Mousasi, Kawajiri Added to K-1 Dynamite


K-1 and Dream parent company Fighting & Entertainment Group have added divisional heavyhitters Gegard Mousasi and Tatsuya Kawajiri to their New Year’s Eve extravaganza “Dynamite 2008,” which will take place at the Super Saitama Arena in Saitama, Japan.

With matchmaker and president Sadaharu Tanigawa unable to put together a “unification bout” between reigning Dream middleweight grand prix winner and middleweight champion Mousasi and Hero’s light heavyweight tournament winner Yoshihiro Akiyama, the “Young Vagabond” will now face local favorite Musashi in a K-1 rules (standup only) match.

Mousasi’s newest assignment rules out the talented Armenian from participating at Affliction’s Jan. 24 sophomore event in Anaheim, Calif. Two months ago, there had been rumors of a potential middleweight clash between the 23-year-old standout and former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort. Mousasi’s U.S. debut will have to wait for now.

After his impressive tournament win in September, Mousasi had said the only attractive fight FEG could offer him at 185 pounds would be against controversial judoka turned pop icon Yoshihiro Akiyama. The 33-year-old Korean has shown no interest in fighting Mousasi, however, and has set his sights on bouts against fellow judoka Satoshi Ishii or extravagant grappler Shinya Aoki instead.

K-1 veteran Musashi has over eighty kickboxing bouts under his belt. The 36-year-old Seido Kaikan karate practitioner peaked in 2003-2004 when he was able to reach the finals of the prestigious K-1 World Grand Prix twice, but lost via decision to Dutchman Remy Bonjasky both times. Musashi was eliminated from this year’s competition by Brazilian fighter Ewerton Teixeira in the quarterfinal round.

Also added to the card, former Shooto welterweight champion and Dream lightweight grand prix semifinalist Kawajiri will take on former muay Thai world champion and K-1 MAX Japan tournament finalist Kozo Takeda in a K-1 rules lightweight contest.

There had been strong rumors of the “Crusher” taking on fellow former Shooto welterweight champion Caol Uno in a rematch of their 2004 bout, which was ruled a draw after 15 minutes. But after the 30-year-old wrestler showed greatly improved standup skills in his TKO loss to Eddie Alvarez in July, FEG seems encouraged enough to book Kawajiri in a kickboxing bout.

Takeda, who turns 36 four days prior to the fight, is arguably five years removed from his prime. He has lost six of his last eight kickboxing bouts, getting knocked out by Takayuki Kohiruimaki, Kazuyuki Miyata and Andy Souwer. His most convincing performance in recent times went five rounds with longtime K-1 MAX kingpin Buakaw Por. Pramuk.

“Dynamite 2008” currently stands at six bouts, with another eight to nine fights to be added in the next four weeks. Star attractions Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, Masato, Semmy Schilt, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Shinya Aoki and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic are expected to participate as well.

Depending on whether they make it out of the K-1 World Grand Prix Final on Dec. 6 unscathed, kickboxers Hong Man Choi, Melvin Manhoef, Badr Hari as well as the eventual tournament champion also have a good chance of joining the New Year’s Eve ranks.

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