I wouldn't say needle as both were gentlemen and not inclined to much trash-talking or disrespect of their opponents. Masato did enter the ring to publicly call him out for his retirement match when Petrosyan won the Grand Prix in '09. I think he is actually lucky Giorgio injured himself in training for that, because while the reward of defeating Petrosyan would've done wonders for his legacy it was improbable that he would. Taking on Souwer as his backup choice was best case scenario, as he got to avenge his previous two defeats and 'slay the bogeyman' as it were, a win that was nearly as good for his legacy and more realistically doable (especially seeing as he actually did it :yep) than defeating a healthy Petrosyan in his prime. I would've definitely favored the Armenian-Italian, though it would have been a tough, fun chess match - reason being that Masato really is kind of like Buakaw Lite. So if Petrosyan fought on close to even terms with the superior version who did just about everything better, it stands to reason that he would have the edge with a lesser practitioner of that same dynamic multidisciplinary style with the strong Muay Thai base. Speaking of rivalries!!! - Buakaw and Masato fought twice, splitting a pair (their rematch is considered among the ATG kickboxing matches) and never had a rubber match, which is nearly as frustrating as Petrosyan vs. Masato or Petrosyan vs. Buakaw II never materializing. I don't know that it would have been Pacquiao vs. Mayweather territory, especially since kickboxing never quite moved away from the convention of heavyweight being the "glamor division" the way boxing has at times (in the era of Robinson, the Fab-4, etc) - and while the World Max 70kg division in K-1 did become very popular I feel the heavyweight GP always got more attention from the media and fans. The equivalent of a massive super-fight would therefore have to be some heavyweight match-up or another. It would've been huge all the same, though. Hard to say. I don't honestly follow the sport all that closely anymore. When the Ristie upset happened, my first thought was "seriously? Petrosyan lost to whom?? :blood" (although he did have a few brights spots on his résumé already: beating Drago via UD and knocking out Albert Kraus, which has only happened 4x in over a hundred bouts and is very impressive) - it just came from left field and while decent he wasn't the sort you'd expect to be the one to finally dethrone the Doctor. It turns out he's legit. Petrosyan looked alright in his comeback a couple of months ago versus Erkan Varol - his timing seemed mostly intact, hand speed maybe a little diminished, and his confidence in pressing the attack perhaps slightly dulled from before - overall not too badly ruined by the loss, though. Not much can be gleaned from the performance, since it was his first time reentering the ring and the opposition was lower quality than normal for him. Varol is a former welterweight Euro champion but is really Turkish domestic level, failing most every time he steps up to international competition. The real litmus test will be a week from Saturday, when Petrosyan takes on Enrico Kehl. That will tell us whether Petrosyan is still near his prime form, as the German is a top middleweight at present and is currently the last person to defeat Buakaw (and the first since Andy Souwer in 2009) in their rematch last October, though it was controversial. Kehl and Buakaw fought to a three-round draw, which under K-1 rules means it goes to an extra tiebreaker 4th round. Buakaw had already left the ring believing the fight to be over with the result a draw, and consequently lost by forfeiture simply because he wasn't present to answer the bell for the fourth. atsch ...but the bottom line is that Kehl is a very stiff test, anyway.