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Why You Should Support the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP

Fedor and Silva (C) M-1Tomorrow night marks the kickoff of one of the biggest tournaments in MMA history. That sounds like grandstanding, doesn't it? It sounds over-the-top and like a simple tournament is being made to sound bigger than it actually is. The only problem with that logic is that the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP is one of the biggest tournaments to happen on American soil in MMA, and is the biggest tournament to happen since PRIDE ran its last Grand Prix. Stay with me, because I've received a few complaints from LiverKick.com's faithful readers in regards to the Strikeforce coverage. No, Strikeforce is indeed not kickboxing or muay thai, but it is being covered for a very distinct reason; we care about the global fight scene, a lot.

Zuffa did something incredible when they took over the UFC and helped to rehabilitate the image of Mixed Martial Arts and worked to bring it into prominence in the United States. Along the way, something happened, though. UFC was expanding and growing, but it had nothing to do with Mixed Martial Arts and everything to do with UFC. UFC grew, the sport of Mixed Martial Arts became the afterthought. Every promotion that has popped up since the UFC's initial boom has been left in the dust, purchased by Zuffa or driven out of business. UFC grew, MMA died on the vine. The only promoter who was able to make a real impact and not drive his company into the dirt was Scott Coker with Stikeforce. Strikeforce began as a kickboxing promotion, with Scott serving as the head of K-1 USA beforehand. Scott knew what he was doing with kickboxing and still has strong ties to the industry.

Do you see where I'm headed yet? The global fight industry is what it is, we are seeing a once super power in Japan begin to wither and die, which no one really wants to see happen, outside of the UFC. The UFC is looking to take over the world, and picking over the scraps of the Japanese fight scene makes life a lot easier. The fight scene in the United States is sparse at best, boxing is holding strong for the big names, but for the smaller names the market is showing some serious cracks. Kickboxing and Muay Thai have some strong markets, but they are very much local and can't really compete on the global level.

The Strikeforce Heavyweight GP that begins this weekend has a big fight feel to it, something that even huge UFC events haven't had that past few years. UFC has put on big events, but not since UFC 100 have I personally felt the sort of buzz surrounding a show like this. A non-UFC show getting this kind of attention, praise ad hype is rare and quite honestly, it is up to Strikeforce to take advantage of this and the not only deliver but follow up on this initial show with more strong shows.

Strikeforce's success helps the global fight industry more than most people can imagine, how? UFC is in the business of promoting UFC, the brand. The fighters are almost inconsequential. UFC 100 was not a huge deal for the fighters, sure, Brock Lesnar was on the card and that helped immensely, but it was the allure of UFC's 100th numbered event. Strikeforce is selling shows around the fighters and the fights, which helps raise awareness of the sport itself, not just the promotion.

The over-arching point of this is that someone needs to break UFC's stranglehold on the market, it wasn't EliteXC, K-1 crashed and burned, so for right now the hope is that Strikeforce can at least try. For sports like kickboxing and muay thai to be taken more seriously, it also helps to have Sergei Kharitonov and Alistair Overeem involved in this tournament, with talk of their K-1 participation. Promotions like Strikeforce make viewers more aware of the fight world at large, as they do not have a self-contained empire to protect. Strikeforce will talk about UFC, PRIDE, K-1, It's Showtime, wherever their fighters came from and had success. The Strikeforce Heavyweight GP feels like a global affair. UFC events feature fighters from all over the world, but all of the action is contained within the UFC's own branded world that they built.

So tune in tomorrow night to watch Fedor Emelianenko square off with Antonio Silva, Andrei Arlovski go to war with Sergei Kharitonov. On top of that, there are three reserve bouts for the tournament, including Valentijn Overeem, Alistair's big brother, squaring off with K-1 legend Ray Sefo while prospects Shane Del Rosario and Lavar Johnson compete to see who is a reserve fighter.

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Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Predictions

Here at Liver Kick, we mostly focus on Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Shootboxing. Spreading the good word of striking is our goal but the upcoming Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix is just too good to not cover. Not only does it contain many current kickboxing stars but it also harkens back to PRIDE and the way they ran tournaments which appeals to all of us who are fans of Japanese MMA.

So without further ado, here are my picks for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. As it could quickly get crazy considering every permutation involved with reserve fighters, I'll make my picks assuming all fighters stay healthy.

 

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Overeem and Fedor Play Nice, For Once

I was just reading the mothership, MiddleEasy.com, and saw a photograph that I can only describe as absolutely, 100% insane yet somehow adorable and lovable. If you've been following MMA for a while now, you know that Fedor Emelianenko is a very earnest, down-to-earth and likable guy. He does some really cool things and seems like the kind of guy we could all get along with. From wearing comfy sweaters, double-fisting ice cream cones and just being a sort of goofy dude, he has endeared us all. While he is still a chubby robot bent on destroying your face when his thumb circuits aren't malfunctioning, he is a real guy and shows it a lot more than he ever did in the past.

Then there is Alistair Overeem. Overeem has been making the media rounds like crazy the past few weeks, and it is clear that Overeem is truly becoming a star in the United States. The media have gotten over their rabid questions about PEDs and treating Overeem like they would any other world champion. When the media treat someone like a star, fans see them as a star, and thus, the 2-year long odyssey that is the ascent of Alistair Overeem continues, and his management team, including Bas Boon look brilliant for the PR work they've done and the feeding of "cans" for him to dispatch and build up a highlight reel.

The proposed bout between the two fell apart when Emelianenko was defeated by Fabricio Werdum last year, which led us to where we are today. The fight between the two is still one that fans would love to see and one that Overeem still wants, but he believes, correctly, that Werdum deserves the first crack at him, hence the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP. Enter fight week in New York this week, and we get... well, this incredible photo. [source]

Fedor/Overeem

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Are You Buying or Selling on Steven Seagal Working with Anderson Silva?

Steven Seagal with Anderson SilvaWhen Steven Seagal first was shown with Anderson Silva at UFC 117, we all kind of chuckled and said, "hey that is pretty cool." When he walked out with Anderson at UFC 126, it was kind of funny again, but at this point it began to appear odd. Steven Seagal is an Akido instructor and former martial arts action star who now has his own dubious television series about him being a "lawman."

I grew up on Martial Arts and action films, as I feel like most men my age did. Guys like Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme were the reason to get involved in martial arts; to be as bad ass as they were. Of course, years pass, and as they do, the stark reality set upon me that JCVD had serious substance problems and that Steven Seagal was a terrible fraud. Both men fell off the radar a bit, but Seagal's career seemed to hold strong (still sparse, but it didn't fall off completely) while Van Damme's seemed to all-but disappear. Seagal had long been the butt of the joke when it comes to Hollywood circles, but still got work due to his popularity and how ridiculous of a persona he carried around with him.

Enter the modern day, where JCVD is re-building his career his way and even looks to re-enter the world of fighting, while Steven Seagal is on a reality television series and apparently trying to weasel his way into the fighting world as well. This past weekend, Anderson Silva defeated Vitor Belfort with a front high kick, a staple in just about every form of martial art that involves kicking. So, much to my surprise, Anderson Silva claimed that Steven Seagal taught him the kick. It was funny, worth a chuckle. Then, much to my disdain, this interview with Ariel Helwani came out.

Seagal claims to have taught Anderson Silva one of the most basic kicking techniques, a first week kick in Tae Kwan Do, which incidentally, was Anderson Silva's first martial art that he took when he was fourteen. Now, as anyone who has studied striking will note, there are minute differences between techniques in different forms of martial arts, but generally speaking, one form of kick does not differ too greatly from another. This is a very basic technique that Anderson Silva used almost out of context in a MMA fight, and caught everyone by surprise. For Steven Seagal to claim there is some sort of mystical "death" technique, or that he knew some secret to making the kick work better is, well, par for the course with his history.

In that interview, he discusses with Helwani how MMA is both good and bad for traditional martial arts; first it makes the public more aware, and second, it shows behind the curtain into a "secret world" that you weren't meant to see. I think my eyes nearly rolled back in my head. If anything, Mixed Martial Arts has shown the general public that there is a man behind the curtain, that there is no Oz. There are men like Seagal everywhere, who have conned people into believing that with intense, personal training from masters such as himself, you can learn some crazy secret that will help you transcend reality.

The gall he had to claim he taught Anderson Silva a technique that your average six year old can do (of course not with the force or application) was pure Seagal grandstanding. Seagal showed cracks in his story when Helwani asked him how he met Anderson Silva, he was caught on the spot and said that he didn't remember, then you could almost see the gears turning in his head as Helwani is preparing another question and he corrects himself and claims that Anderson Silva sent him a "memo" that he wanted to learn Steven's secret death techniques.

Anderson Silva and his training partners are not fools, nor are they children, if you believe for one second that this happened, you probably need to review some of the history of Steven Seagal. Seagal has lied about nearly everything in the book, from his place of birth, to adultery, to how many wives he has had, to education, work history, the list goes on and on. There have been an endless stream of interviews, op-eds and exposes on him since he became popular, with Spy Magazine discussing how his "CIA background" is a complete sham, and how he actually had mafia ties and attempted to hire hit men to take care of members of the media who "wronged him." If you search Google for "Steven Seagal Fraud" you get endless results. Check this out for some documented history.

Just because certain people claim to have more knowledge does not mean that they are correct. Understand that basic kinetics dictates that every technique in martial arts is done a certain way, and has been over years, because it is effective. If there was a way to enhance that technique, it would be canonical. Steven Seagal is an aging, overweight actor and stunt man who has nothing real to teach to accomplished martial artists. My question for you is are you buying or selling, and my question for Seagal and Anderson's camp is how much is Seagal paying you? Seriously, he has to be paying them something, right? Because if I were an accomplished martial artist and world champion, I know the last thing I'd need is an over-the-hill actor to tell me how I should fight, especially when said actor has no history fighting himself, unless I was doing so as a big joke or he was paying me to be his friend.

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