One thing many combat sports fans have looked forward to at the end of every year is the New Year's Eve K-1 tourney. It's been turned into a tradition of sorts, but this year, a new tradition is being forged with the Glory promotion. They're taking the NYE spot, in light of the financial setbacks and crumbling foundation that K-1 has faced of late. I've managed to secure an interview with Daniel Ghita's trainer, Anil Dubar, out of the Kamakura Dojo in Holland, so we could get some insight to Ghita's training and mindset in preparation for tomorrow night's tournament.
Thoughts on the new tournament rules/structure
Its interesting. One thing it does is it levels the field between the different fighters, I think it gives fighters of less ability more of a chance, because of the 'Best of Three' rule and because of the two-minute rounds. They have more chance to survive or win against a better fighter who would almost certainly beat them in a one-off superfight. It's also going to be better for the fans, because the action will be so fast, as soon as the fight starts, they are going to work. There will be no feeling out, no time to take a look at the other guy, like there is when you have three rounds of three minutes.
Ghita's recent training
Daniel has been doing a lot of work on his boxing, a lot of work. I think for this tournament that boxing is the key for him. We have been working with the UK heavyweight boxer, Tyson Fury. He has been training in Holland this year, and we have done a lot of training with him. Daniel's level has really improved. At first the sparring between them was like this wide gap, but then by the end it was much smaller, and Tyson really respects him.
The delay caused by K-1's collapse and Ghita's NYE fight
Overall, I think it's not a good thing, to have this delay. Because your whole training camp, you are working towards this peak, and then when the event is moved, the fighter has to come down again, but he hasn't had the fight. Originally, we were to fight for K-1, but then there were some problems and we signed a long-term deal with GLORY.
So, the K-1 event was cancelled; that was one peak. Then the original date of the GLORY Grand Slam was moved. That meant we had him near the peak, and he came down again. So, after both times of cancellation, I gave him the week off, because it's not just physically hard for fighters, it's mentally hard. Actually, the mental part is the biggest part of fighting, so it's important they get time to relax and be away from training. Now, we have brought him back to the peak for the third time.
Who Ghita wants in this tournament
Semmy Schilt is the fight he really wants. He would actually prefer to take the fight with Semmy Schilt right away if he could, without the tournament. He really, really wants the fight, and he wants to get the rematch and the revenge because Semmy beat him a while ago, and Daniel is so much better now. With a tournament, there is focus on tactics for different styles, of course, but Semmy is the big target. The fight we want in the final, and that the people want in the final, is Semmy vs. Daniel, and I think it would be good for the fans and sport if Daniel won.
Of course, we don't overlook the other opponents. In the first stage, we have Jhonata Diniz and I think he is one of these fighters, like I said before, that is not on the same level (as Daniel), but the new tournament rules make it more dangerous. He is young and not so experienced, so Daniel would usually use certain tactics, but because of the two minute rounds, he has to use different tactics. I think for this fight, he will show his boxing. I want him to take Diniz out in the first two rounds, I have set him this challenge.
Working with Ghita
One of the most impressive things about Daniel is his ability to learn. I have been working with him for seven years now, and for three years he has been based in Holland, training like a real pro, twice a day, running in the mornings, taking care of his diet and all the things necessary. Before this, he was in Romania and it was hard for him to train as a professional because he was working as a bodyguard to the president of Romania. I used to fly out and train him in Romania, but one day I said to him, 'Look, you have so much potential and there is only so far you can go in Romania. If you really want to make it to the top you need to come to Holland.' So he made the decision, and now he is a Dutch resident. I think his improvement is clear to see.