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June 18: Gokhan Saki vs. Sergei Lascenko

Gokhan SakiOver at Dutch forum Mixfight.nl there is news of a new card featuring some high-end fights.  No name or organization known, but the show takes place June 18 in Rotterdam.  In the main event, it will be the #5 ranked Gokhan Saki vs. Sergei Lascenko.  Saki's last fight was his United Glory semi-final victory over Wendell Roche, and before the Lascenko fight, he'll also face Brice Guidon in the UG finals May 21.  Good to see The Rebel staying so active despite the overall lack of options for Heavyweight fighters at the moment.

This marks Lascenko's first high profile opponent since losing to Freddy Kemayo at last year's K-1 Europe GP.  One of the potential break-out K-1 Heavyweights of 2009, Lascenko has seen his career stall out somewhat over the past year.  Since the Kemayo loss, he's gone 1-2, and is coming off a win over Vasile Popovici.  One interesting aspect to this fight is that Lascenko has recently been in the news a bit as he has made the transition to Mike's Gym, where he has been working as the sparring partner to Badr Hari.  Hari vs. Saki is a fight that has come up more than once recently, and is one I wouldn't be surprised to see sooner than later.  Seeing his training partner face off against Saki will certainly be informative for Hari and the team at Mike's Gym.

The other highlight of the card is an 8 man K-1 rules tournament.  Participants include the #20 ranked Anderson "Braddock" Silva, Wendell Roche, Utley Mariana, Dennis Stolzenbach, Tommy van Wijngaarden, Philip van der Linde, Nicolai Vallin, and one more fighter TBD.  I'd call Silva the favorite here, with Roche 2nd.

Rounding out the card are two MMA fights: Djamil Chan vs. Thomas Wichmann, and Tugrul Okay vs. Eric Paulo.

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May 14: Buakaw, Yodsaenklai

Buakaw Por PramukOn May 14, Thai Fight Extreme will host a card in France.  Not many details on this card yet, but the two big featured names (and they are indeed big ones) will be Buakaw Por. Pramuk and Yodsaenklai Fairtex.  The way the promo video is set up, it seems to be implying that it will actually be Buakaw vs. Yodsaenklai, but as much as fans want that fight to happen, and as much as it honestly should happen, I highly doubt that's where the matchmaking will go.  Look for both men to be paired against other opponents, and hopefully we'll see Buakaw against a foe who poses at least a moderate threat.  Other names being tossed about for this show include Lumpinee champ Saiyok Pumpanmuang, Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee, and 2010 Thai Fight champion Fabio Pinca, which would make for a fantastic overall card.

In other Thai Fight news, the round robin tournament to determine Thailand's 2011 Thai Fight representative continues at Omnoi Stadium in Bangkok.  Things have become a bit muddy and confusing here, as Sudsakorn established himself as the tournament favorite, but was then kicked out of the tournament for taking a fight with Giorgio Petrosyan in January.  Now, Khem Sitsongpeenong is looking like the favorite again, despite having been defeated by Sudsakorn earlier in the tournament.  Up next for Khem is Prakaisaeng Sit O in the semi-final on April 16.  A win there puts him into the finals, likely against Nopparat Kiatkumthorn, who Khem defeated once already earlier in the tournament.

Promo video for May 14:

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It's Showtime Brussels Today

Sergio Wielzen at Its Showtime BrusselsThis weekend is show #2 in It's Showtime's 2011 season.  Coming from Brussels, It's Showtime 47 takes place on Saturday.  As always with It's Showtime, you can watch online for 10 Euro at Showtimefights.com.  It's Showtime reports that all fighters have made weight and are set for the event.

This is a bit of a smaller show for It's Showtime, with less of the major international names they often feature, but it's still a good line-up, with a few fights in particular worth your time.

In the main event, It's Showtime 61kg champion Sergio Wielzen defends his title against Karim Bennoui. Wielzen won the belt last year, and closed the year with a successful defense against former Krush tournament champion Masahiro Yamamoto.  He also holds wins over Anuwat and Mo Khamal, among others.  Despite being an exciting fighter, he hasn't really grabbed the attention of It's Showtime fans yet - perhaps a big win here will help raise his profile.

Another notable fight features Marat Grigorian against Severiano Rijssel.  Grigorian is It's Showtime president Simon Rutz's pick for the fighter to watch in 2011, and is already on tap to fight for the inaugural IS 73kg title at their May show in France.  This is a good fight for him to gain some momentum, and a chance to introduce yourself to one of the names we may be talking about a lot as the year rolls on.

One last name to watch here is Evgeniy Kurovskoy.  The Russian fighter will be taking part in the It's Showtime 70kg tournament later this year, which is looking like it will be the biggest MW event of 2011.  Again, here's a good chance to get an early look at him in action.

The complete card is as follows:

Evgeniy Kurovskoy vs. Andre Grigorian (70kg)

Nick Beljaards vs. Andy Ristie (70kg)

Lefterio Perego vs. Sonny Dagraed (73kg)

Severiano Rijssel vs. Marat Grigorian (73kg)

Sahak Parparyan vs. Marco Vlieger (95kg)

Karim Bennoui vs. Sergio Wielzen (61kg World Title)

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Training Diary: March 25

Back to training, and the key word for today: kicks. Right kick to the body, left kick to the body. Two right kicks, fast on top of each other. Two right kicks, switch, two left kicks. Working various manner of right/left combinations leads me to a few observations.

First, the ability to quickly switch stances and to control how you bring your leg down after a kick is huge. I admire that ability to look effortless in your switch to a south paw stance and immediately throw the left kick. I’m definitely not there yet, as I can execute the switch and kick, but it’s so deliberate and telegraphed that an opponent would see it coming a mile away and I would never get the kick off. But that’s what drills are for. The other aspect of this footwork that eludes me is bringing your foot back down in a different position then when you threw the kick. Example: throwing a left kick from the back leg, then bringing your left leg down in the lead position in order to immediately throw a right kick. This sounds obvious and simple, but there’s something about the weight distribution that I find very challenging. Perhaps I need to get all boxing style on it and work jump rope and things to get lighter on my feet. As with all of this training, it really makes you appreciate when you see someone like Giorgio Petrosyan who is an absolute master of footwork.

The other big question for me this week was finding the right balance between keeping your guard up and using your hands to help give you power when kicking. This is a tough line to find, and it’s one I recall The Voice discussing on more than one occasion during fights. Particularly for Muay Thai, there is a tendency to chop with your hand as you throw a kick in order to add some extra power and torque to the kick. And this is naturally what your body wants to do – try throwing a kick while covering your head and your hands will naturally drop to help push that kick through. But the downside is obvious – dropping that hand exposes the head, and against an opponent with good timing, this is an easy way to get yourself KO’d. So how do you find that balance? For me, the big thing I am working on in this area is simply getting the hand back up to guard as fast as possible, and maybe that’s the answer. But I’d be curious to hear from those more experienced if this is an area they think about at all.

Last kicking note – on a personal level, one thing I need to work on is my range. I’m pretty tall (6’4”) and want to use that height to my advantage, but I still haven’t figured out quite the right range for my kicks. As a result, I don’t always catch the pads just right, which throws me off balance, and frankly, just looks embarrassing. Got to keep at it and find that range.

Speaking of embarrassing – I suffered my first (very minor) injury today. Nothing bad, just a bruised or sprained or some word that is slightly less than broken, but still discolored and painful toe. And how did I get this injury? From improper technique on a kick? Better yet, from using so much power on the kick that my toe simply could not stand the force? Nope, I snagged it on the edge of the mat when dropping down for a push up. This is not exactly the kind of training injury I envisioned, and is unlikely to wow you with my dedication, but hey, I’m here to tell you what happened – even if it is a bit on the humiliating side. Now off to get some tape before next time.

Training Diary is a weekly series documenting my journey starting Muay Thai training. For more on this series, read the first entry here. I train at Conviction Fitness & Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL www.convictionfitness.com.

 

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