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Steven Banks on His Time in Kunlun Fight and How Phuket Top Team Transformed Him as a Fighter

Before GLORY came to America and helped to bring kickboxing back into the discourse of the average combat sports fan kickboxing in America was a very different beast. There was a small cluster of names that you'd hear all of the time who would be fighting throughout the country without a lot of fanfare, one of those was Steven Banks. Banks, a larger heavyweight was doing his best to capture the attention of bigger international leagues but it has always been a bit of a slow road for Banks.

This included fighting in shows in Europe on short notice for bad pay, taking fights that weren't going to be good for his career because it was worth a shot and everything else in between. Things finally seem to be turning around for Banks and a lot of that he credits to his time training in Thailand at Phuket Top Team. His time in China has helped to give him a new perspective on fighting and on October 31st he'll return to China for Kunlun Fight 33. We caught up with Banks to talk to him about the past, the present and the future.

LK: So you’ve done both MMA and kickboxing in your professional career, what is it about kickboxing and muay thai that has drawn you in as a fighter as opposed to focusing solely on MMA like so many fighters today?

SB: I love the art of striking. I enjoy every bit of it, the culture and the tradition... my 1st love was and will always be Muay Thai... I think the reason that I prefer to do Muay Thai or kickboxing over MMA is because alot of fighters will go out there and get a takedown, and cuddle for a win... I actually still train for MMA as well...I will be fighting in MMA again soon...

LK: You are an American living and training in Thailand right now. What prompted that move and what kind of results have you seen?

SB: When Phuket Top Team offered me the chance to train full time,  I had to take it! Best decision I have ever made... I have seen amazing results... it was really hard to try and train effectively while having a full-time job, competing against the best in the world is tough already... most of the guys I have been fighting were training full-time already... I decided that if I wanted to go out and become one of the best American heavyweights I needed to go and train with some of the best... training full-time and having a camp that pushes you to become better and better each day is incredible... my head trainer Neung pushes me everyday, Neung took me under his wing as soon as I got to PTT... no day is easy...its put all the effort in it... getting to train everyday with world class trainers is a great way to spend your time...

LK: You’ve gone through your share of a transformation when it comes to your body, from what I understand losing a great deal of weight. How has that impacted your career?

SB: Oh yes... since I have been training at PTT... I have dropped over 60 pounds... I have been told by promotions that I didnt look "pretty" enough for the sponsors of the show.  As a heavyweight, I have always been one of the heavier fighters... I'm a fighter, not a model... I love food... since dropping this weight I have noticed my cardio is 100 times better than ever... when I finished my last fight, I walked over to my coach and told him I felt like I could go a couple more rounds and that I felt great... my coaches at Phuket Top Team have made it a point to push me to become one of the best...

LK: I’ve gotta ask -- the fight with Lungu where you guys spilled out of the ring. What went through your mind at that moment and when the fight was declared a loss for you?

SB: Oh man... I wish I could get that changed on my record... that accident should have been called a no contest... we knew he was going to try and take me to the ground from the very beginning of the fight... just wasn't expecting the ropes to be so low...  the ropes were at the correct height, but when you have almost 700 plus pounds moving in 1 direction its hard to stop... I didnt understand why they gave Lungu the win. I have asked for several rematches to set the record straight... but to no luck...

LK: You’ve seen some success of late in Kunlun Fight in China and are currently preparing to fight in a few weeks time here, how has your experience fighting in China been thus far?

SB: Yes, I fight again for Kunlun Fight October 31st against another Chinese fighter...I absolutely love fighting in China... they treat every fighter with so much respect. I have fought in China 6 times... and every time I have, it has never been a bad experience...I got my nickname from fighting in China... I have so much respect for the fans. I will stay after the fights to meet as many fans as i can... I wamt them to know how much I respect them as a fighter...

LK: Your success in China has been interesting, with your only loss to the guy who beat Rico Verhoeven, do you see yourself as a threat to these guys on the top tier of the division?

SB: That loss was my 1st loss in China... he caught me with a great jumping knee to the ribs... I really believe I can beat many of the guys on the top tier of the division...  I was able to compete against top level guys with part-time training. Now its time to show everyone what I can really do... I see guys fight and I feel that I can trade with the best there is... I might not be pretty, but I will give the crowd a show they will never forget...

LK: Do you think that kickboxing or muay thai will ever really take off in the United States, especially after seeing China of late and how it’s growing there?

SB: I really hope it does take off in the United States... I know that it is currently growing... I think the reason more fighters choose to go to MMA rather than kickboxing or Muay Thai is because they have a background in wrestling... not like most of the dominant countries in the world of Muay Thai or kickboxing...

LK: You started off in football and transitioned to fighting, have you been able to take anything from your time in football with you into combat sports?

SB: One of the biggest things that I have been able to take to fighting from football has been the will not to give up. With all sports comes injuries... I played football for many years, I finally started to listen to my body on recovery and injuries...I think that has helped me to stay active in fighting over and over...

LK: What can we expect in the future from Steve Banks?

SB: Keep your ears and eyes open... I am planning on dominating the heavyweight division... I want to take on everyone... I will be fighting in Muay Thai,  kickboxing, boxing,  and MMA in the very near future...  to be the best, you got to take on the best... I'm here to do that... we make our own future... I'm here to show everyone that America does have great heavyweight Muay Thai and kickboxers... and we will be taking on all...


Yokkao Returns to the UK in March for Watson vs. Dahlbeck II

The UK loves Yokkao and Yokkao loves the UK, which means that another crazy double header is headed their way on March 19th back in Bolton in the UK. The headline fight slated for Yokkao 17 and 18? Jordan Watson vs. Sanny Dahlbeck for the Yokkao -70kg World Title in a rematch from their bout earlier this year. Watson has been one of the most talked about fighters out of the UK for years now and the knockout loss to Dahlbeck came as a shock to many this year.

Dahlbeck caught everyone's attention when he made his debut at GLORY 1 and competed in the early GLORY events before mysteriously disappearing after looking like a great prospect. Since then he's been all over the world and he has proven himself as one of the better fighters within the weight class. This rematch is a big, big deal for fans in the UK. 



Rico Verhoeven Victorious in MMA Debut

Today GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven made his MMA debut at an event in Romania, picking up his debut win in dominant fashion in the first round. Verhoeven came into the fight with a lot of hype behind him over his pedigree in kickboxing and faced Viktor Bogutzki. Bogutzki has fought one prior fight in MMA and mostly has a kickboxing background, most recently fighting Raul Catinas in SuperKombat this August. 

Verhoeven didn't look entirely comfortable defending strikes with those small gloves, but didn't take any damage from Bogutzki, either. Rico clinched up with Bogutzki and much to the surprise of everyone watching, executed a leg trip and landed on top of his opponent. From there he was able to control him on the ground and rain down heavy shots before the referee stepped in and called the fight midway through the first round.

Rico Verhoeven's next fight will be at GLORY 26 where he is slated to defend the GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi for a second time this year.


Albert Kraus and Jhonata Diniz Win Big at ACB-3

Yesterday in Romania ACB kickboxing held the finals of their 95+kg tournament, featuring Jhonata Diniz vs. Valentin Slavikovski. Slavikovski was the aggressor early on, pushing Diniz to be defensive, but Diniz still kept attacking, finally finding a perfect opening for a right uppercut followed by a left hook that put Slavikovski down and out.

The whole event can be watched on YouTube now. Results from Kiksie.

1. Superfight - 95kg

Sebastian Cozmanca (Romania) def. Cosmin Joltea (Romania) by Decision

2. Superfight - 72.5kg

Robert Stoica (Romania) def. Salamu Dzhamalkhanov (Russia) by TKO in Round 2

3. Superfight - 68kg

Bekhan Evsultanov (Russia) vs. Eugen Dragomir (Romania) - Draw

4. Superfight - 75kg

Fluerasu Dragos (Romania) def. Mansur Vaduev (Russia) by Decision

5. Superfight - 67kg

Zahid Zairov (Uzbekistan) def. Lom Ali Eskiev (Belgium) by Decision

6. Superfight - 61kg

Sorin Tanasie (Romania) def. Szilagy Aron (Hungary) by Decision

7. Superfight - 71kg

Hysni Beqiri (Kosovo) def. Warren Stevelmans (Netherlands) by KO in round 1

8. Superfight - 77kg

Jamie Bates (United Kingdom) def. Pavel Turuk (Belgium) by Decision

9. Superfight - 77kg

Sergej Braun (Germany) def. Dorin Stan (Romania) by Unanimous Decision

10. Superfights - 72.5kg

Parviz Abdullayev (Azerbaijan) def. Haris Ferizovic (Romania) by Unanimous Decision

11. Superfight - 61kg

Umar Paskhaev (Russia) def. Marius Tolea (Romania) by Unanimous Decision

12. Superfights - 95+kg

Tarik Khbabez (Morocco) def. Sebastian Ciobanu (Romania) by Unanimous Decision

13. Superfight - 73,5kg

Albert Kraus (Netherlands) def. Marius Tita (Romania) by Decision

14. Grand Prix Final - 95+kg

Jhonata Diniz (Brazil) def. Valentin Slavikovski (Belarus) by KO in Round 1


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