The Fightshark, Mark Miller, was this weekend's standout
KICKBOXING & MUAY THAI
By Rob Tatum
K-1 is back!
For fans of kickboxing, that is great news. However, the complications that are attached to the announcement may not be something to celebrate. The Japanese promotion revealed that it will hold an eight-man 63 kg (138.6 lb) tournament on June 25 from Yoyogi Stadium 2nd in Tokyo. The lineup for the tournament is heavy with fighters from the recent Krush tourney, including winner Ryuji Kajiwara. He will face Masaaki Noiri. Also on the slate is defending K-1 63 kg champ Tetsuya Yamato, who will face Hiroya. Yuta Kubo takes on Kizaemon Saiga, and Koya Urabe battles Yuki. The event will be headlined by a 70 kg (154 lb) superfight between 2010 tournament runner-up Yoshihiro Sato and former K-1 MAX champ Albert Kraus.
Now for the ugly part.
Almost immediately following the announcement, Dutch promotion It’s Showtime, a recent partner of K-1, fired back that K-1 parent company FEG owed its fighters nearly $400,000 (including Giorgio Petrosyan, Hesdy Gerges, Daniel Ghita, and Tyrone Spong). It’s Showtime head Simon Rutz threatened legal action to recover the debt. The debt comes as no surprise to anyone that has followed the sport in recent times. There have been numerous fighters that have spoken out against their lack of pay, including K-1 World Grand Prix winner Alistair Overeem and legend Ray Sefo (who is allegedly owed $700,000). While the dialouge was hardly positive, it appears that Rutz had a conversation with K-1 head Mr. Tanikawa and the two sides are attempting to resolve the situation. Rutz did warn that if things are not resolved soon that It’s Showtime will move forward with the planned legal action. Fans can only hope that the two sides come to an agreement.
On to the actual action in the ring, United Glory held its Glory World Series final in Moscow on May 28. Although not the main event, the most significant result featured American Mark Miller returning from years away, recovering from heart surgery to destroy German heavyweight Nikolaj Falin in 14 seconds with a lethal right hook. Also on the card, Gokhan Saki outclassed French Muay Thai specialist Brice Guidon to win the heavyweight tournament. Saki dropped the Frenchman in the second round with a patented left hook and took home a clear cut decision victory. In the co-main event, Golden Glory’s Nieky Holzken fell short against Ukrainian Artur Kyshenko in their 70 kg contest.
Elsewhere, on the other half of the globe, Greek slugger Mike Zambidis faced off with Australian legend John Wayne Parr from Melbourne, Australia at Payback Time: The Decider. The pair had split a pair of bouts in the past, but Parr wasted no time in this fight. The Australian dropped Zambidis three times in the opening frame to force the stoppage and claim bragging rights in the rubber match.
In Japan, the Krush 70 kg tournament opening round started with a surprise as Shintaro Matsukura upset favorite Yuya Yamamoto. Also advancing was Hiroki Nakajima over Yoshi, Kenta over Masakazu Watanabe, and Yutaro Yamauchi over Yuji Nashiro.
Also of note, UFC veteran Akhiro Gono advanced to the Thai Fight 70 kg final by winning a four-man tournament at Nightmare of Battle.
Finally, for fans of American Muay Thai, a reality show dubbed “In Search of America’s Muay Thai Team” has been put together. Tryouts for the show will occur July 2 at 7 a.m. PT at Double Dose Muay Thai in Fontana, Calif.
By Gianni Grippo
The Worlds have finally arrived! With less than 48 hours before the novice white belt competitors hit the mats, now is the perfect time to look ahead and take a gander at who’s going to be there and who the big winners might be in the black belt divisions by this Sunday.
Although the weight category is yielding the largest number of the competitors it has ever seen in Worlds history, (18 competitors) the category still revolves around two bitter rivals. Bruno Malfacine and Caio Terra are almost sure things to reach the finals against one-another. The dark horses in this division that could block the path of a third straight Caio and Bruno final could be Pan champion Rafael Freitas, Brandon Mullins and former World champion Felipe Costa. But going with my gut, I still see a repeat of the finals in 2009 and 2010.
Prediction: Bruno Malfacine (Alliance) vs. Caio Terra (Gracie Elite)
Last year, the big surprise of the division was Pablo Silva, who reigned supreme by closing out with his teammate and former world champion Samuel Braga. This year, Silva is now a favorite, but now to repeat as champion he’s going to have to get past foes such as Guilherme Mendes, who is dropping down from feather, and Brazilian National champion Ary Farias. In the end, don’t be surprised to see a closeout by two teammates like last year, but with a separate pair of teammates this time around.
Prediction: Guilherme Mendes (Atos) vs. Ary Farias (Atos)
In the beginning of the year, the category looked to be a lock that the Atos crew would close out the semifinals and finals together. But with Guilherme dropping to light-feather, and beasts like Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes and Rubens “Cobrinha” entering the fold, nothing is a sure thing at 154 pounds. Also with top jiu-jitsu players such as Ryan Hall, Theodoro Canal and Denilson Pimentia in the mix, Rafael Mendes is surely going to have his work cut out for him if he hopes to become two-time world champion. By the finale, I see Rafael reaching the final, but with a different opponent than last year.
Prediction: Rafael Mendes (Atos) vs. Augusto Mendes (Soul Fighters)
The 167.5 pound weight class is by far the deepest division the black belt divisions have to offer. With names like JT Torres, Gilbert Burns, Celso Vinicius, Leandro Nascimento, Michael Langhi, Lucas Lepri, Zak Maxwell and new lightweight Kron Gracie, anything can happen. Due to the most recent results, Leandro Nascimento would have to be considered the early favorite to take the title after already beating the reigning champion Michael Langhi twice. Through the craziness of this category, my safe pick would be a rematch of Langhi and Leandro.
Prediction: Michael Langhi (Alliance) vs. Leandro Nascimento (Cierco Costha)
Due to the injury of Kayron Gracie, the drop to lightweight by Kron Gracie, and the move up in weight by Sergio Moraes, the middleweight division is looking easier to define than in years past. All of these absences though, are not making the category any easier to win, especially when you still have Marcelo Garcia in the mix. Even with guys like Murilo Santana, Lucas Leite, Gustavo Campos, Alan do Nascimento and company, we must give Garcia one of the spots in the final. The other spot is open to anyone, but the best bet would be on Atos’ Claudio Calasans who has had a killer year, and will be looking for payback from last year’s loss to Marcelo in the finals.
Prediction: Marcelo Garcia (Alliance) vs. Claudio Calasans (Atos)
With 2010’s champion- Tarsis Humphrey sidelined to injury, the role of favorite sits squarely on the shoulders of the two-time champion Romulo Barral. But current European Absolute champion- Sergio Moraes, Otavio Souza and Eduardo Santoro must not be overlooked as they can easily claim gold as well and steal Barral’s third title.
Prediction: Romulo Barral (Gracie Barra) vs. Sergio Moraes (Alliance)
After what has taken place so far in 2011, who would not mark Rodolfo Vieira as the favorite going into the World Championships? Rodolfo will be going in as the heavy favorite but is certain to face challenging foes on his road towards his first World title as a black belt. His biggest challenge may be Rafael Lovato Jr., who is the only one to have a winning performance against Rodolfo this year, beating him in the finals of the No-Gi Abu Dhabi World Pro event. We also must not forget last year’s champion Bernardo Faria, who will be looking for redemption against Rodolfo after losing to him twice at the Pans this past April. Then when you throw in Roberto Alencar and Alexandre Ceconi into the mix, you are bound for a show!
Prediction: Rodolfo Vieira (GF Team) vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. (Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu)
The biggest loss the World Championships will be taking this year, is the absence of three-time absolute champion Roger Gracie, who will not be ready to defend his title, due to an injury. But this opens the doors for new black belt competitors to make their mark and stamp their name into the jiu-jitsu history books. The young Pan champion Marcus Almeida, looks to be the favorite going in, but veterans such as two-time finalist Roberto “Demente” Oliveira, Antonio Peinado and Leonardo Nogueria are standing in his way. Each are looking to claim their first World title at black belt so it surely will be a show to see who will be at the top by the end of the competition on Sunday.
Prediction: Marcus Almeida (Checkmat BJJ) vs. Roberto Oliveira (Nova Uniao)
In the division where the big boys come to slug it out, we could see many of the same matchups from a year ago. Current champion Rodrigo Cavaca has struggled through 2011 so far with injuries, but due to his credentials, we must give him the nod as favorite going in. Other favorites are Antonio Braga Neto, who is looking to redeem himself from two disappointing Worlds’ appearances in 2009 and 2010, and Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu who is seeking his first World title in the gi. The division will also have two-time absolute champion Marcio Cruz in the mix, who will surely give any competitor a run for their money.
Prediction: Antonio Braga Neto (Gracie Elite) vs. Roberto Abreu (The Avengers)
With Roger Gracie out of the mix, the absolute title is now wide open. Without knowing who is signing up, we can assume that Rodolfo Vieira goes in as the favorite to take the title, but Romulo Barral wants another chance at the title and there are bound to be many others to enter that could make a run at claiming gold. Without Roger, could this be the year for a lighter fighter to take the title? Only time will tell…
Prediction: Rodolfo Vieira (GF Team) vs. Romulo Barral (Gracie Barra)
So there you have it, love them or hate them, these will be my picks going forth for the black belts at the 2011 Worlds. Whether you agree or disagree, comment below and check in next week as I recap what took place in Long Beach, Calif. at the 2011 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championships!
By The Staff at TheOpenMat.com
With the early signing period come and gone, we turn our attention to the top incoming classes of talent for next year.
There are a number of highly coveted prospects with their college plans still up in the air, and we’ll feature them in an upcoming “best available” segment. But the vast majority of elite recruits are off the board and ready to matriculate to their schools of choice.
And we’re ready to handicap them!
It appears to be a thinner year than the last two previous classes, where even the Honorable Mention hauls had multiple ranked kids. This year, one ranked kid and a few back end athletes can get you in the Top 25.
Maybe because last year’s class was so darn tough. In 2010 power states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and California graduate monster senior classes. And while California has another good crop and Illinois heavily supports the national class, the seniors in New York and Iowa were a bit down this year in terms of elite recruits.
Another corollary issue is how much money schools have available for this cycle. Most of the recruiting hauls are rather small due to what was mentioned above, and the fact that many schools used a good deal of money on last year’s class (see Iowa and Iowa State).
Additionally, there are three groups that may have weakened the overall quality of classes this year: 1) the nearly dozen kids who were, at some point, ranked that have signed with non-DI programs; 2) the half-dozen or so ranked wrestlers that signed on to play football; and 3) the nearly three dozen wrestlers that were ranked at some point who have not made any such college decisions despite signing period coming and going.
In reality — and this might be scary should it become a trend — many non-DI schools secured rather impressive classes. It could be the beginning of a trend where we see increased financial support from the DII’s and NAIA’s luring wrestlers to their campuses. For instance, the cohorts headed to JUCO at Clackamas, and DII at Notre Dame are very, very nice. Maybe it’s a grade thing? Or it could be just a one-year blip.
On the plus side for Division I, the dearth of scholarships, and perhaps the fear of pulling the trigger, has turned out nicely for what is largely considered the next-tier programs. Utah Valley, Ohio University and Buffalo all landed a windfall of talent. Fortunately, Brown was granted a stay of execution; it has a very good group coming in.
All things considered, this is great for the sport. It (potentially) begets parity, which brings more teams success, which gives more fans in more places things to cheer about. Which increases the sport’s footprint.
See the Class Ranking here…