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Joop Ubeda Possibly Leaving Kickboxing Behind

If you follow European Kickboxing there will always be one referee that stands out the most and that is Joop Ubeda. Even if you don't know him by name, you'll know who he is; the stout, muscular and bearded referee who officiates nearly every big match. To some extent, he is the Big John McCarthy of the Kickboxing scene, as he is extremely well known and respected for his craft. He is without a doubt the most popular and polarizing figure in refereeing in the world of European Kickboxing.

The familiar sight of Joop might be no more, though. Coming from a report from Kickbox.nl, Joop seems a bit hurt and dejected with It's Showtime not choosing to have him at their January 28th event in the Netherlands. It is set to be the biggest event scheduled for the year so far and is understandable why Ubeda would feel upset with that decision. He always seems to be involved in the big fights, as was demonstrated in May when he officiated the Badr Hari return fight, having to grab the microphone and shout for the fans to step back from the ring.

Hopefully this matter is sorted out soon and Joop decides to continue on, as Kickboxing without Joop might be a strange thing to watch.

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Photo of the Day: Krush.15 Event Poster



Krush starts 2012 off with a bang with Krush.15 on January 9th at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. The card is headlined by two title fights which happen to be rematches where 60kg champion Hirotaka Urabe defends his title against Naoki "Naokick" Ishikawa and 55kg champion Shota Takiya defends his title against Nobuchika Terado. Krush also kicks off its -63kg WILDRUSH League with all 6 fighters competing. Matchups for the first leg of the WILDRUSH League are Yukimitsu Takahashi vs NOMAN, Hideaki Yamazaki vs Hitoshi Tsukagoshi and TaCa vs Naoki Terasaki. Also featured on the card is the flashy Keiji Ozaki taking on Hironori Hattori in a 64kg fight. Check back for previews of the two title fights and a preview of the -63kg WILDRUSH League as Krush.15 gets closer. {jcomments on}
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Yuta Kubo vs Nils Widlund, Masaaki Noiri vs Kengo Sonoda Added to DREAM NYE Event

The first two kickboxing matches have been added to Antonio Inoki's Genki Desu Ka!! (How Are You?!) DREAM New Year's Eve event and unfortunately they appear to be more or less squash matches showcasing two of Japan's top talents.

In the first bout, 2011 K-1 -63kg Japan Tournament champion Yuta Kubo will look to extend his win-streak to 8 against Swedish Sanshou fighter Nils Widlund. Kubo is arguably the hottest fighter in Japan right now, going 14-2 over the past 3 years with his only losses coming in tournament finals to Masahiro Yamamoto and Tetsuya Yamato. His most recent victory was a one-sided beating over French fighter Tristan Benard at Krush.13. While it's hard to find much information about Widlund in kickboxing, he has represented Sweden in Sanshou at the World Wushu Championships in the past, losing in the quarterfinals in both 2007 and 2009. I could not find any information regarding the 2011 World Championships. He has taken a few fights under K-1 rules under the Rumble of the Kings banner, as well. While Widlund is an unknown and certainly has skill, I do not think his Sanshou skills will do much under K-1 rules against someone with the skill of Kubo.

The other fight announced is 2009 K-1 Koshien and 2011 Krush Supernova Tournament champion Masaaki Noiri taking on fellow Supernova Tournament participant Kengo Sonoda. Noiri is fresh off his Supernova Tournament win in which he defeated HIROYA by decision in the semis and KO'd Koya Urabe in the finals in the same night. He was bested in the semifinals of both the Krush 60kg Tournament and the K-1 -63kg Japan Tournament this year, but showed significant defensive improvements in the semifinals and finals of the Supernova Tournament. Sonoda has put together a pretty decent year for himself as well. A fellow product of the K-1 Koshien system, Sonoda never made it past the round of 16. However, when he was placed into the Supernova Tournament, he scored an upset over J-Network Flyweight champion Tsukasa Fuji, the favorite to win his block, but was knocked out by Yukimitsu Takahashi in the quarterfinals. He was given a reserve bout against Daizo Sasaki which he won by decision. While Sonoda proved this year that he's improved from his Koshien days, Masaaki Noiri has improved tenfold and with his improved defense, shouldn't have much trouble with Sonoda. {jcomments on}

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Koji Yoshimoto vs Yasuomi Soda, Takafumi Morita and KENJI Announced for RISE 86

RISE has announced the first matchup of its 2012 year for RISE 86 on January 28th and it will be Super Lightweight champion Koji Yoshimoto defending his title for the second time against unbeaten Silver Wolf prospect Yasuomi Soda. At 31, Yoshimoto boasts a 24-13-3 (3 KO) record against some of the best fighters in Japan and South Korea at his weight including wins over Son Hyun Lee, Rashata, Ryuji Kajiwara, Hiromasa Masuda, Kanongsuk Weerasakreck, Shunsuke Inoue and Yusuke Sugawara. He has moved from J-Network to the now defunct AJKF into RISE where he captured the Super Lightweight title in a 4-man tournament, defeating Yusuke Sugawara in the finals and defending his title against Sugawara with a draw. He is currently on a 3-fight win-streak which includes a win over Shohei Asahara in a reserve fight for the K-1 2011 -63kg Japan Tournament and most recently, a close win over surging Korean prospect Son Hyun Lee. Soda has had a bit of a breakout year in 2011, going 4-0 with a pair of knockouts to improve his spotless record to 11-0 (4 KO) which included a knockout win over Masaru to earn him his shot at this title and back to back decisions over veteran Tomo Kiire and Shingo Yokoyama, brother of Go Yokoyama, in an opening fight at the K-1 2011 -63kg Japan Tournament. A win for either fighter could vault either man into a qualifying tournament spot for FIKA in 2012.

RISE also announced two additional participants for the event and they are Middleweight champion Takafumi Morita and recently crowned Bantamweight champion KENJI. Morita also had a breakout year in 2011, defeating Soichiro Miyakoshi by decision then knocking out former RISE Middleweight champion Yukihio Komiya to capture the title. He was then selected as a participant for the 2011 K-1 MAX 70kg Japan Tournament where he upset fellow prospect Hiroki Nakajima before losing a close decision, his first professional loss, to tournament champion Yuji Nashiro in the semis. KENJI, brother of K-1 star Yuta Kubo, has had a pretty good year, too. He started the year having his 4-fight win-streak snapped in the semifinals of the Krush 55kg tournament against Shota Takiya, but put on a great showing, forcing an extension round against the red hot Takiya. Since, he has put together another 4-fight win-streak which saw him capture the vacant RISE Bantamweight title against Dyki back at RISE 85 in November. RISE did not indicate whether either fighter would be in a superfight or defending their title, though superfights for both would be likely. {jcomments on}

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