The year may be almost over, but for kickboxing fans, there's still plenty of action left. This weekend, Superkombat stages the first of two big year end Heavyweight tournaments (the other being Glory's New Year's Eve event with Dream). The Superkombat World Grand Prix Final 2012 takes place this Saturday, December 22 in Bucharest. The show airs at 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. PT, and will be available on UStream for $5 US. We'll have live fight day coverage here at Bloody Elbow.
Before we get to the card, there's one important promotional note to mention. Just recently, the name of the card was officially changed to "K-1 Global Presents..." Earlier this year, Superkombat and K-1 announced a partnership, but this is the first time they have officially co-promoted a show, and it's a big show at that. The rumor is that Superkombat CEO Eduard Irimia will be taking over operations at K-1, and this co-promotion certainly lends credence to that theory.
The highlight of the card is a one night 4 man tournament to crown this year's Superkombat WGP champion. Superkombat is an organization still holding on to the traditional Grand Prix format used for years by kickboxing, and I for one really appreciate that. All year, their cards have featured qualifying tournaments for the Grand Prix, and last month, they whittled the final 8 down to 4.
Here's the complete card for the event, followed by a preview of the tournament fights:
Superkombat WGP Final
December 22, 21:00 CET
1. Super-fight (+96 kg): Ibrahim Aarab (Marocco) vs Daniel Sam (Great Britain)
2. Tournament - semifinal 1 (+96 kg): Pavel Zhuravlev (Ukraine) vs Benjamin Adegbuyi (Romania/Nigeria)
3. Tournament - semifinal 2 (+96 kg): Ismael Londt (Suriname) vs Sebastian Ciobanu (Romania)
4. Tournament - reserve fight (+96 kg): Freddy Kemayo (France) vs Sergey Lascenko (Ucraina)
5. Super-fight (+96 kg): Carter Williams (USA) vs Hesdy Gerges (Egypt)
6. Superkombat world title (-95 kg): Arnold Oborotov (Lithuania) vs Andrei Stoica (Romania)
7. Super-fight (+96 kg): Mighty Mo (Samoa) vs Raul Catinas (Romania)
8. Superkombat final 2012 (+96 kg): Winner of semifinal 1 vs Winner of semifinal 2
Semifinal 1: Pavel Zhuravlev (41-7-1) vs. Benjamin Adegbuyi (14-1-1)
Zhuravlev has been a fixture of the kickboxing scene in Russia and Eastern Europe for some time. He made a name for himself on the ineternational scene when he defeated Gokhan Saki at a K-1 event. He's never quite been able to reach that level again, though is always competitive against top quality opposition. He was a semi-finalist in last year's GP, losing to Ismael Londt. He's only had two fights in 2012, going 2-0 and coming in off a decision win over Freddy Kemayo in the final 8.
Adegbuyi is the new kid on the scene. He's competed primarily for Superkombat throughout his career, but didn't make much of an impression until a qualifying tournament earlier this year. There, he upset Mladen Brestovac to take a spot in the final 8, looking good in the process. He followed that up with a win in K-1, and then the biggest victory of his career - a 1 round KO of reigning champion Sergei Lascenko in the final 8. It has to be said that Lascenko went into that fight injured, but don't let that diminish your opinion of Adegbuyi much. He's shown great poise and skill this year, and is a real dark horse to continue his upset streak in this tournament.
Prediction: Benjamin Adegbuyi by decision
Semifinal 2: Ismael Londt (31-3-1) vs. Sebastian Ciobanu (23-9)
The 26 year old Londt is a fan favorite in Superkombat, and he has to be considered the tournament favorite as well. He was a finalist in last year's GP, losing to Lascenko, but has gone undefeated since then going 4-0 in 2012. Londt has wins over a lot of notable names, including Lascenko, Zhuravlev, Kemayo, Singh Jaideep, Mourad Bouzidi, and, notably, Sebastian Ciobanu, who Londt KO'd in one of the qualifying tournaments in 2011. Known for his KO power, Londt is a dangerous fighter for any opponent. He does have a tendency to fade a bit as a fight progresses, though he still has pulled off a number of lengthy decision wins.
The spectacularly nicknamed "Son of Dracula" is another crowd favorite in Superkombat, thanks both to his aggressive style, and his odd persona. (Ciobanu comes to the ring wearing a Dracula cape, but the kind of cape you might find at a dollar store. It's kind of great.) To be totally honest, I was never super impressed by Ciobanu until he turned heads with a great performance in a 2010 K-1 tournament. He still struggles against the highest level of competition, but is currently on a 4 fight win streak, including a nice decision win over Roman Kleibl in the final 8.
Like Londt, Ciobanu is a boxer, so expect these two to punch it out, where Londt's power should be the difference maker
Prediction: Ismael Londt by KO
By my card, this should be Adegbuyi vs. Londt. And as much as I enjoy Adegbuyi's underdog run, I think it comes to an end here.
Prediction: Ismael Londt to win the Superkombat WGP title
Beyond this tournament, there are some other nice fights on the card. Sergei Lascenko vs. Freddy Kemayo is a solid fight in the reserve, and if Lascenko somehow makes his way in to the finals, I would pick him as the favorite, regardless of the opponent. Superkombat mainstays Andrei Stoica and Raul Catinas are both set up perfectly to turn in impressively violent performances, while Hesdy Gerges should also be able to make short work of Carter Williams in a fun fight.
Join us here at Bloody Elbow Saturday afternoon for live coverage of the Superkombat World Grand Prix Final 2012.