Next weekend, K-1 returns with their first card since a huge change of ownership last year, and it's a big one, with the start of the K-1 MAX 2012 Grand Prix, and Heavyweight fights featuring Badr Hari and Mirko Cro Cop. Check out the full line-up here. With this big event approaching, K-1 has been in the news quite a bit recently - sometimes for good reasons, sometimes bad. Here's a quick look at everything happening in the world of K-1, including the true story behind their alleged bankruptcy, and how you can watch their May 27 return show.
FEG Declared Bankrupt by Japanese Courts
FEG, the former parent company to K-1, is officially dead. Last week, the Tokyo DIstrict Court declared the company bankrupt and insolvent. This should come as no shock to anyone who has been following the K-1 saga over the past two years, as many fighters including Alistair Overeem, Ray Sefo, and Giorgio Petrosyan have been very public about being owed huge amounts of money for previous K-1 appearances. Recently, the most vocal has been Golden Glory head Bas Boon, who claims he is owed $2 million by FEG to pay fighters and trainers. It was Boon who pushed FEG into bankruptcy court in an attempt to force the company to pay off their creditors.
This story is getting a lot of press, and to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure why. Some articles are reporting that "K-1" is bankrupt, which is simply not true. The K-1 brand was sold last year to a company called EMCOM which has since branded itself K-1 Global. There remains some confusion over the details of this sale and exactly who makes up K-1 Global, but It's Showtime head Simon Rutz has very publicly stated that former FEG executives, including former K-1 head Sadaharu Tanikawa, are no longer involved. Once the sale was made, FEG was essentially dead - this ruling simply makes it official.
Unfortunately, the confusion surrounding this sale is causing a lot of misinformation about this bankruptcy ruling. Sherdog ran an article titled "K-1 Parent Company FEG Declares Bankruptcy in Tokyo Court" and speculated that this may cause the May 27 event to be cancelled. Dave Meltzer also reported on it and described FEG as the parent company to K-1, going on to say "K-1... is virtually dead."
To be clear, FEG is not the parent company to K-1. They are the former parent company to K-1, which is a major distinction. There are no longer any ties between K-1 and FEG, and this bankruptcy should have no impact on the upcoming K-1 show or the company's future. Surely Boon will continue to push the courts for more information on the sale to EMCOM, but it should be noted that Boon has ties to Glory, K-1's top competitor, so while he has every right to be paid what he is owed, he also has a further interest in K-1 not being able to succeed moving forward.
I've been very skeptical of K-1's announced plans in the past, but this is different. On May 27, I fully expect to be watching the arrival of the new K-1, and the legal issues surrounding their former partners should not change that.
K-1 May 27 Show Live Stream Online
On to more positive news. The May 27 show in Madrid will indeed be available for viewers throughout the world. The show will be streamed on K-1's new UStream channel and will cost US $19.99. As of a few weeks ago, K-1 was still hoping to secure a deal with their former home at HDNet, though that deal doesn't look like it will come through in time for next weekend's show. Cross your fingers that they will work something out for the future.
K-1 2012 Schedule Finalized
The schedule for 2012 has been set, and for fans in the US, you couldn't ask for much more. Check it out:
Early September - Qualifying World GP 2012/World MAX 2012 in Los Angeles
October - K-1 World GP 2012 Final 16 in Miami
November - K-1 World MAX 2012 Final in Taipei
December - K-1 World GP 2012 Final in New York
So both a MAX and a Heavyweight Grand Prix, with the HW finals and the MAX Final 16 taking place in the US, plus an additional qualifying show in LA and the MAX finals in Asia. It will be a hard wait until September, but if this schedule pans out, the end of the year will be huge for kickboxing fans.
Masato Named New Executive Producer
In what may amount to mostly a PR angle or could be something more, retired K-1 MAX champion Masato has been named the new Executive Producer of K-1 Global. His first public statement in his new role is interesting, as he is very vocal about K-1 having fallen from its former heights, but stating his intention to bring it back to glory. It's unclear just how hands-on a role Masato will have, but he's definitely a good name to have involved, both for his position in the Japanese media, and his ties to K-1's past.
May 27 Promo Video
And finally, I leave you with this fan promo video for the May 27 show in Madrid. Watch it and get excited people.