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Kunlun Fight 56: Buakaw, Jomthong and Superbon feature in New Year’s Day extravaganza

Kunlun Fight have certainly made their mark on world kickboxing in 2016, with a series of 70kg 4-man tournaments throughout the year, building up-to their year end extravaganza in China. The new year’s day event will focus on the Kunlun World Max finals, featuring: Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana and Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef; headlined by, Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin.

Kunlun have featured a good few Thais on their events as they established themselves in Southeast Asia initially, with Buakaw being one of their key name fighters. Along with Artur Kyshenko as they have expanded, focusing more on attracting fight fans from the western world.

Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana

Kiria is a former GLORY lightweight champion and now trains with Nieky Holzken; Joining the recently dethroned GLORY welterweight champion at Team Holzken this year.

Kunlun

Photo credit: Kunlun Fight

Kiria made the move in an attempt to rejuvenate his kickboxing career after mixed results in the last couple of years. The change has done him well resulting in a couple of wins against Robbie Hageman at Kunlun Fight 48 and  Dzianis Zeuv at Kunlun Fight 52 – both by decisions and part of the overall qualifying process for the Kunlun World Max.

Jomthong on the other hand is a master of various striking skills and rule-sets including, a pro boxing record of 9-1 and three continental titles. He is also a three time Rajadamnern stadium champion but really made his name in Muay Thai with a huge win over Anuwat Kaewzamrit for the WBC featherweight crown in 2008.

Of the two, Jomthong has been the more active this year with six wins from seven fights, the majority of which were on Kunlun events this year including a notable decision win over Buakaw’s opponent on the night, Tian Xin at Kunlun Fight 53.

Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef

Of the four fighters in this year’s Kunlun Max semi-finals, Superbon is most probably the favorite to win the tournament, having defeated Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong at Kunlun Fight 48 in the previous round. The win was a rematch for the two following on from Kunlun Fight 37 where Superbon was on the wrong end of a knockout in the semi-finals of the Kunlun Max event in 2015.

Before Superbon had leveled the aggregate score, Sitthichai, who is currently the GLORY lightweight champion, had been undefeated for the 21 consecutive months, collecting nine wins in a row. The list of world class kickboxers that he had seen off in the last two years included: Mohamed Mezouari at Kunlun Fight 43, Marat Gregorian (twice), Robin van Roosmalen at GLORY 31 and even Davit Kiria (with a brutal knee to the body) at GLORY 28.

Cedric Manhoef is the ‘dark horse’ of the semi-finalists and although he has the heart of a lion and does his family name proud by hardly ever taking back steps in the ring (Melvin Manhoef is actually his nephew – yes, you read that right); the 23 year old is very much a work in progress still. However, Superbon cannot afford to underestimate the Surinamese fighter with any complacency to progress successfully to the final.

Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin

Buakaw has been fighting for the Chinese promotion since Kunlun Fight 32 in October 2015 and has had a great deal of success, excluding of course, the most controversial decision loss of 2016 against Yi Long at last month’s WLF event in Nanjing, China.

As for how Xin will fare against the living legend and ‘old skool’ K-1 veteran remains to be seen. However, from the Chinese kickboxer’s clash with Andrei Kulebin at Kunlun Fight 50 there’s a possibility that Buakaw could possibly capitalize on Xin’s fighting style with strong clinch-knee entries.

Nevertheless, Buakaw vs. Xin has all the makings for an exciting headlining fight in Sanya on January 1, 2017 since both have the ability to fight well at a high tempo. The new year will be very interesting to see if and how the talented Chinese fighters like Xin can enhance their profile globally along with the continued growth of Kunlun Fight.

Kunlun Fight 56 – Fight card (and order of fights):

Abdullayev vs. Ma Shuo, 75kg

Denies Puric vs. Wang Wenfeng, 60kg

Felipe Stievano vs. Andrey Gerasimchuk, 100kg

Mohamed Mezouari vs. Dzianis Zuev, 70kg – Reserve bout, Kunlun World Max

Arthit vs. Khatal Dzhaniev, 70kg – Reserve bout, Kunlun World Max

Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana, 70kg – Semi-final A, Kunlun World Max

Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef, 70kg – Semi-final B, Kunlun World Max

Andrei Kulebin vs. Wu Xuesong, 70kg

Sergii Kulaiaba vs. Gu Hui, 67kg

Winner of semi-final A vs. winner of semi-final B, 70kg Kunlun World Max

Juan Javier Barragan vs. Wei Ninghui, 65kg

Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin ,70kg

Kunlun

Kunlun Fight 56 – Image via Kunlun Fight

 

Enfusion Live champion, Andrew Tate, alleges Joe Schilling has always been ducking him

Andrew Tate will defend his 90kg Enfusion Live world championship in The Hague, Netherlands on December 3, against Enfusion’s current 85kg world champion, Ibrahim El Boustati who, is undefeated in all 44 career fights he has had to-date. Known as “The Beast”, for his aggressive and pressure fighting style, El Boustati has torn through the 85kg division including, a recent decision win (under controversial circumstances) over GLORY kickboxer, Filip Verlinden.

For those who may or may not be aware, Andrew Tate is a four time world champion and initially from a full contact kickboxing background who, made the smooth transition to K1 rules. He was also born in America but emigrated to the UK as a teenager with, his mother and younger brother when their parents’ marriage broke down. It was in England where he began his kickboxing career from scratch under the guidance of his coach, Amir Subasic, developing into a world class fighter.

However, “Cobra Tate” is returning from a lay-off of two years but insists that the lengthy time away from the sport has done him wonders in allowing his body to repair itself from numerous past injuries.

“I’ve had a couple of years off. Im not just a fighter, I have some money to make outside of fighting. I’ve enjoyed the break. It’s good to let all the injuries after 10 years. I’m not coming back to do anything other than defend this belt. I’ve had a lot of time off and I feel like a new man. I’m really looking forward to fighting again.”

Andrew Tate

Andrew Tate v Ibrahim El Boustati – Image: Enfusion Live, Fightsense

Tate is well known for being able to ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’ with some of his past and current rivalries in and out of the ring. He is a kickboxing promotion’s dream of a champion who, isn’t shy of expressing his strong opinions and backing up his promises of knocking out opponents in the ring too.

So, why haven’t GLORY Kickboxing signed him up to fight for them in recent years especially in the USA when taking into account he is an American who, proudly wears the stars and stripes on his fight shorts too?

“I was supposed to fight for GLORY many times. I signed contracts but fights never materialised many times.

That wasn’t all that Tate had to say on the subject of both GLORY and their former middleweight champion who, prior to signing for Bellator Kickboxing, was the public face of GLORY in the US, Joe Schilling; next fighting at Bellator 167 in a kickboxing bout on, December 10 in Italy.

“Joe Schilling’s been avoiding me since forever. I don’t even want to talk about him, he’s just afraid to fight me and he keeps getting knocked out anyway. I would’ve spanked him.” 

“So he knows I would’ve spanked him. He knew he was gonna get sparked that’s why he wouldn’t fight me. Before GLORY existed we were supposed to fight.”

Enfusion was set-up and still run by, Edwin Van Os after he sold his previous promotion, It’s Showtime which, has since been rebranded and relaunched as GLORY Sport International. Enfusion are a Dutch based promotion with a wealth of exciting and very talented young fighters that are not tied into exclusive contracts either, allowing them to fight in other promotions such as Kunlun Fight in China and K-1 in Japan.

“I think that Enfusion have done a really good job in growing organically you know. Getting as big as they can without spunking loads of money. Another thing Enfusion have done really well is they have built their own superstars. You can name some of the big names for Enfusion; they done a really good job with promoting people like [Mohammed] Jaraya and Ibrahim [El Boustati].

After defeating Verlinden at Enfusion Live 41 earlier this year, El Boustati’s next major challenge is to step-up in weight class and take on Tate in what will be a clash of two champions. The match-up will certainly be fascinating to witness since Tate has a fighting style that has caused countless problems for past opponents; with his mastering of distance and countering with powerfully fast and long limbs, from a more bladed stance than you’d expect from kickboxers nowadays.

“He’s done really, really well. He’s never lost. I can’t say anything about the guy. He’s had a very, very successful career; and, I’m very much looking forward to fighting Ibrahim – let’s see why he never loses.”

Enfusion Live 44 can be steamed online from Enfusionlive.com on December 3 and the Striking Corner will keep you updated on the event in due course too.

Is China the future of world kickboxing?

Over the last couple of years, China has emerged as a regular destination point for international combat sports, especially kickboxing.

However, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when taking into consideration two main factors: Firstly, the ageless history of martial arts tradition and knowledge that has originated from China; and secondly, the fact that the Chinese economy has grown tremendously over the last decade and a half (despite any uncertainties it may currently face).

The two main Chinese fight promotions that are well known outside of China are Kunlun Fight and WLF. Both have the ability to attract international kickboxers to fight in China and have had the likes of, current GLORY heavyweight champion, Rico Verhoeven and former GLORY featherweight champion, Gabriel Varga fighting in China.

Recent events by both Kunlun Fight and Wu Lin Feng (WLF) have included the following match-ups:

Kunlun Fight 43 (15th April 2016):

Artur Kyshenko vs Murthel Groenhart

A rematch between two titans from their previous encounter in the, K-1 Max 70 kg Tournament Final in 2012 which Groenhart won by KO, and the two of them had been training partners at the time at Mike’s Gym. Kyshenko would get the better of Groenhart this time via unanimous decision (UD) after an extra round.

Sittichai Sitsongpeenong vs Mohammed Hamicha Moojte

This was the 4-man (qualifying) tournament final on the night, which for the winner, would secure a place in the 8-man Tournament later in the year. Sittichai is widely regarded as the best kickboxing /Thai boxing lightweight in the world right now and has given plenty of elite kickboxers in his weight class a torrid time. However, Moojte, who is based in the Netherlands, gave Sittichai a rough time and even knocked him down in the first round with an uppercut. Sittichai would secure the win eventually after an extra round by UD, but Moojte’s profile has significantly increased since then (his name was spelt differently by Kunlun as ‘Mohammed Mezouari’).

WLF – Glory of Heroes (2nd April 2016):

Isreal Adesanya vs Alex Pereira <==CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF FIGHT

Adesanya is from New Zealand and is a very skillful and exciting kickboxer to watch who, is also pursuing a career in MMA as well. Pereira is a Brazilian kickboxer who, made the transition from boxing to kickboxing in recent years. Both have fought for GLORY in the past and have come a long way since then. The winner by unanimous decision was Pereira, which did surprise me at the time.

Enriko Kehl vs Yi Long <==CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF FIGHT

Yi Long is probably the most famous Chinese kickboxing monk in the world and Kehl is the K-1 World Max 2014 Tournament winner (as a result of Buakaw leaving the ring when an extra round was called for) and is from Germany. Four of Kehl’s last six fights have either been under the Kunlun or WLF banner, however, Yi Long would get the win by unanimous decision.

Josh Jauncey vs Xu Yan

British Canadian kickboxer, Josh Jauncey, was the winner by delivering a devastating left head kick knockout in the third round. Jauncey has been on a recent run of good form since his loss (by unanimous decision) to Giorgio Petrosyan at GLORY 25 last year. As for Xu Yan, he is a multiple Sanhsou Chinese champion and was the more experienced fighter having fought in Japan for ‘K-1’ as far back as 2008.

Fabio Pinca vs Yinghua Tie <==CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF FIGHT

French-Italian Muay Thai legend, Fabio Pinca, who had previously won the Lion Fight welterweight title in 2013 by decision over Malaipet Sasiprapa, had been on a five fight win streak prior to this fight but lost by split decision to the home fighter.

Andrei Ostrovanu vs Zhang Dezheng

Ostrovanu is of Romanian descent (but if I am correct, has grown up in England) and won by unanimous decision. He is a young kick boxer who, I can recall was fighting on regional kickboxing shows here in the UK with some powerful performances not too long and then went onto fight Mohammed Jaraya in Enfusion (he lost that fight by stoppage but he certainly challenged Jaraya)

As for Dezheng (the home fighter), from what I’ve seen of him in his fight a couple of years ago with the explosive Australian, Brad Riddell, he’s a durable fighter and no pushover.

Here is his fight with Riddell:

From the above seven match-ups, 10 of the 14 fighters are known reasonably well in the western world by kickboxing enthusiasts.

The quality of international kickboxing match-ups by the Chinese has certainly been of a very good level – some may say that they have even managed to deliver better match-ups than GLORY at times.

It certainly is very interesting times for kickboxing in China and with regular shows throughout the year being hosted by the Chinese – especially Kunlun – it can only help the sport of kickboxing to develop on a global scale which has been a struggle in recent years since the financial crisis a few years ago that brought ‘K-1’ to its knees and the rapid growth and popularity of MMA.

Kunlun aren’t complacent with simply hosting events in China alone. They recently hosted Kunlun Fight 44 on the 14th May in Russia and their following event, Kunlun Fight 45, will be in South Korea on the 22nd May 2016, before they then return to China on the 6th June 2016.

Can the Chinese sustain a financially viable operation of not only promoting international kickboxing events and a spectacle of a show, while continuing to attract a wealth of fighting talent from around the world? Only time will tell but I know that I’m certainly not the only one that hopes that they will, for the sake of breathing long term life back into the world of kickboxing.

Watch Gabriel Varga claim Hero Legends 64kg Title

Hero Legends took place this past weekend in China and once again showcased that China is rapidly becoming a major destination for quality kickboxing events and is developing world class talent. The event had a total of 13 fights including a 70 kg tournament which was eventually won by Wen Jindu with a first round KO over Xu Tiehan after defeating Liu Weiquan by Decision. The event showcased a large contingent of Chinese talent as well as foreign talent such as Lerdsila and Saenchai. The entire event was headlined by a 64kg title fight between former Glory Featherweight World Champion, Gabriel Varga and Liu Wei. Gabriel Varga has been a friend of The Striking Corner and has appeared on our podcast on two occasions, the most recent being after he won the Glory Featherweight Title with a great performance against Mosab Amrani, so we have to say we were happy to hear of his recent victory at Hero Legends. You can check out the entire fight between Gabriel Varga and Liu Wei for the Hero Legends 64kg Title by clicking on the play button above.