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Jerome Le Banner Main Eventing KSW 18 in February

Jerome Le Banner is a man after our own hearts; he fights and he fights as much as he can. The 39 year old warrior has begun what he calls the "Le Banner World Tour" which consists of exactly what it sounds like -- JLB traveling the world and fighting opponents. The next stop for JLB in 2012 seems to be stepping back into the MMA ring after not competing in MMA since late 2010. JLB has been focused on professional wrestling over the past year but has remained competing in Kickboxing.

According to our friend Wojslaw Rysiewski of the main event of KSW 18 in Poland on February 25 against Marcin Rozalski. Rozalski is 2-0 in his MMA career while JLB is 3-2.


Robin van Roosmalen, Hicham El Gaoui Return + Chahbari vs. Grigorian on Feb. 26

Some of the top names in Dutch kickboxing will be stepping into the ring on February 26 in Den Bosch. Recent breakout fighter Robin van Roosmalen, Faldir Chahbari, Harut Grigorian and Hicham El Gaoui are among some of the names on the card.

Robin van Roosmalen will be taking on the gritty vetran from Mike's Gym, Rachid Belaini. Belaini didn't have a great 2011, losing four of his five fights and he's getting up there in age (36). Robin has emerged as a top fighter at 70kg after his win at the It's Showtime Fast & Furious 70MAX tournament and will look to continue on a roll, just about a month after he fights Murat Direkci for It's Showtime on January 28.

Another great match-up on the card is between Faldir Chahbari and Harut Grigorian. Grigorian is probably most known by the trouble he gave Andy Souwer early on in their fight, before losing in an extra round. Chahbari only fought three times last year, winning all three, but not over the best competition. Chahbari may be getting a bit old and he may be past his prime, but he's still a very difficult fight for anyone.

Other match-ups include our #3 ranked fighter at Light Heavyweight, Hicham el Gaoui taking on Masoud Rahimi. Solid 85kg fighter Hakan Aksoy faces Said el Bouanani and the man who beat Rico Verhoeven in early 2011, Jamal Ben Saddik, returns to face Clyde van Dams. And Bob Sapp is also on the card...Full fight card after the break:


More on the Giorgio Petrosyan/It's Showtime Situation

The big news came out the other day that Giorgio Petrosyan had terminated his management contract which kept him linked to It's Showtime and would now simply be working with his original manager, Carlo Di Blasi. LiverKick has spoken with both Di Blasi and officials at It's Showtime about the matter in an attempt to clarify exactly what is going on with Petrosyan and this management situation.

I feel like there is a need for some backstory to get a clearer picture if you are not well-versed in the current atmosphere in Kickboxing. As we all know, K-1 had an extremely rough 2011 while It's Showtime had an active year that involved running many successful shows as well as a successful 70kg tournament. A Korean investor, known simply as "Mr. Kim" came into the equation later on in the year, looking to purchase K-1 and strike up a working relationship with Rutz's It's Showtime organization. This is why when the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 was being organized, most of the fighters were under contract to It's Showtime or affiliated companies. The official word that we got from Simon Rutz on this matter is that It's Showtime is not looking to buy a part of K-1, but are more than willing to help anyone who does invest in K-1, as the Kickboxing market is a difficult one right now.


Nieky Holzken Returns on February 12

After going 5-1 in 2011, Nieky Holzken will return to the ring on February 12 in Eindhoven for his first fight of 2012. Holzken will be defending his WFCA -76.2 world title.

His opponent will be Grega Smole, a fighter from Slovenia. Little is known about Smole, and he somewhat seems like a last resort opponent, after talks to acquire other opponents like Faldir Chahbari and Khalid Bourdif didn't pan out. Smole fought in a one night, four man tournament in Germany in October on October 15, winning his quarter final match-up against Deniz Ilbay before losing to Frenchman Patrick Djanand in the final. There's not much out there on Smole. Here's a video of the win he picked up on October 15.

Also on the card, long time Dutch veteran Marco Pique takes on the familiar name from It's Showtime, Mohammed Medhar. Medhar didn't do too well in 2011, losing three fights so he'll look to rebound but it won't be easy against the much more experienced and bigger Pique. Pique went 4-2 in 2011, with the losses being to Nieky Holzken and Naruepol Fairtex.

Ali Cenik and Rodney Glunder round out the card's most notable match-ups. Cenik is still trying to break out as one of the better fighters at -95kg. A draw against Zabit Samedov in May raised some eyebrows, but he went on to lose to Sebastian Ciobanu in October. Glunder is a long time veteran at 37 years old, last losing to Loren Javier Jorge and Fred Sikking in October.


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