The 2012 season for K-1 MAX is in the books, and Murthel Groenhart stands tall as the 2012 K-1 World MAX Grand Prix champion. Groenhart had an incredible run through the tournament, defeating Yasuhiro Kido by round 1 KO in the quarter-finals, smashing Mike Zambidis into a 2nd round doctor stoppage in the semis, and knocking out his teammate Artur Kyshenko in the 3rd round of the finals. That Groenhart vs. Kyshenko final was a must see fight, with Groenhart coming back from an early knockdown to score the upset win. One of the best K-1 fights of 2012, and one that any kickboxing fan needs to check out.
Overall, it was very impressive work from Groenhart. The Mike's Gym trainee made the drop down to 70kg early this year, and the move has resulted in the best year of his career, with a perfect 5-0 record in 2012, all via KO. He's a powerful fighter at the weight, and has shown particularly brutal power when he has his opponents trapped against the ropes. His knees to the body are among the best in the game right now. Though he had some trouble against Kyshenko, he gutted through, proving that he is a worthy fighter to wear the K-1 MAX crown.
This was a show that in many ways epitomized K-1 in 2012. The fights were all exciting, with lots of stoppages, strong performances, and all action. From a pure fight perspective, the show was a home run, which is exactly what we've seen from K-1 all year. Unfortunately, it's sometimes hard to just watch the fights and ignore what goes on behind the scenes. K-1 has been on rocky ground for some time, and now is no different. It's unclear who owns K-1 at the moment, and who is running things behind the scenes. No matter who is in charge, one thing is certain - they dropped the ball on promoting this event. This is one of their two biggest events of the year, yet K-1 sent out no information on it. The result was another event where the fighters delivered, but K-1 failed to five those fighters the audience they deserve.
To top that off, their new champion Groenhart, is actually signed to K-1 rival Glory, so it's very likely he won't return to K-1. The plus side to this situation is that Glory can set up Groenhart vs. 70kg king Giorgio Petrosyan, which should absolutely happen at this point.
K-1 has one more show left in 2012, and it's the big one - the 2012 K-1 Grand Prix. That show is set to take place on December 26 in New York City, and is rumored to be at Madison Square Garden, but we're now a little over a week away and there are no tickets on sale, no fights announced. It's hard to even know if the show will happen at this point, or what the future holds for K-1. Provided they do continue to run shows in 2013, they will be on Spike TV, which will certainly be a great opportunity - let's hope they have the promotional machine in place to take advantage of it.
And so today is typical of K-1. We saw fun fights, a performance for the ages, and a classic final. But that excitement is tempered by the unknowns of what's to come. As a longtime fan of K-1 and kickboxing, I certainly hope they continue to put on the kinds of shows we saw this weekend - at least on the fighting side.
Missed the event? K-1 has you covered. Rewatch the entire show below: