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Kickboxing Metagame: Are we in the post-Dutch era?

  • Published in News

Kiria

If you’ve been a kickboxing fan long enough, you must know when a show has that “Dutch” feel to it. There’s pounding trance music, corners frantically yelling at the top of their lungs one second and chanting “Heyyy!!” (along with the crowd) the next, the VIP tables which the Dutch inexplicably prefer to stadium seating, Joop Ubeda snapping at everyone he possibly can, Mike Passenier drinking more of his fighters’ water than they actually do--the list goes on. One of my favorite conceits, however, has always been the advertised nationality of the fighters featured on these shows. At face value, the fighters on an It’s Showtime or old school Golden Glory card hailed from all over the world, from Suriname to Morocco, despite either being born in the Netherlands or having spent most of their life there (It’s Showtime took this conceit to more ludicrous extremes--playing NBC’s Olympic anthems throughout its fights and intermissions). These not-so-foreign fighters also competed with a similar fighting style, employing the Dutch systems practiced in powerhouse gyms like Chakuriki, Mike’s Gym, Golden Glory, Vos, and Meijiro and popularized by the late great Ramon Dekkers. This Dutch style would dominate kickboxing for nearly three decades, from its Muay Thai success in the 80s to its near ubiquity in the pantheon of K-1 champions.

But by 2011, things began to change. The fall of K-1 saw the kickboxing landscape largely shift to the Dutch scene with It’s Showtime and its roster of local prospects leading the way. The stylistic metagame subsequently coalesced around the same Dutch fighting system and the various particularities of its standout fight camps--devolving from an era of diversity which saw the likes of Andy Hug, Mike Bernardo, Glaube Feitosa, Ray Sefo, Masato, and Buakaw fight for the top position of their weight classes. The Chakuriki fighters liked to fight technical, the Mike’s Gym fighters liked to bash each others’ brains in, and everybody liked liver shots and some variation of punching combinations followed by low kicks. In short, the fights got boring, with fighters performing the same old moves on each other with little variation and more importantly, no innovation.

And then there was Giorgio Petrosyan. A petite Armenian with lots of decisions and few KOs to his name, Petrosyan unravelled the Dutch style of kickboxing. He read its tempo, he anticipated its combinations, he internalized its rhythm--and using his exquisite technique he defeated every major Dutch stylist in recent memory, from Albert Kraus to Andy Souwer to the Dutch system’s latest standout, Robin van Roosmalen. Petrosyan’s rising success was soon accompanied by increasing disarray in the Dutch ranks. There was anger, frustration, exasperated remarks of Petrosyan being overrated and boring--a point fighter rather than a fight finisher. And yet no one acknowledged the increasingly apparent reality: that Dutch Kickboxing was becoming increasingly predictable and exploitable.

Meanwhile, Andy Ristie ravaged It’s Showtime’s entry and mid-level ranks with his “unorthodox” fighting style that combines KO power and clever technique with his tall, lanky frame. While never flawless, Ristie’s style seemed to pose a darkhorse threat to the top, a threat which was finally realized when Ristie sent Petrosyan and van Roosmalen thundering to the canvas. In both fights, Ristie broke his opponents’ rhythm and form, slipping curving punches through the guard which found their mark. In one fell swoop, Andy Ristie turned the lightweight division upside down and singlehandedly breathed more life into kickboxing than it had since the Masato-Buakaw era.

The end result is a revitalized metagame that is being defined by innovation and the unravelling of kickboxing orthodoxy. The era of Ramon Dekkers is over. The future will see the arrival of more Petrosyans and Andy Risties--fighters whose diverse abilities take the game to new heights while upsetting the norm. It’s also not insignificant that both Cor Hemmers and Thom Harinck have retired at this time, opening the field for new coaching talent from around the world to make their names. Davit Kiria vs. Andy Ristie is only a taste of the type of fight to come: cerebral, intellectual, suspenseful, with glimmering strokes of artistry and sweet science rather than the concussive, brain rattling thunder of Meat Day. This is kickboxing at its best, and if you’re a fan, then you should welcome the evolution of the sport into the more fully realized competition of striking arts that it always promised to be.

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Badr Hari's Love Affair Hits the Tabloids

  • Published in Kickboxing

Ah summer, with love in the air and celebrity gossip magazines there to take candid shots of them and repost them with scandalous headlines. That is your life if you are Kickboxing superstar Badr Hari and you find yourself involved with Dutch soccer legend Ruud Gullit's wife, Estelle Gullit, going as far as said wife leaving her superstar husband and taking up a serious relationship with you. This photo is courtesy of Marloes Coenen's twitter. As we wait to find out if Badr will be fighting for Glory or not, we are instead treated to photographs of him enjoying his life. Good for him.

Badr

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Liverkick Throwback: Ronnie Green Vs Joao Vierra II

  • Published in Kickboxing

The world of kickboxing has a rich history to fall back upon so we here at LiverKick figure, why not? Why not give a glimpse into some of the fights from the past that have made up this wonderful sport and tie it all in to the present. The kids on the Instagram and Twitter like to call Thursdays "Throwback Thursdays," I'm just going to say that this is a LiverKick Throwback.

Today we are going way back to the 90's and taking a look at an English fighter who was miles ahead of the game, Ronnie "Machine Gun" Green. Ronnie Green was known for his quick footwork, nasty left hook and hard low kicks. He was one of the very few foreign fighters to go to Thailand, beat the Thai's and be considered a Master now that he has retired. Outside of the ring Ronnie is a very quiet, polite and humble man. He will never brag about being a multiple time world champion in 3 different weight classes, to be honest he would probably never even mention kickboxing, but when you watch him fight his skills are remarkable. I have watched him since I was probably 5 or 6 years old and I feel that he is one of the best fighters of all time, if he was in his prime now he would still be at the top of his weight class that's how far ahead of his time he was.

In this fight Green is fighting Joao Vierra, a very tough dutch trained fighter with an aggressive and powerful style. Vierra even knocked out a very young Ramon Dekkers back in 1988 with a right hand so he was definitely no slouch. Ronnie was just too slick for Vierra's style though. His foot work, his head movement, he was just never there for Vierra to land anything. These two fought three times, and Ronnie had Vierras number and won them all.

 

 

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