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Franci Grajs Stakes Claim To Being #1 85kg Kickboxer With Enfusion Win

With yesterday's Enfusion tournament, we saw a series of fights that helped determine who the number one kickboxer at 85kg really is, with Franci Grajs laying stake to that claim.

Franci Grajs, Andrew Tate, Sahak Parparyan and Ritchie Hocking all had won two fights on the Enfusion TV show to qualify for this tournament. Going in, Tate and Sahak were the favorites, and at the time, if you were forced to pick a number one at 85kg, you'd probably say Sahak, with Tate close behind.

But that's why they fight the fights, and it sure didn't play out like it looked like it might on paper. In previewing the tournament I was sure to make note that Franci Grajs was a very formidable opponent and not a pushover for Sahak. I can't say that I wasn't expecting a Sahak Parparyan vs. Andrew Tate final though.

Franci Grajs fought a very smart fight against Sahak, staying on the outside and using his range to set up kicks. When Sahak would try to storm in with power punches, Grajs would clinch and land some effective knees. The fight was close but to me, Grajs was the clear winner. Already in the semi final, the perceived number one heading in had been beaten.

In the other semi final, Andrew Tate had made quick work of Ritchie Hocking. After that, I won't lie, I expected Tate to win the final in impressive fashion. What was most impressive about the final however, was the way in which Franci Grajs just completely turned it up a notch from the semi finals. Grajs knew what his plan was right away, and that was to enforce the clinch on Tate, landing some damaging knee strikes while Tate tried to punch out. Grajs ended up just being too much in the clinch, winning via KO in the first round from a series of punches and knees against the ropes.

With the win, Grajs won $30 000 and the third season of Enfusion. Aside from that though, he also laid stake to the claim that he is the number one kickboxer at 85kg. We don't have rankings for that weight, but if we did, he'd surely be at the top. Grajs beat two top fighters that are still top fighters, including Sahak who was probably number one going in.

Another thing I'd like to emphasize is what I talked about in the preview; how aside from being the number one, we now have another established name in a division without many established, top fighters. Franci Grajs made the most of his opportunity in winning this tournament. He went from a relative unknown to now being the number one kickboxer in his weight division. Not only is it huge for his status, it will also probably advance his career, with more potential fight offers coming his way, and potentially offers from the likes of GLORY, who I'm sure are now interested.

 

 

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Krush Completes 58kg Tournament Field; Announces 55kg WILDRUSH League

Earlier today, Krush made two big announcements regarding Krush.26 on January 26th.

First, Krush added the final 4 competitors to their 8-man 58kg tournament field which kicks off at Krush.26. As I did not do a post for the first 4 fighters, here are the 8 fighters competing in the tournament:

Nobuchika Terado - 32 years old // 29-8-1, 13 KO

Takeru - 21 years old // 7-1-0, 5 KO

Yuzo Suzuki - 28 years old // 5-2-1, 2 KO

Tsuyoshi Nakajima - 29 years old // 8-5-0, 0 KO

Koji - 23 years old // 12-5-0, 6 KO

KO-ICHI - 28 years old // 11-10-1, 1 KO

Shota Kanbe - 19 years old // 3-1-0, 1 KO

Kenta Yagami - 26 years old // 13-5-0, 6 KO

My rankings for the tournament would have to be Terado > Takeru > Kanbe > Koji > Nakajima > Yagami > Suzuki > KO-ICHI. Despite being the oldest, and likely most battered, of the tournament field, Terado should be a big favorite as he is really the only one who has fought any sort of elite competition, and he has been doing so for the last 5 years. I believe his biggest competition will be Takeru, who may have been on his way to a 55kg title shot with a recent win over Yuya Suzuki. Terado, Takeru and KO-ICHI are moving up from 55kg while Suzuki, Nakajima, Koji and Kanbe move down from 60kg. Yagami is the only one who has not fought in Krush, spending his entire career in J-Network where he fights at 57kg. Suzuki and Nakajima were both participants in last year's 60kg tournament, facing each other in the first round. Nakajima won that fight, but also has a loss to tournament participant Koji, while Suzuki has a loss to Shota Kanbe. Outside of that, none of the other participants have faced each other in the past. Krush also announced a reserve fight between Yuta Otaki and SATOI. The first leg of the tournament is January 26th at Krush.26, with the semifinals on March 20th and the finals on May 12th.

The other big announcement was the return of the WILDRUSH League, although this time at 55kg. Last year's 63kg WILDRUSH League was an overwhelming success, turning prospect Hideaki Yamazaki into a star while producing some of Krush's most exciting fights of the year, mostly thanks to Yukimitsu Takahashi's wild, flashy style. This year's tournament will be exactly like last year's, with 6 fighters in a round robin format, with 3 points being awarded for a knockout win, 2 points for a decision win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss. The winner will receive a shot at the 55kg title, likely in early 2014. The opening leg will start at Krush.26 with the subsequent 12 fights taking place over the course of 6 or 7 other events and is scheduled to conclude on November 10th. So far, Krush has announced 5 of the 6 participants and they are:

Takumi - 23 years old // 12-3-0, 5 KO

Yuya Suzuki - 24 years old // 5-6-0, 0 KO

Yuki Masato - 25 years old // 2-2-1, 1 KO

Masanori Shimada - 15 years old // 2-1-1, 1 KO

Kazyosi - 20 years old // 2-0-0, 2 KO

The big favorite here has to be Takumi, who already fought his way to a title shot, where he gave champion Shota Takiya one of his hardest fights in recent memory. Suzuki, while owning a win over Namito Izawa, has looked extraordinarily average, especially in his most recent outing, a TKO loss to Takeru where he seemed entirely apathetic to checking leg kicks. Masato and Shimada also have recent losses to Takeru, but I give the 15 year old Shimada, who turns 16 a week from today, a better shot than Masato, as he compiled a 36-2-2 record as an amateur. Kazyosi is the biggest unknown as he has just 2 pro fights. While I don't think he will be able to defeat Takumi, his KO power could possibly help him overtake Takumi in points. 

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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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