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Update: K-1 Announcing Details About Final 16 in Nanjing Tomorrow

K-1There is always an ominous shadow that lurks over the kickboxing world like a storm cloud ready to burst, and that is K-1 and when things will get announced, if ever. K-1 has the Japan MAX tournament coming up later on this month, but that still doesn't explain the heavyweights. There have been many rumors, mainly from fighters who have been contacted about the event, that K-1 will indeed put on a K-1 World Heavyweight GP. It's Showtime head Simon Rutz confirmed this by not planning a show for late November/early December featuring big heavyweights as he had planned and pushed the show back to January.

K-1 will have an announcement on their UStream page (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/k1-Channel) on the 15th at GMT+9/PDT+16.

There have been no hints from K-1 as to what the subject matter will be, but the background of their UStream profile is photos of Badr Hari and Semmy Schilt, which could indeed be a hint.

UPDATE: K-1 just posted that they are announcing details about the World Grand Prix Final 16 in Nanjing, China tomorrow. The press conference will stream live at 7:00 PM Japan time, 6AM EST for those in North America. Among the details are the participants and the venue being used. Huge news!

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Stand Up Fighters in MMA: Alexei Kudin

Eastern Europe is quietly becoming one of the areas where more and more strikers are entering MMA. Konstantin Gluhov (as highlighted here), Zabit Samedov and a bevy of lesser known strikers from Eastern Europe have dawned the open gloves and participated in MMA this year and in years past. One of the best up and coming heavyweights out of the area in my opinion is Alexei Kudin.

In kickboxing, Kudin is probably most known for fighting Pavel Zhuravlev six times. Yes, six times. Although his record against Zhuravlev isn't very pretty at 1-4-1, all the fights have been competitive with three split decisions, a majority decision and a draw between them. Recently, Kudin won the IFMA European Championships of Muay Thai, defeating Dmitry Bezus in the final. Kudin stands 6'2, 242 pounds. With the recent major success of Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, it's a body frame that is quite optimal for MMA if the skills and speed are possessed to make up for the strength of the behemoths in the division.

Of Kudin's four wins this year, three have been stoppages with punches. He seems to favor the hands when he fights in MMA and rightfully so, as they pose less threat of getting taken down than kicks and knees do. He'll often leave his hands a bit low, but he doesn't mind eating a few shots for it as long as he can effectively counter with punches. His fight with Dmitry Poberezhets is a good gauge of where he's at, stylewise and skillwise.

Kudin recently won a ProFC tournament in Moldova, stopping both of his opponents in under a minute, including a seven second knockout in the first fight (video). In the second fight, he dropped his opponent with low kicks and finished off on the ground. Low kicks are a weapon that Kudin should definitely use more in MMA, even if there's a bigger threat of getting taken down. Kudin's low kicks pack some power and most MMA fighters won't be able to handle them if hit cleanly a few times.

The opportunities are there in Eastern Europe, more specifically Russia for MMA fighters to keep active. Even if the opposition is week, staying active with fights is good for progression and experience. Then again, Kudin could always head back to stand up fighting too, where there are some pretty good cards coming up in Russia. Most fighters in Eastern Europe who compete in both stand up fighting and MMA often compete in both, as there's more opportunities to make money between them, rather than just one. If Kudin is serious about doing MMA full time, he could turn out to be a pretty decent heavyweight.

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StillWill's Latest -- Collision: Hari vs. Overeem

If you are a fan of kickboxing, you are lucky to have someone like Will Prescott, better known as StillWill who is also a fan. The sheer amount of time that he dedicates to putting together some of the tightest video packages in the industry is mind-boggling. To say that it is shocking that Will is not already employed by a major fight organization to put together video packages is an understatement, as we watch a lot of these videos as they come along, and none have the visceral impact that these do.

The latest video documents the rivalry between Alistair Overeem and Badr Hari, one of the true great K-1 rivalries of the past few years, and one that if the rumors of Alistair Overeem signing to UFC are true that we will probably never get closure on. Will covers it all, from Overeem vs. Cro Cop that featured Overeem's open challenge and Badr Hari's "K-1, real knockouts" speech that has now become notorious all the way to the fights and the press conferences where fireworks were present every step of the way. Don't forget to watch it on YouTube and favorite it.

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K-1 Announces Participants and Matchups for K-1 MAX 2011 -70kg Japan Tournament

K-1 event producer Sadaharu Tanikawa announced the participants and quarterfinal matchups for September 25th's K-1 World MAX 2011 -70kg Japan Tournament. It is the biggest qualifying tournament for the Final 16 and often takes place in February, but with K-1's struggles it is just now taking place.

In a big surprise, 2002 K-1 MAX Champion Albert Kraus has been announced as a tournament participant and will take on Yuji Nashiro in the first round. Though the Japan tournament has featured foreigner Andy Ologun, this is the first time a high profile foreigner has been placed in the tournament, as well as the first time a former MAX champion has participated after winning. Kraus' participation in the tournament is exciting, but at the same time somewhat disappointing as he is definitely the tournament favorite and if he wins, he may keep an exciting prospect out of the Final 16. Nonetheless, Kraus should add the extra pop in the tournament that K-1 needs and will hopefully draw quite a bit of buzz around the tournament. Kraus has been defeated by Giorgio Petrosyan in the quarterfinals of the World tournament the past two years and is coming off of a controversial decision loss to Yoshihiro Sato in June. Nashiro's placement in the tounrament is somewhat questionable as he lost in the quarterfinals of last year's tournament by KO to Yuichiro Nagashima and lost to Yutaro Yamauchi in the first round of this year's Krush tournament.

In the second quarterfinal, last year's favorite and finalist Hiroki Nakajima will take on undefeated RISE Middleweight Champion Takafumi Morita. Morita has made a splash on the scene, recently defeating former WBC Japan Champion Soichiro Miyakoshi and taking the RISE belt from Yukihiko Komiya by KO. Nakajima had high expectations, making it to last year's finals before falling by KO in a thrilling fight to 2010 champion Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima. Nakajima then fought very hard competition in his next two fights, losing by dominating decision to Albert Kraus and Buakaw Por. Pramuk. He rebounded with a KO win over YOSHI in the Krush 70kg tournament, but was upset in the semifinals by fellow tournament participant Kenta.

In the other half of the bracket, K-1 has set up a rematch from the Krush 70kg tournament between Shintaro Matsukura and Yuya Yamamoto. In the fight, the two put on an entertaining two rounds until the final round when Matsukura managed to drop Yamamoto with a knee early in the round. After that knockdown, the two began throwing everything they had, making for one of the best rounds of the year. Matsukura took the win as a result of the knockdown and went on to the semis against Yutaro Yamauchi. Again, the two fought a relatively entertaining first two rounds until the action exploded in the 3rd, leading to an extension round where the action continued. However, Matsukura was outlanded by Yamauchi and lost by split decision. Matsukura is just 19 years old and won the 2009 K-1 Koshien 70kg tournament. Yamamoto has been up and down since his appearance in the 2009 World MAX Semifinals, losing to HINATA in the quarterfinals of last year's Japan tournament and going 3-3 overall.

To round out the tournament, Krush 70kg Tournament Champion Kenta will take on 2008 Japan Tournament Champion and Swagmaster Extreme Yasuhiro Kido. Kenta took out Masakazu Watanabe, Hiroki Nakajima and Yutaro Yamauchi en route to the Krush title and is currently riding a 5-fight winstreak with his last loss being to tournament participant Yuji Nashiro. Kido has fallen on hard times in K-1 after his 2008 tournament win, losing in the quarterfinals of the last two Japan tournaments and losing a super fight to Vahid Rosyani last May.

The favorite in this tournament has to be Kraus, but Nakajima, Morita, Kenta and Yuya Yamamoto could prove to be spoilers. If there were an upset to look out for, I'd say watch Morita against Nakajima. Matsukura may well take another win off of Yamamoto, too, though I think it's not as likely.

In the tournament reserve bout, YOSHI will take on Go Yokoyama. Yokoyama was initially announced as a participant of the tournament, but has been moved to the reserve bout. His last fight was a draw against Yutaro Yamauchi at Sengoku Soul of Fight. YOSHI was knocked out by Hiroki Nakajima in the quarterfinals of the Krush tournament.

2010 Japan Tournament Champion Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima has been announced in a 78kg superfight against Kenmun. Jienotsu has spent most of his off-time from K-1 participating in professional wrestling which probably explains his lack of participation in the tournament. Finally, flashy 63kg standout Kizaemon Saiga will take on Valdrin Vatnikaj. Since upsetting Naoki Ishikawa last July, Saiga has gone 1-4, though his losses have come to Tetsuya Yamato, Son Hyun Lee, Ryuji Kajiwara and Yuta Kubo. {jcomments on}

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