Bellator 152

Bellator Kickboxing Florence – Preview: Petrosyan vs. Watson and Kevin Ross gets his wish

Headlining the Bellator Kickboxing Florence card at Bellator 168 is Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Jordan Watson, in what will be an interesting clash of styles at the Mandela Forum on December 10. Watson is renown for being big, powerful and some might say, ‘Mr Right Kick’. As well as having previous with southpaws, most notably: Sanny Dhalbeck and Ben Hodge  from which, he’s certainly learnt and improved himself as a fighter. In his last fight with Hodge at Yokkao 20, Watson was flirting with switching stances from orthodox to southpaw and vice-versa but there’s more to simply switch hitting to bamboozling Petrosyan.

However, “The Doctor” has been there and seen it all including, winning a couple of K-1 Max trophies in the mix too. The last person to really put it on him was a certain Andy Ristie at GLORY 12, resulting in the biggest upset of the decade – Petrosyan being left KO’d on the canvas. Not to mention his GLORY 3 bout with two weight champion, Robin van Roosmalen. Although that decision went Petrosyan’s way, it strongly hinted at something – when his opponents are not only relentless with giving him a fight but most significantly, are of much higher calibre than your typical pressure fighter, they can cause the Italian kickboxing maestro all sorts of problems.

Nevertheless, Watson’s mindset and attitude will be key factors on Saturday which, he opened up about after Yokkao 20, regarding his past approach to his career. If his mind, body and soul are focused on the task at hand on Saturday then anything is possible. Especially as no one, not even Petrosyan, is unbreakable in the ring. However, the obvious favourite is the two time K-1 Max champion, whose kickboxing experience outweighs that of Watson’s.

Alessio Arudini is a very competent Thai boxer who, will be greeting Kevin Ross in the ring come Saturday. He’s also a very good kicker with a variety of kicks in his arsenal: whether he maybe attacking both the inside and outside of the lead leg, or, even pulling off more fancy stuff like, spinning back kicks and even ‘question mark kicks’ from his right leg.

In the buildup, Ross was complimentary of the Italian but don’t expect the switch from both of their favoured rule set to dampen how exciting this fight could turn out to be. “The Soul Assassin” is more than experienced enough to handle someone as threatening as Arudini and if anything, the level of competition he’s facing this time round, in Bellator Kickboxing, will be exactly what he’s been looking for to elevate his own performance too.

“He’s just a more, I’d say, traditional, solid Thai boxer. I’m looking forward to a more technical fight.”

Luca Novello is most probably out of his depth against the vastly experienced Karim Ghajji who, was formerly Bellator Kickboxing’s inaugural welterweight champion, defeating Mustafa Haida at Bellator 152 by split decision. However, whether or not Novello has developed some serious ringcraft since being overwhelmed by Antoine Pinto (at Thai Fight, November 2014) is the ultimate question and one that will be answered when he faces Ghajji. However, “Gadjetboy” mustn’t underestimate Novello who, turns 23 the day before their clash; he’ll be more determined than ever to get a win over someone of Ghajji’s profile, especially infront of his home corwd.

Denise Kieholtz gets her rematch with Gloria Peritore after what some had reported as controversial decision loss to the Italian at Bellator Dynamite 2. However, Peritore never stays still and will continuously keep moving away and around the ring until she decides to close range, exchange with a few quick strikes and then move out and away again. If anything, Peritore is always on the balls of her feet which, allows her to throw those nice head kicks and teeps to face, a lot easier compared to being a plodder; and the word, ‘plodder’ could be sum up the majority of the latter’s movement in their last fight.

Denise Kieholtz vs Gloria Peritore

Denise Kieholtz vs. Gloria Peritore – Image: Bellator / Oktagon

Previously, Kielholtz failed to keep constant pressure and spent more time waiting in the centre of the ring and just following her opponent; not cutting off the ring; and not keeping at close range and cutting angles to then blast Peritore all over the place with her Dutch kickboxing venom. Unless she fights more like her man, Hesdy Gerges, history could very well repeat itself in Florence between these two.

Joe Schilling has had a shocking run of three straight defeats after a decision win over Mike Lemaire to start the year at GLORY 27. However, Schilling’s brand image is too big an investment for Bellator to possibly risk by matching him up against a more talented fighter than Victorio Lermano at this moment in time. No disrespect but Lermano does not have the skill set nor power to compete with someone as technically violent as Schilling. So, don’t be surprised by anything other than a return to winning ways for “Stich ‘em up” to end the year but then again, the majority of people expected Schilling to take care of Hisaki Kato in their rematch under kickboxing rules.

Bellator 168, Florence – Kevin Ross: Bellator Kickboxing ‘doing it smart’ and amazed by mainstream exposure

Bellator Kickboxing returns to action on December 10 via Bellator 168, in the historic city of Florence, Italy. Kevin Ross will be taking on Alessio Arduino in what “The Soul Assassin” hopes will be a more technical fight compared to his previous visit to Italy when he defeated, Matteo Taccini via unanimous decision at Bellator 152. Also featuring on the Florence kickboxing card will be: Joe Schilling vs. Victorio Germano and Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Jordan Watson.

2016 has been a resurgent year for both kickboxing and Muay Thai with various global promotions such as: GLORY, Enfusion Live, Bellator Kickboxing, Kunlun Fight, Muay Thai Grand Prix, Yokkao, Thai Fight and Lion Fight, accumulating more mainstream media exposure (in the western world) than ever before for both rule sets of the striking arts.

Kevin Ross had recently guested on the Joe Rogan Experience with Gaston Bolaños following Lion Fight 31, in an excellent podcast that educated a much wider and different audience than both CSA Gym fighters normally have, about the difference in not only Muay Thai and kickboxing but also, the level of real world class striking compared to MMA. Most importantly, such media exposure (and more) is exactly what both sports need, in order to enhance the profile to the same level that pro boxing and MMA benefit from.

“Looking back to the majority of my career I never thought I’d still be fighting while kickboxing and muay thai was getting this kind of exposure. I never thought I’d be fighting on TV, ever! So for it to be happening and for it to be happening while I’m still active and a high level is amazing to me. You know I think back to not that long ago there was like, I don’t know if this was ever gonna happen.”

Ross was also optimistic about the long term direction in which Bellator Kickboxing were headed in and credited the promotion for not rushing too soon without first developing their brand of kickboxing and most importantly, their own kickboxing superstars that will generate a bigger fanbase into the future and safeguard the promotion’s viability too.

“This show is going to be amazing you know like I was saying before, its a little frustrating how slow it seems to be going but thats the way you have to do things correctly in order to build them up.”

“Thats the mistake a lot of promoters make and have made is that they try to go too big too early. They didn’t take the time to build up their talent, local talent, their exposure and then they do this giant show and then nobody shows up and they lose all their money and they’re gone forever. So, Bellator’s been really doing it smart, taking their time, you know, pulling in the big stars when they can and kinda slowly building their resume, its great to be a part of.”

Bellator 168 – Bellator Kickboxing, Florence:

Lightweight: Giorgio Petrosyan (82-2-2, 1 NC) vs. Jordan Watson (48-11-2)

Flyweight: Denise Kielholtz (45-3) vs. Gloria Peritore (11-1-1)

Lightweight: Kevin Ross (31-9) vs. Alessio Arduini (26-14-2)

Middleweight: Joe Schilling (19-9) vs. Victorio Lermano (30-7)

Welterweight: Karim Ghajji (96-13-1) vs. Luca Novello (22-4-2)