LiverKick Rankings Updated on 5/26/2016
They say that the news never sleeps, and in that regard, neither do I, apparently. Keeping Dutch hours leads you to find pretty cool stuff in the wee hours of the morning, and it turns out that Badr Hari's return opponent has been announced by It's Showtime, officially, as has the rest of the Lyon card and it is lining up to be absolutely incredible.
The main event features the return of the Bad Boy, Badr Hari! Badr will be coming back after a year layoff due to some nagging legal issues, and his return opponent has been hotly debated for the past few weeks or so. The long-standing rumor was that the fight between Gokhan Saki and Badr Hari that was originally airmarked for the Amsterdam ArenA show would materialize in Lyon, but instead local kickboxer Tony Gregory has been called back into action to fight Badr Hari. This is a great return bout for Badr Hari, as it gives him a chance to hone his skills and gives him a bit of a cushion before heading back into the deep waters. Tony Gregory retired from kickboxing a few years ago to pursue a boxing career, but after disappointing results he finds himself back in the kickboxing mix, this time against one of the most dangerous fighters in the kickboxing world.
Tyrone Spong steps back into the It's Showtime ring, this time at Heavyweight as he'll take on Igor Mihaljevic, a Croatian Heavyweight. Igor provides a stiff challenge at Heavyweight for Spong, who is right now training with King Mo Lawal in Holland. Spong looks to cement his spot as one of the elite Heavyweights in the world by taking the fight to Igor here. Paul Slowinski's jam-packed year doesn't stop just yet, as he will take on the man that is more of a beast, the Romanian Daniel Ghita. Ghita looks to be heading into his fight with Hesdy Gerges in a few weeks, and a fight against Slowinski will provide another challenge, but will Slowinski just be a stepping stone for Ghita?
Then we move down from Heavyweight to Middleweight, as It's Showtime's 70kg MAX division fills out the rest of the card, with two-time K-1 MAX World Grand Prix Champion Giorgio Petrosyan takes on a fighter that last year put on one of the best fights imaginable against Mike Zambidis, Chahid Oulad El Hadj. This is a huge fight for Chahid, and for Petrosyan it is just another day at the office. With It's Showtime planning a 70kg MAX tournament in July and both men rumored to be involved, a win here is huge for momentum.
It's Showtime's 70kg MAX champion defends his crown finally, as Chris Ngimbi looks to ward off Willy Borrell. Ngimbi's title win has been disputed by some fans, so a strong performance by Ngimbi can help solidify his spot in It's Showtime this year and help build momentum for the MAX tournament in Russia this July. Rounding out the card is Abder Penda facing off against Marat Grigorian at 70kg, with both men looking to leave a big impression on the international kickboxing scene.
I'll say this, It's Showtime hasn't disappointed yet and keeps marching forward for what looks to be a banner year. I know many fans are upset with the lack of K-1, but It's Showtime is really churning out the big cards. [source]
Truly fascinating night in Thailand tonight as K-1 held the K-1 World MAX Finals to crown the K-1 MAX Champion. That champion will hold the K-1 MAX/70kg Championship and go on to defend it against all comers. Many believed that Buakaw Banchamek couldn't lose against Enriko Kehl, especially after the showing last year that saw Buakaw dismantle Kehl and pick up a decision. What happened in the fight was much stranger than fiction, that is for sure.
Enriko Kehl came into the fight focused and was landing clean combinations and shots on Banchamek. Buakaw spent most of the fight catching Kehl's kicks or clinching him then dumping him to the mat. That led to Buakaw being in control in the ring, but not landing anything significant. Many believed that this would assure Buakaw an easy victory against Kehl, but in what is typical K-1 fashion when a fight is close, it was ruled a draw. Before anyone goes into conspiracy theory mode, those trips, dumps and clinches don't score points in K-1 rules. The official K-1 rules are that a clinch must be immediately broken or that a single knee can be thrown from a one-handed clinch. That is just the rules.
The fight was to go to an extension round, the only problem was that Buakaw was nowhere to be seen. Buakaw, along with his trainers and manager Yim, left the ringside area when they found out that there would be an extension round. Buakaw, who has fought in extension rounds in K-1 numerous times now, knows how it works, so there really was no reason for him to storm out. If you were paying attention to Banchamek's social media and to the news leading into the fight, this behavior won't seem that odd to you, as Banchamek had gone to the press numerous times in the lead-up to this event with some interesting stories. Those stories include doubts as to K-1's legitimacy, him wondering if he'd be paid the money that he'd get from fighting in the event and even claiming that K-1 was involved in illegal gambling on the event.
Curiously it was all done in front of a Top King banner, with Top King being the latest Thai promotion that Buakaw has signed with after falling out with Yokkao, Thai Fight and MAX Muay Thai over the years. Buakaw was nowhere to be seen and the fight was ruled in favor of Enriko Kehl due to disqualification via forfeit. All of the credit in the world goes to Enriko Kehl who very clearly learned from their first encounter and made improvements and adjustments to meet the Thai legend on Thai soil in a fight that no one thought that he could win.
Regardless of anyone's opinion on if the extra round was deserved or not, this was unprofessional behavior from Banchamek and not the first time that he had done something similar in K-1 (see the Zhou Zhi Peng fight in December 2013 in China).
UPDATE: If you watch the video above it is clear that Buakaw and his team left before the decision was even rendered. We received confirmation that Buakaw and his team left immediately after round three ended and jumped into a car without a word to anyone else.
Amidst all the bad K-1 news, Europe’s top fighting organization, It’s Showtime, has been a hot topic of conversation lately. As plans for 2011 come together, we’re seeing more and more events announced by the company, who find themselves constantly expanding their product throughout the world. But in the middle of all the positive news came an unfortunate announcement last week – due to a planned co-promotion with K-1 falling through, It’s Showtime would not run their big annual show at the Amsterdam Arena in 2011.
Between this latest news, all the rumors swirling around K-1, Badr Hari’s return, and various other stories, now seemed like a good time to speak to the always forthcoming It’s Showtime president Simon Rutz. As always, Mr. Rutz offered plenty of insight into their dealings with K-1 and so much more.
Read on for part 1 of this 2 part exclusive LiverKick.com interview, as we get the story on exactly what happened with the canceled Amsterdam Arena event and the state of affairs for K-1 and It’s Showtime.
LiverKick.com: It’s a shame you may not run in the Amsterdam Arena this year. When did you begin to think this show might not happen?
Simon Rutz: We have already known for many years that K-1 has big problems, but a few months ago they said to me that they have a new investor. That was the reason why I agreed to cooperate on the Amsterdam Arena event in May this year. Around Christmas I felt that there was something wrong with their situation because they didn’t answer my requests anymore.
LK: What were the plans for the show? Did you have fighters already lined up?
SR: When It’s Showtime and K-1 cooperate I always give my suggestions, and most of the time they use them. My suggestions for this year were: Badr Hari vs. Gokhan Saki; Peter Aerts vs. Tyrone Spong; and Hesdy Gerges vs. Alistair Overeem, Errol Zimmerman, or someone else.
LK: We’ve heard a lot about K-1 not paying fighters, and I know Giorgio Petrosyan had problems with that last year. Are there It’s Showtime or Black Label fighters who are waiting to be paid by K-1?
SR: Yes, the following fighters have not been paid for a fight: Melvin Manhoef, Tyrone Spong, Daniel Ghita, Hesdy Gerges, Gago Drago, Pajonsuk, Dzevad Poturak, Chahid, and Giorgio Petrosyan still needs his win bonus from the last K-1 MAX tournament. It is a lot of money! I never let our fighters fight before they are paid for their last fight. I hear that some other fighters haven’t gotten their money for 4 fights. It is a sad situation for all the fighters.
LK: Given all these problems, what, in your opinion, does K-1 need to do to survive?
SR: They need a lot of money, and they must ask my advice (and do something with that advice) because they do a lot of stupid things.
LK: If they don’t get that money, and they don’t survive, what will it mean for kickboxing and for It’s Showtime?
SR: If they don’t survive it is very bad for the sport and for many fighters. For It’s Showtime, it would mean that we are the number 1 kickboxing organization in the world and everybody will look to us. We are getting busy like never before. We have already seen a movement from K-1 to It’s Showtime. Almost every day I talk with people around the world who want to organize an It’s Showtime event in their country.
LK: Would you ever consider buying out K-1?
SR: Why should I do that? I have my own brand and company who is healthy and is going very well. Also, what am I buying then? Only a lot of problems! The [K-1] name is very strong, but I already have a good name. I will keep my money in my pocket!
LK: You said you are talking with people around the world, and this looks like a huge year for you with new events in England, Germany, and Spain. Any details on those shows?
SR: Our schedule for the year is now: March 6 – Amsterdam, Holland; March 26 – Brussels, Belgium; May 14 – Lyon, France (not signed yet); May – Manheim, Germany (not signed yet); June 11 – Warsaw, Poland; July 23 – Sochi, Russia; August 27 – Sarajevo, Bosnia; September 18 – Amsterdam, Holland; September 24 – Manchester, England (not signed yet); October 8 – Geneva, Switzerland; End of December in Amsterdam for the It’s Showtime Christmas Edition again. We are also talking about It’s Showtime events in Spain, Ukraine, and Australia. As you see, we are really busy. We have at least 10 big events this year, maybe 12.
LK: You know I have to ask – any further info on possibly running in the United States?
SR: I am getting more and more interest for It’s Showtime events in the US. Last week, one of the TV stations from the US bought our It’s Showtime events, so that is starting. I also am speaking with several people to see what the possibilities are in the US. But when we start, we will start slowly with events for 2,000 people.
LK: With all this expansion, where do you want It’s Showtime to be in 2 years?
SR: Pff......... 6 months ago I said that in 5 years It’s Showtime would organize between 15 and 20 events a year, but we are going so fast, maybe next year we will already be doing 15 events a year!
Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of this interview as we discuss Remy Bonjasky’s retirement, Cosmo Alexandre, the Hesdy Gerges/Semmy Schilt controversy, and of course, Badr Hari.
Ha! Just when you thought you were done having to listen to me (@dvewlsh / @LiverKickdotcom) ramble on about Kickboxing, you were wrong. This time I'm joined by a very special guest by the way of GLORY 10 Middleweight Champion Joe Schilling as we discuss his big victory at GLORY 10 as well as how he felt going into the tournament and how his life has changed after it. Joe also weighs in on the GLORY 11 card coming up this week and that his next fight will be at GLORY 12 New York.
If you follow kickboxing you know the one fight that everyone has been asking about; GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven vs. Badr Hari. Badr Hari may not be a regular in the realm of high-level kickboxing right now, but he's the lone holdover of a generation of heavyweights that defined the sport from the heyday of K-1.
Hari, never a K-1 World Grand Prix Champion -- in part thanks to his volatile temper leading to a DQ loss in 2008 -- was seen as the heir apparent to the heavyweight throne, only for FEG's K-1 to go bankrupt and the international kickboxing scene changed forever. Since then, GLORY has emerged as the world leader in the sport, albeit in a scaled-back form compared to the opulence of FEG's K-1.
Since then both Hari and Verhoeven have had very different paths. Hari chased paydays from rich sheikhs and warlords where he could find them while Verhoeven competed with the best of the best, transitioning from being a tall, awkward kid to an unstoppable force in heavyweight kickboxing. Outside of the ring Hari has been plagued with legal issues thanks to his temper and for a while it looked like he would never, truly, find a way back to fighting the best.
Hari has remained a public figure, his every indiscretion stealing international headlines all while being accentuated by a fairly rabid social media following. For Verhoeven, this became the fight to make, the fight that made sense. All of the old heroes had retired; Semmy Schilt, Peter Aerts, Jerome Le Banner, Ernesto Hoost and Remy Bonjasky.
With wins over Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita, Errol Zimmerman and Benjamin Adegbuyi it was all starting to feel a bit "academic" for Verhoeven. He is the best and all of the challengers that are lining up are talented individuals, but what can they bring to the table?
An issue that arises with a dominant champion is that it's difficult for other stars to flourish. Adegbuyi, in any other generation, would be a huge star, but now he's been defeated twice by Verhoeven, as have Daniel Ghita and Errol Zimmerman, making it lonely at the top for Rico, who has only suffered one errant loss in China to Anderei Gerasimchuk while Rico's wife was in labor and his mind was elsewhere.
Speculation has run wild for the past few months, smaller promoters have tossed their hat into the ring with very public, very unrealistic offers to host the fight, but there was always going to be one promotion where it would go down; GLORY. GLORY has worked with Verhoeven and Hari's team and now it's official. According to a report from Gareth Davies, the fight is happening in December in Germany.
As for the stakes? Simply pride.
GLORY just confirmed Rico Verhoeven vs. Badr Hari will not be a title fight. It will be three rounds.— Michael Stets (@Michael_Stets) July 23, 2016
Hari is not under a longer contract to GLORY, thus no title will be on the line.
K-1 fighter Badr Hari lives a pretty crazy life that has seen a great deal of controversy, with some of that controversy revolving around his relationship with Estelle Cruijff, the former wife of football star Ruud Gullit. It looks like the odd love affair, punctuated by Badr Hari's brawl at the Amsterdam ArenA that left Koen Everink in rough shape, has finally come to an end and has hit the Dutch tabloids. The relationship between the two was fodder for the press for quite a while and it looks like today will be no different.
It is interesting to note that Badr Hari's next court date is in October and that the relationship couldn't outlast the charges accrued during it. Maybe Badr Hari will finally find some peace and get back into fighting shape in time for the K-1 World Grand Prix this time around.
For Badr Hari and Morosanu fans the upcoming bout between the two sluggers was a highlight for the year. It was Badr Hari's return to the ring after some time off and it was against the best competition that he's faced since Zabit Samedov in 2013. But, much like the proposed fight with Patrice Quateron from a previous GFC event, it looks like the fans will have yet another Badr Hari fight fall through for the time being.
The official statement is vague, citing "conditions" of the fights as the reason. Morosanu isn't one to pull out of a fight and if Badr Hari's social media is any indication he seems ready to go, so one has to assume that there is something strange going on here. Much like when Patrice Quateron was pulled from the Hari fight for not "creating a family friendly atmosphere" before, we are hearing rumors of Badr Hari being unhappy with something heading into this fight.
For now the entire event is postponed, so it looks like GFC will try to keep the fight between the two together, but if Hari is truly unhappy with the arrangement it may simply not happen. GFC has also promised a more entertaining event than the last one, for what that is worth.
Whew, what a weekend, right? Glory 3 Rome happened and it was pretty incredible. Giorgio Petrosyan continued his reign of dominance in the world of 70kg Kickboxing and shows no signs of relenting, but fighters like Sanny Dahlback and Davit Kiria came from out of nowhere and impressed the world. Listen to Rian Scalia (@rianscalia) and myself (@LiverKickdotcom / @dvewlsh) as we discuss the latest and greatest in Kickboxing news.
Also note that we've changed software, so going forward the Podcast will be using the player below. You can still download the episode by right clicking on the player and choosing download. You can also subscribe by clicking the button on the left and it should be up on iTunes shortly. See, we listen to your feedback.
The 20 Greatest Kyokushin Karate Fighters of All Time was first published by Liver Kick in 2013, with #20-17. It has taken us some time to get around to completing that list, but finally we have done it!
As mentioned in the first installment, Kyokushin Karate was founded by Masutatsu “Mas” Oyama, and considered to be the first and most influential style of full contact karate, and one of the most hard-hitting, brutal, and intense forms of organized combat in the world. A style that has spawn fighters the likes of Andy Hug and Georges St. Pierre, to name just a couple. But aside from the big name kickboxers and mma stars there lays an array of combat sports athletes whose neither names nor accomplishments often see the light of day. This is the reason the "Top 20 Greatest Kyokushin Fighters of All-Time" was first started.
As stated before, this is by no means the definitive list, and I am sure there are names missing, but I have done my best to complete the list with fighters based mainly on impact, achievement, quality of competition and technical skill. The list is in no particular order, as it’s next to impossible to select one fighter over another, and further, it is something that no one would agree on. But I am sure we can all agree that the names on this list deserve recognition.
A little information on the different types of tournaments before we begin: A World Tournament includes every weight class. There are no divisions and no upper weight limit. Any Weight Tournament splits fighters into one of three weights: Lightweight (Under 70 kg) Middleweight (70 kg to 80 kg) and Heavyweight (Over 90 kg). That's it. Pretty simple, right?
So without further ado, here are #16 - 13 on our list....
Makoto Nakamura is the only winner of two Kyokushin World Open tournaments and was known for his power style of karate. He is the epitome of “power karate” and truly represented the old guard of Kyokushin. At 110 kg (245 lbs) he was large man be any accounts, let alone against usually much smaller Japanese. He used his size and power to full advantage.
After competing, winning or always placing in the top 3 in the All Japan Tournaments, Nakamura was selected to be on the Japanese team for the 2nd World Tournament in 1979, where he would win first place, but not without controversy.
In that 2nd World Tournament he would face 18-year-old Dolph Lundgren from Sweden. Then only a green belt, Lundgren had to borrow a brown belt (one level higher) to be able to fight. As he recounts, "Full-contact-karate was something new at the time. Nobody really knew a lot about it, and neither did I." Held at the Japan Metropolitan Gymnasium, Nakamura was the favourite to win. When he faced Lundgren, who weighed 93 kg (205 lbs) Nakamura (a 2nd degree black belt at the time) attacked immediately and Lundgren caught him with a mawashi-geri (roundhouse kick) to the head. It is reported the crowd gasped and Nakamura probably thought he had more on his hands then he had bargained for. The fight went the distance; plus two extensions and Nakamura was awarded a controversial decision. This proved to be the eventual world champions hardest fight.
Nakamura would go on to compete in the 3rd World Tournament 1984 and win 1st place as well.
Sam "Slam 'em" Greco trained in Kyokushin Karate from a young age and started competing in full contact karate tournaments at age of 21. He is a retired super heavyweight fighter, who fought in Kyokushin Karate, Professional Kickboxing, K-1 tournaments and MMA. To put it simply, Sam Greco is a legend. He was an aggressive fighter who epitomized raw physical power and technical precision. Greco was an absolute dream to watch in the ring, as he would bring punishment forward and raining down.
After winning the Australian Full-Contact Karate title six times Greco would meet the founder of Kyokusin, Mas Oyama and eventually the founder of Seidokaikan Karate, Kazuyoshi Ishii. Ishii himself was a student of Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin under Hideyuki Ashihara.
Greco would go on to have an impressive career, 147 fights overall, and holds notable victories over many of the greats of kickboxing, like Branko Cikatic, Ernesto Hoost, Mike Bernardo, Stefan Leko, and Ray Sefo.
Greco is quoted as saying "My biggest achievement to date was taking on all the best fighters in the K1 world. Fighters that I would only read about and thought one day I will get to fight them. I never took a back step on anyone."
Azuma Takashi was born in 1949, began martial arts through the practice of Judo and in 1971 discovered Kyokushin Karate. He became a student of the founder, Mas Oyama. Azuma was a fiercely dominant fighter in the early days of Kyokushin and stood out among other fighters not only because of his physical strength, but also his strength of spirit, which never accepted defeat. A true warrior in every sense of the word, who encompassed Budo, or the Japanese Martial Way.
Azuma Takashi is the founder of the martial art Daido Juku, also known as "Kudo", and the President of the Kudo International Federation. Daido Juku is a martial art group practicing Kudo, a strike-based Mixed Martial Art/Budo. Noticeable by the use of a helmet that sort of looks like a space helmet, which allows fighters to strike to the head and not impede vision. Daido Juku introduced "Kakuto Karate (Combat Karate)" a safe, practical and popular form of tournament karate using the face protector and allowing attacks to the head level attack, throws, grabs, joint locks and chokes. Essentially, it’s like Japanese Budo MMA.
Photo courtesy of WKO Shinkyokushinkai
In the earlier days of Kyokushin, fighters were recognized for their “stand and bang” style of fighting. Pitting strength and brawn against one another. As the sport evolved you began to see fighters becoming more intelligent in their training practices and fighting. Fighters probably began to realize the old style of training and fighting would not have much longevity on the body. So, as fighters became smarter with their conditioning, the styles of fighting became smarter as well. Tsukamoto was one of the first in Full Contact Karate that began to apply new ways of thinking and new performing techniques, and we began to others changing and adapting. Marius Ilas is another one of this new breed of fighters.
Tsukamoto has proven that his unconventional way of fighting works, based on the many championships he has won, and the way fighters have a hard time dealing with and defending his approach. From unorthodox kicking methods to his use of hiza geri jodan (knee kick to the head) to KO opponents, Tsukamoto has influenced a whole new generation of Kyokushin fighters.
Tsukamoto is now part of the World Karate Organization - Shinkyokushinkai, the Kyokushin offshoot led by former world champion, Kenji Midori. We’ll be visiting him on the list shortly!
Click here for #20-17 and tune in soon for fighters #12-09.