The K-1 World Grand Prix has come and gone now with a new champion emerging. For the first time, K-1 and MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop has won the big one by making his way through the legendary one-night K-1 World Grand Prix tournament to capture the Championship. LiverKick.com congratulates Mirko Cro Cop on his victory.
As you are most likely already aware, the K-1 WGP Finale is going down this Friday in Zagreb, Croatia. Earlier today the press conference for the event took place, with most of the emphasis put on the bigger names in the tournament: Badr Hari, Hesdy Gerges, and Mirko Cro Cop. Also making an appearance was the man with the greatest grey hair in the world- Michael Buffer (He's got a pretty decent voice too).
The most interesting part of the conference for me was the way Badr Hari described his mind-set going into the WGP as opposed to years prior. He referred to fighting Cro Cop in his home country as an "honor," and repeatedly harped on the mistakes of his "younger" self. While I think it's a little early to be calling Hari a changed man by any stretch of the imagination, it sounds as though his stint in prison forced him to restructure his outlook on life. But then again, that may just be me.
Yes, time does indeed fly sometimes. The past few weeks have been a really awkward blur for me, everything from cashing out my stocks, signing a billion documents to hiring movers and making sure that my girlfriend is appeased at the number of wires that I've hidden so she won't get upset at how unsightly they are. All while that was happening, the Final 8 were preparing to go to war in Croatia, but no, not that kind of war. The kind of war that I'm talking about is the one that involves kicks, knees and punches inside of the very famous K-1 ring.
K-1 might have had a bit of a rocky last few years, but they are once again looking to put all of that behind them and put on the 2012 K-1 World Grand Prix only three months late. We are willing to forgive as long as the card is good, and thankfully this card is pretty incredible.
The Final 8 has shaped up with these big fights;
Catalin Morosanu vs. Pavel Zhuravlev
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic vs. Jarrell Miller
Badr Hari vs. Zabit Samedov
Ismael Londt vs. Hesdy Gerges
While the landscape of this World Grand Prix does look at lot different than the last World Grand Prix that went down in 2010, a good portion of these guys have a ton of K-1 fights under their belt and some of them are some of the biggest rising stars at Heavyweight looking to claim their first K-1 World Grand Prix Championship.
There has been a lot of talk about K-1 over the past few months, especially some of the difficulties that they've faced since EMCOM and Mr. Kim took over operations. K-1 was looking to finally make a big impact on the United States by booking an event in Ohio during the Arnold Classic Expo, which is attended by thousands of fans yearly. This was to be the second show on US soil in the span of the year, the last time was when Doug Kaplan was in charge of K-1's US operations and began to turn things around before his relationship with the company fell apart. K-1 is now being run in the US by New York's Andrew Oh and this report from FCFighter.com by Joshua Molina is pretty damning towards the new K-1 USA team.
It is mainly an interview with the would-be promoter of the event, Russ Trapini, who was previously involved with K-1 USA when FEG was still around and was tapped again to help promote events in the United States. You can really see how frustrated he is with the situation and he even goes as far as to say that K-1 is done in the United States, a statement that is difficult for us to disagree with.
The Athletic Commission gave some reasons for the cancellation, including paperwork and certain other things, but Trapini flat out says that it was money. He also notes Mr. Kim trying to shoehorn SuperKombat fighters onto the fight card due to an agreement between K-1 and SuperKombat and lack of communication.
The money argument aligns with the reports that we here at LiverKick.com have been privy to. In fact, what we know about the situation is frustrating from all accounts and to the best of our knowledge hasn't really been discussed outside of smaller Kickboxing circles. The rumored reason has been that the money which was supposed to cover costs for the K-1 Ohio event was used as an upfront payment to Badr Hari to secure his services for the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals. It was supposedly hand-delivered to Badr Hari in cash and has put a serious financial strain on the company.