Another year and what we can expect is another year of K-1 Grand Prix tournaments. Nothing is set in stone yet, as FEG is currently amidst a restructuring and planning period for a better part of the month, but if they decide to run the standard Grad Prix tournaments this year, there could be a lot of interest going into each one.
This one will hold the most interest for Western fans, and rightfully so. In 2010 we saw the "sure bet" of a Semmy Schilt victory derailed at the skilled hands of Peter Aerts in what might very well be his last K-1 World Grand Prix tournament. To say that Aerts went out on his shield is an understatement, Peter Aerts is Mr. K-1 and will always be remembered for his World Grand Prix runs, and his last run to the finals will be remembered fondly.
The big story going into the 2011 World Grand Prix will be the return of Badr Hari. We've received confirmation from Mike's Gym that Badr Hari is indeed back in training and will be ready to compete this year, and after making the finals two years in a row an taking 2010 off, Hari will be poised to take the Grand Prix by storm, and it very well could be his year, finally.
We'll also see Semmy Schilt return with a vengeance, with no Peter Aerts to foil him, his only big obstacles would be Badr Hari or the returning champion, Alistair Overeem. With all of the media hype Overeem has been receiving, look for him to return to K-1 and defend his title, unless this Strikeforce Heavyweight GP gets in the way.
There will be other names involved as well, with Peter Aerts possibly not involved there would be an open slot for a new fighter to make the Final 8, but expect strong showings from Tyrone Spong, Gokhan Saki, Kyotaro and Daniel Ghita. All four of these fighters could very easily find themselves the king of the K-1 mountain in short order. Also expect Ewerton Teixeira, Errol Zimmerman, Jaideep Singh, Hesdy Gerges and Jerome Le Banner to make their way into the Final 16. If JLB can keep his temper in check, I fully expect him to make the Final 8 and give the World Grand Prix a run to remember.
There could be a number of other entrants into the Heavyweight field, with Ben Edwards, Ray Sefo, Raul Catinas and Mighty Mo all be solid additions.