In the main event of the evening, top 5 heavyweight Hesdy Gerges takes on Englishman Chris Knowles.
Hesdy Gerges has once again had training for a fight interrupted with his legal issues. He was extradited to Belgium for questioning for suspicion of being part of a cocaine trafficking ring. Gerges was also arrested a week before his fight with Daniel Ghita, one of the top heavyweights in the world and still managed to come back out of prison and get the win. This time Gerges comes out of prison for another challenge, although not quite of the same stature as Daniel Ghita.
Chris Knowles is one of the top heavyweight fighters in England. Despite his weight, he's quite agile for someone his size and can throw a plethora of techniques that we're used to seeing from guys fighting at -70kg. Knowles and Gerges were originally supposed to fight at It's Showtime's Christmas event on December 18. Unfortunately, Knowles could not make it to the fight due to heavy snowfall. The fight is back on now and Knowles is hoping he can give Hesdy Gerges the Christmas present of a loss that he was unable to last time.
Gerges has proven himself against top competition. Knowles, not so much. Knowles has fought a lot of guys from the British scene who have no business being in the ring with him. Gerges is a huge step up in competition - and one that I think Knowles is not ready for. While Knowles is a tough guy, Gerges will probably end up being too much for him.
I think a telling fight about Knowles would be his fight with Gokhan Saki from 2008. Saki low kicked him to death and eventually stopped him in the third round. I see a similar finish for Gerges here, probably a bit quicker. Once Gerges gets started on his low kicks, it's very hard to stop him. At times Gerges even gave Semmy Schilt trouble with his low kicks. Knowles would like to come forward and tee off but against the taller fighter in Gerges, he'll have to walk through some low kicks and counter punches that are without a doubt going to slow him down.
I think Gerges will be too much for Knowles here, chopping Knowles down with low kicks en route to a stoppage in the second or third round.
There's history between these two men. They've met before. Back in March 2010, they met in Utrecht in the semi-finals of the K-1 World MAX West Europe Tournament. Khamal knocked van Roosmalen out at the end of the first round and went on to win the tournament, qualifying for the K-1 MAX World Grand Prix Final 16. Now just over a year later, van Roosmalen is looking for revenge.
Since that fight in March of last year, things have changed. Robin van Roosmalen isn't the unknown that he was back then. He's made a name for himself fighting for Ultimate Glory and It's Showtime. After the loss to Khamal, he lost again to Ajay Balgobind but ever since then he's been on a tear. Currently on a 5 fight win streak, van Roosmalen is one of the most hyped up and coming -70kg fighters at the moment. Wins over William Diender and Chahid Oulad El Hadj during his win streak have helped garner interest for the Dutchman.
Mohammed Khamal did go on to win the tournament and advance to the Final 16 but 2 months later he lost to Chahid Oulad El Hadj. Then last October, in what raised many eyebrows, he defeated Artur Kyshenko who is widely considered top 5 at -70kg. Coming off another career high point, he lost to Gago Drago at the Final 8 in November once again derailing his hype. His last fight happened in December, where he needed an extra round to defeat Mosab Amrani in one of the fights of 2010.
A win for either fighter will boost them much higher in the ranks of the -70kg division. This will be van Roosmalen's toughest test since the first fight and he'll definitely be ready to go, having fought and won twice in March. Khamal hasn't fought since December and it'll be interesting to see how the layoff affects him.
Both men are pretty small guys for -70kg and aren't big hitters. Khamal is the more technical fighter while van Roosmalen tries to force the fight more. van Roosmalen has already been knocked out by Khamal once so he'll have to be extra careful. His style might leave him open to a counter from Khamal and it could be lights out. van Roosmalen works the body effectively and that should be a key to winning this fight. Working Khamal's body will slow him down and open up opportunities to tee off on him. At times Khamal can be either teeing off or getting teed off on. Getting teed off on by van Roosmalen probably isn't in his best interest as the body shots will add up.
This fight could be a lot similar to Khamal's fight with Mosab Amrani just without the non stop aggression that Amrani is known for. The fight went back and forth with Khamal and Amrani taking turns on who was on the offensive. van Roosmalen always tries to go forward, not too aggressively while Khamal is content moving and finding a spot to strike. Combinations will be essential for both fighters and you'll likely see a lot of them as they go back and forth on the offensive.
The fight should be high paced and exciting. Don't miss this one. It's a tough fight to call but I'd say Khamal's technical advantage will win him a decision. I see him outworking van Roosmalen, landing the better shots. Khamal has been against a top 5 fighter in Artur Kyshenko and managed to beat him. I'm not sure van Roosmalen is ready for that level of competition yet.
Amir Zeyada has spent his career fighting in lower weight classes such as -70kg, -73kg and -77kg. This will be his first fight at -85kg, a big step up in weight. His last fight took place at -76kg and he lost that one against Murthel Groenhart. Having not fought for over a year you have to wonder if he'll be ready to face such a challenge in Sahak Parparyan. Judging from the weigh in pictures, Zeyada looks to have spent the time putting on the weight properly.
Sahak Parparyan is the exact opposite. He's spent his career fighting in the higher weight classes, most recently at -95kg back on March 26 against Marco Vlieger where he won a decision. Sahak looked much thinner than I've ever seen him at the weigh ins, as shown in the picture above. Once again, you have to wonder how the big change in weight has affected him. Just 2 months ago he fought at -95kg.
The fight being a 5 round fight should also ask some questions. Both men have proven they can go the distance, but with the new weight class, will they be able to last for all 5 rounds? Zeyada is a pretty high paced fighter while Sahak likes to take his time. We can't assume how the new weights will affect the fighters except for that usually getting bigger will slow down a fighter and cutting down will result in more speed and better conditioning if done right. Zeyada is the one who is moving up and Sahak the one who is moving down. Zeyada looks to have put on the weight well and surprisingly looks a bit bigger than Sahak.
Amir Zeyada has lost a lot of fights in the lower weight classes. Most of the times he's just gotten outskilled and a few times stopped. Moving up in weight isn't an easy task. A lot of fighters who move up can't maintain their chins in a higher weight class. Zeyada has been dropped and stopped before at lower weight classes. Sahak isn't a knockout artist by any means but he is primarily a puncher who throws hand combinations. With Sahak having fought at higher weight classes, it's hard to see him being hurt by Zeyada as well.
With Sahak primarily throwing punches, Zeyada will have to utilize his kicks which he can throw quite hard. Zeyada's kicks are the key to wearing Sahak down and limiting the power on his punches. It'd be better for Sahak to throw some kicks also as Zeyada is pretty susceptible to low kicks. Sahak will need to be active with his hands and work combinations to the body and head. Sometimes Sahak won't be active enough and that will result in Zeyada throwing a lot of hard kicks at him.
With both fighters changing weight classes, it's hard to say who will get the better of the weight change. I'd lean towards Sahak as he's fought in higher weight classes and felt power that Amir Zeyada probably doesn't possess. With Zeyada having been worked so many times in lower weight classes, it's hard to see him being able to withstand the Sahak's punches even though he isn't even a big puncher. 85kg is 9kg above where he last fought. That's almost 20lbs that he's moved up and 20lbs more power that he'll have to withstand. You also have to ask if he'll be slower with the added weight.
I favor Sahak in the fight just because Zeyada has never fought this high in weight. While Sahak has gone down almost 20lbs, it should only make him better. Zeyada won't be able to phase him and should be there all night for Sahak to hit him. Sahak will just have to stay active and he should be able to wear Zeyada down, possibly stopping him.