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Fights To Watch In December: Part 1

December is another huge month with a ton of great fights taking place to end the year with. We've got GLORY, K-1, RISE, Krush, Enfusion and heaps of other events with marquee fights going down. As usual, the main focus will be put on fights that I consider to be under the radar, not the fights that everyone already knows about. Here's ten for you to keep an eye on.

December 1: Simon Marcus vs. Sadibou Sy - Muay Thai in America - Playa Vista, USA

Muay Thai in America takes place tonight, and this fight is the main event, and for good reason. Simon Marcus has established himself as the top fighter at his weight in North America while being one of the best in the world at his weight also. Sadibou Sy comes in not being very well known but don't let that fool you, he's a very capable fighter and I think his style will make for a very calculated fight. Sy usually fights higher in weight than Simon and likes to fight from range while Marcus can fight from anywhere but often takes fights with his clinchwork.

December 2: Masahiro Yamamoto vs. Mansour Yaqubi - RISE/M-1 - Tokyo, Japan

Yamamoto is LiverKick's #3 ranked lightweight and looks to continue being amongst the top lightweights. This is a huge opportunity for Yaqubi, who is a teammate of Raz Sarkisjan and sees himself in his first big fight. I definitely favor Yamamoto here but like Sarkisjan with Noiri back in May, there are a lot of variables that could play out and we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Yaqubi is similar to Sarkisjan in that he's a power puncher and that's what his game is based around. Yamamoto handled Javier Hernandez's similar style quite well, so I wouldn't be surprised if he put on another great performance.

December 2: Raz Sarkisjan vs. Koji Yoshimoto - RISE/M-1 - Tokyo, Japan

Raz Sarkisjan comes off a November 10 loss to Marcus Vinicius at It's Showtime Brazil but he's right back at it tomorrow, taking on RISE's 65kg champion. Raz made his name by going into Japan and upsetting one of its top fighters in Masaaki Noiri. Yoshimoto will be yet another tough test for the 20 year old Dutch-Armenian fighter, who will only get better as time goes on. This year there's been a lot of fights like this one between top fighters from opposite realms of the world and they're great in helping us evaluate the landscape of the fight scene on an overall level.

December 2: Koya Urabe vs. Mickael Peynaud - Krush.25 - Tokyo, Japan

Originally scheduled to fight Karim Bennoui, Koya Urabe now faces Mickael Peynaud. Even though he lost to Javier Hernandez last month, Peynaud is still a very formidable opponent and can hang with most lightweights. Once again, it's great to see some international fights to get a sense of the lightweight division's landscape. Urabe is right outside the top ten and has been in better form lately. With the fight being at 61kg, a weight that I've always thought Urabe would be better off at, we'll see if it benefits him. I expect this fight to be pretty competitive, much like Hernandez vs. Peynaud was.

December 7: Diesellek Aoodonmuang vs. Petboonchu F.A. Group - Lumpini Birthday - Bangkok, Thailand

This fight is for the 135lbs title of Thailand. Diesellek has had a breakout year, most recently dominating Damien Alamos en route to a decision win, and also thanks in part to his infamous haircut. Petboonchu is really tough to fight and has given trouble to pretty much everyone, coming off a win over Nong-O in October.

December 7: Superlek Wor Sungprapai vs. Saengmanee Sor Tienpo - Lumpini Birthday - Bangkok, Thailand

The Lumpini 115lb belt is on the line here with Saengmanee at just 15 years old looking to add to his collection of accolades, already being a champion at 105, 108 and 112. Saengmanee is a candidate for Fighter of the Year and a win here would add even more to those claims. Superlek has had a very good year himself, last beating Mondam Sor Weraphon in November and is also in the running for Fighter of the Year. We saw the weight ultimately be too much for Pentai Singpatong when he went up and lost to Wanchalong Sitzornong and while I don't think that will be the case here, Saengmanee moving up yet another weight class makes this even more interesting.

December 8: Sergio Wielzen vs. Sasa Jovanovic - Vendetta VI - Vienna, Austria

2012 hasn't been good for Sergio Wielzen, who has three losses on the year but I still believe he has the ability to mix it up with some of the top lightweights. Once again he takes a fight at a prety high weight for him, 63.5kg, against Sasa Jovanovic. I do like Wielzen to win here but I also thought the same for his fight last month against Emerson Falcao. Jovanovic is one of the main "tests" for guys looking to get to the next level in kickboxing and Wielzen will surely need a win here to ensure that he doesn't go winless in 2012, and to get some momentum going for 2013.

December 8: Steve Moxon vs. Mostafa Abdollahi - King of Kombat 8 - Keysborough, Australia

Steve Moxon is one again back in action and faces Mostafa Abdollahi after Dzhabar Askerov withdrew. Moxon and Abdollahi have the styles that could make for a very exciting fight. The fight is also five rounds which will provide for even more action. Moxon makes his debut in GLORY in March and for now he's doing his own "Road to GLORY" by staying active. Whenever Moxon fights it's worth noting.

December 9: Liam Harrison vs. Saenchai PKSaenchaimuaythaigym - Muay Thai Warriors - Macau

This will be the third fight between Saenchai and Harrison and I think this one is Liam's best chance to win. Saenchai is coming off two five rounders against top opponents in November and the time seems perfect for Liam to strike. Harrison has shown devastating low kicks in his wins over Angelo Campoli and Andrei Kulebin this year and will have the size advantage going in. Of course, Saenchai has beaten Harrison twice and beats bigger opponents on the regular, but Harrison is still a very formidable opponent.

December 15: Alexander Stetsurenko vs. Karapet Karapetyan - Battle at Moscow 9 - Moscow, Russia

Alexander Stetsurenko is one of the top light heavyweights in kickboxing, further establishing that by avenging a loss to Hicham El Gaoui at the Tatneft Cup Finals in October. This is a fight he should win, but Karapetyan has shown some improvements since his losses to Nieky Holzken and Joe Schilling earlier this year and should be able to hang. Stetsurenko's fights are always good with the endless pressure and thudding punches that he brings and if Karapetyan can match him, it should make for a great fight.

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Local Kombat, December 7: Romania's Upcoming Talent

Local Kombat, powered by SuperKombat, will hold an event on December 7 in Romania, where Romania's upcoming talent, scattered over all weight classes is featured. The stars of SuperKombat aren't on the card, they'll be on December 22, but Local Kombat is to build talent for SuperKombat.

At 64kg, a WAKO Pro title will be on the line as popular Romanian fighter who's been featured on SuperKombat before, Ionut Atodiresei, fights Aitor Eguzkiza from Spain. Atodiresei is coming off a win over Sasa Jovanovic at SuperKombat's Bodyguard Final in June in front of 15 000 fans in Craiova.

Five Local Kombat national titles will be on the line, featuring some of Romania's best and up and coming talent at other weight classes.

As well, there's also two super fights. Philippe Salmon of France fights Romania's Adrian Mitu, who fought for SuperKombat in October and was in a very good fight. At 75kg, Miodrag Olar, who fought Mitu at that October fight, takes on Yasin El Hana, also from France.

1. Local Kombat National Title (-60 kg)
Marius Grăunte vs Florin Lupu

2. Local Kombat National Title (-69 kg)
Amansio Paraschiv vs Alin Şpan

3. Local Kombat National Title (-72 kg)
Cristian Milea vs Claudiu Bădoi

4. Local Kombat National Title (-85 kg)
Cristian Ristea vs Alexandru Nedelcu

5. Local Kombat National Title (-95 kg)
Dănuţ Hurduc vs Gabriel Flutur

6. MMA (+96 kg)
Zsolt Balla vs Adrian Stoiţi

7. Super-fight (-75 kg)
Phillipe Salmon (France) vs Adrian Mitu (Romania)

8. Super-fight (-72,5 kg)
Yasin El Hana (France) vs Miodrag Olar (Romania)

9. WAKO Pro World Title (-64 kg)
Ionuţ Atodiresei (Romania) vs Aitor Eguzkiza (Spain)

10. MMA (+120 kg)
Steven Banks (USA) vs Alexandru Lungu (Romania)

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Sunday's Enfusion Tournament Could Determine Kickboxing's Best 85kg Fighter

Enfusion 3: "Trial of the Gladiators" takes place this Sunday, December 2 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The event features the end of the third season of the Enfusion reality show, ending in a one night, four man tournament at 85kg.

85kg is not a very established weight class in kickboxing. It's Showtime had utilized it a bit, with Sahak Parparyan being their last champion at the weight, along with Jason Wilnis. Overall though, the division lacks the uniformity of fights and fighters being all in one place that help to evaluate the landscape of it. Many fans don't even follow this division or know many of the fighters in it. We don't really have a grasp on who the top ten are or maybe even who the top fighter is. Generally, we think of Sahak Parparyan as the premier fighter when we think of this division due to his features on It's Showtime.

The Enfusion tournament this weekend will help us further get a grasp on the standings of the 85kg division. Among the tournament participants is Sahak Parparyan himself. On the other side of the bracket is former opponent of Sahak and potential star Andrew Tate. The rest of the tournament is rounded out by Ritchie Hocking of Scotland and Franci Grajs of Slovenia, who are both not very well known but definitely highly capable fighters. Hocking and Grajs are the interesting variables of the tournament, as they have not been featured amongst the likes of those who are considered to be some of the best in the division like Sahak and Tate.

The tournament also has the potential for a big rematch, between Sahak Parparyan and Andrew Tate. Their first fight was very close, with Sahak taking a decision win over five rounds. However, Grajs and Hocking should not be overlooked based on what I've seen of them. Tate fights Hocking and Grajs fights Sahak, so an upset in the semi finals would immediately add a new name into the fray of the 85kg division. Even impressive performances in defeat can advance fighters' careers.

It's always good for kickboxing when lesser known fighters like Ritchie Hocking and Franci Grajs are thrown right into the mix. Any time new talent that can hang with the best are discovered, it only adds depth and creates a better division. Think of Sanny Dahlbeck or Davit Kiria, who before being featured in Glory this year were not very well known and now have built fanbases and hype based off of their performances. Even Andrew Tate was not very well known coming into his fight with Sahak Parparyan, and now I would consider him one of the best fighters in the division.

Enfusion 3: "Trial of the Gladiators" will be live on Fight Network in North America and on Orange Sport in Europe. Full fight card here.

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Mickael Peynaud Replaces Karim Bennoui At Krush.25

Krush.25 takes place on December 14 in Tokyo, Japan. Originally, Karim Bennoui, the LiverKick #2 ranked lightweight was tabbed to fight Koya Urabe at 61kg. Bennoui fought this past weekend on November 24 and won a unanimous decision over five rounds against Thomas Adamandopoulos.

Unfortunately, Bennoui seems to have injured his right hand during that fight and has had to withdraw. Taking his place will be fellow Frenchmen, Mickael Peynaud. Peynaud recently lost a close decision to LiverKick #7 ranked lightweight Javier Hernandez on November 17 and should provide a good fight for Koya Urabe.

Peynaud's brother Cedrick, also fought in Krush once, losing a decision to Masaaki Noiri at Krush.18 in May. Both Peynaud brothers can hold their own with pretty much anyone around 61-63kg. Mickael Peynaud has actually beaten Karim Bennoui twice, once in 2009 and once in 2010.

Click here for the full fight card of Krush.25.

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