There was a collective sigh of relief throughout mixed martial arts
circles in France last Sunday when news broke that the government
had legalized the sport after a long struggle. The country was the
last of the major European nations that still banned MMA.
After months of supreme efforts by fighters like Jess Liaudin (Pictures) and Cyrille Diabate (Pictures) as well as movie directors like
Paul Beletre and Omar Bouhelal, the government department for
heath, youth and sports softened its tone and made major
concessions to one of Europe's major fighting nations.
As of Jan. 27, French promoters are allowed to hold events under
Shooto rules. The only restrictions are the use of elbow strikes to
the head of a downed opponent, which remains illegal. Referees are
also advised to immediately stop any bout in which a fighter takes
three clean shots to the head on the ground, regardless of the
competitor's experience inside the ring.
To speed up the organization and regulation of new shows, French
fighters have created an MMA commission. PRIDE Bushido veteran and
Fightsport magazine founder Bertrand Amoussou has been
appointed president of the commission, which immediately joined the
French Federation of Full Contact Sports.
The legalization of MMA in their home country will give French
fighters, who are already considered among the best in Europe, even
more opportunities to improve and display their skills. Fans around
the world can look forward to more exciting fighters in the mold of
Samy Schiavo (Pictures), Moise Rimbon and Cheick Kongo (Pictures).
Unlike Sherdog.com, which chose Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as the
strongest performer of 2007, readers of the German Web site
groundandpound.de have voted for Anderson Silva as the successor
of Mirko "Cro Cop" (2006) and Mauricio Rua (Pictures) (2005) as fighter of the
The 32-year-old Brazilian, who successfully defended his UFC
middleweight championship three times last year, snatched 46.2
percent of the votes. Quinton Jackson (Pictures) (30.8 percent) and Randy Couture (Pictures) (17.1 percent) finished second
and third respectively.
The Ground & Pound Awards, which were given out for the third
consecutive year in 2007, awarded prizes to fighters, fight teams,
fights, promotions and events. Fans, fighters, managers, promoters
and trainers from all over the world decided on winners in 16
Fighter of the Year: Anderson Silva (Brazil)
Female Fighter of the Year: Tara Larosa (Pictures) (USA)
Fight Team of the Year: Xtreme Couture (USA)
Rookie of the Year: Thiago
Silva (Pictures) (Brazil)
Most Improved Fighter: Robbie
Lawler (Pictures) (USA)
Best Young Fighter: Rameau Thierry
Sokoudjou (Pictures) (Cameroon)
Cult Fighter of the Year: Jason Miller (USA)
German Fighter of the Year: Dennis Siver (Pictures) (Mannheim)
Boxer of the Year: Floyd Mayweather Jr. (USA)
Kickboxer of the Year: Semmy
Schilt (Pictures) (Holland)
Grappler of the Year: Marcelo Garcia (Pictures) and Roger Gracie (Pictures) (both Brazil)
Fight of the Year: Takanori
Gomi (Pictures) vs. Nick Diaz (Pictures) (PRIDE 33)
Knockout of the Year: Gabriel Gonzaga (Pictures) vs. Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) (UFC 70)
Submission of the Year: Nick
Diaz (Pictures) vs. Takanori Gomi (Pictures) (PRIDE 33)
Best Promotion: Ultimate Fighting Championship
Fight Event of the Year: PRIDE 33 "The Second Coming"
A group of three European fighters will be in action Friday in
Canada at Hardcore Championship Fighting's "Destiny" event.
The most prominent spot on the card features Armenia's "Young
Vagabond" Gegard Mousasi
(Pictures) squaring off against grim
Chute Boxer Evangelista
Santos (Pictures). The bout against "Cyborg" will
be Mousasi's first of two bouts within 30 days, as the well-rounded
22-year-old fighter has another match coming up against Dutchman
Dave Dalgliesh on March
2 in Holland.
Not quite as busy but faced with an equal challenge is Croatian
kickboxer Damir Mirenic,
who lost his North American debut against Mousasi last October. The
33-year-old middleweight takes on Team Quest fighter Mike Pyle (Pictures). "Quicksand," as the very
experienced Pyle is dubbed, went 3-3 in the IFL and in EliteXC over
the past two years.
Also on the card is Miodrag Petkovic. The
39-year-old Serbian submission specialist is set to make his HCF
debut against undefeated Canadian King of the Cage champion
Tim Hague. Even though he
had a rough spell recently, dropping four of his last five fights,
they don't call Petkovic "Pele" for no reason: The 6-foot-2,
250-pounder has knocked out Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic's sparring
partner Igor Pokrajac