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March 12: Mike Zambidis vs. Ali Gunyar

Zambidis_GunyarNew fight news coming out of Greece: On March 12 in Athens it will be "Iron" Mike Zambidis vs. Ali Gunyar.  The two are headlining a show called Iron Challenge.  No other fights are yet announced.

This is a big fight for both men.  For Zambidis, this is a chance to continue to reestablish himself as a relevant name in the 70kg ranks.  Two years ago, it looked like Zambo's time at the top might have been done.  But he turned that around in 2010, putting together a 4 fight win streak over all strong names (Dzhabar Askerov, Warren Stevelmans, Chahid Oulad El Hadj, Yuichiro Nagashima) and ending the year as the first man in K-1 MAX to actually give champ Giorgio Petrosyan a challenge.  Oh, and along the way he just happened to turn in one of the greatest fights in K-1 MAX history, the 2010 LiverKick.com Fight of the Year against Chahid.  He's pulled himself all the way back up to #11 in our rankings, which is a huge swing from where he was not long ago.  A win over Gunyar says that he's all the way back, but a loss here will cause some to question if 2010 was an anomaly for the popular veteran fighter.

For Ali Gunyar, this is a chance to put his name in there with the real players in this division. The veteran fighter has faced many of the big names at 70kg, including Albert Kraus and Gago Drago among others, although he has often come up short in these fights.  In 2008 and 2009 he put together some solid wins, scoring victories over Chahid Oulad El Hadj, Virgil Kalakoda, and more.  He's the kind of skilled, traveled fighter that could give Zambidis a challenge, and while he's the underdog here, this is not a gimme for Zambidis.

As is always the case when Zambidis fights, he'll give up the height and reach to Gunyar, but will make up for it with an advantage in power.  In the end, I think that power and resilience, combined with the thrill of fighting in front of the Greek fans that treat him as a national hero, will give Zambidis the edge here.

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Pat Barry Introduces Joey Beltran to "K-1 Level Striking"

Pat BarryPat Barry got a chance to show off his stand up without breaking his hands and feet tonight, against fellow UFC Heavyweight Joey Beltran in one of those fights that makes UFC President Dana White proud to be a fight promoter and me confused as to why more UFC fans aren't dashing to watch K-1 events whenever they can to see better stand up wars. Barry took it to Beltran, who wasn't afraid to stand and bang with Barry.

This was a fight custom made for Pat Barry to show off his striking and I'm sincerely not sure that he accomplished what he wanted to do. Going into the Cro Cop fight one of the big stories for kickboxing fans was two K-1 deserters facing off, and Barry was completely trashed by Ernesto Hoost and the rest of the VOS gym for simply not being good enough to hang. Barry went out to prove himself and broke enough bones on Cro Cop's head to where a lazy choke took him out. Cro Cop choked him out.

Joey Beltran took it to Barry in round 1, Barry landing a few strong leg kicks but his dirty boxing was enough to secure him the round. Beltran was introduced to Barry's mean streak in the second round, to easily secure the round for him, but the third round saw a lot more of Joey Beltran dirty boxing and some great body shots while Barry simply winged head kicks at him looking to take his head off. The distinct lack of aggression was hurting Barry until he started landing some leg kicks, and unfortunately poked Beltran in the eye. setting up the kick.

The damage Barry had done to Beltran's legs over the three rounds accumulated in the third after Beltran recovered from the eye poke, to the point where every time Barry chopped away at the legs, Beltran shouted in pain and collapsed. Barry pulled off just enough to get the decision, winning the second and third rounds.

Pat gives an emotional speech after the bout about his father, who was in the military and passed away 25 years ago, which all but makes up for the fact that he really wasn't fighting up to his potential. Honestly, he has a height disadvantage and a cut to 205 could do wonders for him.

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Badr Hari to Return to Action in May

After a year of inactivity, Badr Hari will make his return to action in the It's Showtime ring. With K-1 on a hiatus for the moment, and nothing planned or announced as of yet, It's Showtime has been reeling off the show announcements, with a tentative plan for ten or more shows within 2011. In May It's Showtime will make their way to Lyon, France, where Badr Hari will make his return to action against a to-be-decided opponent.

According to Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, Simon Rutz has gotten a verbal agreement for the bout and the opponent should be decided within the next two weeks.

"Badr makes his comeback in May," Rutz commented to De Telegraaf. "Hopefully Badr will be doing what he does best: fighting in the ring. He must show that he is among the best fighters in the world."

The fight that fans want to see the most would be against Hesdy Gerges, who is currently booked to fight on March 6th, taking on Daniel Ghita. At It's Showtime's christmas show at the Sands, they also announced that he would be defending his title, most likely at the ArenA show. With the ArenA show not happening, one can only speculate that they will try to assemble a rematch between the two a year later.

There are a plethora of match-ups involving Badr Hari that fans would love to see, including a rubber match against current K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, Alistair Overeem, but Overeem might be tied up in the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP and be unable to make a fight in May. Nod to Simon Raedts for diligently reading de Telegraaf and alerting us to the news.

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Feb 5: Andy Souwer In Action

ElDesaafioNew fight announcement here coming from Spain: on February 5, former K-1 MAX and Shootboxing S-Cup champion Andy Souwer will be in action.  Souwer, our #3 ranked middleweight fighter, will be facing Spanish fighter Abraham Roqueni in the main event of a show billed as El Desafio K-1 ("The Challenge" in English).  The fight is 3 X 3 minute rounds, K-1 rules, at 70kg.

It's good to see Souwer back in action here.  The normally busy Souwer had a relatively slow 2010, as he spent much of the year recovering from an eye injury, as well as searching for a new home after being ousted from K-1 MAX.  But Souwer has often spoken of his desire to fight frequently, so a busy schedule against various opponents suits him well.  Obviously, Souwer is the massive favorite here, but Roqueni may be game to make this an interesting fight.  Nicknamed "The Demon", Roqueni has been around for a few years, competing in Muay Thai and various other styles, and he holds a win over Jose Reis.  Check out the Highlight reel on Roqueni below - he's aggressive, and combines KO power with some devastating kicks, especially leg kicks.  If he pushes Souwer, this could be fun.  Souwer however always has the ability to take his opponents right out of their games, drawing them into a technical battle that they can't win, and there's a good chance we'll see that on Feb. 5.

The rest of the card includes a number of Spanish fighter, with a few fights of interest to international fight fans.  Germany's Dennis Schneidmiller faces Fran Palenzuela. Hafid El Boustati, who defeated Chahid Oulad El Hadj at this time last year, faces Manuel Hinojo.  And Oliver Tinda faces Younnes El Mhassani, the man rumored to be challenging Artem Levin in It's Showtime in March.

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