This is a jam packed weekend for kickboxing fans, with big shows from It’s Showtime, K-1 ColliZion, and the K-1 MAX Finals on Monday. All week we will preview the weekend’s events, starting with ColliZion today.
This Saturday’s K-1 ColliZion card is an interesting beast. What started off looking like something of a freakshow card has evolved into one of the most exciting smaller shows of the year, with a couple of highly competitive and interesting fights. While the undercard features some notable fighters (mainly Petr Vondracek and Freddy Kemayo), we’ll focus on the top three fights of the night, as these are the draws that make this card.
ALEXANDRU LUNGU v. JUSTICE SMITH (MMA rules)
This is one of two fights ColliZion determined by fan voting, as it was going to be either Lungu v. Smith or Lungu v. Butterbean. Justice Smith won by a narrow margin, and now looks to follow in Gina Carano’s footsteps by making the transition from American Gladiator to combat MMA fighter. Smith does have limited experience in MMA and kickboxing, including an MMA loss to UFC #1 contender Shane Carwin, and a kickboxing loss to Mighty Mo, but make no mistake, it is not his ring experience that gets him this spot, it is his high profile role as American Gladiator Justice. As a bonus for pro wrestling fans, Smith may also be recognizable as one of the contestants on WWE’s Tough Enough, losing to fellow MMA fighter Daniel Puder.
His opponent is Alexandru Lungu, a near 400 pound, massively rotund fighter who shares a physique style with former potential opponent Butterbean. Lungu is a somewhat decorated Judo player, and has decent MMA experience with a record of 4-1 including wins over Tom Erikson, the reliably weird Warpath, and a loss to James Thompson in Pride. He’s a power puncher, who really knows how to use his weight against opponents once he gets them down. It’s rumored that if Lungu wins here, he gets a fight at Dynamite!! on New Year’s Eve.
Looking at Smith’s website, you don’t see much of a fighter. Smith describes himself as “Actor, Martial Arts Expert”. It’s clear this is an area he only dabbles in, and as a result, I don’t see this going well for him. Lungu is a quick finisher, so if Smith can push the fight past the opening minutes he has a strong chance, but I look for Lungu to put a pounding on Smith en route to a quick KO.
RAUL CATINAS v. DZEVAD POTURAK
For the hardcore kickboxing fans this is a great fight. Catinas recently had the highest profile fights of his career, competing in this spring’s K-1 Grand Prix qualifier in Lodz, where he made it to the semi-finals, losing to eventual champion Zabit Samedov. A stocky, powerful fighter, Catinas brings a mix of solid technical skills combined with brawling and power. Praised at the Lodz show, and at only 21 years old, Catinas is a fighter who has the potential to really climb the ladder in the coming years, and will undoubtedly be hungry for a big win here.
His opponent is one of the most slept on fighters currently competing. A seven year veteran with a record of 44-10-1, Poturak has competed and won on smaller level K-1 shows for years. He’s a deceptively powerful striker, with a dangerous all around game which he has used to defeat Melvin Manhoef and recent K-1 star Daniel Ghita, two absolutely huge names to hold on your record. He also defeated Catinas by decision in a previous meeting last year.
Coming off a win against Vondracek in July, Poturak has all the skills to not only defeat Catinas, but keep winning and make his way up the K-1 ladder. Despite his resume, he’s never had a shot at a big K-1 event, but with a convincing win here, perhaps that will change. I’ll pick Poturak to win this, but no matter who wins, look for that fighter to get a shot at K-1 in 2010.
CATALIN MOROSANU v. MIGHTY MO
The main event is one of those fights where you know exactly what to expect, you just don’t know how it will end up. These are two heavy-handed, hyper-aggressive sluggers and there is no doubt they will go at it until one falls. The question is – who?
Morosanu is an exciting younger fighter who has scored a number of solid wins. Unfortunately he pairs those wins with loses in his more high profile fights, including his recent embarrassing DQ loss to Taiei Kin at the Final 16. With videos of him using wine to hulk up a la Popeye, running over pictures of Kin in his trailer, and attacking Kin after the bell, Morosanu is developing quite the reputation as a wildcard. Of course, this is exactly the kind of personality that draws in fans, as evidenced by the overwhelming fan support for him as Mo’s opponent here. And Morosanu backs that personality up in the ring. He’s yet to get that big win that really launches his career, but you get the feeling it could come at any moment. And even if it doesn’t, his personality is strong enough that he may continue to get high profile fights.
Mo is, in many ways, the mirror image of Morosanu, just further down the road. In 2007 Mo was red hot, winning the Hawaii Grand Prix and earning a spot in the K-1 Final 16 where he lost a controversial decision to Hong Man Choi. But after ending 2007 on a disastrous losing streak, Mo has not regained his footing. It’s been over a year since his last kickboxing fight (a win against none other than Justice Smith), and at 39, you have to question how much he still has in the tank.
Always an entertaining fighter, you know that Mo will still bring the aggression and excitement here, but it’s remains unclear if he can compete with the younger Morosanu. I suspect not, and look for Morosanu to get the win. Still, Mo is a tough fighter to stop, and I could easily see this one going to a hard fought decision.
The complete card is as follows:
James Philips v. Shamil Abasov
Mladen Brestovac v. Koos Wessels
Tibor Nagy v. Mounis Zekhini
Mihaita Golescu v. Petr Vondracek
Freddy Kemayo v. Roman Kleibl
Alex Lungu v. Justice Smith (MMA)
Raul Catinas v. Dzevad Poturak
Catalin Morosanu v. Mighty Mo
Check back later today and all week for videos from the main event fighters.