Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.
by Staff, The Open Mat
After a 16-month lay off, 2009 NCAA Champion Darrion Caldwell has leaped back into the mix. Darrion made his season debut against Bloomsburg on Tuesday, earning a fall over Josh Roosa. It seems that rust isn’t an issue as he rattled off five pins in his first six matches of 2011. (in-depth coverage)
The Cliff Keen National duals certainly wasn’t business as usual, at least on the bottom half of the bracket. First, American University knocked off Oregon State 21-19 on the effort of a Ryan Flores pin of Clayton Jack at heavyweight. Then it was Virginia Tech’s turn to play Rocky when they surprised second seed Oklahoma State 18-16. Everything seemed to be going the Hokies way as they picked up clutch wins by Jarrod Garrett and Pete Yates and a huge win at heavyweight by Dave Marone to seal the deal. (in-depth coverage)
Cornell and Penn State tied at the Southern Scuffle. Both teams won championships this weekend – Cornell at National Duals and PSU at the Virginia Duals. Imagine the juice a National Dual Tournament would have received with these two facing off in a final. There is something to be said for head to head duals versus winning a national title in an individual format. (in-depth coverage)
Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling
2. Penn State
7. Oklahoma State
9. Virginia Tech
A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.
Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum
As expected, news in the kickboxing world is starting to pick up as the New Year moves forward. After a brief down period following the K-1 World Grand Prix, events from all corners of the globe are taking place or being announced.
Before reviewing the current happenings, let’s take a look at some a few important fights that took place in Japan over the final days of the year (and were left out last week!).
Sengoku’s Soul of Fight event took place on Dec. 30, and while the majority of the event was MMA bouts, there were a number of kickboxing contests as well. Most notably, recent S-Cup winner Buakaw Por. Pramuk defeated Hiroki Nakajima.
In the final news of 2010, K-1 parent company, FEG, held its annual Dynamite!! event featuring both MMA and kickboxing. Tetsuya Yamato and Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura fought to a majority draw (30-30, 30-29 Yamato, 30-30) and Dream light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi bested K-1 World Grand Prix Final 8 participant Kyotaro. In a mixed rules bout, Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki made a mockery of the rules in the K-1 round, frequently clinching and launching drop kicks off the ropes. In the MMA round, K-1 veteran Yuichiro Nagashima needed only four seconds to knock out Aoki with a knee as he shot for takedown. In other action, K-1 heavyweight king Alistair Overeem KO’d UFC veteran Todd Duffee and K-1 legend Jerome Le Banner lost a decision to judoka Satoshi Ishii, both in MMA contests.
Moving on to 2011, it has been announced that the aforementioned Buakaw Por. Pramuk will be again competing on Feb. 12, as he faces Youssef Boughanem at La Nuit des Titans VI. The 2011 Shootboxing schedule has been finalized, with five events announced for Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Dates include Feb. 19, April 23, June 5, Sept. 10 and Nov. 11.
A key fight in the Muay Thai world has been revealed for April 9, as Saenchai Sor. Kingstar and Liam Harrison will meet for the second time for UK promotion Fight Sport Industries. As mentioned last week, Saenchai is the WMC World Muay Thai champion.
Dutch promotion It’s Showtime has announced that it has stripped 95 kg (209 lb) champion Tyrone Spong of his title. Spong has not defended the belt for over two years and has made a permanent move to heavyweight, recently competing in the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 8, losing to eventual champion Alistair Overeem.
On Jan. 6 from Bangkok, Rajadamnern stadium 130-pound title holder Jomthong Chuwattana claimed a decision over Jaroenchai Audonmuang. The bout was a repeat of the pair’s 2007 battle. Also in action, Vigo Sor. Phenprapa defeated Kayasit Chuwatana by third round TKO, Dendanai P.K. Stereo took a decision victory over Sakoontong Tor. Ponchai, and Aranchai Kiatpataraphan stopped Kompayak Chuwatan by fourth round TKO.
Jan. 8 saw The Champion’s Club host its sixth event from Pattaya, Thailand. In the night’s main event, England’s Steve Wakeling knocked out champ Jaochalam Chatkranokgym to become the new WBC Muay Thai super middleweight champion.
Also on Jan. 8, K-1 MAX held its first event of the year with a 70kg (154 lb), eight-man tournament. The opening round saw Nick Beljaards knock out favored Rachid Belaini in the second round, Rafi Zouheir claimed a decision over Tuncay Aydin, Warren Stevelmans outlasted Jonay Risco, and Rafa del Toro defeated Alejandro Asumu Osa, also by decision. In the semi-finals, Stevelmans took a decision over del Toro and Zouheir needed an extension round to get past Beljaards. The final saw Zouheir win the tournament with a decision victory over Stevelmans. In non-tournament bouts, Orinta var dar Zee defeated Mar Rodriguez, Zebene Diaz defeated Simon Santana, and Fran Palenzuela defeated Dani Montesdeoca, all by decision.
Finally, on Jan. 9, Japanese promotion Krush held the second round of its Kings Tournament. In a closely contested bout, Yoshihiro Sato took a split decision over Shemsi Beqiri. Koya Urabe survived Sung Hyun Lee after an extension round in their 63 kg (139 lb) tournament bout. Also in tournament action, Kizaemon Saiga claimed a decision over Naoki Terazaki, Takuya Shirahama needed an extension round to defeat Yuki Yamamoto, and Ryuki Kajiwara defeated TaCa by unanimous decision. The tournament concludes on March 19. The highlight of the event was when Yuya Yamamoto scored a big knock out over Masahiro Watanbe in the second round.
Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion
Just as we settle into the New Year, great competitions are now in sight and even in the cold winter days and nights, the training mats are on fire with competitors preparing themselves for the battles that lie ahead in 2011.
What has become a world-wide competition, The Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials, will be making its next stop in Jersey City, N.J. at the Jersey City Armory to see who will be making the trip to Abu Dhabi for the competition’s main event in April. Set to take place on Feb. 5, the World Pro competition is now on the East Coast of the United States after already having trials in South Korea, Brazil, New Zealand and Sweden. Each division winner at the brown/black belt categories and each lower belt absolute winners (two separate absolute winners at each belt) will be rewarded with an all-expenses paid trip to compete in Abu Dhabi. The trip will include site visits, free hotel accommodations and so on. After the WPBJJ’s trip in the U.S., it will be heading to Lisbon, Portugal, for its next trial to see who else will be in the main Abu Dhabi event. In March, the event will be making a trip back to the United States for trials to take place in Las Vegas and West Palm Beach, Fla.
Another competition to kick off the New Year is the Grapplers Quest’s Florida State Jiu-Jitsu Championships, set to run on Feb. 5 in Coral Springs, Fla. There is expected to be big super-fight matchups and a $1000 prize to all pro division winners.
On the IBJJF’s calendar, shortly after the European Open, set to take place in Lisbon, Portugal, on Jan. 27-30, their next tournament will be the second installment of the Houston International Open in Houston, Texas on Feb. 12 and 13. In the inaugural event last year, Bruno Bastos was crowned absolute champion, so expect last year’s champion and many more to be entering again this year.
Also on the IBJJF calendar is the first big championship on U.S. soil: Pan 2011. In its second year in Irvine, Calif., expect this competition to be replete with the best black belts in the world, including Bernardo Faria, Kayron Gracie, Bruno Malfacine, Caio Terra, Michael Langhi and many more. The Pan is always one of the biggest tournaments the world can produce and you can count on it being even bigger than it was last year.
So, for the competitors, the map to a successful year is being laid out and all there is to do is train hard to be at the top for each one of these prestigious competitions!