Saturday brings us a great day of high quality kickboxing action as It's Showtime airs a huge card from Belgium. It's actually such a stacked card that It's Showtime is breaking into two parts and officially calling it It's Showtime 57 & 58. The whole thing begins at 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 a.m. PT and is available in a live stream, on The Fight Network in Canada, and on HDNet (part 2 only on HDNet). Join us here on Saturday for a live discussion post.
With such a huge show and a total of 12 fights, we'll take a look at the highlights here and hopefully get you excited to check out some of the best in the world. And since the show is in two parts, we'll break our preview into parts as well.
The main event of the evening is a huge fight as 3 time K-1 Grand Prix champion Peter Aerts faces Tyrone Spong in what is being billed as the Benelux Farewell Fight for Aerts (Benelux is the geographic region that includes Belgium and The Netherlands). Originally, this was just billed as his retirement fight, but the change probably means he has another fight or two planned for areas outside this region.
For those unfamiliar with kickboxing, it doesn't get much better than Peter Aerts. He's the greatest legend of the sport today, a K-1 champion who has been active and relevant in the sport's upper most levels for close to 20 years. But he's far from a faded legend, as in 2010 he made the Grand Prix finals, taking out Semmy Schilt along the way. The Dutch Lumberjack could have easily taken an easier fight here, but he chose to go out against one of the sport's toughest new generation names.
Tyrone Spong is a 10 year pro who has won world titles in steadily increasing weight classes over the years before finally arriving at Heavyweight a few years ago. That transition to Heavyweight was a bit rocky, but he's found his footing and is on a 3 fight win streak. He's long been held up as one of the best in the business, and a big win here is his chance to prove it.
Of note for MMA fans - Spong trains with the Blackzillians at Imperial Athletics, and will have none other than UFC fighter Rashad Evans in his corner for this fight.
Also on part 2 is another huge new generation Heavyweight, as It's Showtime Heavyweight champion Daniel Ghita takes on Dzevad Poturak. Ghita has steadily climbed the ranks to become, in my eyes, the #2 Heavyweight in the world (behind Semmy Schilt - sorry Badr Hari fans!). He's won 6 straight, all via nasty KO. In short, he's an absolute beast, and he keeps showing it every time out. Poturak actually holds a 2008 win over Ghita, though Ghita has already avenged that loss and is far above Poturak at this point, so a rubber match is not really needed. Still, Poturak is an entertaining fighter and will make this a good one.
Part 2 also includes Robin van Roosmalen in action. Van Roosmalen is one of the top in the world at 70kg, and looks to be on a collision course with Giorgio Petrosyan in Glory later this year. He's also the only person out there that I think can actually challenge Petrosyan at the moment. He takes on Hafid El Boustati.
Remy Bonjasky student Danyo Ilunga defends his It's Showtime 95 kg title against Filip Verlinden, and rounding out part 2 are Fatih Ozkaan vs. Sonny Dagraed and Samir Djabba vs. Andy Ristie.
Part 1 preview in the full entry.
The main event of part 1 is an It's Showtime 70kg title fight, as champion Chris Ngimbi faces K-1 MAX legend Andy Souwer. Ngimbi won the belt from Murat Direkci in 2010 and has defended it once since then. He's a good fighter with a beautiful quick flying knee, but he's struggled a bit lately, going 1-3 in his last 4. Andy Souwer is a 2 time K-1 MAX champion and one of the most decorated 70kg kickboxers of all time. He's only 29, but also slowing a bit - over 150 pro fights will do that to you. He remains one of the best tactical fighters active today, and is always a pleasure to watch. At one point, Ngimbi said this would be the final fight of his career, so we'll see how that plays out.
Part 1 also features 2 solid Heavyweight fights: Mourad Bouzidi vs. Rustemi Kreshnik and Hesdy Gerges vs. Rico Verhoeven. Both are good fights, though I'm more excited by Gerges vs. Verhoeven. Those are two fighters who have shown great promise at times, but struggle to find consistency. Last year, these two met in a Super Kombat fight, with Verhoeven winning what was a bit of an upset. It will be interesting to see if he has Gerges's number, or if the former It's Showtime champion comes back strong.
Opening part 1 are Marat Grigorian vs. Aziz Kallah; Mandela Antone vs. Robbie Hageman; and Vahap Ozdemir vs. Duoli Chen.
Remember to join us here at Bloody Elbow during the show for our live discussion post. This should be a great day of action, and we hope to see you here.