Banner image provided by Anton Tabuena
Monday Morning Head Kicks back again. This week, we saw a few MMA events go down stateside and of course Shootboxing got in on the action. Maybe a little less in the way of fight announcements, but plenty of rumors, news, etc.
Strikeforce Challengers 14 may be a minor show for the company, but it still represents the biggest MMA event of the week. Matt Roth was in attendance and did an excellent job of covering it, as I'm sure you already know. Elsewhere, we saw David Loiseau pick up some gold and the flyweight division get kind of turned on its head at Tachi Palace Fights 8.
Shootboxing 2011 Act 1 seems to have delivered and the promotion left fans with some good news as a number of its top fighters were announced for the second major event of the year in April. As excited as many of us were for the first big Shootboxing event of the year, it was ultimately overshadowed by the news coming out of Holland as It's Showtime heavyweight champion Hesdy Gerges was arrested in an ongoing drug investigation. With Gerges looking to be out of the picture, the question quickly became who Daniel Ghita would be facing on March 6th. Signs are pointing to Badr Hari or Tyrone Spong at this point. It also looks like Melvin Manhoef might actually end up competing for It's Showtime later this year, more on that below.
It was a fairly quiet week in Muay Thai. We just learned that Sudsakorn really will be fighting in Europe again following his release from the Thai Fight 2011 qualifier at 67kg. We also know that Saenchai is currently injured but it looks like he should make the Liam Harrison fight in April. As far as American Muay Thai goes, Muay Thai Authority reports that there may be a June event pitting the two coasts against one another.
On to the stories...
Shootboxing 2011 Act 1: It looks like the first major Shootboxing event of the year was a solid one. We brought you the results here on Saturday and we'll be sure to post up videos once they become available. The event is set to air on Samurai TV in Japan on the 28th from what I've seen.
Hiroki Shishido avenged his 2009 loss to Bovy Sor. Udomson and did it by taking a wide decision. There's not too much else to say there. Udomson has stated himself he's near the end of his career, and if 2011 really will be it for him, we can at least be confident he should have some good bouts left in him.
To hear Shigeki Osawa tell it, he really wants to refine his skills in the Shootboxing arena as well as in MMA. He's clearly a guy who isn't afraid to aim high and that's great. Even in defeat here, it sounds like he really acquitted himself well. I don't see him ever becoming a champion in Shootboxing, but I do hope that his game can continue to round out because I believe he could find some real success down the line.
Hari or Spong in Against Ghita?: As LiverKick recently reported, the big rumor floating around is that either Badr Hari or Tyrone Spong will face off against Daniel Ghita at the March 6th It's Showtime event. Of course these rumors follow the reports that Ghita's original opponent, It's Showtime heavyweight champion Hesdy Gerges, was arrested in connection to an ongoing drug investigation (side note: Gerges wasn't caught with any damn cocaine, please get that right). It seems that the rumor can be attributed to Ghita himself, who threw the names out there while speaking with Romanian media shortly after Gerges' arrest.
Either of the potential match ups would be quite interesting. We've seen Hari get tagged when throwing wide shots and it's not unreasonable to think Ghita might be able to turn the fight into a bit of a brawl. As for Spong, he has had some success against high level kickboxers from Ray Sefo and Kyotaro to the likes of Zabit Samedov, Attila Karacs, and even Dmitry Shakuta earlier in his career. I'm sure fans would anticipate an exciting bout between him and Ghita - folks are just excited about Spong in general, and with good reason, while Ghita is coming off that insane battle against Gokhan Saki at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Final. Spong may possess the kind of speed that excites fans, but Ghita is sound defensively and can counter effectively.
Manhoef: It's Showtime, Strikeforce MW Tournament: While talking with TapouT Radio Thursday night, Manhoef indicated that he might follow up his bout against Tim Kennedy at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson on March 5th in one of two ways: he might appear on the It's Showtime Lyon card in May to defend his 85kg. promotional title, or he might be involved in a middleweight tournament being put on by Strikeforce.
One thing to get out of the way: It's Showtime is doing really big things in the kickboxing world, but their 85kg. division is effectively non-existent. In fact, since Manhoef won his title against Hungarian fighter Denes Racz at It's Showtime Budapest in August 2009, the promotion has only held three bouts at the 85kg. weight limit.
With this knowledge, my first thought was that the promotion could bring in a French fighter and call it a day. Unfortunately, I know that the first fighter that came to my mind, Frederic Bellonie, is already scheduled for a bout in the middle of April. Granted, I suppose they could pull somebody else out of the woodwork, or surprise us all by bringing in a new name fighter, but uhh... I don't know... I wonder what Ondrej Hutnik is up to?
As for the potential Strikeforce tournament, I don't want to get anybody's hopes up. We were put through this already in 2010. Still, it's something that I wouldn't mind seeing. There have already been a number of interesting fights between the competitors that would probably be included in the tournament, and, even with all the risks that the tournament format has, it might help boost the visibility of the middleweight division. It seems quite possible that Strikeforce's recent success would make such a tournament more tenable than it might have been in the past. I suppose we'll have to wait and see.
Shootboxing Announces April Competitors: At the Shootboxing 2011 Act 1 event on Saturday, it was announced that Andy Souwer, Ryuya Kusakabe, and Rena Kubota would be among the competitors at the promotion's April 23rd card.
Rena has certainly become more familiar to fans since her victory at the Girls S-Cup 2010 in August. It seems quite likely that she may face Ai Takahashi, following Takahashi's victory at Saturday's event.
Ryuya Kusakabe, the Shootboxing 55kg. champion, is also set to compete against Hiroaki Mizuhara in the semifinals of the ongoing Krush 55kg. tournament on March 19th. His Krush quarterfinal bout against R.I.S.E. champion Nobuchiko Terado was one of more exciting bouts of 2010.
Andy Souwer will of course be making his return to Shootboxing after being upset by Toby Imada in the semifinals of S-Cup 2010. Imada, a last minute replacement for Charles Bennett, stole the show with his run in the tournament and spoiled the anticipated final bout between Souwer and Buakaw Por. Pramuk. While Souwer rebounded with a victory over Pajonsuk Por. Pramuk under the It's Showtime banner, he was recently on the wrong side of the biggest kickboxing upset of 2011 thus far, as he lost to Spain's Abraham Roqueni roughly two weeks ago.
You know the routine, more kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA-related news in this week's full edition of Monday Morning Head Kicks over at Head Kick Legend.