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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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Glory World Series Live Results

  • Published in Europe

LiverKick.com brings you all of the coverage of the Glory World Series, LIVE from Moscow, Russia. We had some commentator issues early on, but things have seemingly been sorted out. We'll give you live results for each and every bout, leading up to the World Series finals between Gokhan Saki and Brice Guidon.

K-1: Igor Jurkovic (R2 - TKO) Pavel Zhuravlev - Igor worked Pavel over throughout the first round, dropping him with a nice combo. To start the second round he dropped Zhuravlev and broke his nose, the ringside doctor stopped it.

MMA: Denis Stojnic (R1 - Submission - Rear Naked Choke) Mladen Kujundžić - Denis Stojnic looks like a BEAST. His neck is about the size of Cro Cop's thighs. Stojnic put a serious beating on Mlanden and went for a few submission attempts before locking in the rear naked choke.

K-1: Errol Zimmerman (R3 - Unanimous Decision) Mourad Bouzidi - This is a grudge match of sorts as the two have met before and the finish was less than satisfactory. The first round was lots of action with Bouzidi fighting a bit more intelligently, but Zimmerman landed a few heavy shots before dropping Bouzii HARD with a hook that sent Bouzidi crashing to the ropes. The bell saved him. Bouzidi took a giant hook in the second round and fell flat on his face. The rest of the fight was all Zimmerman destroying Bouzidi.

MMA:  Rasul Mirzaev (R1 - Armbar) Roman Kishev - Rasul basically had Kishaev outclassed on the ground and was going for a ton of submissions before taking his back and rolling into an armbar for the tap.

K-1: Mark "Fightshark" Miller (R1 [0:03] - KO - Right Hook) Nikolaj Falin - I'm in awe of Mark Miller. This is history, Mark not only came back from open heart surgery but worked like a surgeon himself, using his head movement to avoid Falin's first few strikes and land an incredible overhand right to KO Falin.

MMA: Dion Staring (R1 - TKO) Roman Savochka - Dion Staring used his size and strength to make short work of Roman Savochka, using his ground and pound to finish him off.

K-1: Sergei Kharitonov (R1 - KO/Uppercut) Mighty Mo - Mighty Mo did his best against Kharitonov, but Kharitonov's hands were simply too fast and accurate, as were his clinch knees. Mo came in close and a right uppercut floored Mighty Mo.

K-1: Ali Cenik (R3 - Draw) Zabit Samedov - The first round was full of heated exchanges, Samedov came in very confident, but Ali Cenik was able to connect with a few giant shots and wobble Samedov. In the second round Ali Cenik landed some very big shots and was able to wobble Samedov. Samedov was laughing, but he is down possibly two rounds now. The third round was a very even round where things degenerated into a slug fest. The judges ruled the bout a draw.

MMA: Jason Jones (R3 - Counter Knee KO) Shamil Abdoulmouslimov - A slow, methodical ground fight for two and a half rounds. Tons of sweeps and position changes from both guys. Shamil went for a takedown in R3 and ate a knee to the head which immediately KO'd him.

K-1: Artur Kyshenko (R3 - Unanimous Dec.) Nieky Holzken - Great first round from both guys, Nieky pushed most of the pace, controlling the action. Holzken was able to use his reach to throw some nice jabs and kicks. Kyshenko found his range in the second round, absolutely dominating most of the round connecting with great combinations with his hands and throwing lots of kicks and knees. Holzken came back near the end of the round with a crazy left hook that rocked Kyshenko but didn't put him down. The third round was incredibly close, both guys fought very, very hard throwing everything at each other.

MMA Finals: Siyar Bahadurzada (R2 - TKO/knees and hammerfists) Tommy Depret - Has to be seen to be believed. Tommy Depret is a name a lot of people don't know, but he put forth an incredible fight against Siyar. Siyar is known to be a fast finisher and Depret gave him a lot of trouble on the ground, almost tapping him out a few times. Siyar was really hurting him in the second round but Depret would not give up. A few knees and some hammer fists by Siyar finally puts Depret away in the second. Great knock down drag out war.

K-1 Finals: Gokhan Saki (R3 - Unanimous Decision) Brice Guidon - Saki was having problems with Guidon's reach in the first round, with Guidon effectively keeping Saki at bay for most of the round. Saki was still landing a lot of great shots. Round 2 saw Saki annihilate Guidon with strikes, knocking him down with a huge hook. Saki does a great job in the third round pressing the action and landing clean shots on Guidon. Guidon starts just throwing any kick he can think of, but it was too little too late.

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Semmy Schilt and Alistair Overeem to Star in "Fight Game" For Windows Phone 7

  • Published in K-1

Alistair Overeem in FIGHT GAMEThe mobile gaming market is ever-growing, and with that should come a few more fighting games. As of right now, the market for mobile fighting games is wide open, as there are only a select few. Enter "Fight Game" -- a Bas Boon company that produces some of those really cool t-shirts that you've seen Golden Glory fighters wearing for the last year or so; Gokhan Saki, Alistair Overeem, Errol Zimmerman, Sem Schilt and more. There have been rumors mulling around that Fight Game will also become, well, a game and for a mobile platform.

It turns out that Fight Game is currently being developed and will be released for Windows Phone 7. As an avid fan of the mobile phone market, this move does confuse me, but makes sense as well. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launched late last year and is an incredibly late entry into the smartphone market which is currently dominated by phones using Google's Android operating system or Apple's iPhone. Android and iPhone dominated the United States mobile phone market and make up a bulk of users in the world as well. As a former owner of a few Windows Mobile devices (up until 6.1, where I put Android on an SD card and booted off of that -- phone nerd, I know), I can honestly say that there would not be much incentive to switch from using Android to WP7.

Why WP7? Microsoft has been very aggressive trying to onboard game developers and offering interesting incentives to them. Games on WP7 are able to link up with Microsoft's XBox Live platform and some games are cross-platform as well. So, on that note, it makes perfect sense as to why they are working on WP7, but as owners of a different platform I can only hope we see the game make it's way to other phone platforms and to a wider audience.

The game will feature some sort of strange storyline involving Semmy Schilt and Alistair Overeem and a Mortal Kombat-ish martial arts tournament. Did we mention Ubereem has a giant hammer and is crushing rocks? Oh, and Semmy drives a chopper on the streets of Miami. This is literally all we know about the game.

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Bas Rutten's Take on Overeem's Fallout with Golden Glory

  • Published in K-1

Bas RuttenBas Rutten is on a different level, and has been for a very, very long time. Not only a legendary Dutch Kickboxer and Mixed Martial Artist, or a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Bas Rutten has cemented himself as one of the premier commenters on the world of combat sports. He has deep connections all across the world, including connections with the Dutch team Golden Glory. He has made it clear that he is good friends with many inside of Golden Glory, including Alistair Overeem himself. He has been pretty quiet on the recent and very public argument between Alistair Overeem and Golden Glory. That is, until now. This recent interview is from PaulLazenby.com and he does not hold back. Bas talks about what Golden Glory has done for Overeem over the past few years.

It's a money thing. He simply doesn't want to pay the people who made him. When he lost three fights in a row...well, like pretty much 5, I mean, he lost, won, lost three times in a row, won, and lost again...and nobody wanted to have him.

But his management kept pushing and using the power that they have because they have other great fighters. Like, for example [they would say]: "If you want Semmy Schilt to fight, then you have to take Alistair as well."

This is not far fetched if you understand how the Dutch do business. Golden Glory is known for using strong arm tactics for their fighters, using their more popular, desirable fighters for leverage for their struggling fighters. Golden Glory is in business to make money, and when they see a fighter who could be marketable they do their best to get them out into the public and take care of them. Rutten talks about how sudden the split was, and looks at some of the reasons that prompted it.

I KNOW what Golden Glory did for him. He couldn't punch or kick when he came to them, and I mean, HE COULDN'T PUNCH OR KICK! Some fighters get big and then forget who was fighting for them when they were losing. Two months ago, he wanted to make a belt for the Golden Glory team with "FOR CHAMPION MANAGEMENT" engraved on it. Those were HIS words after they made this huge contract for him, and now he says they are morons? He used them to negotiate the best deal and when they did it, now suddenly they are morons? Explain that to me. It's unreal.

Also, a few months ago, when they started to get close to a good deal with the UFC, he realized that he could make a lot of money. The first thing he did was go to Cor Hemmers, his striking coach, and tried to renegotiate the 10% trainer's fee.

If you don't know, Golden Glory's contracts are usually in the 30% range, which includes 20% for management and 10% for the trainers and for use of the training facilities. This was where the problems started, when Alistair wanted to instead negotiate a flat rate for the trainers. Rutten goes on to explain how Martijn de Jong and Cor Hemmers stuck by Overeem and gave him the skills that he needed, building up a long-lasting twelve year relationship.

So anyway, [Hemmers and de Jong] put him back on track, they GAVE him all those skills, they were there from the beginning, and they build him to become the fighter he is now. So for a fighter to go in and trying to renegotiate the 10% trainer's fee is just absurd.

The last part I'm going to include is what Rutten claims Overeem told Martijn de Jong when Martijn told Alistair that they were friends and that he had helped contribute to Alistair's success.

But Alistair said: "Yeah, if we have to talk about people who contributed to my success, then I also have to mention my cleaning lady who cleans my house for eleven and a half Euros an hour."

If true, it is a bit harsh and probably emotionally-driven. Many in the Golden Glory camp feel the same way as Rutten and feel like success, money and the promise of fame have gotten into Alistair's head and altered the way he views his professional relationships. Of course, Overeem's side of the coin is that he is on the verge of becoming a very famous fighter in the United States and has seen how business is done here and feels like it is more fair than how the Dutch do business. If you want to hear more from El Guapo check out the rest of the interview. [source]

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Zabit Samedov vs. Chalid "Die Faust" Arrab in MMA Rules at GLORY World Series Finals

  • Published in Asia

Die FaustThe GLORY World Series keeps getting more and more interesting as the card trickles out. The event organizer Martijn de Jong is currently on vacation in Indonesia, so things are happening whenever he has the time and internet connection to make big moves, and he continues to do so.

We already know that the main event is the tournament final between Gokhan Saki and Brice Guidon, and that Tommy Depret will meet Siyar Bahadurzada in the Middleweight MMA Finals. On top of that Errol "Bonecrusher" Zimmerman vs. Mourad Bouzidi, Nieky Holzken vs. Artur Kyshenko, Igor Jurkovic vs. Pavel Zuravilov and our good friend Mark "Fight Shark" Miller vs. Nikolaj Falin are all kickboxing bouts that will go down on that card. Outside of It's Showtime, no one else in the world can put together such a blockbuster kickboxing card.

There has been a new bout announced featuring two names that kickboxing fans know very well; Chalid "Die Faust" Arrab and Zabit Samedov. Die Faust won the K-1 Las Vegas Grand Prix in 2006 and holds big career wins over Musashi and Gary Goodridge. Zabit Samedov has a 72-10 kickboxing career and has decided to take the plunge into MMA, where these two kickboxers will meet. Die Faust has already fought in ten MMA bouts, so in MMA rules, Die Faust is already more experienced and actually holds a submission victory.

This isn't the first time where two world class kickboxers have met in MMA rules, but it should truly be interesting. It is also interesting to note that Zabit Samedov went on record in 2009 claiming that Golden Glory fighters were all "jacked up on steroids" and that fighters like Zimmerman have walked around, publicly doing steroids in the gym, at the time upsetting Golden Glory head honcho Bas Boon.

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LiverKick's Guide to This Weekend's Live Events

  • Published in Kickboxing

This weekend is huge, and we mean that in every way possible. Glory launches their revamped Glory World Series tournaments, starting off with the Final 16 for the 70kg tournament and putting on a slew of incredible Superfights. That is on Saturday, but on Sunday, K-1 Global marches forward with their first show, this one being the K-1 World MAX Final 16, and why not? Heavyweight Superfights on that show as well. Also on Sunday, if the stars align, you'll be able to watch Slamm!! 7: Holland vs. Thailand. That is, only if the stars align, and I'm not sure that they have just yet.

So are you curious as to what time these events start? Where you can view them? What to expect? That is why LiverKick is here.

Saturday, May 26th

Glory World Series - 70kg First 16

LIVE from Stockholm, Sweden

Fight Card | Weigh-ins

12:30pm Eastern Time/9:30am Pacific Time / 18:30 GMT+2

Live Stream on LiverKick, $15 USD, Live on the Fight Network in Canada

 

Sunday, May 27th

K-1 RISING 2012 ~ World MAX Final 16 ~

LIVE from Madrid, Spain

Fight Card | Weigh-ins (?)

20:00 CET / 2:00pm Eastern / 11:00am Pacific

LIVE Stream on UStream, Free

 

Team Slamm!! Slamm 7: Netherlands vs. Thailand

Almere, the Netherlands

Fight Card | Weigh-Ins

Time?

Live Stream (Nothing Scheduled, Might Air Event, Might Not)

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The Alistair Overeem and Golden Glory Split is a Classic Example of a Perfect Storm

  • Published in Kickboxing

Bas and OvereemThere is a lot of he-said, she-said floating around right now in regards to the Alistair Overeem and Golden Glory split. Many fans and even media are taking sides or simply rushing to comment the next chapter in the saga and try to gain some insight into the situation. I really feel like the truth lies somewhere in the middle when it comes to who is "right" and who is "wrong" and that both sides have a lot to feel slighted about. According to Golden Glory, Alistair was looking to stiff his long-time friends in his trainers by no longer giving them a percent of his earnings, instead simply giving them a flat rate like you'd see in the United States. According to Alistair's camp, Golden Glory was looking to take too much from Alistair and has now launched a "smear campaign" to make him look greedy.

For Golden Glory, it has been a trying year. After Alistair Overeem won the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship last year there were hard times coming for Golden Glory, when their vision had been anything but difficult. Golden Glory was prepared to take over the world in 2011, with the key to their success being an approach on Mixed Martial Arts in the United States and Kickboxing across the world, with the key areas being in Asia and Europe. The Glory World Series was a big part of this, and Gokhan Saki was the big feature for them. Saki suffered a few injuries in December and there was no way for him to fight early on in the year, which meant they would push back the date of their first show of the year, this being the first of many setbacks.

K-1 and Strikeforce were both going through significant turmoil at the time, and both promotions were home to quite a few Golden Glory fighters, proving to be how Golden Glory got their name and brand out to the world. Bas Boon and investors began looking into the reality of purchasing Strikeforce, and it did not seem all-that far-fetched. In fact, there was a certain air of confidence that they would soon own Strikeforce and have a serious foothold inside of the United States and immediately be competition for the UFC. On top of that, they began looking into the reality of what it would take to own K-1. Golden Glory was primed to own two of the biggest combat sports brands in the world and have inconceivable power.

For a fighter like Alistair Overeem, these were his two home bases and he was currently on top in both of them. The reality of his management owning and operating both Strikeforce and K-1 would make him one of the biggest stars in the combat sports world as soon as the ink was dry. He would go from a troubled Light Heavyweight to one of the most decorated Heavyweights in the history of combat sports and be in a prime position to not only be a star, but a wealthy star.

In the blink of an eye MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani was on a jet to Zuffa’s headquarters where Dana White would announce the acquisition of Strikeforce. This was the first huge setback for Golden Glory, a deal that felt done and was possibly promised to certain fighters, was now all of a sudden in the hands of the UFC. It isn’t clear what was promised or how close to a done deal it was, only those involved with the deal will know, but there have been strong rumors stating that Golden Glory was “sure” of the deal being done, and afterwards were furious with Scott Coker.

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Re-Evaluating the K-1 and Glory Split

  • Published in K-1

K-1/Glory

I think it is time to start looking, critically, at the Kickboxing world and where it is right now. We’ve seen that both Glory and K-1 are capable on their own of producing an entertaining, professional event with solid matchmaking. This is vital for either promotion, regardless of the name fighters involved in either promotion. Glory held their “First 16” for the 70kg class in May, while K-1, with the assist from It’s Showtime, held a coming out party event before It’s Showtime packed up and sold to Glory. This weekend, K-1 finally put on their first event, sans-It’s Showtime, and for a K-1 USA show it demonstrated exactly what this K-1 is capable of doing in the future.

Basically, we’ve reached a point to where both companies have established their brand identities, shown the world what they are going to present, and how they are going to present it. Initially, the idea of a split Kickboxing world, with the talent not being able to fight each other, with derogatory, inflammatory press releases flying out and accusations being made left and right, things looked grim. What went down earlier this summer was essentially terrible for the already hurting sport of Kickboxing. I’m not going to point fingers or name names, but if you’ve been following the sport -- or even involved in it -- you know what I’m referring to and what I’m talking about. We at LiverKick saw traffic drop off, saw fans lose interest and care less about who came out on top. They wanted fights, they wanted announced fight cards, they didn’t want to see people in the sport trying to handicap each other.

Cooler heads have prevailed and it seems like the battles will remain in the ring, with both sides having their talent signed and booked to fights in the future. The only downside is that some of the bigger, more hotly-anticipated fights might not happen immediately, but as was demonstrated this weekend by K-1, there are currently two big Kickboxing promotions able to produce entertaining and professional events that Kickboxing fans deserve. The split right now reminds me of around 2004 when UFC was pushing forward on national cable in the United States and was doing so while the consensus of the diehard fans on the internet was that PRIDE in Japan had a majority of the top talent in most weight classes. You’ll hear a lot of the same talk of K-1 right now, with Glory having most of the top talent and K-1 having whatever is left over. Much like with UFC, I predict that over time we’ll see talent cultivated in K-1 and they’ll build their own stars.

I’m not sure who will win the battle -- if anyone -- but what I’m sure of is in the coming months there are numerous big Kickboxing events scheduled, and that after a “down” 2011 and a slow start to 2012, this year will be the year that Kickboxing re-emerges as a global spectator sport.


 

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Breaking Down a Potential K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16

  • Published in K-1

K-1A few months ago the thought of K-1 running a show past the -63kg MAX Japan tournament seemed unlikely, never mind the thought of running a full K-1 World Grand Prix. The K-1 World Grand Prix is the top combat sports tournament that has run yearly since 1993, the cream of the crop. The K-1 World Grand Prix Finals is usually the one combat sports event of the year that is can't miss with nothing but action and high drama to keep you on the edge of your seat. A lot of us had resigned ourselves to the thought of having to exist in a world where the K-1 World Grand Prix was just an afterthought, but the rumors continue to grow and today Daniel Ghita posted on his Facebook wall a formal explanation as for why he won't be fighting Badr Hari for It's Showtime in September; he's been invited to the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 in China.

That, coming alongside a few other rumors makes a strong case for there being a World Grand Prix this year, so it is never too early to speculate on who will round out the Final 16 this year. If they play by the rules of past years, the Final 8 from 2010 will make a return appearance, which means we can look forward to; Mighty Mo, Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt, Kyotaro, Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita, Tyrone Spong, and the recently-released from the Zuffa stronghold Alistair Overeem. Out of the 8 listed above, there are question marks for a few of them, namely Mighty Mo, who has suffered a few devastating losses since the K-1 World Grand Prix and should be considering retirement, and Peter Aerts who went on record stating that 2010 would be his last World Grand Prix. Of course, this is combat sports, so chances are Mr. K-1 isn't done yet.

So now the real question is, who will help round out the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16?

Badr Hari

This is really a no brainer. Badr Hari was a Finalist in both 2008 and 2009, and his absence in 2010 was simply due to legal issues. Hari was set to face off with Daniel Ghita in September and could easily translate into a fight that happens in the world Grand Prix. Badr is easily primed to take the tournament by storm and is an easy pick to enter the tournament.


Hesdy Gerges

Hesdy Gerges has to be one of the most unlucky guys in his K-1 career, drawing Semmy Schilt not once but twice as an opponent. In the Final 16 he was unfortunate enough to meet the four-time champion and put up a great fight against him, ultimately losing a decision. The battle with Daniel Ghita in March has been the most substantial Heavyweight contest to date in 2011 and Gerges walked away the better man, expect him to be in the Final 16.


Jerome Le Banner

JLB is another living, competing legend who has been keeping himself active in Japan by participating in IGF Pro Wrestling shows with the likes of Ray Sefo, Josh Barnett and Bobby Lashley. JLB is still a household name in Japan and can still go, while he has made disparaging remarks about K-1 and never fighting for them again, being paid what he is owed can help mend some fences. JLB is always a great addition to the K-1 field.


Errol Zimmerman__

The Bonecrusher. After some spotty performances in 2010, Zimmerman has stepped it up again in 2011 with two big wins in impressive fashion. Seeing as though he has been a part of the World Grand Prix for the past few years, Zimmerman is also a safe bet.


Freddy Kemayo

Freddy Kemayo is a guy that just won't stop. He has had a few setbacks over the past few years, but he continues to march forward and has picked up 3 impressive wins this year, with two brutal KOs to his credit. His only possible hangup could be scheduling of Fight Code's Rhinos tournament, which he is involved in.


Ray Sefo

Ray Sefo is making a name for himself all over again, as he is being introduced to the UFC crowd, first with his Strikeforce fights and now for helping fighters like Vitor Belfort train. Sefo is a huge name in K-1 and as long as they backpay his $700,000 he is owed, I'm sure he'd be happy to get another crack at the crown.


Ewerton Teixeira

He remains active in Kyokushin tournaments, coming in fifth place in the All American Open Karate Championships this year, but does not kickbox outside of K-1. Seeing as though he had two years of poor performances, he could be invited back, but I would not be surprised if we saw him replaced by a younger, European fighter.


Ben Edwards

Edwards showed a lot of heart against Alistair Overeem last year, and since then has learned a lot. In the realm of kickboxing in 2011 he put a hurting on Carter Williams and absolutely brutalized Mighty Mo with a knee strike. Ben Edwards deserves another shot at the top.


Mark Miller

This is a darkhorse pick, but if K-1 is serious about America as the rumors are saying, they need an American Hero, and Mark Miller's insane comeback story was ripped out of a film. Miller is training with Golden Glory now, who have backed him very strongly, looking to push him as Golden Glory's American fighter. It would be a pleasant surprise to see Mark get a run at the top.


Sergei Kharitonov Sergei has had mixed results in K-1, but is extremely popular due to his MMA career. He has been training kickboxing with the best in the world and could make another fine addition to the K-1 World Grand Prix
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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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