In the world of kickboxing, most of the focus is on K-1. Over the years, K-1 has in some cases made itself synonymous with the sport of kickboxing. With the recent downtime of K-1, It's Showtime has stepped up and garnered much attention. SuperKombat and Fight Code have gotten a bit of exposure too. What about the smaller shows though? Every weekend there are many small kickboxing events around the world. It's not uncommon in kickboxing for a world class fighter to be fighting on a smaller event. Kickboxing, compared to boxing and MMA is very hard to keep track of and follow.
Now, onto the Tatneft Cup. The Tatneft Cup is a kickboxing tournament held every year in Kazan, Russia. The tournament is spread over many events, with four rounds of the tournament. The first four events are labelled "1/8 Final" and feature opening round tournament matches within the different weight divisions. The tournament advances on to two 1/4 Final events, one 1/2 Final event and the tournament final at the very last event.
In hindsight, the Tatneft Cup would be labelled a smaller show. In terms of who is taking part in the tournament though, it's anything but that. The 2010 Tatneft Cup saw names such as Artem Levin, Ismael Londt, Sergei Lascenko, Dzhabar Askerov and Dmitry Shakuta. The tournament also showcases some of Eastern Europe's top kickboxing talent, who are otherwise unknown to most kickboxing fans. Enriko Gogokhia, Alexander Stetsurenko, Armen Israelyan, Uranbek Esenkulov and Alexander Oleinik are all very good kickboxers who have yet to get any exposure on the big shows.
Enriko Gogokhia lost to Mike Zambidis in April but was very competitive in the fight. He recently lost another competitive fight to Dzhabar Askerov at the Tatneft Cup 2011 1/2 Final. At only 20 years old he is giving widely renowned kickboxers all they can handle. Good things can only come for him. Alexander Oleinik won a K-1 KOK Grand Prix tournament in Moldova in December, stopping Sem Braan, a top fighter in the first round and then winning his other two matches to win the tournament. He just beat Alexander Stetsurenko who I mentioned above, at the Tatneft Cup 2011 1/2 Final, advancing to the final. Oleinik is a very good fighter, and if he can make 77kg, could probably make some waves in It's Showtime.
The Tatneft Cup 2011 Final will probably be in October. The finals are Dzhabar Askerov vs. Maxim Smirnov (-70kg), Alexander Oleinik vs. Dmitry Shakuta (-80kg) and Dmitry Bezus vs. Hicham Ashalhi (+95kg).
The Tatneft Cup is like many in kickboxing, a great show but struggles to get any recognition within the kickboxing world. Kickboxing just isn't that popular and most shows will be lucky to get any mentions.
You can watch all matches from every Tatneft Cup from the Tatneft Arena website. It's in Russian, but a simple run-through Google Translate will make it easy to navigate. All the fights are action packed and showcase some great kickboxing talent that you might not have seen before.
Here's a great fight from the recent Tatneft Cup 2011 1/2 Final featuring Dzhabar Askerov taking on Enriko Gogokhia: