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Preview K-1 MAX 2009 Final 16


The most electrifying fight circuit on the planet - the K-1 MAX - begins its search for the 2009 champion on April 21 at the Marine Messe in Fukuoka when 16 fighters do battle in 8 matches with the winners advancing. K-1 English language commentator, MICHAEL SCHIAVELLO, analyses the 16 combatants vying for glory.

Written by Michael Schiavello.

Fight # 1

Albert Kraus

 Does inaugural K-1 MAX champion Kraus still have what it takes to reclaim the title he last held in 2002?
Kraus has the distinct honour of being the only fighter to have defeated Andy Souwer, Masato and Buakaw. He enters the Final 16 after making hard work of Korean Su Hwan Lee in a super fight on February 21.
A resurgence of form sees Kraus on a six-fight winning streak dating back to May 2008, with three of those wins coming via TKO. Though it could easily have been a seven-fight win streak had he not been controversially awarded a loss against Buakaw last April.
One of MAX's best natural boxers with an iron-clad jaw and high workrate, Kraus will need to be active and mobile against Nagashima and beware of the cosplay fighter's wicked right hand.
From a television perspective this is a viewer's dream match: the Leonardo Di Caprio look-alike taking on a man with more dresses than Queen Elizabeth.

Country : The Netherlands
Age : 28
Best Weapon: Durability. Boxing combinations


Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima

 Whether you're a fan of his cosplay outfits or not, you have to respect the in-ring skills of Japan's newest MAX star.
The 24-year-old self-proclaimed "Otaku Fighter" has made the crossover from NJKF to MAX and proved an instant hit. The former NJKF super welterweight champion, he won that title by winning eleven bouts - seven of them by knockout. Particularly impressive was his victory over Furukawa who he pounded mercilessly with a jackhammer right hand for almost one minute solid.
Nagashima shot to worldwide fame at the K-1 MAX Japan tourney in February where he knocked out Hayato before being stopped by a cut over his right eye against Yuya Yamamoto in the semi finals.
With a pulverizing right hand and a never-say-die attitude, expect Nagashima to brawl toe-to-toe with Kraus in a match of fistic fury that will knock the socks (or the stockings, in Nagashima's case) off one fighter.

Country : Japan
Age: 24
Best Weapon : Right cross.


Fight # 2

Buakaw Por. Pramuk

 Whenever a discussion arises as to the finest stand-up fighters on the planet, Muay Thai super star Buakaw Por. Pramuk's name invariably arises. Listed by International Kickboxer Magazine as one of the Top 25 Fighters on the Planet (at # 13 ahead of BJ Penn and Uriah Faber), Buakaw is a human wrecking machine with incredible power in his hands and legs.
Knocked out for the first time in his career against Yoshihiro Sato last July, Buakaw has had two fights since: an easy KO win over Kultar "Black Mamba" Gill in October and a controversial decision loss to Albert Kraus in Eindhoven, Holland (non K-1 fight) in November.
A two-time MAX champion, his 2006 victory was one of the most comprehensive tournament wins in K-1 history (heavyweight or middleweight).
Expect Buakaw to be fresh and focused come April 21. Rather than allow Dida into boxing range where the Brazilian can work his powerful hands, look for Buakaw to smash Dida's legs with his trademark Muay Thai leg kicks and keep the Brazilian at bay with some of the world's best teep kicks (front kicks).

Country : Thailand
Age : 26
Best Weapon : Leg kicks. Front kicks.


Andre Dida

 Former member of the vicious Chute Boxe Academy and a Muay Thai instructor in his own right, MMA fighter Andre "Dida" Amade exploded onto the K-1 MAX scene last year with a stunning first round obliteration of Lithuanian veteran Remigijius Morkevicius.
It looks as if the Hero's 2007 Middleweight Finalist and DREAM Lightweight GP participant is ready to make a fully-fledged run at the MAX championship. Expect him to show no respect for Buakaw and come out hard and fast on the Thai from the opening bell.
The longer this match continues, the greater toll Buakaw's kicks to the legs and body will take. If Dida can catch Buakaw cold in the opening minute and back up the Thai, he could pull off an upset with far greater ramifications than his destruction of Morkevicius.

Country : Brazil
Age : 25
Best Weapon : Wild power punches from all angles.



Yoshihiro Sato

 The Cinderella-story of 2008, Yoshihiro Sato must be licking his lips at the news of Masato's upcoming retirement and the chance to be Japan's number one gun in the MAX.
Sato comes into the fight after an easy second round KO of MMA fighter Sergey Golyaev on February 23 in which he brutalized the Russian's legs. Before that he had gone the distance with Artur Kyshenko at Dynamite and lost by decision in a technical contest laced with power.
A leggy Muay Thai stylist with phenomenal reach, Sato possesses knockout ability with his legs and hands: just see his shocking right-cross KO of Buakaw last year and his stunning knockdown of Masato in the K-1 MAX final four.
Sato will rely upon his legs against Drago, as there is no way he wants to allow the animalistic Armenian into boxing range.

Country : Japan
Age : 28
Best Weapon : Leg kicks.



 A refugee of the Armenian war now based in The Netherlands, Drago is one of the most ferocious, explosive and unpredictable fighters in K-1 MAX.
An unstoppable force early in his kickboxing and Muay Thai career, Drago won 25 of his first 27 bouts and went on an amazing 23 fight win streak including victories over Marco Pique, Murat Direcki, Ali Gunyar and Amir Zeyada. Most impressive has been his knockout ratio, with almost half of his 63 career fights ending via the short route.
Coming off two (non K-1) losses in a row to Chahid Oulad El Hadj (now a MAX fighter) and Murat Direcki, Drago is keen to get back in the winner's circle and will go hell for leather on Sato come April 21.
A fan favourite with one of the most adrenaline-pumping ring entrances on the planet, expect Drago to pull out all the stops on Sato in what could be one of this event's most exhilarating matches.

Country : Armenia
Age: 24
Best Weapon : Hard hands. Workrate. Aggression.



Giorgio Petrosyan

 Italian-Armenian Muay Thai fighter Petrosyan makes his MAX debut on April 21 and brings with him a wealth of international experience.
The WMC Intercontinental middleweight champion enters this fight against Askerov on an amazing... wait for it ... 18-fight win streak dating back to 2007! Among the scalps he has claimed are such notables as: Marco Pique, Naruepol Fairtex and Warren Stevelmans. However it is the last fight result that most impresses, with Petrosyan defeating two-time MAX champion Andy Souwer by extra round decision on March 14 in Italy.
Petrosyan is as gifted a Muay Thai fighter as you will find. Technically flawless he is a top-level counter-fighter who has knockout power, with 30 of his 55 career wins ending by KO, including one third of the current winning streak.

Country : Italy / Armenia
Age : 23
Best Weapon : Counter fighting.


Dzhabar Chengiskhan Askerov

 Muay Thai stylist Askerov shot to worldwide fame in 2008 as part of The Contender Asia television reality series filmed in Singapore. He made it to the final four of the series before losing to former K-1 MAX fighter Wayne Parr by controversial decision in Episode 14.
A well-built specimen with the face of a demented Muppet, Askerov is known as "Mr Bomb" due to the massive power he packs in his overhand right. It was this right hand that produced the most devastating knockout of The Contender Asia series against Australia's Soren Monkontong who Askerov laid out cold for several minutes.
Finalist in the K-1 MAX Scandinavia tournament in 2008 where he TKO'd Jordan Tai, decisioned Marco Pique and lost a controversial decision in the final to Marcus Oberg, Askerov is based out of Thailand where he trains at both Rompo Gym alongside Arslan Magamedov and the WMC Camp in Koh Samui with Hanarong and Nokveed Davy.

Country : UAE
Age : 23
Best Weapon : Overhand right.



Taishin Kohiruimaki

 The man known as "Kohi" was written off by many pundits but proved his critics wrong by winning the K-1 MAX Japan tournament in February in emphatic fashion. His win over Andy Ologun in the quarter final was messy; his win over 2008 MAX Japan champion Yasuhiro Kido by first round KO in just 58 seconds was phenomenal; and his victory over Yuya Yamamoto by decision in the final showed all and sundry that Kohi is far from being a spent force.
Now the sport's only three-time MAX Japan champion, it is time for Kohi to finally live up to the massive expectation that is placed upon him year after year. Standing just shy of six feet, he is one of MAX's tallest competitors who uses his Muay Thai skills to great effect, including crippling knees and long leg kicks. His fabled front kick off the rear leg is considered one of the best on the planet, though to his credit Kohi didn't rely on the technique in winning his this MAX Japan crown.

Country : Japan
Age : 31
Best Weapon : Knees. Rear Leg Front Kick.


Chi Bin Lim

 Lightly built Korean fighter Lim recently won the K-1 MAX Korea tournament for a third time with wins over Su Hwan Lee (KO), Se Ki Kim (KO) and Min Seok Kwon (dec).
Lim gets another roll of the dice in the Final 16 and will hope to do better than last year when Yasuhiro Kido knocked him out with a jumping knee in just one round.
The last time Lim and Kohi met was in 2006 when Lim lost by third round KO. He has never beaten a top flight K-1 MAX fighter, with losses to Masato, Kraus and Kyshenko also on his record of 9 - 6.

Country : Korea
Age : 29
Best Weapon : Hand combinations.



Artur Kyshenko

 Twenty-two year old Kyshenko is touted by most to be a future K-1 MAX champion. After his incredible performances in 2008 where he defeated Andy Souwer, Jordan Tai and Shingo Garyu; reached the final of the MAX against Masato whom he knocked down; and defeated Yoshihiro Sato at Dynamite, it would seem that the future is now for the Ukrainian.
A Muay Thai stylist with a huge helping of power, Kyshenko possesses wicked leg kicks and body shots (particularly to the liver) second only to Andy Souwer.
Kyshenko's no-nonsense fight style reminds us of the early days for former K-1 heavyweight star Alexey Ignashov, who utilized a very similar gameplan of leg kicks, body shots, a stiff jab and knees to defeat opponents. Having won nine of his last ten fights and knocked out 21 opponents in 37 career fights, all augurs well for Kyshenko to go one better than 2008 and claim the MAX championship this year.

Country : Ukraine
Age : 22
Best Weapon : Liver punch.


Alviar Lima

 Known as "The Machine", the Cape Verdean/Dutch Muay Thai stylist scored one of the greatest knockouts ever seen in 2008 with his awesome left hook against Nicky Holtzen in January on a Beast of the East promotion.
A former champion of the now defunct Super League and a Muay Thai champion at middleweight and super middleweight, Lima is an aggressive fighter who trains alongside Albert Kraus at Super Pro Gym under the tutelage of Denis Krauweel.
This is a tough ask for Lima who has only fought in Japan once before when knocked out Marc Vogel of Germany in the second round last July at the Budokan.

Country : Cape Verde
Age : 31
Best Weapon : Left Hook


Nieky Holzken vs Chahid Oulad El Hadj

Nieky Holzken

 "The Natural" made an explosive Japanese debut in 2008 with a stunning first round right hook knockout of Virgil Kalakoda at the Budokan last October.
Holzken comes into April 21 on a six fight winning streak over world class fighters including Joeri Mes by spinning back kick KO; William Diender by body shot KO; and Marco Pique by left hook. He has also gone the distance with Buakaw and Andy Souwer, losing to both by decision.
Training out of the fabled Golden Glory Gym under the watchful eye of Cor Hemmers and Ramon Dekker, Holzken is a technically sound and aggressive fighter who stands almost six feet tall and knows how to use his reach.
Holzken and Chahid represent two of K-1 MAX's new bloods, both getting their first crack at the final 16. For those fans that have followed the careers of these European-based fighters, this is a match to look forward to and could prove the fight of the night.

Country : Netherlands
Age : 25
Best Weapon : Left Hook. Right Hook.



 Moroccan/Dutch fighter Chahid is a technically gifted Muay Thai stylist who recently defeated Fermin Rodriguez by decision on an It's Showtime promotion in February. In fact most of Chahid's wins have come via decision. His KO ratio stands at only 10 in 32 career wins.
At 20 years old he represents a new generation of K-1 MAX fighters and has claimed some impressive scalps, including: Murat Direcki (decision), Drago (decision), Samkor (decision) and William Diender (decision).
A lightly built fighter who will be dwarfed by Holzken, Chahid is trained in Rotterdam by his brother Hamid.

Country : Morocco
Age : 20
Best Weapon : Counter fighting.



Andy Souwer

 What can you say about the sublime Andy Souwer that hasn't been said before. A two-time MAX champion and one of the finest fighters of any code, he was listed by International Kickboxer Magazine as the 11th Top Fighter in the World last year.
Souwer has held more titles than just about any kick fighter including: two S-Cup titles, WSBA super welterweight world champion, WMTA, WKA, ISKA, WPKA and FIMC Muay Thai world championships and of course the 2005 and 2007 K-1 MAX titles.
Souwer's amazing career record of 130-7-1 with 84 knockouts speaks for itself. He has defeated everyone who is anyone in the world of middleweight kickboxing and Muay Thai including: Yodsanklai (decision), Masato (decision & TKO), Mike Zambidis (KO), Albert Kraus (decision), Daniel Dawson (decision) and Buakaw (decision).
It's hard to find a fault in Souwer's gameplan. His leg kicks are precise and painful; his defence almost impenetrable; his combinations perhaps second only to Masato; and his liver punches may be the best in the world at this weight or any weight.

Country : Netherlands
Age : 26
Best Weapon : Leg Kicks. Combinations. Liver Punch.


Leroy Kaestner

 Leroy Kaestner shot to fame on March 1 when he won the K-1 MAX Netherlands tournament. In his first quarter final he defeated Ali Gunyar in what can only be described as an all-out war. In the semi finals he beat Mohammed Rahoui by close decision. Then in the final he beat the favourite Marco Pique by decision to take the crown and cement his spot in the MAX Final 16.
A diminutive Muay Thai stylist (he's only 5' 5") with an all-round game, what particularly impresses about Kaestner is his leg kick attacks, both offensively and as a counter-attacking weapon. He has the ability to tenderize opponents' front and back legs, inside and outside thighs with equal measure.

Country : Netherlands
Age : 20
Best Weapon : Leg kicks.



Post new comment
Rob, Holland reporter (1964 posts)
Posted: 2009-04-10 at: 03:35
Some very interesting insights summarized in a nice way. But I expected he'd reveal his picks for these bouts and of course why.
Maybe he'll join FOK1 and post it in the forumsection ;-)
D-rop, Video editor (2420 posts)
Posted: 2009-04-10 at: 05:46

Yeah, If Michael Schiavello want to stay 'up-to-date' in K-1, he will have to visit FansOfK1.com regularly.
Surely he will soon give his expert opinion/predictions about these fights in our forum.
Pablo (795 posts)
Posted: 2009-04-13 at: 10:04
Beautifully told, no doubt, some of these short reviews are almost concise encyclopaedia articles in themselves. I still think much of the BuakawvsDida, KyshenkovsLima, PetrosyanvsAskerov and SatovsDrago matches; although he's not a complete fighter in a classical sense, I always enjoy watching Kraus fight (a live reminiscence of 2002, maybe?), I'm very interested about what Kaestner will do against Souwer and, of course, burn in advance for the Holzken vs Chahid fight, which can turn out to be the most exciting one in the evening
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