over after his K-1 career and help to build him up to be a living legend in combat sports. Anything that happened after is immaterial, of course, but he was still elevated in part by K-1’s huge push that endeared him to fans across the world. If you were to ask me what is missing from modern kickboxing that K-1 was able to do the answer is simple; they built stars. They made fans care about their fighters while transforming them into characters and building narratives around their fights.
It didn’t matter if these characters won or lost, they were still verifiable draws for K-1 and vital parts of the K-1 ecosystem. Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost, Jerome Le Banner, Andy Hug, Ray Sefo and many other fighters won and lost in the K-1 ring but it never mattered because they’d come back and get another chance. They’d get another chance and K-1 would weave stories about these fighters and their upcoming fights that made fans genuinely interested in seeing what came next. These narratives didn’t need to be perfect, they just needed to exist.
That doesn’t exist today. Instead we get training footage, cut-and-dry interviews and a focus on who won and who lost, not the humanity behind who won or lost. Not the story. If you treat a fighter who lost like a human being and tell their story the chances of fans being interested in their next fight is only going to increase. This is why fighters like Aerts and Hoost could have thirty year long careers that included crushing losses but still attract fans to this day.
The sport of kickboxing drew on not just the physical aspect of the sport, but it drew and thrived off of the creativity of the sport. Kickboxing thrived not just by having a good, rock ‘em, sock ‘em product, but by molding fighters into larger-than-life characters that played off of their personalities. It thrived by created narratives for each and every fight to appeal to fans and didn’t rely on fighters to sell their own fights. Kickboxing helped to build these fighters into box office and television attractions and was never left with cards that delivered in action but drew no eyes.
So my answer to the question that is floating around right now as to “Why aren’t fans attracted to kickboxing?” Simple, nobody is doing anything to make fans care.
Well damn. Sometimes the good comes with the bad. This weekend was the retirement of one of the all-time greats in the sport of kickboxing in Iron Mike Zambidis. Zambidis had endeared himself to fans all across the world with his explosive and exciting fighting style and never-say-die attitude, but it was time for him to hang up the gloves. Zambidis had to make the tough decision but in pure Mike Zambidis fashion he decided to go out on his own terms. Most fighters would have fought in front of their hometown against someone that would be a pushover to create a memorable last victory. Zambidis is not that guy.
Oh no, Mike Zambidis wanted to fight a top-ranked Steve Moxon who had laid out a challenge to him last year. It was a title vs. title affair and it was Mike Zambidis's retirement. How did it go? Well, Zambidis goes out with a huge victory and you can watch the fight here.
If you were looking forward to seeing Joe Schilling in the ring wearing bigger gloves at the Bellator/GLORY Dynamite event in September it looks like you are out of luck. On Friday evening he competed within the Bellator cage against a Japanese karateka Hisaki Kato. Kato, who was a virtual unknown to most was thought to be simply a guy being fed to Schilling but he has an extensive history of competing within the world of karate and had racked up four knockouts for four wins in his MMA career prior in Japan. Needless to say the guy is no can and Schilling found out the hard way just how good he was, Kato scoring a brutal knockout over Schilling in the second round.
Schilling was originally scheduled for the September 19th Dynamite event on Spike TV but it came out today that the Kansas commission has handed out a 90-day medical suspension for Schilling, which takes him to the end of September before he's allowed contact. Clearly that means he won't be able to compete on the Dynamite card, which is a bummer. For now we still know that Paul Daley is scheduled to participate on the Dynamite card and he's been calling out recent-Bellator signee Josh Koscheck. I'm not sure that I want to see Kos's brain get scrambled in a kickboxing ring, but that could be interesting.
Scott Coker also made mention of wanting to have a GLORY title fight on the card, so there is hope yet.
There has been a lot of movement on the sports apparel and gear front over the last few months in the world of combat sports after the UFC struck an exclusive arrangement with Reebok that prevented other companies from having their usual pull inside of the octagon. From there we saw TapouT get partially bought out by the WWE and will be launching a co-branded initiative in 2016, Venum is sponsoring a kickboxing series in Europe called Venum World Series and now gear company Hayabusa will be providing GLORY with gloves for the next three years.
This is a switch from Leone, which provided gloves in the past for GLORY. Starting at GLORY 23 on August 7th Hayabusa's new World Class Competition Gloves will be used by GLORY competitors. The gloves are set to be unveiled during GLORY 23's fight week.
GLORY 23 Las Vegas is GLORY's next big event happening on Spike TV and we'll see a new Welterweight Champion crowned on this night. Unfortunately due to ongoing effects from a concussion the champion Joseph Valtellini was forced to vacate the title and now Nieky Holzken will get his chance at the title against a man that he defeated just a few months prior in the ever-evolving Raymond Daniels. Daniels holds a rare knockdown over Holzken from their last fight and has been evolving and growing as a fighter steadily, making the rematch between the two in a five-round affair an interesting spectacle for both old and new fans.
The co-main event of the show has been announced as American Heavyweight hopeful Xavier Vigney taking on one of his biggest challenges to date in the UK's Daniel Sam. Sam serves as a gatekeeper to the realm of the international elite for Vigney and while a win over Sam won't thrust him into the top ten, it will help to legitimize his ascending the ranks and prove that he's ready to take a big step up in competition.
The show will also feature a Middleweight Qualifying tournament and thus far we only have two names associated with it, which are Casey Greene on one side of the bracket and Dustin Jacoby on the other. We aren't exactly holding out hope for this tournament involving many bigger names, but it should serve the same purpose that the recent Heavyweight Qualifying tournament did, at least.
Perhaps one of the best fights on the card is on the SuperFight Series right now, which is Murthel Groenhart vs. Chad Sugden.
In the sport of kickboxing it is difficult to not appreciate it when a promotion thinks ahead to the future, which is what makes Enfusion Live a delight at times. Enfusion Live have released the remainder of their 2015 schedule and it's just nice to see a road map being released by a promotion that takes a lot of the guesswork out of it for fans. The next Enfusion event, Enfusion Live #30 takes place in Dublin on July 11th, from there this is what 2015 looks like;
#31 Malaga, Spain 19.09.2015
#32 Gent, Belgium 10.10.2015
#33 Martigny, Switzerland 07.11.2015
#34 Groningen, The Netherlands 21.11.2015
#35 A Christmas Edition (to be announced)
Enfusion Live #31 will also include fights to determine who moves on to the quarterfinals of their big 70kg tournament next year, the names participating in this are Christopher Mena, Adam Martins, Phillipe Salmon and Beau Superpro Samui. Their 70kg title has been declared vacant and they will be looking for a new champion. They will also look to crown a 72.5kg champion in the near future, with that being one of their new weight classes.
They've promised bigger and better shows in 2016 and have also decided a slight overhaul of their rules starting on the Spain card, which will see changes to how throws are counted.
On June 27th in Greece the K-1 legend that is Mike Zambidis will step into the ring one last time in his retirement fight. The 34-year old fighter will cap off a long and storied career by fighting one of the world's toughest Lightweights in Steve Moxon. In a way, Zambidis fighting Moxon for his retirement fight is a very Zambidis thing to do; he didn't have to fight someone as tough and relevant as Moxon. Zambidis is going out on his own terms, which is rare for many fighters, it also meant that he could choose someone that he could just easily plow through for a memorable knockout for his retirement. Instead Zambidis chose a challenge.
I think when we all look back on Mike Zambidis it should be that fighting spirit that we all remember. We had a chance to talk to Zambidis prior to his big fight this coming weekend and a reflecting Zambidis had a lot to say about his career, his fans and even his most memorable fights. Mike Zambidis fights Steve Moxon on June 27th in Athens, Greece under the Iron Challenge banner.
LK: First of all, thank you for all of the great memories in the ring. I'm not sure that there are many fighters out there as entertaining and full of heart like you.
MZ: Thank you very much for your kindness. It is very important for an athlete to be respected by the audience and especially by the insiders of his field with such great experience.
LK: After a successful 15-plus-year career you are retiring, what was the decision making process like for this? What finally pushed you to move into retirement?
MZ: I am involved in kick boxing for 24 years and in times that kick boxing was not popular in my country but I dreamed and looked up with my head down and after huge sacrifices and endless hours of training, I have achieved 178 fights, 155 wins and 87 Kos. I had the honor to compete during the golden years of kick boxing in major events and with the best athletes worldwide.
After all this wonderful and demanding journey , I feel enormous gratitude that I manage to finish my career healthy and in high competitive level. Now, I feel full inside so as to go on with the next chapters of my life.
LK: How important is it for you to be able to retire in front of your friends, family and fans in Greece?
MZ: There is nothing better than to give my last battle in Greece, although there have been several interesting proposals by others countries, but my decision was the only way.
The Greeks support me in many ways, either daily out on the street, on social media, or filling each stadium where my battles are organised and transfer their energy, which is very valuable for me.
LK: Reflecting back on your career, what was your favorite fight?
MZ: I have many favorite fights … But I will pick the first that came to my mind. It was the first time I stepped my foot in Japan and my first battle there with the champion of K-1 in 2003. For a long time, I was dreaming to participate in K-1. I won the eight-fold in the K -1 Oceania Australia and John Wein Parr in the finals and so I found myself opposite to the Dutch Albert Kraus. In the beginning of the second round, I managed to knock him out, diving in the deep sea of K-1. A shocking experience for a young unknown Greek athlete back then.
LK: What made you select Steve Moxon as a final opponent? Moxon is an incredibly tough, top-ranked opponent. Is this just the Mike Zambidis warrior spirit that wouldn't accept an easy fight for his retirement?
MZ: I respect Steve Moxon and he has provoked me many times in the past. As he said in the past, I was his idol due to the similar fighting style and I think that it is very interesting for the audience to see. The experts of martial arts predict a spectacular battle between two strong athletes that are chasing the knock out. As you said, I could accept an easy fight at this moment but I love challenges a lot. I am not just an athlete, I am a warrior and I learned in my life to fight, aiming high. This is a challenge I would like to take, as I think it will be a Titans’ battle.
LK: What do you think that your legacy will be on the sport after you retire?
MZ: The fights I have given in K-1, my wins over the world’s greatest champions of kick boxing, my «iron» fists and my fighting style, I think will be my legacy. Also, the fact that I was a Greek warrior fighting alone in the biggest kick boxing events worldwide, I think is going to be a nice thing to remember about me.
LK: What kind of plans do you have for your retirement? Do you plan on working with fighters and training them, running events, running a business or are you just planning to relax?
MZ: In Greece I own two fighting clubs where I give kick boxing lessons, so I will continue to run them giving more time and train athletes. In parallel, I plan to offer kids seminars for nutritional education, sports education, self-defense, in order to strengthen their self-confidence and any other important experience I can offer.
LK: Is there a fighter out there that you believe could help the Mike Zambidis legacy continue on, or do you think that you are retiring as a one-of-a-kind talent?
MZ: I believe that every athlete is unique; no one can be the same with the other. Of course nowadays, there are many good athletes in the world who can offer many things to kick boxing and achieve great things. On the other hand, I believe that the Golden Era of kick-boxing has ended and strong teams like the ones gathered in Japan or in heavyweights like Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hust, Le Banner, Bernado, Loginidis, Andy Hug and in K-1 max 70 kg with Masato, Kraus, Kyshenko, Drago, Buakaw, Souwer and many others won’ t exist again for 2 reasons: Firstly, it is rare to have good fighters in their best physical condition to compete in the same event and secondly the global economic crisis which dissolves dreams and shrinks everything.
LK: Are there any regrets from your career, or are you satisfied with your accomplishments?
MZ: After 178 fights, 155 wins and 87 KOs, I would be ungrateful if I said that I am not satisfied with my accomplishments. Thank God, I don’t have second thoughts and I am happy. I would be ungrateful if I was not happy with what I have accomplished. Definitely, there were a lot of difficulties, frustrations , injustices and injuries during all this wonderful trip but I keep the good moments, that were definitely more and I am glad because I used all the bad ones to become more mature and get myself in the next battles more «angry» in a creative and investing way and complete human and fighter.
LK: Is there anything that you'd like to say to your fans and supporters all throughout the world?
MZ: I would like to thank them personally, one by one. Their support, energy and love are precious for every step I take. I’ ve always felt very honored for the people who supported me in my fights around the world. That’s why I was training and I gave 100% of my soul and body in my battles so that I could please them.
Copyright 2010 - 2014 LiverKick.com. All Rights Reserved.