European MMA is heading down the home stretch for 2007, but not without churning out a few more interesting events in the remaining six weeks of the year. Get the lowdown on shows from Slovenia, Germany, Russia and Belgium. Plus: A trio of Euro fighters make waves in Japan.
‘Bad Sunday' in Slovenia
After canceling an event in May because too many fighters had dropped out due to injury or better financial offers, promoter WFC is now back with its third show. Headlining the Nov. 18 card, which takes place in Domžale near Slovenia's capital Ljubljana, are PRIDE veterans Rodney Faverus and Jean Francois Lenogue (Pictures).
Faverus, a Dutch fighter competing in his first MMA fight this year after a broken hand, will take on undefeated Croatian judoka Maro Perak. The busy Frenchman Lenogue, who has a fight with Hector Lombard (Pictures) scheduled just five days later in Australia, will go head to head with super-strong Chechnyan samboist Arslanbek Askharov.
The lone bout that made it from the cancelled show to this one is the confrontation between Italy-based Brazilian Fabricio Nascimento (Pictures) and Lithuanian HERO'S veteran Mindaugas Smirnovas (Pictures). Nascimento lost a decision to the Baltic Muay Thai specialist on his home turf in Modena in March and is looking for revenge on neutral ground.
Rodney Faverus vs. Maro Perak
Arslanbek Askharov vs. Jean Francois Lenogue (Pictures)
Fabricio Nascimento (Pictures) vs. Mindaugas Smirnovas (Pictures)
Bojan Kosednar vs. Dragan Bakula
Traian Carciuc vs. Michele Verginelli
Daniel Marhold vs. Igor Mihaljevic
Adnan Redzovic vs. Zinedine Hameur-Lain
Domagoj Ostojic (Pictures) vs. Sergey Shemetov
Jose Baraddas vs. Roel Rink
Alfredo Limonta vs. Francisco Veras
Nives Radic vs. Jennifer Trustfull
After suffering a brutal knockout loss at the hands of Cage Rage welterweight champion Paul Daley (Pictures) in March, Germany's Daniel Weichel, widely considered to be one of the top-10 170-pound fighters in Europe, is continuing his comeback. He already made the first step in April, when he submitted countryman Fatih Balci via triangle choke.
The 22-year-old jiu-jitsu expert, who holds wins over Cage Rage British lightweight champion Abdul Mohamed (Pictures) and UFC veteran Dennis Siver (Pictures), will try to make the second step against little-known American fighter Chas Jacquier in Darmstadt on Nov. 25. The fight is part of the Tempel Mix Fight Gala 6, which also features a Muay Thai title fight between Muhammed Gür of Turkey and Vasilis Natsis of Greece.
Taktarov Back in BodogFIGHT ‘Russia vs. USA 2'
Although unnoticed by American fans, bodogFIGHT has started selling tickets for its second pay-per-view show from Russia, aptly named "Russia vs. USA 2."
The Nov. 30 event will again take place at the Khodynka Arena in Moscow, which played host to the super fight between Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) and Matt Lindland (Pictures) in April.
Because of cost-cutting measures inside the promotion, the card may not be as stacked with superstars as in the past but still features some intriguing matchups. UFC legend Oleg Taktarov will come out of retirement to fight UFC veteran John Marsh (Pictures) in the main event. We will have more on the comeback of the "Russian Bear" later this week.
Alexander Kokoev vs. Sultan Tikhayev
Ivan Anikanov vs. Besiki Gerenava
Stanislav Shushko vs. Thalmann Sheriffs
Vladimir Zenin (Pictures) vs. James "Binky" Jones
Constantine Glukhov vs. Dan Evensen (Pictures)
Julia Berezikova (Pictures) vs. Jessica Aguilar
Akhmet Sultans vs. "Big" Eric Pele (Pictures)
Vladimir Kuchenko vs. Wagner da Conceicao Martins (Pictures)
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Diego Vitosky
Andrei Semenov (Pictures) vs. Emyr Bussade
Oleg Taktarov vs. John Marsh (Pictures)
Hardy, Oumakhanov Advance in Cage Force
Two European fighters have made it to the finals of Cage Force's eight-man lightweight and welterweight tournaments.
Englishman Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy won a decision over King of Pancrase Daizo Ishige (Pictures) and knocked out HERO's veteran Hidetaka Monma (Pictures) to book his place in the 170-pound final. There he will meet up-and-coming Japanese knockout artist Yoshiyuki Yoshida (Pictures) in what should be another fantastic standup war.
Meanwhile, Russian kickboxer Artur Oumakhanov (Pictures)'s path was delayed when Chute Boxer Andre Amade (Pictures) knocked him out in K-1 HERO'S. Since he was not fit to compete on Sept. 8, promoter GCM had to reschedule his semifinal bout against experienced Shooter Tomonari Kanomata (Pictures) for this past Sunday.
Oumakhanov edged out his Japanese opponent on a somewhat controversial doctor's stoppage. In the opening round, he had won a split decision over well-rounded DEEP vet Wataru Miki (Pictures).
Oumakhanov's opponent on Dec. 1 will be Killer Bee fighter Koutetsu Boku (Pictures). The 30-year-old teammate of Japanese mega-star Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto holds wins over former UFC lightweight title challenger Hermes Franca (Pictures) and former Shooto lightweight king Alexandre Franca Nogueira (Pictures).
Boku should without a doubt be Oumakhanov's toughest adversary to date. Although a win redeems the Russian after his loss to Amade, a loss could very well kill off his young career as a top contender.
Milano in Tokyo
Shooto's final show of the year on Dec. 8 provides another interesting story from a European perspective: the tale of Paolo Milano (Pictures).
The Italian kickboxer had lived in London for nine years and even fought on smaller shows such as the UK Mixed Martial Arts Championship, Intense Fighting and Cage Rage Contenders. Then he watched the "Rites of Passage" documentary and decided he wanted to train in Japan.
Enter legendary trainer Yuki Nakai (Pictures), who invited him to Paraestra Tokyo and used his connections with promoter Sustain to place the Italian in Shooto. Even though he lost his first bout against Keisuke Sakai (Pictures), Milano was invited back and turned more than a few heads in July when he submitted Takayuki Ohkouchi (Pictures) in just 16 seconds.
With world-class training partners like Nakai and Shooto middleweight champion Shinya Aoki (Pictures), the Bruce Lee fan now aspires to become an A-Class Shootor -- a professional fighter who also gets to compete for championships. Standing in Milano's way is the much more experienced Koumei Okada (Pictures).
Will the pupil of NHB legend Enson Inoue end the Italian's dream of entering the professional elite or will we see him challenge the likes of Takashi Nakakura (Pictures), Ganjo Tentsuku (Pictures) and Yusuke Endo (Pictures) in the future?
Charleroi to ‘Encounter the Braves'
Nine days before Christmas, Charleroi -- Belgium's steel city, like Pittsburgh -- will host one of the strongest lineups of any MMA card in Europe this year. At Shooto Belgium 4 "Encounter the Braves," top fighters from France and the Netherlands will clash in a highly competitive country-versus-country showdown.
Team France will be captained by madman Jean Francois Lenogue (Pictures), who will be fighting his third bout in less than a month if he makes it unscathed through encounters with Askharov and Lombard. Also representing "La Grande Nation" are PRIDE veteran David Baron (Pictures) and his teammate Casimir Bendy, who is undefeated in his last six fights.
Team Holland has a top representative of its own in reigning Shooto light heavyweight champion Syiar Bahadurzada. The "Afghan Killa" is joined by fellow Shooto veteran Marc Duncan (Pictures), his undefeated pupil Niek Tromp and controversial grappler Willy Ni (Pictures). The Dutch duo of Vincent Latoel and Arno Verbrak will also scuffle with Czech opposition.
Jean Francois Lenogue (Pictures) vs. Syiar Bahadurzada
Tarec Saffiedine vs. Yannis Jacquet
Willy Ni (Pictures) vs. Wim Deputter
Vaclav Pribyl vs. Vincent Latoel
Tomas Kuzela vs. Arno Verbrak
David Baron (Pictures) vs. Niek Tromp*
Casimir Bendy vs. Marc Duncan (Pictures)**
*Shooto Europe middleweight title fight
** Shooto Europe welterweight title fight
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