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Thoughts on K-1's Move Away From Tournaments


The big news that we broke on Monday was that K-1 has decided to move to a format that is more standard for combat sports; multiple divisions with champions in each division. For combat sports fans it is a format that we all know very well, as it is a staple in Boxing as well as MMA. For many fans, the idea of K-1 moving away from the tournament structure is blasphemous, as K-1 made its name as a company with its yearly World Grand Prix tournament which has helped to build up stars like Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Masato, Buakaw Por. Pramuk and many more.

Of course, K-1 isn’t going to abandon the tournaments altogether, as they plan to run them every few years as opposed to yearly, but for fans the sting is still the same. I’ve seen and heard it all in regards to this news now; K-1 is dead, GLORY rules, etc. The irony here is that even GLORY has moved away from the big tournament format. They ran one 16-man Heavyweight tournament and one 8-man Lightweight tournament before moving to a much more svelte one night 4-man format, which with a reserve fight only takes up four fights on one card.

The truth of the matter is this; the market has changed drastically in the last few years and it is no longer a viable business model to hold these big tournaments. The proof is in the pudding when GLORY held a giant 16-man Heavyweight tournament in Japan and the only way they could sell tickets to the show was to tack on a DREAM card to it and to place the DREAM card before the Kickboxing card to ensure that the arena wasn’t empty. Reports from inside of the stadium were of confusion, dread and boredom when it came to GLORY’s Heavyweight Grand Slam, regardless of the actual quality of the event and the big, recognizable names on the card.

The big tournament format for Kickboxing was forged in Japan in the early 90’s and for that place and time it was a hit. It was what the fans were hungry for and what they were willing to consume. K-1 is no longer a Japanese-centric organization anymore, in fact, their office is in China right now. This is all for good reason, too, as the Japanese fighting market is deader than dead right now. Smaller organizations still exist and draw decent crowds, but Japan has always been a fad-based culture and quite frankly, kakutougi is not in fashion right now.

I think that the occasional tournament will actually hold more weight than a yearly one at this point, especially with the market as fractured as it is right now. As much as fans are willing to immediately extol the benefits of GLORY, the creation of GLORY changed the Kickboxing market for good, fracturing up the fanbase and the talent pool. A good portion of the world’s recognizable Heavyweight talent is currently signed to GLORY’s roster, while the other weight classes are more of a tossup. I’m not sure if makes sense to hold a Heavyweight WGP this year with the talent that is available on the market. The K-1 World Grand Prix is a name that holds weight and is prestigious, I’m not sure that I want just any sixteen names tossed into a pool under the name K-1 World Grand Prix to play make believe like everything is as it was in 2001.

It’s not 2001 anymore, Japan isn’t the booming market that it was and Kickboxing has adapted to work outside of the Japanese market. Part of this adaptation has been showcasing talents from all over the world in different weight classes. There is less of a need for the “freakshow factor” of having huge Heavyweights and Super Heavyweights battling it out like titans while Japanese audiences oooh and ahh. The MAX/70kg division means a lot more right now than a division created to feature the talented and uber-pretty MASATO to draw in younger female crowds.

While we as fans may have appropriated K-1 to mean whatever it is that we feel it was, it doesn’t mean that it always has to be that. The Asian MMA market has reached a point of it being just comical due to the endless attempts to emulate the “feel” of PRIDE FC. PRIDE FC is dead and no low level emulation of PRIDE is going to bring back those memories, much in the same way that those old memories of K-1 World Grand Prixs of past years are just that, memories. There is no better point to hammer this home with than Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky and Semmy Schilt retiring.

The guys managing K-1 now are a new team that were brought in this year, given a mess of an organization and a limited budget and told “fix it.” If everyone really considers themselves such hardcore K-1 fans, you’ll recognize the hard work that has gone into reviving the brand and to do so in a way that promotes growth and restraint, not one that involves tossing millions of dollars away per show in a feeble attempt to pretend that they are healthy. It was precisely that type of promoting that led to the giant collapse of FEG’s K-1 in 2010 and left in its wake fighters who were promised big money contracts without any of that money and no answers. I’d much rather see thought being put into the future of K-1 than K-1 Global performing a blitzkrieg to keep the internet happy, only to implode within a few months and leave fighters unpaid, unhappy and harm the whole sport all over again.


How K-1 Blew it and Let the UFC Become Huge on Spike TV


This video is both fascinating and frustrating, as Albie Hecht, the founder of Spike TV sits down to talk about how the deal between Spike TV and the UFC first came to be. As we all know, the UFC's deal with Spike TV happened and it opened up the market to MMA and helped to save the UFC from an untimely demise. The UFC and MMA in general might have never "boomed" if it weren't for the support of Spike TV.

What's the worst part as a Kickboxing fan? Knowing that it could have been K-1 instead, but that Ishii and K-1 in general back then kind of blew it by being as shady as we all knew that they were. This video is utterly fascinating in that Spike went FIRST to Japan to speak with K-1 before the UFC and that Ishii believing that Hecht insulted his geisha led to K-1 being more than just a Japanese brand and possibly the biggest combat sports brand in the world went up in smoke just like that.

As we've known, K-1 rarely thought about the American market in a serious way, as multiple K-1 USA heads (Scott Coker and Mike Kogan) have spoke about how shows in the US were geared towards Japanese audiences and television and more for saying that they ran shows in the US than to build up the brand and sport here in America. Even when both tried to build up K-1 in the USA, K-1 seemed disinterested in any money coming from the US. Just bonkers. We all do remember K-1 blowing it in China a few years ago, too, right? FIKA? Thanks to our old mothership for the discovery.


K-1 Issues a Statement in Response to GLORY Purchasing Video Library

K-1Man, as soon as I heard about GLORY talking about buying K-1's archive footage I had a feeling that it wouldn't be the last that we hear about it. It turns out, it isn't. K-1 Global just issued a press release on their official website that claims that FEG has sold footage that FEG no longer has the rights to, basically. K-1 is essentially saying that FEG sold the "use rights" to GLORY Sports International even though they no longer had the ability to do so, also that GLORY paid $140,000 USD for said video library.

K-1 also seems prepared to go to war over this one.

After the deal with Mr. Ishii was finalized, FEG declared bankruptcy in Japan and a lawyer was appointed as a controller for the bankrupted company. This new controller of FEG insisted that FEG still had the copyrights of the K-1 archive footage in their control and sold the “Use Right” of the K-1 archives for an approximate amount of $140,000. K-1 Global had warned FEG’s new controller that K-1 Global does indeed own the rights to this library, but FEG’s new controller refused to listen and went through with the sale.

Now the bankrupted FEG has sold the “Use Right” for $140,000, much less than what K-1 Global initially paid for it, as a nuisance to K-1 Global and to publicly embarrass the company. Essentially, FEG has sold the footage twice now, although it was initially to K-1 Global for a much higher sum. At this time, the bankrupted FEG has sold footage that it no longer owns to GLORY Sports International. K-1 Global has no option right now but to bring this matter to court.


K-1 News and Notes for K-1 World MAX Final 16


Well, god damn, tomorrow is a big day for K-1, as they are holding the K-1 World MAX 2013 Final 16 event in Mallorca, Spain. The event will feature Buakaw Banchamek, Andy Souwer, Henri Van Opstal, Yasuhiro Kido, Enrico Kehl and many others in one of K-1's biggest events of this year. There has been a lot of movement on the K-1 front over the past few days. As we've already gone over before, the event will be streamed live tomorrow in the afternoon here in the United States. You can watch the event live here on LiverKick!

There was a press conference yesterday afternoon live in Mallorca, featuring what fighters had arrived already. There is also a video posted from The Fight Network in Canada of Kru Alin from K-1 giving a preview of the event from before he left for Mallorca.

For those looking to bet on the event, you are in luck as K-1 has forged a deal with so that you can place bets directly on the fights! They use the European betting system, so if you are like me, American, and used to -140, etc., well, get used to it? We'll hopefully have footage from the weigh-ins shortly, but there are photos on K-1's Facebook and it looks like there are a ton of people there, which bodes well for tomorrow's event.


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