Friday, August 29, 2008

Gokhan "The Rebel" Saki Interview

K1 recently held their United States portion of their World Grand Prix in the state of Hawaii and the surprise victor was none other than Gokhan "The Rebel" Saki. The 24 year old Golden Glory fighter only got the slot, as fellow Golden Glory fighter Chalid Arrab could not obtain a visa to participate in the event. A disappointment for Arrab, but a great opportunity for Gokhan Saki. The winner of the Hawaii Grand Prix would be awarded automatic entry into the K1 Grand Prix finals, which will be held in Seoul, Korea. Gokhan Saki took advantage of this opportunity and did so in impressive fashion. He defeated all three of his opponents via KO (one in the 2nd round and two in the 1st). He's currently riding a 14 fight win streak and hasn't been defeated in the past two years. He'll take this momentum with him into the finals, where he will be taking on the best kickboxers in the world.

A little more about this young, up and coming fighter, he is of Turkish origin, fighting out of the Netherlands. He trains with Golden Glory Breda, under Cor Hemmers. He's amassed a record of 63 wins (47 via KO), 9 losses and 1 no contest. He is a two time Dutch and European Muay Thai champion and was a finalist at the K1 World GP 2006 in Amsterdam. Tournament champion at the K1 World GP 2008 in Hawaii. Nicknamed "The Rebel," Gokhan has shown to be quite the force to be reckoned with. He will be one of the fighters to look out for during the finals, not only competitively, but also by fans to see how he performs at the grandest of stages. It will be the toughest challenge in this fighter's young career, also one of the biggest opportunities in his career to establish his name as one of the best in the sport. He has the confidence, skill and determination to be successful. Clinch or Die recently had the benefit to chat with Gokhan and we are honored to present our first interview to our readers...

Clinch or Die: Who are some fighters that you look up to within the sport? Who are some fighters you simply enjoy watching?

Gokhan Saki: I like explosive fighters, who try to make the fight. Fighters like LeBanner, Karaev, Zimmerman and Chalid. I also have great respect for Semmy, he is a training beast.

Clinch or Die: Having spent some time in Hawaii, your thoughts on the state and the overall atmosphere/feedback from the Hawaiin fans? Did you have any time for leisure activies while there?

Gokhan Saki: I loved Hawaii, the atmosphere was great. My last entrance had the audience dancing and go wild, as we expected that to happen. For leisure, I went surfing and had muscle pain, hahaha.

Clinch or Die: Your entrance music during the Grand Prix has been popular amongst your fans, could you credit the artist and name for the fans?

Gokhan Saki: It is a creation by a DJ friend of mine, who made it specially for me. You will hear more of this guy in the future, as we are planning to release this mix with a video clip with, of course, my fights.

Clinch or Die: The field of fighters at the Grand Prix Finals will be the best of the best, do you feel you match up well with any particular fighter(s)? If you could pick an opponent you want to match up with in the first round, who would it be? Any fighter you would want to avoid in the first bout?

Gokhan Saki: LeBanner, Feitosa, Teixera, but really, I don't care either way. If in the next round, I have to fight fellow Golden Glory fighters, so be it. In the gym, we fight everyday and believe me, if you do not have your hands up, you will go down.

Clinch or Die: If you can credit one thing for all the success so far in your career, what would it be?

Gokhan Saki: Trainer Cor Hemmers and Golden Glory. They made my career go off like a rocket. They also made me have my own team (Team Rebel) within Golden Glory. This is mainly for potential future clashes with teammates, we know it is going to happen and we are all fine with it. It's just business and believe me, for us, a lot of honor in determining who will be the best from Golden Glory and for Glory fighters, hahaha.

Clinch or Die: Other than winning the K1 Grand Prix Finals, what are some other goals you hope to achieve in your fight career?

Gokhan Saki: I have a contract with K1 and I am happy about it. I want to enjoy life, which I am doing.

Clinch or Die: If you weren't fighting professionally, what would you be most likely doing instead as a professional?

Gokhan Saki: I was a good soccer player, so it would be soccer.

Clinch or Die: Who did you root for during EURO 2008?

Gokhan Saki: Holland of course, but as I am Turkish, I had two favorites.

Clinch or Die: Anything else you would like to add for your fans?

Gokhan Saki: Saki time has now started. I may be one of the smallest fighters, but my kicks are already compared to Mirko CroCop's, which I think isn't correct. I am very well rounded, always learning and my boxing skills have improved a lot. I am always learning every day. I am not only a good dancer, but I can fight as well. I fight everybody and proved this already. I like to give the fans a spectacular fight and I always go for the Knock Out!

Clinch or Die: Gokhan, thank you for the time. Best of luck with your training and fights.

Gokhan Saki: Peace!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sengoku Signing Spree Continues

World Victory Road's Sengoku continue to sign new talent. Having recently signed 2008 Mundials champion Alexandre "Xande" Ribeiro, Pawel Nastula and Americans Frank Trigg and Ryan Schultz, Sengoku have gone on to pick up Kazuhiro Nakamura and Valentijn Overeem. Overeem is slotted to appear on Sengoku 4 (August 24th), while Nakamura will make his debut for Sengoku on September 28th, in Sengoku's Middleweight Grand Prix tournament.

Kazuhiro Nakamura, the 29 year old Judo star is coming along after two disappointing spells in the UFC. Albeit against tough competition, he went 0-2 against Lyoto Machida and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. Prior to his UFC fights, his entire career was with, now defunct, Japanese promotion Pride FC. He held an 11-6 record within Pride, which includes battles with the biggest names of the sport like Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Murilo Bustamante, Yuki Kondo, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Igor Vovchanchyn, Josh Barnett and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. He holds notable victories over Bustamante, Kevin Randleman, Evangelista Santos, Kondo, Nakao and Vovchanchyn. As you can tell from the whose who of fighters he has been in battle with, Nakamura is definitely up to the challenge to take on any and all competitors. He fits the bill of the true warrior spirit having fought bigger and stronger opponents. He'll also have a big opportunity to get his career back on track with a solid showing in Sengoku's inaugural Middleweight Grand Prix. He shall be a fan favorite being back in Japan and fighting alongside his training partner, Yoshida.

Valentijn Overeem, the 31 year old kickboxing and submissions fighter is looking to get active in mma again, having fought twice in the past 3 years. The Golden Glory fighter has an overall 25-22 record in mma and is a 12 year veteran of the sport, but hasn't fought in a major promotion since March of 2005, when he fought for K1's HERO'S promotion against Shungo Oyama. He's trying to turn his fate around, having lost 4 out of his last 5 bouts. He's fought for many promotions over his long career, including HERO's, Pride FC and Rings. He holds notable victories of Renato "Babalu" Sobral and Randy "The Natural" Couture. He'll look for a good showing in his Sengoku debut, when he meets up with relative unknown, Kazuo Takahashi.

Sengoku may not have started their promotion on full blast, but they are surely proving they are a viable contender to DREAM in the Japanese market with the recent signings (Trigg, Schults, Ribeiro, Nakamura, Nastula, etc.) and the announcements of the LW and MW Grand Prix tournaments. Here are the schedules, fight cards and participants for Sengoku 4 and 5...

Sengoku 4
August 24th, 2008
Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan
Takanori Gomi vs Bang Seung Hwan
Makoto Takimoto vs Frank Trigg
Peter Graham vs Moise Rimbon
Pawel Nastula vs Yang Dong Yi
Kazuo Takahashi vs Valentijn Overeem
Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 1st Round match ups:
Satoru Kitaoka vs. Clay French
Eiji Mitsuoka vs. Rodrigo Damm
Kazunori Yokota vs. Bojan Kosednar
Mizuto Hirota vs. Ryan Schultz
Sengoku 5
September 28th, 2008
Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan
Middleweight Grand Prix 2008 1st Round participants:
Kazuhiro Nakamura
Evangelista Cyborg
Siyar Bahadurzada
Jorge Santiago


Sengoku Sign BJJ Champion Xande Ribeiro

Fresh off his World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships (also referred to as the Mundials) victory, Alexandre "Xande" Ribeiro has signed with World Victory Road's Sengoku mma promotion. Having been a dominant force in the world of BJJ over the years (especially in 2006/2008), he'll make the crossover to mixed martial arts come September 28th in Japan. An opponent hasn't been announced yet, but his debut into mma will be cause for many to tune into Sengoku no matter who his opponent is. He'll most likely be fighting at the 185 lbs weight limit, which is a drop in weight from what he competes in BJJ tournaments, which is at 205 lbs. The cut in weight might be an indicator that Sengoku may slot Xande into the Middleweight Grand Prix, which WVR has planned for Sengoku 5.

The 27 year old from Maunus, Amazonas, Brazil trains with Gracie Humaita Academy in Brazil and along side his brother Saulo at their gym (University of Jiu-Jitsu) in San Diego, California. Xande has trained under Royler Gracie and his brother Saulo. His accomplishments in BJJ include earning 8 gold medals at the Mundials (two this year), 6 gold medals at the Pan-American BJJ Championships and numerous world championships at other BJJ/Grappling tournaments. He holds notable victories over Roger Gracie and Gabriel Gonzaga.

Sengoku continue to sign elite BJJ and Judo stars to their roster. BJJ notables include Antonio Braga Neto, Roger Gracie, Jorge Santiago, Rodrigo Damm and Marcio Cruz. Judo notables include Makoto Takimoto, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Pawel Nastula and Hidehiko Yoshida. They also have a few Judo and Wrestling signees currently competing at the Olympics in Beijing. Having established a nice mixture of World Champions and Olympians in various martial arts styles, Sengoku is preparing itself for quality tournaments, which are planned for Sengoku 4 (August 24th) and Sengoku 5 (September 28th).


Monday, August 4, 2008

Affliction Adding New Blood

Affliction is preparing the line up for their second event, which is to take place in Las Vegas on October the 11th. With the news that Fedor will not be able to participate, due to a hand injury, Affliction has gone out and signed some new faces. They have joined the UFC in scouring the remains of the IFL for fighters to sign. Their efforts have led them to sign two reigning champions of the IFL. Light heavyweight Vladimir Matyushenko of Midwest Combat and heavyweight Roy Nelson, who trains with Lions Den will be making their debuts for Affliction at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Roy "Big Country" Nelson (13-2), the 32 year old from Las Vegas, is coming off two title defenses. His first defense was against Brazilian Fabiano Scherner and his last title defense was against fellow American, Brad Imes. Currently on a 5 fight win streak, with his last lost coming against Ben Rothwell in a split decision, where many fans thought he deserved the victory. The signing does make a rematch with Big Ben a good possibility, so this may be on the mind of Roy and Affliction as well. His first bout is going to be with fellow new signee and Xtreme Couture fighter Jay White (2-5), who confirmed the bout over the weekend.

Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko (21-3), the 37 year old has an impressive record and solid victories over big names like Rizzo, Nogueira, Wiuff and Kondo. One of those he's beaten, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is likely to be his first opponent come October 11th. Nogueira will be looking to avenge his loss, while Matyushenko will try to continue to impress and improve his 8 fight win streak. He's coming off his only title defense, which was against Jamal Patterson four months ago. His last loss was against fellow Belarussian and fellow Affliction fighter, Andre Arlovski.

Two solid signings by Affliction. Nelson and Matyushenko are clearly not the biggest names in the sport, but both are on the cusp of most mma site's Top 10 rankings. A couple of big wins for either fighter in Affliction and they could see themselves crack the Top 10 rankings. Another potential signing may be Tito Ortiz, who has been making some mumblings about fighting Renato "Babalu" Sobral. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson Stars in 3 movies...

Here is the list of movies and sources...

First Movie...
Kung Fu U (Kung Fu University)
Second Movie...
Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh
Third Movie...
Blood and Bone...

Should be fun and interesting to see Kimbo in movies, but I wonder how much these movies are taking away from his much needed training. Probably not much, but he still needs to be focused on his fighting career. That said, these movies show that Kimbo is really popular and that he's being signed to appear in movies because of that popularity. It'll also help him gain even more popularity, especially with the kids movies.