Amidst all the bad K-1 news, Europe’s top fighting organization, It’s Showtime, has been a hot topic of conversation lately. As plans for 2011 come together, we’re seeing more and more events announced by the company, who find themselves constantly expanding their product throughout the world. But in the middle of all the positive news came an unfortunate announcement last week – due to a planned co-promotion with K-1 falling through, It’s Showtime would not run their big annual show at the Amsterdam Arena in 2011.
Between this latest news, all the rumors swirling around K-1, Badr Hari’s return, and various other stories, now seemed like a good time to speak to the always forthcoming It’s Showtime president Simon Rutz. As always, Mr. Rutz offered plenty of insight into their dealings with K-1 and so much more.
If you missed part 1 yesterday, click here for the story on exactly what happened with the canceled Amsterdam Arena event and the state of affairs for K-1 and It’s Showtime.
LiverKick.com Exclusive Interview with Simon Rutz Part 2
LiverKick.com: It’s very exciting to hear Badr Hari will return in May in Lyon. Is that fight confirmed?
Simon Rutz: It is not confirmed yet because the contract is not signed, but I think we will have the contract signed in 2 weeks.
LK: Any news on his return opponent?
SR: At this moment we are talking with possible opponents.
LK: Where do his legal troubles stand?
SR: Nobody knows what will happen in the future with this case! This case was big in the news in The Netherlands, but from what I understand, the police still don’t have any witnesses.
LK: So do you have concerns about Hari’s reputation considering the trouble kickboxing recently had with the government in Amsterdam?
SR: Of course it doesn’t help! But these are two totally different cases. Amsterdam wants to have big sports events in their city, but with one of the biggest events (It’s Showtime), they make it difficult. When we don’t run show in the future in Amsterdam, it will be a shame for the city, but not for It’s Showtime. We will survive with or without Amsterdam.
LK: Remy Bonjasky is working with It’s Showtime now. Have you discussed him having a retirement fight with you?
SR: Yes, I discussed a retirement fight for him, but the money he asked for I don’t want to pay! Of course he can ask, but believe me, nobody will pay him that much money!
LK: How did you feel about K-1’s response to the protest regarding the Hesdy Gerges vs. Semmy Schilt fight?
SR: What they said and did was bullshit. They say that the corner for Schilt was wrong, and they punished the judges? I understand why K-1 did this, because last year they didn’t get Badr Hari and Remy Bonjasky, so they needed the 4 time K-1 winner Semmy Schilt in the final. I think if Hesdy Gerges was in the final, it would have been a totally different final.
LK: You had an unfortunate falling out with Cosmo Alexandre last year. Why couldn’t that situation be worked out?
SR: Because it was the second time he did something wrong. But for me there’s no problem. He is a nice guy and a good fighter, but I don’t use him anymore.
LK: I understand your clause regarding fighters taking fights before It’s Showtime shows – is that written in to their contracts?
SR: It’s always written in their contract, but with Cosmo, we didn’t write the contract because, stupid as I am sometime, a word from me is more important than a contract. But don’t misunderstand me, in 99% of the cases we have a contract!
LK: Tyrone Spong is no longer the 95kg champ. Any idea when there will be a fight for that title, and who might fight for it?
SR: Yes, I am working on that and I think that 2 fighters are fighting for this title on March 6 in Amsterdam. Soon I will let everybody know.
LK: Melvin Manhoef said on twitter that he likely won’t fight for It’s Showtime this year. Might he be stripped of the 85kg belt?
SR: If he doesn’t fight for his title, yes I will strip him of the belt because those are the rules! But Melvin is Melvin, one day he says that and the other day he thinks differently. Also, if he doesn’t fight this year for It’s Showtime and K-1 is broke, who else can pay him? Last time Melvin was disappointed because K-1 didn’t treat him well and that’s the case.
LK: What are your personal favorite fights in It’s Showtime history?
SR: Badr Hari vs. Sem Schilt, Mootje Khamal vs. Chahid, Ivan Hipolyte vs. Rayen Simson, Rob Kaman vs. Alexei Ignashov, and almost all the fights from Gago Drago.
LK: Last year when I spoke to you and asked who we should watch for in 2010, you brought up Aussi Ouzgni, who then had a great year. So, who should we watch out for in 2011?
SR: Marat Grigorian is one of the biggest talents in the world. Watch him.
LK: Anything else our readers should know?
SR: A lot of people think that It’s Showtime is happy that K-1 is broke, but believe me we hope that K-1 survives. That’s really better for the sport. Also personally I like the people from FEG like Mr. Tanikawa, but in my opinion they do a lot of strange things. For many years I have said to them that they must do things differently but every time they do the opposite. I think that they were afraid of It’s Showtime, but that is totally not necessary. The world is big enough for two good and big kickboxing organizations. Also, I want to say that life is beautiful! Carpe Diem!
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His first novel, the Godslayer, is available now.