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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.


Krush.15 Preview: Hirotaka Urabe vs Naoki Ishikawa -60kg Title Fight

Krush kicks of 2012 tomorrow with Krush.15 headlined by a pair of title fights. 55kg champ Shota Takiya defends his title in a rematch against ISKA World Bantamweight champion Nobuchika Terado and 60kg champ Hirotaka Urabe defends his title against former AJKF Super Featherweight champion Naoki Ishikawa. This post will break down the latter matchup and see how these fighters match up.

Hirotaka Urabe (c): 11-5-1 (5 KO) // 22 years old // 169 cm(5'6")

Naoki Ishikawa: 33-18-4 (18 KO) // 32 years old // 176 cm(5'9")

Hirotaka Urabe is one of the many products of the K-1 Koshien system that have found success in Krush. Though he did not have the success of his brother in the Koshien system, he has found success in his post-Koshien career. Heading into his first fight with Ishikawa, Urabe was a pedestrian 7-5, but his upset win vaulted him to his current 6-fight win streak which saw him knock out Kyoken Yuji Takeuchi to capture the Krush 60kg title. Ishikawa was a long-time All Japan Kickboxing Federation fighter who was one of the many fighters from AJKF who had a rough year or two after the promotion's demise. Heading into their first fight, Ishikawa had lost 3 of his last 4 and was struggling to adapt to fighting under K-1 rules. Since their fight Ishikawa is 2-1, though all 3 of his fights have come under a ruleset that allowed clinching and elbows. After his last fight, Ishikawa stated he wanted to fight the winner of the Krush Supernova Tournament and retire following the fight, but Ishikawa has not stated whether this will be his last fight. Should he lose, I expect him to consider it more than if he wins.

Urabe, much like his brother, possesses excellent boxing which he couples with good head movement, good footwork and flashy head kicks and knees. He throws in combination extremely well, as he did in finishing Yuji Takeuchi. He puts together his boxing with powerful head kicks very well. Defensively, Urabe is one of the more sound fighters in the division, using footwork and head movement to move in and out of range, taking little damage. His weaknesses come out when his opponent stays at distance and picks him apart with kicks, which Masaaki Noiri was able to do successfully in a close fight. Urabe also has trouble controlling his emotions sometimes as he allowed young Mike's Gym fighter Maik Redan to get into his head at the beginning of their fight and it caused Urabe to focus on other things and he got hit for his troubles. Ishikawa's biggest weapons will be completely useless in this fight because he excels in the clinch and with elbows, both of which are not allowed under Krush rules. With his best weapons unavailable, Ishikawa's best offense is in his kicks. Should he keep Urabe at range and tenderize his legs and body, Ishikawa can win the fight. His weaknesses are his lack of boxing defense. Coupled with his not so great chin, Urabe could end the fight with a nicely put together combination.

Urabe's key to victory is coming forward and pressuring Ishikawa with combinations, using his head movement to avoid any of Ishikawa's boxing. While I don't believe he possesses the same boxing prowess of his brother, he has very good hands and I feel as though he has more power than his brother. Like their first fight, hurting Ishikawa and roughing him up will allow Urabe to get a decision or stoppage victory. Ishikawa's key to victory is staying at range and keeping Urabe from landing combinations with sharp leg and body kicks. If Ishikawa can tenderize Urabe he can cruise to a decision victory or he could soften Urabe up for a flying knee.

My pick for this fight is Hirotaka Urabe. At some point, he will land in combination and Ishikawa will not be able to stay standing. Ishikawa has been resilient even in his later years so I don't think Urabe will finish him, but it will be more one-sided than their first fight.

Fight videos of both fighters after the break


Krush.15 Preview: Shota Takiya vs Nobuchika Terado -55kg Title Fight

Krush kicks off 2012 with Krush.15 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Headlining the event are two title fights, with 55kg champion Shota Takiya defending his title against ISKA World Bantamweight champion Nobuchika Terado and 60kg champ Hirotaka Urabe taking on Naoki Ishikawa. This post will analyze the former of the two to see how these fighters stack up against each other.

Shota Takiya (c): 17-4-0 (11 KO) // 22 years old // 161 cm(5'4")

Nobuchika Terado: 27-7-1 (12 KO) // 31 years old // 166 cm(5'5")

Both fighters began their careers under the All Japan Kickboxing Federation banner, but Terado's career started 4 years before Takiya's. Takiya started out his career with 7 straight pro wins, including an amateur win under the K-1 Koshien banner, before losing for the first time in his young career in the finals of an AJKF Bantamweight tournament to determine who ended up being the final AJKF Bantamweight champ. The man he squared off with that night was none other than his opponent on Monday, Nobuchika Terado. After that fight, Takiya went a pedestrian 3-3 with losses to Ryuya Kusakabe and Koya Urabe before rattling off 8 straight wins and capturing the Krush 55kg title with a win over Kusakabe in a rematch. Currently, Takiya is one of the hottest fighters in Japan and is tearing through opponents with 5 of those 8 wins coming via stoppage. Most recently, Takiya battered the UK's Damien Trainor over the course of 2 rounds before finishing the fight with a jumping left knee at the beginning of the 3rd. Terado has been a top fighter at 55kg since his entrance in the sport and despite his age, has proved to be a tough matchup for anyone. Since his first meeting with Takiya back in 2009, Terado is 7-2 with 4 stoppages. His most recent loss was in the quarterfinals of the Krush 55kg tournament that Takiya won where Terado was dragged into a brawl with the aforementioned Ryuya Kusakabe. In that fight, Terado was overwhelmed by Kusakabe's speed and power, getting knocked down 3 times and losing a decision despite knocking down Kusakabe once himself. His most recent fight was a win over Brit Kieran McAskill for the ISKA World Bantamweight title in which Terado scored 5 knockdowns, mostly due to leg kicks.

Shota Takiya's biggest strengths are his power and explosiveness. When he throws, he tends to throw a lot and in combination and if even one of those shots land, particularly his big left hand, it could be the end of the night for Terado. Other offensive tools that Takiya possesses are his powerful jumping left knee and his front kick. Takiya has recorded 3 knockouts with his front kick and 3 with his jumping knee. Takiya's biggest weaknesses are his propensity to get hit and his lack of offense from a distance. Takiya's explosive offensive style leaves a lot of holes in his defense and his brawling style has made him more likely to take one to give one. He also lacks offense when he is successfully neutralized at range. This would be a positive for Terado whose best offense comes when he controls the range and is able to close the distance and land with combinations. However, Terado has shown that he is unable to control range against pressure fighters and if he is unable to get into his rhythm, there is a likelihood he will be bested. Other tools that Terado possesses are his counter-punching complimented by his head movement and his leg kicks at range. When Terado fights his best, he keeps his opponents on the end of his leg kicks, then makes his opponent miss and lands a counter shot or combination that often hurts his opponent. As I mentioned earlier, he struggles when his opponent constantly comes forward and he often lets himself get drawn into a brawl, like he did against Ryuya Kusakabe who outgunned him and unfortunately for Terado, Kusakabe was outgunned by Takiya in their second affair.

Takiya's key to victory is to constantly come forward and pressure Teardo, making him uncomfortable. If Takiya continues to come forward and throw with power and speed, he will eventually tag Terado, who, when pressured, often forgets to utilize his head movement. Once he is hurt, Terado often commits to a brawl and if that should happen, Takiya will likely score yet another stoppage victory. Terado's key to victory is movement. If he moves constantly and stays on the outside of the ring, he will be able to keep Takiya at a distance and neutralize Takiya's offense. Though he has been unable to do this against pressure fighters, if Terado combines his leg kicks with head movement, Takiya will leave himself open for counters that Terado can capitalize on. If he can pounce when Takiya makes mistakes and keep Takiya off of him, Terado could see himself walking away with a decision victory.

If I had to pick, I'd take Takiya in the rematch by stoppage. He holds the advantages in speed, power and explosiveness and I believe he has more offensive tools and ways to finish the fight. Terado's last two losses have come to faster, more powerful fighters and that is exactly what Takiya is. Everything I've seen of Terado has suggested that he cracks under offensive pressure and that is what Takiya does best.

Fight videos of both fighters after the break


Badr Hari Public Workout on January 14 at Mike's Gym


Leading up to Badr Hari's last kickboxing match on January 28 against Gokhan Saki, It's Showtime has organized a public workout for Badr Hari at Mike's Gym on January 14. The public workout is open to anyone and everyone, and it's free. Fans can attend the workout and there will be opportunities for autographs and photos.

This is a good move by It's Showtime to generate more interest for the event on January 28. I'd expect a big turnout at Mike's Gym on January 14, as Badr Hari is arguably the biggest star in kickboxing. All of our readers in the Netherlands should definitely try to attend if they can, as this could be Badr's last kickboxing match.

Here's the full press release from It's Showtime:

January 2, 2012 -

The first, and last, public workout of Badr Hari will take place on January 14 in Mike's Gym, Skoon 21 in Oostzaan, The Netherlands.

This unique public workout is not only accessible to the press, but for everyone, and for free. Everyone who has always wanted to see how Badr prepares himself for his January 28 fight against Gökhan Saki can now grab his chance!

Besides the different training techniques there will also be some ferocious sparring matches. There will also be an opportunity for autographs and photos.

The public workout will start on January 14 at 13h00. Press can register by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For fans, there is no need to register.

There are only approximately 900 tickets left for the IT'S SHOWTIME event on January 28. The VIP tables are completely sold out.


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