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Tale of the tape: ElkY vs. Lex Veldhuis

ps_news_thn.jpgIn 2009, two Team PokerStars Pros, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Lex "RasZi" Veldhuis got into a friendly confrontation that led to the two making a prop bet where they would square off against each other in the ring -- mixed-martial-arts style. The two agreed to fight it out, seriously, but friendly, and it's been a long time coming. Finally, the fight is right around the corner and will take place tomorrow in Marbella, Spain.

For those of you who don't know, the fight will consist of five, three-minute rounds. You can only win the fight if you knock out your opponent or earn a technical knockout. You can also win if the other person simply gives up. If both fighters are still standing after the gruelling five rounds, the match will be considered a draw and all bets washed. Here are a few other interesting rules, which Veldhuis wrote about in a recent blog post on his website.

- Kicks allowed to every part of the body, except for the groin area
- No elbows allowed
- Knees to the face and rest of the body are allowed
- No "clinch knees" allowed (holding a fighter's head and repeatedly striking with knee)
- Three countdowns in one round equals a loss
- Four countdowns in the match equals a loss
- No headbutts or punching to the back of the head
- Spin-kicks, punches and sweeps are allowed

Here's how the two fighters shape up:

Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier Name Lex 'RasZi' Veldhuis
French Nationality Dutch
0-0 Record Win some, lose some
Lanky, in shape Build Athletic, 3-inch height advantage
Kickboxing lessons in 2009 Experience Boxing between ages 16-18, some street fights
MMA training with Lincon Rodrigues Training Sporadic training, focused on endurance
Unknown Injuries Bruised ribs, near broken foot
Even Odds Even

Grospellier has maybe gotten himself in over his head when he made an even money bet against Veldhuis that he could beat him in this fight. Veldhuis seems far more athletic and had taken up boxing for a short time in his teenage years. ElkY was traditionally non-athletic and had virtually no fighting experience. When the bet was made, ElkY was in the midst of a training bet with another professional poker player, Sorel Mizzi. According to Veldhuis in his blog, ElkY "was convinced he was a powernerd."

elkyfight.JPG

ElkY (pic: Neil Stoddart)

However, ElkY has never once shown regret in making the wager. Instead, he has used the bet as motivation to turn his rather unhealthy lifestyle into one of drive and focus, which has drawn increased attention to their upcoming bout. ElkY is giving up about three inches in height, which should play to Veldhuis' advantage by giving him a longer reach in both his arms and legs.

Veldhuis also seems to be the more naturally athletic of the two Team PokerStars Pros. ElkY looked to combat this by seeking out the training of Lincon "Bad Boy" Rodrigues in order to work him into fight shape physically, technically and mentally.

lexfight3.JPG

Lex Veldhuis (pic: Neil Stoddart)

Veldhuis, on the other hand, hasn't been able to train as hard as his counterpart. According to Veldhuis, after the bet was made, he didn't think about it until the following March -- just a few months before the fight was originally scheduled to take place. He was crippled by injuries almost immediately and forced to postpone the fight until the 2011World Series of Poker, but another year brought another problem. Proper government licensing proved to be difficult to attain and when Black Friday stunned the poker world, they scratched plans for a summer brawl all together.

Now, over two years after the initial wager was made, the two will finally square off in Marbella, Spain, in front of cameras for all to see. Veldhuis has recovered from his injuries and Grospellier is fresh off a three-week training hiatus in Thailand. They will compete in the five, three-minute rounds, which should give them ample time to tear each other's heads off if they so wish (editor's note - I hope they don't). There will be no winner by decision and neither will be wearing head gear so the pressure will be on immediately to seal the deal and end the fight.

Will it be the French up-and-comer or the athletic Dutchman taking home the money and the respect? You, me, and the rest of the poker world will soon find out.

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