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Koya Urabe vs Karim Bennoui Added to Krush.25; Yamamoto, Matsukura Join 67kg Tournament Field

In the absence of FEG's K-1, Krush has really taken the reigns as the top Japanese promotion, especially with the steady flow of European talent they have been bringing in over the past year. Today, they held a press conference to announce yet another big international fight, pitting one of their top stars against a top European fighter, as well as announcing two more big names for their 67kg tournament.

Starting with Krush.25 on December 14th, Krush has announced that former It's Showtime 61kg champion and LiverKick #4 ranked Lightweight Karim Bennoui will be facing recently crowned 2012 Youth GP champion Koya Urabe at 61kg. Urabe (24-4-0, 4 KO) is coming off of the first tournament win of his career, after losing in the finals of the 4 previous tournaments he entered and being snubbed in K-1 in 2010, winning this year's Krush Youth GP with wins over Hisaki Higashimoto, Hiroto Yamaguchi and Kengo Sonoda. He is 6-1 on the year, but will be looking for the biggest win of his career here. Bennoui (37-7-3, 13 KO) burst onto the scene in 2011, defeating Sergio Wielzen for the It's Showtime 61kg title, but promptly lost it 3 months later when he attempted to make his first defense against Javier Hernandez. Since, he has fought just twice, winning a disputed split decision over Krush 63kg champ Thomas Adamandopoulos and drawing Pajonsuk Por Pramuk in January this year. He is scheduled to fight Adamandopoulos again at La Nuit Des Champions on the 24th, so hopefully he comes out of that fight without any injuries, as this is a big fight for the division with Urabe sitting just outside of the top 10. 

Also announced for the card is a 63.5kg fight between former Krush champ Ryuji Kajiwara and former NJKF champ Ikki. This is Kajiwara's first fight since losing his Krush title to Thomas Adamandopoulos in August while Ikki has won two in a row, most recently over Taito at Krush.24. Krush 63kg WILDRUSH League winner and current #1 contender Hideaki Yamazaki will also be facing a foreign opponent, as he squares off against 2011 Savate champion Gagny Baradji. Yamazaki went 5-0 (1 KO) in the league to earn a shot at Adamandopoulos. The card will also have a pair of interesting 55kg matchups as Takumi faces Ikki Tanaka and Katsuki Sasaki fights Takeru. Takumi fought Shota Takiya for his Krush 55kg title, but lost via decision while Tanaka has won 2 straight. The two faced each other once before last April, with Takumi winning by 3rd round KO. In the other matchup, Takeru has won 2 in a row, most recently scoring a KO of Yuya Suzuki while Sasaki hasn't fought since losing his #1 contender bout against Takumi back in June.

The other big announcement by Krush was that they would be adding to their already impressive 67kg tournament field with Yuya Yamamoto and Shintaro Matsukura. Once a K-1 MAX Semifinalist, Yuya Yamamoto has fallen on hard times recently, losing 3 in a row with knockout losses to Yuji Nashiro and Xu Yan while being upset by Asami Zaurus at Krush.20 in July. While Yamamoto made his name at 70kg, he started his career at 67kg in AJKF and this move back down should be a good move for him as he will retain his power. Since his upset of Yamamoto in the Krush 70kg tournament, Matsukura has struggled to find success against other top 70kg fighters, losing to Yutaro Yamauchi, Yasuhiro Kido, TOMOYUKI and his rematch against Yamamoto, although they were all very close decisions with the exception of a knockout loss to Kido. He most recently won the Krush 70kg Youth GP with wins over Kazuya Akimoto and Taisei Kondo, stopping Kondo in the extension round of their finals matchup. These two join Yuta Kubo and Yuji Nashiro with 4 other fighters still to be chosen and with the 4 names already selected, Krush could have something big up their sleeve, possibly top foreign names. It is also interesting to note that although Yamamoto's success is tied to his time in K-1, he is the only one of these 4 without a K-1 tournament win.

One final note about the January 14th card that will host the opening round of the 67kg tournament is that Krush event producer Mitsuru Miyata stated that he wants to find a top Japanese fighter to face Masaaki Noiri at the event. With Koya Urabe fighting at Krush.25, I doubt he will rematch Noiri, but possible options include Masahiro Yamamoto who fights on December 2nd, Keijiro Miyakoshi who fights on November 25th and Kosuke Komiyama who fights on November 17th.


2012 S-Cup Preview: Ranking the Tournament Participants

This year’s S-Cup was shrouded in a bit of mystery in the weeks leading up to the event, but with the fight card set, it looks to go down as yet another memorable S-Cup featuring S-Cup veterans Andy Souwer, Hiroki Shishido, Henri van Opstal and Bovy Sor Udomson while welcoming newcomers Hiroaki Suzuki, Kem Sitsongpeenong, Joachim Hansen and Gesias Cavalcante. Despite the omission of 2010 finalists Buakaw Banchemak and Toby Imada, this year’s quarterfinal matchups of Suzuki vs Hansen, van Opstal vs Bovy, Cavalcante vs Shishido and Souwer vs Kem present highly competitive matchups and with them, a plethora of possible outcomes. This article will look to rank each fighter by his chances of winning this year’s S-Cup.

1. Andy Souwer – With three S-Cup titles already under his belt, Shootboxing legend Andy Souwer is poised to win a 4th after a shocking upset loss to Toby Imada in the semifinals of the 2010 S-Cup. Since, Souwer is 3-0 in Shootboxing with wins over Yoshihiro Sato, Satoru Suzuki and Imada. Souwer has a very tough quarterfinal matchup in Kem Sitsongpeenong and the winner of that fight will be heavily favored to win his next two fights and claim this year’s S-Cup title. I give Souwer the edge over Kem due to his overwhelming experience advantage under the Shootboxing ruleset. Souwer used his Shootboxing experience to his advantage when he fought Hinata in his Shootboxing debut back in 2010, choking him out in under a minute. While I don’t think Souwer will be able to pull the same trick on Kem, though that’s not to say he won’t try, I do think he will be able to outpoint the Thai over 3 rounds.

2. Kem Sitsongpeenong – It’s not very often that you see two quarterfinal opponents ranked as the top two fighters in a tournament, but that is the case with this year’s S-Cup. The S-Cup marks the 6th tournament that Kem has been entered in over the last two years and he is looking for his 4th tournament win of those 6, having won this year’s Toyota Marathon, last year’s Thai Fight 67kg tournament and the 21st Isuzu Cup Tournament, despite a loss to Sudsakorn in the 2nd round. His 2 tournament losses came this year, first being upset by Davit Kyria in the Glory Final 16, then losing in the semifinals of IFMA World Muay Thai Championships to Vitaly Gurkov. I considered moving Kem down on this list due to his quarterfinal matchup, but I feel the talent gap between the top two and the rest of the field is big enough to warrant placing Kem at #2 as he definitely has the ability to beat Souwer.

3. Hiroaki Suzuki – Suzuki is, without a doubt, one of the hottest fighters in Shootboxing right now and is Shootboxing’s hope for the future with Takaaki Umeno retiring and Hiroki Shishido nearing the end of his career. He has won 7 in a row, though it is interesting to note that 5 of his last 8 wins have come against MMA fighters and he faces another MMA fighter in Joachim Hansen in the quarterfinals. While there is no doubt that Suzuki packs very good power, he will be moving up from 65kg for this tournament and if his power doesn’t carry, he will have trouble getting into the finals.

4. Henri van Opstal – There isn’t much separating van Opstal and Suzuki at 3 and 4, but I guess I’m a bit sold on the hype and momentum Suzuki is carrying into the S-Cup. That being said, van Opstal carries a significant amount of hype and momentum himself, training under Andy Souwer and compiling a 5-0 record against Japanese opposition, with wins over Hinata, Akihiro Gono, Satoru Suzuki, Yuichiro Nagashima and Hiroki Nakajima. This is his 2nd S-Cup, making it to the semifinals in 2010 where he lost a decision to eventual champion Buakaw. His opening round matchup against Bovy could leave him a bit battered and bruised, but I fully expect him to advance to the semis, likely against Hiraoki Suzuki. While he is 5-0 against Japanese opposition, only his fight with Satoru Suzuki was one-sided and he didn’t exactly fight each of them in the brightest moments of their respective careers, while Suzuki seems to be entering his prime.

5. Hiroki Shishido – I have a hard time believing anyone outside of the top 4 has a legitimate chance of winning the tournament, but as Toby Imada showed 2 years ago, anything is possible and even late replacement, journeyman MMA fighters can play spoiler. My spoiler for 2012 is quite the opposite, as I am choosing longtime Shootboxing vet Shishido as my spoiler. Most people have written Shishido off due to his 2-6 record over his last 8 fights, despite a favorable quarterfinal matchup with Gesias Cavalcante. Most have looked solely at Shishido’s losses and not at the quality of his opponents and his competitiveness despite nearing 15 years of activity. After passing the proverbial torch to Hiroaki Suzuki in a loss earlier this year, Shishido no longer holds Japan’s hopes on his shoulders and his recent woes may actually help him here, as he has absolutely no pressure to perform on Saturday. The tough Kem-Souwer matchup on his half of the bracket could leave one of them limping their way into the semis and produce a perfect storm for a Shishido shocker.

6. Gesias Cavalcante – Had Cavalcante been selected in 2006 or even 2008, his participation would have created a lot more buzz and he would likely be considered one of the tournament favorites. Unfortunately for JZ, he is 5 years and a knee removed from his prime and his sole kickboxing fight was against Masato in 2007, where he lost by decision. Fortunately, he faces a faded Shishido in the quarters and trains out of Imperial Athletics, otherwise known as the Blackzillians, meaning he gets regular training with the likes of Tyrone Spong, Cosmo Alexandre and Daniel Ghita, along with a host of MMA stars. Like Shishido, he’ll need a lot of help from the loser of Souwer-Kem to make it to the finals, should he win in the quarters.

7. Joachim Hansen – Hansen has been inactive for over a year and faces the hottest fighter in this tournament in Suzuki. While Hansen does have good striking, I don’t feel as though he has the striking to compete with most of the other fighters in this tournament, especially defensively. While Hansen will be back at 70kg, facing a power puncher like Suzuki will make it hard for Hansen to survive three rounds. Even worse, Suzuki has faced 5 MMA fighters in his last 9 fights, going 5-0 and not conceding a single shoot point. Hansen has all of the odds stacked against him, but again, it’s hard to forget Toby Imada in 2010.

8. Bovy Sor Udomson – There is no doubt that Bovy is an extremely entertaining fighter. However, there is also no doubt that Bovy is slowing down with each outing. Wins over Toby Imada and Gago Drago to end 2011 were promptly forgotten after a loss to Satoru Suzuki. Bovy’s wild hooks still have the power to drop anyone, but connecting and not tiring himself out are his major concerns. He has an unfavorable quarterfinal matchup against the more technical van Opstal. However, I’m pulling for Bovy to make it to the semis simply because a fight between him and Suzuki has memorable slugfest written all over it.

Of the reserves, Andy Ristie has the best chance of making some noise and would probably even be considered a favorite should he be inserted into the tournament. I have no idea who is going to win Satoru Suzuki vs Akihiro Gono, but feel neither man will be a legitimate player should he be inserted.


Badr Hari Arrested Again

We recently posted about how Badr Hari had been released from prison and was set for trial in January. One of the specific terms of his release from prison was that he is not allowed to be in restaurants, clubs and the likes of entities in that particular industry.

Well, it seems that Badr might have already violated that term, as he was arrested by Dutch police today at his girlfriend's home. Hari was spotted in an Amsterdam restaurant with his girlfriend today, reports Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf. 

The public prosecutor for Hari's case will examine whether he violated the terms of his release and determine whether action should be taken against him. Though it seems that that's already been determined, based on his arrest.


Hinata vs. Ristie Rematch, Imada vs. Abdollahi Complete S-Cup Fight Card

The Shootboxing S-Cup takes place every two years, with the next edition coming on this Saturday, November 17 in Tokyo, Japan. We've learned of all the tournament match-ups, super fights and some reserve fights already. Now there have been two final additions to the fight card to complete the full lineup.

Hinata will rematch Andy Ristie in a reserve fight. Their first fight was earlier this year in January where Ristie destroyed Hinata in the first round with three knockdowns at It's Showtime in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. That was Hinata's first time fighting outside of Asia so maybe this time having a hometown advantage will help him. Ristie has been one of the breakout fighters of this year and is undefeated on the year.

In a super fight, MMA fighter Toby Imada, who made it to the finals of the 2010 S-Cup will fight Mostafa Abdollahi at 70kg. It's interesting that Imada wasn't included in the actual tournament field, being that he fought for Shootboxing a number of times, including the 2010 S-Cup. Full fight card below:

S-Cup Quarter Final: Hiroaki Suzuki vs Joachim Hansen

S-Cup Quarter Final: Henri van Opstal vs. Bovy Sor Udomson

S-Cup Quarter Final: Hiroki Shishido vs. Gesias Cavalcante

S-Cup Quarter Final: Andy Souwer vs. Kem Sitsongpeenong

Reserve: Akihiro Gono vs. Satoru Suzuki

Reserve: Andy Ristie vs. Hinata Watanabe

70kg: Toby Imada vs. Mostafa Abdollahi

60kg: Naguranchun Masa M16 vs. Kosuke Komiyama

63kg: Kizaemon Saiga vs. MASAYA

HW: Magnum Sakai vs. Shunsuke Inoue


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