I think it is time to start looking, critically, at the Kickboxing world and where it is right now. We’ve seen that both Glory and K-1 are capable on their own of producing an entertaining, professional event with solid matchmaking. This is vital for either promotion, regardless of the name fighters involved in either promotion. Glory held their “First 16” for the 70kg class in May, while K-1, with the assist from It’s Showtime, held a coming out party event before It’s Showtime packed up and sold to Glory. This weekend, K-1 finally put on their first event, sans-It’s Showtime, and for a K-1 USA show it demonstrated exactly what this K-1 is capable of doing in the future.
Basically, we’ve reached a point to where both companies have established their brand identities, shown the world what they are going to present, and how they are going to present it. Initially, the idea of a split Kickboxing world, with the talent not being able to fight each other, with derogatory, inflammatory press releases flying out and accusations being made left and right, things looked grim. What went down earlier this summer was essentially terrible for the already hurting sport of Kickboxing. I’m not going to point fingers or name names, but if you’ve been following the sport -- or even involved in it -- you know what I’m referring to and what I’m talking about. We at LiverKick saw traffic drop off, saw fans lose interest and care less about who came out on top. They wanted fights, they wanted announced fight cards, they didn’t want to see people in the sport trying to handicap each other.
Cooler heads have prevailed and it seems like the battles will remain in the ring, with both sides having their talent signed and booked to fights in the future. The only downside is that some of the bigger, more hotly-anticipated fights might not happen immediately, but as was demonstrated this weekend by K-1, there are currently two big Kickboxing promotions able to produce entertaining and professional events that Kickboxing fans deserve. The split right now reminds me of around 2004 when UFC was pushing forward on national cable in the United States and was doing so while the consensus of the diehard fans on the internet was that PRIDE in Japan had a majority of the top talent in most weight classes. You’ll hear a lot of the same talk of K-1 right now, with Glory having most of the top talent and K-1 having whatever is left over. Much like with UFC, I predict that over time we’ll see talent cultivated in K-1 and they’ll build their own stars.
I’m not sure who will win the battle -- if anyone -- but what I’m sure of is in the coming months there are numerous big Kickboxing events scheduled, and that after a “down” 2011 and a slow start to 2012, this year will be the year that Kickboxing re-emerges as a global spectator sport.