With Jarrell Miller winning a spot in the K-1 Final 8 tournament bracket, the possibility of more Americans competing at an international level in kickboxing doesn't seem so unbelievable anymore. As K-1 is breaking into mainstream U.S television next year, it's almost guaranteed that they'll be looking to use local talent. Here's a list of 8 promising North American fighters you might be seeing in the future.
1. Matt Embree/Canada
Embree’s had a good year, picking up a win over Nils Widlund and defeating Coke Chanhuwat for the WBC International Interim belt at LionFight 5, although he most recently lost a decision to Lerdsilla Chumpairtour in August. Embree was originally scheduled to face Kevin Ross a few months ago, but Ross was forced to withdraw due to an injury. If this fight happens in the future, it'll almost certainly be fireworks
2. Andy Singh/USA
If you didn't catch Andy Singh at LionFight 7, you missed out. He defeated Anthony Castrejon for the 118 pound WBC National Title, using vicious face-teeps to bloody Castrejon en-route to a decision victory. I expect to see Singh fighting internationally soon, as there aren't too many challengers for him in the States.
3. Ognjen Topic/USA
Topic is a guy to watch for sure. He recently TKO'd Rami Ibrahim to take home the WBC International Super Featherweight title at Warriors Cup XV. Topic is a big featherweight, and I could see him making the move to one of K-1's new, lighter-weight divisions.
4. Eddie Walker/USA
There's been a lot of talk about Eddie "Showtime" Walker lately. After KO'ing Joe Schilling at LionFight 7, many people questioned whether his win was luck or skill, Regardless, Walker's stock has skyrocketed in the past few weeks, and there will be a significant amount of pressure on his shoulders when he enters the K-1 ring for the first time.
5. Gabriel Varga/Canada
Varga made some serious waves in September when he defeated Lerdsilla in a superfight at K-1 Rising. A heavy underdog, Varga pressed Lerdsilla the entire match and prevented the Thai from being his usual elusive self. He is expected to fight on K-1's HW Grand Prix card in New York.
6. Brett Hlavaceck/USA
Hlavaceck currently has a record of 6-0 in Muay Thai, with his last win being over Harry Baker in England. He's been touted as "the next big thing" by more than a few people, and despite being nearly 30 years old, could have a bright future in the sport. He'll be fighting Stephen Richards at The Warriors Cup XVI on November 3rd for a WBC National title.
7. Joseph Valtellini/Canada
With a professional record of 6-1, Bazooka Joe tasted defeat for the first time at LionFight 7, dropping a decision to the experienced Gregory Choplin. Joe's previous 6 fights all ended by way of TKO, which speaks both to Choplin's skill and Valtellini's knockout power. He plans to fight again in December.
8. Cyrus Washington/USA
If you follow American Muay Thai even a little bit, then you probably know Cyrus Washington. He's been on somewhat of a rough streak lately, losing two in a row to Nieky Holzken and Ky Hollenbeck, before taking time off to train MMA fighters. Washington's next bout is going to be at Muay Thai at the Mecca 2, which goes down November 10th. It'll be good to to see if "Black Dynamite" can return to form after the break.