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Final Card for K-1 Japan on January 18th

K-1’s Japan contingent have promised us what looks to be a pretty amazing card on January 18th. The event features a classic K-1 one night tournament, this time at 60kg. It features a mix of names that we know from the Japanese scene to some heavy hitters from around the world including Javier Hernandez, Karim Bennoui and Denis Puric.

The rest of the card is an awesome, eclectic mix of styles with some really fascinating fights on the card. Kaew Fairtex vs. Minoru Kimura is an awesome, awesome fight and I’m very happy to see Sanny Dahlbeck back in the mix against the very awesome Yoshihiro Sato. This event will be broadcast on NicoNico on the 18th.

HW: Manabu vs Fujita Tomoya
60kg: Yuma vs Kanbe Shota
65kg: Goto Masanobu vs Saito Yuta
65kg: Hiramoto Ren vs Ishikawa Yuki
60kg GP Reserve Fight: TOSHI vs Kim Hun Jae
60kg GP: Shimano Kotaro vs Javier Hernandez
60kg GP: Urabe Hirotaka vs Karim Bennoui
60kg GP: Yamamoto Masahiro vs Gagny Baradji
60kg GP: Urabe Koya vs Denis Puric
65kg: Kaew Fairtex vs Kimura Minoru
70kg: Sato Yoshihiro vs Sanny Dahlbeck
55kg: Takiya Shota vs Shou Rong
55kg: Tobe Ryuma vs Horio Ryuji
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Kongsak PKSaenchaigym Stands Strong Against Yodpanomrung Jitmuangnont to Take Decision at Rajadamnern

After the disappointment of seeing multiple fights cancelled in the last couple of months Kongsak PKSaenchaigym was back in the ring at Rajadamnern last night taking on Yodpanomrung Jitmuangnont.

It was billed as a battle between the technical skills of Kongsak, a former ‘Fighter of the Year’, and the knees of the much taller Yodpanomrung who as the underdog was given a 2 lbs weight advantage.

In the third round Yodpanomrung started to use his superior height to good effect, landing some straight knees from the clinch but Kongsak stood his ground and scored with some solid left kicks which smashed into his opponent’s arms.

Yodpanomrung was on the front foot at the start of the fourth but Kongsak was too clever for him, and consistently landed that left kick, often with a quick follow up punch thrown in for good measure.

It was a dejected looking Yodpanomrung who walked back to the corner at the end of the round and despite determined effort in the final three minutes he couldn’t do enough to prevent Kongsak taking a comfortable decision win.

Earlier in the night Lumpinee mini flyweight champion Ronachai Santi-Ubon cemented his status as the best fighter in the stadium’s smallest division by beating Ongree Sor Dechapan in a non title match which took place at 106 lbs.

Ronachai’s strategy was to let Ongree come forward and pick him off with fast left body kicks from the southpaw stance and he also utilized the teep to good effect, pulling ahead on the scorecards in the third and fourth rounds.

Ongree came out punching in the final round and managed to get a few punches through Ronachai’s high guard but the reigning Lumpinee 105 champion wore them well to see the fight out and take the decision win.

Kengkla Por Pekko holds the Lumpinee Super Flyweight Title and was hoping to become the Rajadamnern champion of the same division when he took on Sprinter Pankonorab in a fight which had the stadium’s vacant 115 lbs strap at stake.

Kengkla looked to pull the fight into the clinch in but Sprinter tied him up well and found a home for his left kick as soon as the referee separated them, but he was bundled to the floor towards the end of the fourth round which sparked a frantic exchange of kicks and knees.

In round five the two fighters exchange body kicks with one of Kengla’s attempts successfully caught by his opponent who counter edwith a knee. It was too close to call and both men stopped fighting and started posturing with about 30 seconds to go but Sprinter got the nod from the judges sparking wild celebrations in his corner.

The co main event turned out to be something of a mismatch with Werachai Wor.Wiwatananont easily controlling the action against Phet Or.Phimonsri and cruising to a decision in their bantamweight match up.

 

 

 

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AXS is Ready to Showcase New Japan Pro Wrestling Like Never Before

 (C) NJPW/AXS TV/TV Asahi

On Friday evening AXS TV will not only be presenting Legacy FC’s first kickboxing event, Legacy Kickboxing 1, they will also be starting off their series of english broadcast New Japan Pro Wrestling events from 2013. This will mark the first time in the modern age of New Japan Pro Wrestling that an American network has not only taken interest in presenting their programming, but to do so in a respectful, exciting manner.

Sure, this isn’t kickboxing news, but the truth is that Japanese professional wrestling was at the roots of K-1 and modern kickboxing as a whole. Without Japanese pro wrestling there would be no GLORY or K-1 right now, there would have been no boom for kickboxing and we wouldn’t have grown to idolize Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost, Andy Hug and countless others. 

New Japan Pro Wrestling is probably the best professional wrestling organization around at the moment. If you ever had any interest in professional wrestling but found the offerings of WWE to be a bit too hokey or childlike for you and simply gravitated towards MMA and other “real” sports instead, I urge you to check out what AXS TV is going to be presenting this Friday. 

New Japan was not always the best that Japan had to offer, with All Japan being the king of the 90’s, NOAH being the king of the early 00’s but New Japan’s younger talent from the early 00’s matured into some of the best talents ever seen on this stage and the action is simply divine. New Japan Pro Wrestling is based on what they call “strong style.” Strong Style is basically whatever style of pro wrestling that New Japan is dabbling in, but its roots are based on martial arts due to the founder Antonio Inoki’s obsession with the concept of the “mixed fight.” It doesn’t hurt that Inoki is one of the fathers of modern MMA, either, with most of those early MMA fights taking place in a New Japan ring. 

The action tends to be brutal, the storytelling takes place inside of the ring and while there is still big characters, elaborate costumes and other basics of pro wrestling, things tend to feel a bit more “real” and exciting. It won’t feel remarkably different to the average viewer as much as it will feel alien, but that is where Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett come into play. AXS TV’s series is set to span the epic saga of the IWGP Title in 2013, which saw struggles between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchida Okada. The first episode kicks off with Tanahashi vs. Okada from January 4th, 2013 this Friday evening before Legacy Kickboxing is set to kick off. So you’ll be there anyway, just show up an hour earlier for an awesome hour of pro wrestling.

AXS TV sent us the third episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV, which was the April 7th main event between Tanahashi and Okada, a rematch that saw Dave Meltzer of the WON praise it as a five-star classic, the match of the year. It’s truly the pinnacle of that style of pro wrestling and a tremendous match, so it speaks for itself, but Ranallo and Barnett were able to do it justice in a way that we haven’t seen in a long time.

On January 4th of this year Global Force Wrestling helped to distribute the annual NJPW Tokyo Dome event, Wrestle Kingdom 9, with Matt Striker and Jim Ross on commentary. Ross and Striker were good, but they were tossed together for the first time and some things simply didn’t mesh. The team of Ranallo and Barnett had none of these problems and were able to add historical context and personal insights without having to start relating to the WWE or other domestic products. 

There is a level of immersion that comes with this, which is aided by Ranallo’s wrestling knowledge and A+ research that goes into calling each show and Barnett’s personal history in Japan. Barnett competed in Japan for years in MMA and also spent time training in professional wrestling before wrestling under the New Japan Pro Wrestling banner for a while. So it’s safe to say that what Barnett adds is his own personal experiences in the grueling training that New Japan wrestlers go through and how they perform in the ring. Hell, he’s even been in the ring with a lot of these guys and knows them personally. 

We can -- for the most part -- ignore the pretty awful ad that was produced for the series and is airing on AXS TV, because the program itself is extremely well done. In this episode it began with interviews with the wrestlers, helping to set up the match a bit more, then the meat of the match (which was a long one, took up the entire program), followed by a post-match interview. It wasn’t the kind of thing that I’d expect for what is just an hour-long program that could have easily been slapped together for cheap and tossed on air.

Definitely tune in for this -- or at least set your DVR for it -- because it’s definitely worth watching.

 

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Steven Wright's 2014 Year in Kickfighting Highlight

The year 2014 was a pretty strange one for kickboxing. There were some great things that happened and there was a lot of downtime and doom and gloom hanging over the sport as a whole. This year feels a lot different, a lot better thus far. Things are looking up. We have schedules from both K-1 and GLORY, we have promise popping up in China and the sport seems to be correcting itself and its trajectory. I spoke about all of this with Patrick Wyman on Steven Wright's podcast last week, where we delved into the year that was and the year that will be. It's interesting to hear us start geeking out about all of the things that are happening in China as well as all of the good from 2014. Check it out here.

Steven also put together a really awesome highlight video from last year showcasing some of the best fights that went down and the most memorable moments.

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