Undefeated Croatian prospect Goran
Reljic(Pictures), who made a successful UFC debut
with a second round TKO over American Top Team’s Wilson
Gouveia(Pictures) at UFC 84 “Ill Will” in May, has
decided that he will compete in the middleweight division in the
future, despite getting off to a flying start in the Octagon.
Reljic meets Brazilian Thales
Leites(Pictures) (13-1) at UFC 90 “Silva vs. Cote”
on Oct. 25 at the Allstate Arena in Chicago.
The move down to 185 pounds has puzzled fans and experts alike as
the 24-year-old -- who splits training between Roger
Gracie(Pictures)’s academy in London and Mirko "Cro
Cop" Filipovic(Pictures)’s gym in Zagreb -- looked
well-sized at light heavyweight peppering Gouveia, an experienced
striker, with devastating punches and kicks.
It appears that Reljic is not content with “just” winning and
finishing his fights early -- he has his sights set on becoming a
true force to reckon with in the middleweight division.
“I walk around at 230 pounds, so when I make the drop down to
middleweight, I will physically be the biggest fighter in the whole
division for sure,” Reljic told Sherdog.com.
All 205-pounders currently under contract with Zuffa will only get
a breather though, as the move only appears to be a temporary
“I do plan to get back to 205 [pounds] eventually, don’t worry,”
Sengoku Georgians compete at
Two months ago, World Victory Road’s Sengoku promotion announced
the signing of the Georgian wrestling quartet of Eldari
Kurtanidze(Pictures), Georgi Gogchelidze, Ramaz
Nozadze and Zurab Zviadauri.
Currently in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, Nozadze already
started his campaign for gold last Thursday, but came up short
against Czech Republic's Marek Svec in the quarterfinals.
Two-time freestyle world champion Gogchelidze and 2004 Olympic
Greco-Roman silver medalist Nozadze will both see action this
The Caucasus natives compete in the 96kg weight class -- both
considered pre-tournament favorites by the bookmakers -- making
them light heavyweight fighters by MMA standards.
Georgian fighters, especially wrestlers, have held a special appeal
in Japan since the mid-nineties, when the two brother pairs Ameran
and Tariel Bitsadze and Koba and Zaza Tkeshelashvili made a name
for themselves in the now-defunct Rings organization.
With the Japanese tradition of inviting Olympic medalists to
compete in MMA on New Year’s Eve, fans following the Games should
pay special attention to the action going on in the wrestling and
judo tournaments. FEG and WVR executives are already salivating
over the thought of having Japanese judoka Satoshi Ishii or huge
French teenager Teddy Riner fight in one of their rings.
Hardy: ‘Next Bisping’ doesn’t buy into
Even though top UK welterweight prospect Dan Hardy(Pictures) is being billed as “the next
Bisping(Pictures)” by the UFC’s marketing machine,
the 26-year-old Team Rough House fighter is taking his promotional
debut fight against seasoned Japanese veteran Akihiro Gono(Pictures) at UFC 89 very seriously.
Hardy is currently in the U.S. splitting time between the Xtreme
Couture and 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu camps in order to be in top shape
for his battle with the Tokyo fighter in Birmingham, England.
“The Outlaw” will return to UK soil at the end of the month and
will spend the remaining six weeks until Oct. 18 training with his
Rough House teammates Paul Daley(Pictures), Lee
Livingstone(Pictures) and Andre
Winner(Pictures). Hardy’s management is even
contemplating bringing in some additional sparring partners from
around Europe to leave nothing to chance.
Diabate starts strong in ShoXC
French Muay Thai stylist Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate waged a
successful comeback against American submission specialist Jaime
Fletcher(Pictures) last Friday during the latest
installment of ShoXC “Elite Challenger Series” on Showtime. Diabate
took the bout via a unanimous decision.
Diabate, 35, broke his ankle in training for a fight against
Wiuff(Pictures) last December and after six
months of rehab and two months of hard training, showed that he is
now again nearing top form.
“I wasn't totally satisfied with my performance,” Diabate told
Sherdog.com. “My moves didn't come naturally enough. Nothing was
flowing like usual. I had a lot of opportunities where I could have
ended the fight, but because of hesitating, the fight went the
distance even if I dominated.”
Still, Diabate felt there was something to be learned.
“This fight was perfect to know where I’m at right now and to know
what's working for me,” he said. “I want to be 100 percent for my
next fight and if I’m at my top level I’m confident that I can take
out all the best light heavyweights Elite XC dishes out for me.
Regardless whether I get to fight [Rafael] Feijao [Cavalcante] next
or anybody else, I want the belt and I’m very determined on having
The big striker from La Celle-Saint-Clou made a name for himself
during his 2005-2006 stint in Japan. Of his five bouts in Japan,
the Snake lost only one -- a first-round technical knockout at the
hands of Pride middleweight grand prix winner Mauricio Rua(Pictures) in September 2006.
Polish Precis: KSW, Bedorf, Cage Rage, and
• Top Polish promotion KSW has announced the majority of its roster
for KSW “Extra” on Sept. 13, as Przemyslaw Zbiciak, Artur Sowinski,
Jedrzej Kubski and Maciej Gorski will do battle in a one-night,
four-man lightweight tournament.
In a superfight, experienced Polish jiu-jitsu player Krzysztof
Kulak will take on talented German grappler Florian MÃ¼ller. Fellow
KSW team members Antoni Chmielewski, Lukasz Jurkowski, Daniel Dowda
and Jan Blachowicz are also scheduled to appear on the card.
• Undefeated rapper-turned-fighter Popek Rak(Pictures) will make his next appearance
inside the cage at FX3 Fight Night 9 "The Reckoning" in Reading,
England. Rak will take on Dutch kickboxer Sander Duyvis, who trains
at Mike’s Gym -- the same facility Dream star Melvin
Manhoef(Pictures) hails from. Although Duyvis is
just 1-1 in MMA, he is a serious step up in competition for
• Heavyweight Piotr
Kusmierz(Pictures) will fight in the main event of
Cage Rage 28 on Sept. 20 at The Troxy in London. “The Doctor” will
face none other than James
Thompson(Pictures), who has lost his last three
fights on British soil. A recent foil to Kevin “Kimbo Slice”
Ferguson on CBS, Thompson will try to reverse his fortunes against
the Polish rookie. At 6-foot-2 and a solid 250 pounds, the Team
Bloodline fighter will be no pushover though.
• Three-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu European champion Karol Bedorf is
planning to dedicate himself to fighting in MMA full time. The
25-year-old heavyweight made his debut last November, getting to
the semifinals of the KSW 8 heavyweight tournament before losing to
vastly experienced Ukrainian and eventual winner Alexey
Oleinik(Pictures) in only his second MMA bout.
On Sept. 21, Bedorf will compete in a one-night, eight-man,
open-weight tournament, which will also feature former WKA
kickboxing world champion Dirk Thielecke, German Top Team
heavyweight Thorsten Kronz and powerful judoka Lars Weber.
Regardless of the outcome, the Szczecin Top Team member is already
booked to fight in a local show in mid-October in his native
Poland. If Bedorf, an ADCC qualifier in 2007, continues to improve
his striking and dedicates himself to MMA full time, he will be a
force to reckon with in the next two years.
Superior Challenge moved, Aziz vs. Fernandez
Everyone’s attention will be on Birmingham, England on Oct. 18, so
the men behind top-notch Swedish promotion Superior Challenge have
moved their event series to the following weekend.
Superior Challenge’s first show took place on April 5 and earned
rave reviews from the Scandinavian fight scene. UFC fighter
Bielkheden(Pictures) even went as far as calling it
the “best event to ever take place in Sweden.”
While the inaugural event had a total of ten fights, including a
‘Sweden versus England’ mini-series, promoter Manos Terzitane is
looking to up the ante with a strong card of up to sixteen
In the featherweight division, undefeated Swedish prospect Sami
Aziz will look to keep his unbeaten record intact as he takes on
seasoned French veteran Emanuel Fernandez. Aziz beat Fernandez’
younger brother Frederic at the first show, so taking on
“Pythagoras” seems the next logical step.
For more mixed martial arts news coverage in the German
language, log on to Ground & Pound at www.groundandpound.de