European Throwdown

By Tim Leidecker Jun 21, 2007
European Throwdown returns with a new edition about the latest results, rumors, updates and previews from Iberia to Siberia. This time we have a short rundown of events from the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Poland and Croatia, plus an outlook at K-1 in Amsterdam and the UFC in the UK. Finally we round things up with European fighters invading SHOOTO (again).

UFC 75 brings the champions

Although still two and a half months away, UFC 75 in the "O2 Arena" in London, England is already shaping up to be just as good, if not better than UFC 70, which took place in Manchester in April.

The UFC officially announced the main event between PRIDE middleweight champion Dan Henderson (Pictures) (22-5) and UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson (Pictures) (27-6) in a bout for the "unified" 205-pound world championship.

As a co-feature, Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) (22-5-2) will make his comeback to the UK as well. The Croatian striker, who was brutally knocked out in his UK debut at UFC 70, will go head to head with a fellow kickboxer in Cheick Kongo (Pictures) (10-3-1) from Paris. The Frenchman confirmed the "clash with the cop" with top German martial arts Web site,

Last but definitely not least is the fight of "local hero" and TUF 3 winner Michael Bisping (Pictures). Despite rumors that the 28-year-old former CageWarriors champ would fight Ken Shamrock (Pictures), Bisping will likely go head to head with fellow TUF 3 contestant Matt Hamill (Pictures).

What else is there … ?

With PRIDE seemingly dying a slow and painful death, fighters that were under contract with Dream Stage Entertainment basically only have two options at this time: jump to the UFC or look to make your mark elsewhere.

Then there's Zelg Galesic (Pictures), who keeps putting on your own shows in his home country.

On the ninth of June, Galesic promoted the second edition of "Anno Dimini" out of Pula, Croatia. The event was a great success with none of the nine fights going the distance.

The most notable results to come out of the show were English knockout artist John Phillips coming over from the British Isles to record his fourth knockout in a row against debutant Mihaly Dobrai, and Davor Jugovac keeping his unbeaten record in a No Contest against Dragan Bakula.

In the main event, veteran kickboxer Damir Mirenic took out highly entertaining and always aggressive Polish brawler Gerhard Machine in unlikely fashion by rear-naked choke. With a record of 8-2 and the stand-up style preferred by the UFC, we might see the 33-year-old from Zagreb on a future UFC Fight Night card.

Sapp, Mo, Karaev and more coming to Amsterdam

This Saturday the state-of-the-art ArenA in Amsterdam, usually the home for (former) European football powerhouse AFC Ajax, will host the second annual K-1 European Grand Prix (in Holland).

Even though there are also three MMA fights on the card, the majority of the program consists of top-notch clashes under K-1 rules as the Dutch just love their kickboxing! Favorites to take the Grand Prix should be last years' winner Björn Bregy from Switzerland, along with Polish-Australian karateka Paul Slowinski, who won the Oceania Grand Prix in 2006.

Most eyes will certainly be turned towards three fantastic single fights. Russian prodigy Ruslan Karaev takes on former Cage Rage light heavyweight champion Melvin Manhoef (Pictures). Peter Aerts (Pictures), the most dominant kickboxer of the 1990s, squares of with none other than Bob "The Beast" Sapp. And two-time World Grand Prix winner Semmy Schilt (Pictures) puts his super heavyweight title on the line against "The Giant Slayer" Mighty Mo.

While Karaev and Manhoef are both looking to rebound from tough losses to Badr Hari and Dong Sik Yoon (Pictures) (under MMA rules), Mo is looking to drop another behemoth after his unbelievable knockout against 7' 2" "Techno Goliath" Hong-Man Choi in March.

The biggest surprise however is the comeback of former NFL Offensive Lineman Bob Sapp (Pictures) to K-1 to fight Peter Aerts (Pictures). Sapp and K-1 promoter FEG split ways a little over a year ago when the American refused to fight Ernesto Hoost (Pictures) in Amsterdam because of a contract dispute. After not being able to secure a deal with the WWE and offers from Hollywood failing to materialize, the 6' 5", 350-pound Sapp had to eat humble pie and return to his former employer, which had made him a larger-than-life personality in Japan.

Zschörner wins in Czech Republic, bodogFIGHT next

Top German heavyweight Marko Zschörner has won his comeback fight in the "UFC" after more two years on the shelf due to various injuries. In his case, "UFC" is Ultimate Fight Czechia from Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. The 36-year-old kickboxer defeated his Slovenian opponent, Juraj Fabry, by technical knockout in the second round. This tune-up fight was highly necessary for the "Bulldog" from Leipzig, as Zschörner has agreed to face undefeated former pro wrestler Daniel Puder (Pictures) on the fifth season of bodogFIGHT.

Bodog matchmaker Miguel Iturrate has been in pursuit of the German heavyweight for the better portion of last year and after he had to cancel his participation on the third season due to a broken hand, now it finally worked out.

While youth and athleticism certainly favors Puder, Zschörner is far more experienced with close to 30 fights under his belt. How it all pans out, fight fans can find out on the fourth season of bodogFIGHT, which kicks off on June 26.

Fight Fiesta Deluxe

Luxembourg, the second smallest country in Europe with an area even smaller than Rhode Island, has now officially organized its first MMA event.

On June 2, Fight Fiesta Deluxe took place inside the Boxing Club CBCL in the tiny country's capitol, Luxembourg City. In addition to boxing and kickboxing matches, there were four MMA fights on the card.

In the main event, BJJ black belt Igor Araujo, who has been a regular on many shows throughout Europe for the past two years, defeated Polish grappler Marcin Krzysztofiak by triangle choke in the second round.

Florian Müller, one of the brightest new German talents in the light heavyweight division, also won his fight by triangle choke. In the battle between the two lone Luxembourgian fighters on the card, Guy Kaulmann got the better of Kristian Ozimek and won by unanimous decision.

"Samuray" decisions his way to tournament victory

As advertised in my last column, the Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW) eight-man light heavyweight tournament took place on June 2.

With Polish ADCC vet Michal Materla, France-based Brazilian Antonio Mendes and German wunderkind Martin Zawada, some of the best European fighters under 205-pounds took part.

In the end, "Samuray" Antonio Mendes took the crown, but the 26 year old did it in the most unspectacular fashion possible with three decision victories over Polish duo Jocz and Materla, as well as Zawada in the final. The toughest fight en route to victory came against Materla, who won the KSW 6 tournament in October of last year.

Outside of the tournament Mamed Khalidov continued his tear through the competition with a brutal beating of German newcomer Alexander Stefanovic. (Mark my words: Khalidov is a fighter to keep an eye on.)

In the main event the ultra-experienced Russian wrestler Martin Malkhasyan (Pictures) spoiled the MMA debut of former pro boxer Przemyslzaw Saleta with a first round submission by rear-naked choke.

European fighters invading SHOOTO … again

After the last European invasion was stopped without a hitch when Yoshitaro Niimi (Pictures) and Rumina Sato (Pictures) defeated Switzerland's Ivan Mussardo (Pictures) and Augusto Frota (Pictures) in March, Euro fighters have licked their wounds and are now preparing another foray for the middle of July.

Headlining the attack will be Siyar Bahadurzada, who challenges longtime Shooto light heavyweight (183 pounds) champion Shikou Yamashita (Pictures) for the title. Bahadurzada, the "Afghan Killa" who fights out of Martijn de Jong's Tatsujin Dojo in Holland, has won his last five fights and stands on top of the Shooto European rankings.

Since de Jong fought Yamashita to a draw four years ago, he will certainly be able to offer some valuable advice and hopes for his pupil to return to the Netherlands with the title.

Also on the card is experienced Swedish shootfighter Jani Lax, who makes his return to Japan for the first time in two years. Holding a win over fellow Scandinavian Joachim Hansen (Pictures), Lax will take on newly crowned Shooto Pacific Rim welterweight (154 pounds) champion in a non-title fight.

With just two losses to former champions Akira Kikuchi (Pictures) and Tatsuya Kawajiri (Pictures), the 30-year-old Swede boasts a 4-2 record in Shooto and looks to build on the momentum gained in a split decision win over American John Mahlow (Pictures) late last year after having dropped three in a row in 2005.

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