Ben Hodge

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.

Yokkao 19 & 20 – Post event review: ‘Pinca The Conqueror’ humbles Harrison and Watson ‘sherlocks’ Hodge

Fabio Pinca returned to the UK on, October 8 and secured a unanimous decision win over home favourite, Liam Harrison at Yokkao 19. These two legends of western Muay Thai were supposed to fight one another in France over the last 11 years, with Pinca suggesting in his post weigh-in interview that Harrison wasn’t too keen on taking the fight outside of the UK in the past.

The opening round was cagey with both fighters feeling each other out to begin with but from the second round onwards the tempo accelerated and both would increasingly engage one another. Pinca managed to cut Harrison on his left cheek (below the eye) in the third but the ring-craft, speed and tenacity displayed by both men was sensational. However, range control, switch hitting and that left kick of Pinca’s were decisive factors for the decision going against Harrison who, was always threatening with his explosiveness, fast hands and deadly low kicks.

Fabio Pinca vs Liam Harrison

Having previously defeated Reece McAllister at the Tanko Main Event in May (by decision), plus, Charlie Peters on Lion Fight 27 in the USA (at the start of the year) and now Harrison at Yokkao 19, ‘Pinca The Conqueror’ is clearly at the height of his powers. At 65 kg, it isn’t too easy to think of who else could even ask more challenging questions of him.

In his post-fight interview with K1ANOOP, Pinca confirmed he’d signed a multiple fight deal with GLORY Kickboxing and will next fight on the GLORY Collision event headlined by, Badr Hari vs Rico Verhoeven in Germany on, December 10.

Jordan Watson didn’t hesitate to show what his hands could do against Ben Hodge with some lovely body hooks landing throughout the fight. Hodge was under more pressure than Watson but the fight was by no means a one sided affair. Hodge was coming off a recent win over Saiyok Pumphanmuang at Thai Fight London in September, where he demonstrated his technical proficiency and good counterattacking skills on the back step. Something that would have given Watson more problems on the night (had Hodge found his range sooner) in-preparation for Giorgio Petrosyan who, he faces next at the Bellator Kickboxing event on December 10 in Italy.

Jordan Watson v Ben Hodge Yokkao 20

Jordan Watson v Ben Hodge

However, Hodge admitted in his post-fight interview that his emotions got the better of him in the ring – triggered off by the weigh-in drama the day before which, resulted in the fight no longer being a title defence for, Watson’s 70kg Yokkao world championship. Hodge summed up perfectly that both himself and Watson are intelligent fighters with intelligent coaches, so, the fight was always going to be determined by who, was more successful, in applying their tactical approach on the night at Yokkao 20.

Manachai surprisingly bulldozed his way through Panicos Yusuf for five rounds which, certainly came as a shock considering that Panicos is no pushover and can certainly stand his ground. Most of what Panicos tried to pull off on the night didn’t have any real impact on Manachai and it was as if the Thai was at times playfully throwing Panicos around – something I wouldn’t have fought would happen so easily. However, whenever the Thais come to fight in the UK, they always seem extra determined to give the Brits a damn good hiding.

Panicos Yusuf Yokkao 20

Panicos Yusuf vs Manachai

Maybe it wasn’t Panicos’s night and anything that could go wrong for him unfortunately did which, can happen. Or, is Manachai actually a hell of a lot better than the matchmakers had thought he was? Also, Panicos has become a lot more involved in the commercial world of combat sports as one of three directors of Tanko Management – has his commercial ambition taken away some of his hunger to fight like he use to?

Jack Kennedy continues to build even more momentum with his unanimous decision win over the powerfully talented Nathan Bendon. These two top quality fighters fought like a pair of tigers in the ring and the fight was full of entertaining yet technical violence. The bout was even dubbed as ‘fight of the night’ by colour commentator, Vinny Shoreman which, certainly sums ups how stacked the overall fight card was, especially when considering the likes of, Harrison and Pinca were one of two main events.

Bendon started well in the first couple of rounds but as the fight eventually went the distance, Kennedy was more efficient with his overall Thai boxing and seemed to frustrate Bendon. The future is very bright for both fighters, especially for Kennedy who, had recently won a 4-man Super Muay Thai tournament in Thailand prior to Yokkao 19 & 20.

Steven Long tremendously turned around his fight against Daniel Jedrzejezski after being cut in the outer corner of his right eye, in a terrible opening round for Long. However from the second round onwards it was all bout Long’s effective clinch-knee entry to pressure and eventually dominate Jedrzejezski.

By the end of the third round, Long’s clinching was proving too difficult for Jedrzejezski to deal with who, found himself on the end of another knee to the body that dropped him to the canvas. After surviving the count, he would find himself on the end of yet another knee but was fortunately saved by the bell as he buckled in discomfort. However, when the fourth round started it didn’t take long for Long to land another knee to Jedrzejezski’s body and the fight was over.

Overall, Yokkao 19 & 20 was without a doubt the best Muay Thai event of the year so far to be hosted in the UK, with exceptionally talented fighters showcasing their skill on both fight cards. Also, Harrison is reportedly set to return to action next month with further details to follow in due course.

As for the UK, if it hasn’t already established itself as a very strong nation for both Muay Thai (and K1 rules) yet to the rest of the world then apart from mainstream media coverage for the casual fans to take note, Thai boxing purists and global promotions can no longer ignore the UK scene; fast emerging as a global leader in the sport.

Yokkao 19 – Results:

Fabio Pinca def. Liam Harrison via UD, -65kg

Chris Shaw def. Jersey Pinto via UD, fight set at 73kg

Charles Sikwa def, Darren Howieson by UD, -86kg

Adi Woods def. Owen Trykowski via UD, -72.5kg

Steven Long def. Daniel Jedrzejewski by KO, Rd4, -69kg

Yokkao 20 – Results:

Jordan Watson def. Ben Hodge via UD, -70kg

Manachai def. Panicos Yusuf via UD, -63kg

Jake Purdy def. Brad Stanton via MD, fight set at 69kg

Amy Pirnie def. Ludivine Lesnier via TKO, Rd2, -50kg

Jack Kennedy def Nathan Bendon via UD, -65kg

Myk Estlick def. Carlos Campos via UD, -61.5kg

Jordan Watson and Ben Hodge breakdown their explosive clash at Yokkao 20

Jordan Watson vs Ben Hodge headlined Yokkao 20 on October 8, at the Bolton Macron Stadium, UK. Watson would be victorious by unanimous decision but the build-up to this huge domestic clash was not without controversy.

This bout was supposed to be a title defence for Watson and his 70kg Yokkao world championship but on the day of the weigh-ins, Hodge was 0.3kg overweight when a two hour extension had passed prompting the Yokkao officials to decide that it would no longer be a title fight. This decision had left Hodge fuming in the stadium’s hotel sauna when he was informed by his coach, John Jarvis.

Although Hodge would remain diplomatic outside of the ring come fight day. Once in the ring with Watson in-front of him, the two would not only throw each other out of the ring but also exchange plenty of verbals with one another too. This fight already had a ‘North vs South’ sporting rivalry in the mix and the overnight weigh-in drama lit a very combustable fuse for the fight to explode.

In the joint post-fight interview (below) Hodge conceded that his emotions did get the better of him when fighting Watson. Considering the gruelling weight cut (Hodge had dropped to a lower weight class than usual) compounded with being denied a title shot the night before, its no real surprise that any fighter’s mindset wouldn’t be effected.

Both fighters made peace and shook hands afterwards in the changing rooms with, Anoop Hothi interviewing them both together about tensions boiling over in the ring and their tactical approaches in outwitting one another. Hodge also gave his opinion on how he feels Watson would do against the defensive Thai boxing genius, Giorgio Petrosyan, on the upcoming Bellator Kickboxing show on, December 10 in Italy.

Yokkao 19 & 20: Quick round-up and results


Fabio Pinca defeated Liam Harrison via unanimous decision (UD) in the main event  of  Yokkao 19 at the Bolton Macron Stadium, England. In what was a fight in the making for 11 years, these two Muay Thai maestros delivered an exciting and intense fight that electrified the spectators but Pinca’s Jedi like instincts and more effective kicking, kept him that slight step ahead of Harrison’s threatening speed as the fight went the distance.

Jordan Watson got the better of Ben Hodge in the headlining fight Of Yokkao 20 via UD. Both fighters managed to even throw each other out of the ring at two different points of the fight; first Watson threw Hodge over the top rope but the disgruntled Hodge would return the favour (through the middle of the ropes) later on. However, Watson was more in control of the fight, applied more pressure throughout and demonstrated some lovely body hooks too. By no means was this a one sided affair but Watson was able to apply his game plan more than Hodge over the five rounds.

Overall, the night produced very competitive and entertaining fights on both fight cards in what will be one of the most memorable nights in the UK for Muay Thai this year.

This is just a quick round up with the final results (below) from both Yokkao 19 & 20 and a more in-depth, post event review, plus,  post fight interviews, will follow separately from tomorrow onwards.

Yokkao 20 – Final results:

Manachai def. Panicos Yusuf via UD, -63kg

Jake Purdy def. Brad Stanton via MD, fight set at 69kg

Amy Pirnie def. Ludivine Lesnier via TKO, Rd2, -50kg

Jack Kennedy def Nathan Bendon via UD, -65kg

Myk Estlick def. Carlos Campos via UD, -61.5kg

Yokkao 19 – Final results:

Fabio Pinca def. Liam Harrison via UD

Chris Shaw def. Jersey Pinto via UD, fight set at 73kg

Charles Sikwa def, Darren Howieson by UD, -86kg

Adi Woods def. Owen Trykowski via UD, -72.5kg

Steven Long def. Daniel Jedrzejewski by KO, Rd4, -69kg

 

Yokkao 19 & 20 – Ben Hodge denied title shot against Jordan Watson by 0.3kg

Tensions escalated yesterday between Ben Hodge and Jordan Watson when Hodge failed to attend both the Yokkao 19 & 20 weigh-ins (and press conference) at the Bolton Macron stadium. Watson is the defending 70kg Yokkao world champion, having recaptured the title from Sanny Dahlbeck at Yokkao 18. Hodge was set to challenge Watson for the title later today at Yokkao 20.

However, Hodge not only failed to attend the weigh-ins in a timely manner yesterday. He’d also missed the two hour time extension he was given by officials to weigh-in at 70kg which, was after all of the other fighters had attended, weighed-in and left.

The reason given at the time by Ben Hodge’s coach, John Jarvis, was that Ben was still in the sauna with 0.3kg remaining to lose and was very focused on cutting the remaining weight before weighing-in later (than everyone else), at the agreed 70kg. Apparently, this had been discussed during the two hour extension period with the Yokkao officials, so as to ensure that Hodge would still have his opportunity to fight for the title and weigh-in a lot later (after the extension) that evening, without putting his health and well-being at any further / potential risk from such a challenging weight cut.

However, after the two hour time extension had passed, the Yokkao officials had decided that the main event between Watson and Hodge would no longer be for the Yokkao 70kg world championship.

Instead, the Watson vs Hodge fight will continue to headline Yokkao 20 but as a non-title fight.

Obviously, the decision made by the officials was not received well by Hodge who, according to his coach, was deeply angered at being denied his title shot. Especially when it was revealed that the officials had reportedly made their decision after Watson’s team had complained that even with a two hour extension, Hodge had not weighed-in at exactly 70kg which, was a strict condition to be adhered-to, for the title to be defended.

Below, Liam Harrison and Jordan Watson talk about their fights against Fabio Pinca and Ben Hodge at the Yokkao 19 & 20 weigh-ins:

 

Yokkao 19 & 20 – Liam Harrison on failed GLORY brain scan ahead of Fabio Pinca clash

Liam Harrison vs Fabio Pinca headlines Yokkao 19 on October 8 at the Bolton Macron stadium in England. Both men have beaten every top contender in Europe and have accumulated +200 fights between them.

This clash between two of the greatest Muay Farangs of the modern era, has been one of the most anticipated match-ups for over a decade and is finally about to happen this weekend, to the delight of Muay Thai fans around the world.

Speaking to Anoop Hothi on the K1ANOOP podcast, Harrison was complimentary of Pinca, describing him as a good allrounder. ‘The Hitman’ knows that it will be a close fight on Saturday and that it could very well ‘come down to who is sharper on the night’ in securing a win for either fighter.

However, when the subject of sparring, pre-fight medicals and a year of loses in 2013 was discussed, Harrison reflected on having once failed a brain scan for GLORY Kickboxing prior to his fight at GLORY 5 against Mosab Amrani:

“I got stopped against Mosab [Amrani]. I didn’t even train for a month. I’d failed a brain scan.”

“So, I didn’t train at all and then we were gonna pull me out of the fight. I’d weighed in but I hadn’t really trained, I said: ‘Ricard [Smith – his coach and manager] what’s happening here?’ – because I was waiting for the specialist to call me back [for a month before GLORY 5].”

“The day before the fight, the specialist rang back and said, ‘I’ve gone over your brain scan, you’re fine’. So I thought, oh sh-t, I’m going to fight here. I hadn’t trained whatsoever and you can tell from my body shape and everything, I wasn’t in shape at all.”

“I was gonna pull out and probably should’ve done really.”

Harrison explained that two separate Doctors had reviewed the brain scan at two different points in time – the first being on the day that the brain scan was taken (a month before GLORY 5) when he was told that the had failed the medical. The second opinion from an alternative Doctor was not received until the day before fighting Amrani two years ago (after the weigh-ins).

Fortunately, ‘The Hitman’ has had annual brain scans since then which, have given him a clean bill of health. These have also been one of the pre-fight medical requirements of other global promotions such as Yokkao that he has fought for since GLORY.

The Yokkao 19 clash with Fabio Pinca (32 years old) will be the 104th career fight for Liam Harrison who, recently turned 31 years of age earlier this week.

On the same night and immediately afterwards, Yokkao 20 will also take place in the same venue. Harrison’s stablemate, Jordan Watson will feature in the main event, in a domestic dust-up with Ben Hodge who, was only one of two UK based fighters to have had success at the recent Thai Fight London event (England vs Thailand), with a decision win over Saiyok Pumphanmuang.

K1ANOOP will be reporting from Yokkao 19 & 20 for The Striking Corner. So follow @K1Anoop on Twitter for live results and updates on the day (and weigh-ins); and, subscribe to the K1ANOOP YouTube channel for exclusive interviews from the Yokkao 19 & 20 weigh-ins and post-fight.

Full fight cards below for Yokkao 19 & 20:

Supershowdown presents YOKKAO 20:

England (YOKKAO Fight Team) vs England (YOKKAO UK Ranking -70kg)

Jordan Watson (YOKKAO World Champion 70kg) vs. Ben Hodge

Thailand (YOKKAO Fight Team) vs England -63kg

Manachai YOKKAOSAenchaiGym vs. Panicos Yusuf

YOKKAO UK Ranking -70kg

Jake Purdy vs. Brad Stanton (fight set at 69kg)

YOKKAO Next Generation -50kg

Amy Pirnie vs. Dakota Ditcheva

YOKKAO UK Ranking -65kg

Nathan Bendon vs. Jack Kennedy

YOKKAO UK vs Spain -61.5kg

Myk Estlick vs. Carlos Campos

Supershowdown presents YOKKAO 19:

England vs France -66.5kg

Liam Harrison vs Fabio Pinca

YOKKAO UK Ranking -72,5kg

Chris Shaw vs Jersey Pinto (fight set at 73kg)

Wales vs Scotland -86kg

Charles Sikwa vs Darren Howieson

YOKKAO UK Ranking -72.5kg

Owen Trykowski vs Adi Woods

YOKKAO UK vs Poland -69kg

Steven Long vs Daniel Jedrzejewski

Dilwyn Jones vs Karl Upton -76kg

YOKKAO NEXT GENERATION:

Joe Craven vs Robbie Colling -69kg

Lewis Tams vs Mikey Kostka -69kg

Spencer Brown vs Louis Lee Scott 61kg

Stuart Stabler vs Dylan Hardy -57kg

Isaac Taylor-Green vs Joshua Hill -58kg

Charlie Simpson vs Jack Jarvis -74kg