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Monday Morning Head Kicks back around, welcoming you to another work week.
MMA had the big stories here this week, with the start of Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix offering a few surprises. It looks like the career of the greatest heavyweight we have seen in MMA may be over, as well as that of his most unfortunate Belarusian contemporary. A major light-heavyweight prospect took a hit on Saturday night as well. There were mixed results for fighters with top level striking backgrounds, as Ray Sefo tumbled and Shane del Rosario took a step in the right direction. Elsewhere in MMA, we learned a bit about what Pancrase has in store for the second edition of their 2011 Impressive Tour.
February is shaping up to be a relatively quiet month for kickboxing, as was a little bit of action around Europe and in Japan that is worth noting. Henri van Opstal will be making a career out of fighting the Grigorians in 2011, and he began with Harut on Saturday in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, former It's Showtime 77kg. champion Dmitry Shakuta was in action in Russia. News surrounding it has been somewhat quiet, but there also a Krush-EX event hosted in Japan on Saturday. The event featured a number of former K-1 Koshien fighters in addition to Krush veterans.
Muay Thai had a pretty good week though, with two major tournaments in Thailand underway. The field of competitors in the Thai Fight 2011 qualifier has been shaken up, and one of the favorites is now out because of contractual issues. The Fuktien Group Tournament started, and it should provide fight fans with a valuable chance to watch some of the finest domestic talent in Thailand in the next few months. France saw some bouts over the weekend, as Buakaw met Thai Fight 2010 runner-up Youssef Boughanem. American Muay Thai hosted its biggest card of the year to date, with appearances from Kevin Ross, Michael Mananquil and Malaipet, among others.
Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva: The opening to the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix was interesting to say the least. We saw a highly touted prospect fighting above his actual weight class get dropped as Chad Griggs took out Gian Villante. We found out that I was entirely wrong about Ray Sefo and his ground game is actually worse than the "nightmarish, awfully bad" that I believed folks were figuring it for. Shane Del Rosario is serviceable on the ground though. We also learned that Gina Carano will be back, although not much else was said there.
Plus Andrei Arlovski got knocked out again. I'll be brief: the biggest problem is the positioning. We saw him up against the cage again, getting caught. It's bad that he doesn't seem to be taking shots well, but first off those are shots from rather powerful fighters and secondly he just shouldn't be letting himself get hit like that in the first place. Then again, Arlovski opened his career with a knockout loss and the trend has been there throughout. Whether he retires or not, this is a truly sad case. We all know where Arlovski's talents lie, and in those specific areas he has been one of the finest fighters MMA can offer. Unfortunately, his liabilities are ever-present and are of the sort that they can cost him a bout at a moment's notice.
You know what's next - the Fedor loss. You can read my thoughts about that whole situation here.
Battle in the Desert Results: Being as the event happened outside Las Vegas, perhaps we should call this a push for American Muay Thai? Michael Mananquil was able to defeat Thai transplant Malaipet in the main event, securing some championship gold along the way. That's a nice accomplishment, even if it sounds like Malaipet wasn't training at all until very shortly before the bout.
Oh, and Kevin Ross lost. MuayThaiAuthority had him billed as the top North American fighter for 2010, so that's kind of rough. Granted, his bout with Sittisak was evidently a great battle. I'm hoping we'll get some video soon.
Coke Chunhawat, Remy Bonnel, and Chaz Mulkey also won on the night. You can check out round-by-round coverage from the gentlemen over at Muay Thai Authority.
Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Sudsakorn Sor. Klinmee Fight Video: Yeah, it happened two weeks ago and you already know what happened, but it's on the most accessible place on the internet now - go enjoy it if you missed it. Video here.
Thai Fight 2011: Thailand Qualifier Update: It turns out that the fighters involved in the tournament were not supposed to take outside bouts, which Sudsakorn of course did when he faced Giorgio Petrosyan at Thai Boxe Mania 2011. Thepsuthin also took a bout that weekend in Germany. Now they're both out.
The third round of the group stage began Saturday with Prakaisaeng meeting Thanongdet in Group B. Taking a decision victory, Prakaisaeng secured second place in Group B, behind Denchonlek. Fight video is here.
Speaking of Denchonlek, the young upstart will face the veteran Diesellek, who has been brought in as one of two replacements for the fighters removed from the tournament. Diesellek has fought a number of top opponents, and lost a bout against Kem for the WMC 154lb. title back in 2009.
Antuan Siangboxing will be the other replacement for the third round, as his bout against Nopparat which we mentioned last week will be a part of this tournament. The bouts featuring Diesellek and Antuan will not effect the standings, as both Denchonlek and Nopparat have been awarded the points for their final bouts already. Meanwhile, Kem and Kongjak will continue as scheduled, facing off in Group A.
The further this whole thing progresses, the more inclined I am to think that we might be getting a real interesting final bout between Kem and Denchonlek.
You can find out more about ongoing Muay Thai tournaments in Thailand, find out what great Muay Thai heavyweight will be back in action in April, and check out kickboxing and Muay Thai results from around the world by reading the full edition of Monday Morning Head Kicks over at Head Kick Legend.