European Throwdown: Notes from Iberia to Siberia

By Tim Leidecker Sep 4, 2007
This latest edition of "ET" is jam-packed with news and notes from all across the continent! Read about Kharitonov's new destination, Liaudin's preparation for UFC 75 and Europe's next dream fight. European Throwdown is the one-stop fix for all your Euro fighting information needs!

Kharitonov joins Golden Glory, fight in both K-1 and HERO'S

Former PRIDE heavyweight challenger Sergei Kharitonov (Pictures) has joined Dutch standout team Golden Glory. The 27-year-old Russian will bring his experience in Sambo to the Amsterdam-based squad that already includes K-1 world champion Semmy Schilt (Pictures), fellow K-1 Grand Prix winners Stefan Leko (Pictures) and Chalid Arrab (Pictures), as well as PRIDE veteran Alistair Overeem (Pictures) and Shooto middleweight champion Siyar Bahadurzada (Pictures).

Through Golden Glory's excellent connections with K-1 promoter FEG, Kharitonov managed to land a deal that will see him compete both in K-1 and HERO'S.

With an amateur boxing background, the former member of the Russian Army's Ground Forces will provide a new challenge for K-1's aging (super) heavyweight kickboxers Aerts (36), Feitosa (34), Bonjasky (31), Le Banner (34), and Mighty Mo (33), plus bolster the HERO'S heavyweight division that includes his new teammate Alistair Overeem (Pictures), Bob Sapp (Pictures) and Hong-Man Choi.

The "Joker" goes to "Hollywood"

Charismatic Frenchman Jess Liaudin (Pictures), who is squaring off against Ultimate Fighter season two participant Anthony Torres on the undercard of Saturday's light heavyweight title unification bout between Dan Henderson (Pictures) and Quinton Jackson (Pictures), is taking the preparation for his sophomore UFC fight very seriously.

Instead of preparing at Pancrase London as usual, the "Joker" has headed out to California to train with Dan Henderson (Pictures) at his Team Quest branch in Murrieta, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.

A trip to Las Vegas to support Fernando Gonzalez (Pictures), who was fighting at the Aug. 5 WEC show and a short jaunt to Tijuana aside, the 33-year-old all-rounder had little to laugh as Hendo, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (Pictures), Jason Miller, Ryo Chonan (Pictures) & Co. put him through many brutal cardio, grappling, boxing and sparring sessions.

Liaudin even denied himself another Vegas visit despite having tickets for the Couture-Gonzaga fight to get in some extra training sessions.

Swedish quartet with solid Bodog debut

The foursome of fighters from Swedish "Hilti NHB" team got off to a good start at the tapings for bodogFIGHT season six last weekend. Lightweight standout Per Eklund (Pictures) and CageWarriors veteran Diego Gonzalez scored unanimous decision victories over American Top Team fighter Rafael Dias (Pictures) and UFC-experienced Steve Berger (Pictures), while featherweight fighter Sami Aziz kept his undefeated record intact with a first-round knockout over Japanese Shooto old hand Hiroyuki Abe.

Only Piotr Jakaczynski prevented a 4-0 sweep when he suffered a first-round TKO defeat at the hands of busy up-and-comer Dan Hornbuckle.

An arguably even bigger impact on the Bodog middleweight division arrived with new signing Gegard Mousasi (Pictures). The 22-year-old Armenian, who fights out of Holland's Jurojin Gym, had little trouble with American Kyacey Uscola (Pictures), winning by TKO in the first round.

With wins over high caliber opponents like Makoto Takimoto (Pictures), Hector Lombard (Pictures) and Gregory Bouchelaghem (Pictures), PRIDE's "Golden Rookie of the Year 2006" could very well be in for an instant title shot against South African champion Trevor Prangley (Pictures).

Reinders takes "Best of Europe" tournament

Czech submission specialist Andre Reinders has won the talent-studded "Best of Europe" middleweight tournament in Magdeburg, Germany this past weekend. The fighter from the "Penta Gym" in Prague needed just 22 seconds to defeat German Luta Livre practitioner Nordin Asrih via armbar in the opening round.

In the final of the four-man tournament he repeated his feat from last year when he won a decision over PRIDE veteran Jean Francois Lenogue (Pictures). The Frenchman had already eliminated pre-tournament favorite Grzegorz Jakubowski in his semifinal bout.

Also on the card was German K-1 MAX veteran Denis Schneidmiller who won a decision victory over former German Muay Thai champion Denis Olivka in a Thai-boxing fight.

Kongo faces another tough challenge

Frenchman Cheick Kongo (Pictures) is a much sought-after man these days. Not only will the kickboxer from Paris step into the octagon to face PRIDE Grand Prix winner Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic on Sept. 8, the 32-year-old knockout artist faces yet another tough challenge on the national front.

Highly promising French heavyweight Patrice Quarteron, who looks like a cross-breed between Remy Bonjasky and the Incredible Hulk, has challenged the UFC fighter after racking up his eighth consecutive kickboxing win.

Kongo, who happened to be in the arena when the challenge was pronounced, jumped into the ring and accepted with the words: "I'm neither a bitch, nor a victim! The day you find a promoter to make this fight happen, I'll smash your face in, OK?"

Way to go, Cheick!

Japan vs. France, take two

In addition to the middleweight title eliminator between Izuru Takeuchi (Pictures) and Bryan Rafiq (Pictures), there will be another Japan vs. France clash on Pancrase's Sept. 5 show.

Johnny Frachey, a teammate of Rafiq, will take on featherweight King of Pancrase Yoshiro Maeda (Pictures) in a non-title fight.

The 23-year-old grappler has done a lot of traveling throughout his four-year career, accepting fights in places as diverse as England, Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Brazil and Slovakia.

Now his trade has brought him to Japan where he will face the very dangerous Maeda, who has scored knockouts in six of his past eight wins.

Europe's next dream fight

Polish promotion KSW is becoming more and more of a hot insiders tip due to its fantastic tournaments and excellent knowledge of the Eastern European circuit.

The promoter's next show on Sept. 15, called "Eliminacje" ("Elimination"), they have booked a battle that is already making European fight fans mouths water.

In one corner you have Chechnyan ace Mamed Khalidov, undefeated in the past two years and currently riding a nine-fight win streak. In the other corner there is "German Wunderkind" Martin "King Kong" Zawada, who was one of the finalists of the last KSW tournament in June. Despite his still young age of 23 years, Zawada has a wealth of experience with 20 bouts (17 wins) under his belt.

The winner may very well book himself on a future UFC European show, so this is definitely a confrontation to keep an eye on.

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