Jerome LeBanner

Manhoef Tapped to Replace LeBanner at “Dynamite!! 2008”

Melvin Manhoef. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.

Fighting and Entertainment Group, the parent company of DREAM, has announced that two-time K-1 kickboxing champion Jerome LeBanner will not be able to participate in his bout against Mark Hunt at FieLDS Dynamite!! 2008 tomorrow after being hospitalized with the flu.

Melvin Manhoef has been tapped to replace the Frenchman and will fight for the first time since announcing that he was entering into a temporary retirement following a disappointing first-round submission loss to eventful DREAM middleweight grand prix winner Gegard Mousasi in September.

Prior to his loss to Mousasi, Manhoef had defeated Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba in the tournament’s quarterfinal round. Manhoef, a native of Holland, also owns career victories over Ian Freeman and Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos.

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Aoki-Alvarez, Hunt-LeBanner Announced for Dynamite!! 2008

Shinya Aoki. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.

Fighting and Entertainment Group today announced two additional bouts that will take place at K-1’s “Dynamite!! 2008” event on New Year’s Eve at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan: DREAM lightweight grand prix standouts Shinya Aoki and Eddie Alvarez will clash in a long-awaited battle while former K-1 kickboxers Mark Hunt and Jerome LeBanner will fight for the first time under MMA rules.

Aoki and Alvarez were originally slated to meet in the finals of DREAM’s inaugural lightweight grand prix in July, but Alvarez was forced out of the bout by Japanese officials due to an eye injury suffered in his semi-final fight against Tatsuya Kawajiri. Joachim Hansen replaced Alvarez and went onto upset Aoki with a first-round TKO win.

Since then, Alvarez has been on a temporary hiatus so he could get married in his hometown of Philadelphia while Aoki bounced back with a dominating performance against World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Todd Moore at DREAM.6 on September 23.

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Affliction Considering Sylvia-LeBanner

Tim Sylvia. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Jerome LeBanner has been chasing Tim Sylvia for years, trying to get him to fight. He might be getting his wish.

Affliction VP Tom Atencio has told that the promotion is looking at LeBanner, a K-1 kickboxer, as a potential opponent for Sylvia for their planned third show that would likely take place in either January or February of next year.

“In terms of fighters we are looking at Jerome LeBanner,” Atencio said. “He is interested in doing MMA and apparently him and Tim Sylvia have some history between them so that is something that we are looking at right now. We are taking things one step at a time but we will see where it all goes.”

Another K-1 promoted fighter Atencio and company are apparently looking at is former PRIDE standout Sergei Kharitonov, whom Atencio “loves” from his days fighting in Japan.

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Report: Overeem Tapped to Face Hunt

Alistair Overeem. Photo by Jon Swenson.

Dutch striker Alistair Overeem will reportedly replace an injured Jerome LeBanner against former PRIDE heavyweight contender Mark Hunt in a late addition to Monday’s DREAM.5 event in Japan, which will feature the finals of the promotion’s inaugural lightweight grand prix.

The news comes from The Fight Network, which has confirmed the bout with Overeem himself. DREAM officials are expected to officially announce the bout over the next day or so. LeBanner was forced to withdraw from the fight after suffering injuries during a recent K-1 kickboxing bout against Semmy Schilt.

Overeem last knocked out one-time PRIDE veteran Tae Hyun Lee in the first round at DREAM.4 in June. Prior to that, he forced Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Paul Buentello to tap out due to injuries received from knees to the body at Strikeforce’s “Four Men Enter, One Man Survives” event in November of last year. The win earned Overeem the vacant Strkeforce heavyweight belt.

Meanwhile after nearly five years as a professional kickboxer, Hunt bursted onto the MMA scene in 2004 and quickly shocked the world with consecutive upsets over Wanderlei Silva and Filipovic. Since then the New Zealand native has split his last four fights and has been concentrating on his part-time pro wrestling career during his time off since the demise of the PRIDE Fighting Championships.

Hunt Not Returning Against LeBanner at DREAM.5 (Updated)

Mark Hunt throws a left hand at Semmy Schilt. Photo courtesy of FEG.

Update 11:25 PM ET: MMA Weekly has now updated their article, stating that Hunt has informed them he will actually not be fighting LeBanner at the event due to injuries the Frenchman sustained in his recent kickboxing bout against Semmy Schilt. While it’s not set in stone that Hunt will still compete on the card, DREAM officials are currently searching for a replacement opponent.

While DREAM officials have yet to announce the bout, former PRIDE heavyweight contender Mark Hunt will return to action, replacing an injured Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, against fellow former K-1 kickboxer Jerome LeBanner at the organization’s upcoming fifth show on July 21st in Japan.

Hunt confirmed the bout himself in a recent interview with MMA Weekly. It will mark the fifth time in his career in which Hunt will have faced LeBanner in a combat sport. LeBanner owns three wins over hunt inside the confines of K-1.

“Yes, I’m fighting LeBanner,” Hunt said in the report. “He fought not long ago against Semmy Schilt (under K-1 rules), but that’s not my problem. I’m feeling good, looking forward to the fight and being back in MMA. Looking forward to hopefully get my first submission.”

The aforementioned bout between LeBanner and Schilt took place less than two weeks ago, leaving many questions in terms of LeBanner’s health, especially since the fight went to a decision. LeBanner has not fought under MMA rules since knocking out Jimmy Ambriz at a K-1 Hero’s event over two years ago.

Meanwhile after nearly five years as a professional kickboxer, Hunt bursted onto the MMA scene in 2004 and quickly shocked the world with consecutive upsets over Wanderlei Silva and Filipovic. Since then the New Zealand native has split his last four fights and has been concentrating on his part-time pro wrestling career during his time off since the demise of the PRIDE Fighting Championships.

Cro Cop Out of DREAM 5

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

An official statement was posted in regards to Mirko Cro Cop not being able to compete against Jerome LeBanner on July 21st:

Hello everyone,

Unfortunately I have some bad news I won’t be fighting at DREAM 5 at all. I was about to face Jerome LeBanner but he decided to fight in K1 against Schilt. Mighty Mo was the alternative and I accepted this challenge, but unfortunately Mighty Mo pulled off from the fight. I was ready to face Mo, but maybe this scenario wasn’t that bad for me at all and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve been having problems with my right elbow for years and the injury got even worse over last 6 months. I’m already receiving a proper treatment but the recovery won’t happen over night. The second problem is a knee injury, something that troubles me for quite a while. I had difficulties using my kicks and over last few weeks I focused more on boxing and grappling. I really wanted to fight on July 21 and I was even ignoring doctor’s suggestions, but now I’ve rached the point from which I can’t continue with my normal training regiment due to my injuries.

I was willing to accept the risk of fighting Mo or someone else without being 100% ready fo the fight. I had only one fight this year, I miss big fights and top level competition. I’m eager to get back to the big stage, I still have good fights left in me and I won’t give up. I’m not happy with this outcome of course, but at this moment I need to be patient and give some time for my body to recover.

I’m scheduled for arthroscopy tomorrow morning, it’s a minor surgical procedure but it will keep me away from MMA trainings for 2-3 weeks probably. From Wednesday I’ll focus on my new cardio training program and we’ll add MMA elements to my training regiment as soon as my knee will be ready for action.

My goal is to become the first heavyweight champion in DREAM and to do that I need to be ready to fight on September 23. I’m not interested in summer time, vacations or things like that; I’ll focus on getting back to shape and hopefully I’ll fight in September. I would really like to fight Alistair Overeem, we all know why and I won’t let it go. My career is far from being over, I’ll be fighting some strong competitors soon again and hopefully I’ll meet Fedor in the ring once more in 2009.

Thank you for supporting me and I’ll get back to you all soon to keep you updated.

Report: Cro Cop-LeBanner Set for June

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Former UFC and PRIDE heavyweight title contender Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic will reportedly take on fellow former K-1 kickboxer Jerome LeBanner at DREAM’s planned fourth show on June 16th in Japan.

The news comes from MMA-ID, the same website that hosts Cro Cop’s official blog.

The Croatian was victorious at DREAM’s inaugural event last month, stopping Pancrase veteran Tatsuya Mizuno with strikes less than a minute into the first round. The fight will be Cro Cop’s second since going 1-2 in an unsuccessful stint with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The Croatian is currently on a hiatus from competing in the promotion. UFC President Dana White has stated that he believes Cro Cop will be returning before the end of the year.

LeBanner has not fought since knocking out journeyman Jimmy Ambriz at a K-1 Hero’s event in March 2006. LeBanner is 3-1-1 thus far in his professional mixed martial arts career and also owns wins over Bob Sapp and Yoshihiro Akiyama.

HT: Five Ounces of Pain