K-1 Rising 2012 Preview: Badr Hari, Mirko Cro Cop, And The K-1 MAX Grand Prix

K-1 Rising

This Sunday, K-1 makes a (hopefully) glorious return to action with K-1 Rising 2012. Coming from Madrid, Spain, K-1 Rising is the first K-1 show since 2010 to feature the long-standing kickboxing organization's marquee Heavyweight and MAX divisions. We've talked enough about the trials and tribulations of K-1's recent past, so here, let's focus on Sunday and the fight card.

The show will be available on K-1's UStream channel (K1GlobalTV) at a price of $19.99 starting Sunday at 12:15 p.m. ET. And be sure to join us here at Bloody Elbow for a live discussion.

The card is divided into two segments - the opening round of the 2012 K-1 World MAX Grand Prix, and a series of 5 Heavyweight Superfights. For this preview, we'll take a look at the two halves of the card, plus lay-out the 5 fights you should be most excited about.

The Tournament

For die-hard K-1 fans, Sunday's big highlight is the return of the Grand Prix. Last year, neither K-1, nor K-1 MAX crowned a GP champion, and the year just felt... hollow. It's great to see this tradition return. If you're new to K-1, the Grand Prix is their annual tournament where one champion is crowned. The tournament begins with a qualifying round of 16 (how you get into that qualifying round varies from year to year). Winners there move on to a one night 8 man tournament where a Grand Prix champion is crowned. This show features that qualifying round of 16 in the MAX, or 70 kg division (roughly equivalent to MMA's Lightweight division). Winners will compete for the 2012 GP championship in November.


How to Watch K-1 Rising | K-1 Classic Fights: Mirko Cro Cop vs. Ernesto Hoost |
K-1 Classic Fights: Badr Hari vs. Stefan Leko


The Favorites: There are two clear favorites here - Andy Souwer and Artur Kyshenko. Souwer is a 2 time former MAX champion with something like 150 fights to his name. He's an absolute legend of K-1 MAX, but he's also slowed down a bit, going 10-5 in his last 15. That's not a bad record by any means, but it's a step down for the formerly dominant Souwer. Still, a slightly slowed Souwer remains one of the world's best. He takes on Abraham Roqueni, who holds a 2011 win over Souwer in a controversial decision. The other favorite is Artur Kyshenko, who has come close, but never won the GP. He recently lost to Giorgio Petrosyan, but before that was on a 7-1 run including a win over Souwer. He faces tough Korean fighter Su Hwan Lee.

More in the complete entry.

The Dark Horse: If you're looking for a spoiler, you've got a few options. Mike Zambidis is a tough as nails veteran, who has the power and heart to always be a threat. If the tournament field pans out right, he could sneak in. And the winner of Harut Grigorian vs. Murthel Groenhart has the potential to make waves as well. Finally, Chris Ngimbi is a possible spoiler, as is Chain Superpro Samui, though you never know how well pure Muay Thai fighters will do when making the jump to K-1.

The Heavyweight Superfights

One name stands tall in this field, and that is Badr Hari. The two time K-1 GP finalist is a highly divisive fighters, with legions of passionate fans and vocal detractors. But no matter your opinion on his personality, it's clear that Hari is a supremely talented fighter who always brings an air of unpredictable wildness to his fights. This is his first fight since retiring from kickboxing earlier this year to pursue a pro-boxing career. He takes on Anderson "Braddock" Silva, a good, if outmatched, fighter.

Nipping at Hari's heels is Daniel Ghita, a younger Heavyweight who has moved steadily up the ranks in recent years. With devastating power in his hands and leg kicks, Ghita has become the world's #3 Heavyweight, and a showdown with Hari seems destined. His opponent was originally set to be veteran Paul Slowinski, but he went down to injury and Damian Garcia steps in on less than a week's notice.

There's also the K-1 return of Mirko Cro Cop, which I talked about more in my K-1 Classic Fight earlier this week. Plus two good prospects meet as Sergei Lascenko takes on Rico Verhoeven. Both men can be inconsistent, but entertaining and skilled fighters, and they are matched up well here.

5 Fights to Watch

In order, here are the top 5 fights to look forward to on Sunday

  1. Mike Zambidis vs. Chahid Oulad El Hadj - This tournament fight is a rematch from the 2010 GP. That fight was one of the greatest K-1 MAX fights of all time - an insane 4 round war that simply must be seen. Zambidis was the winner then, and I suspect he will be again here, but these two have just the perfect style to compliment each other and create another classic.
  2. Badr Hari vs. Anderson Silva - Hari is one of the biggest "must watch" fighters in all of combat sports. He's destructive, talented, and a timebomb. I can't wait to see him back in there.
  3. Daniel Ghita vs. Damian Garcia - This was more exciting when it was Ghita vs. Slowinski, as Garcia is not much of an opponent for Ghita. But at least he provides the opportunity for a massive KO, which I expect we'll get here.
  4. Harut Grigorian vs. Murthel Groenhart - This will be a more technical fight, but these are two superb fighters who I think match up quite nicely. Maybe not as many fireworks here, but it should be high level skill on display.
  5. Mirko Cro Cop vs. Loren Javier Jorge - Because it's MIRKO CRO COP.

Be sure to watch the show this Sunday, and come by Bloody Elbow for our live discussion post. See you then!

K-1 Rising 2012 Fight Card

World Max 2012 Final 16 Fights:
Mike Zambidis vs. Chahid Oulad El Hadj
Andy Souwer vs. Abraham Roqueni
Artur Kyshenko vs. Su Hwan Lee
Xu Yan vs. Yasuhiro Kido
Gago Drago vs. Andy Ristie
Yuji Nashiro vs. Reece McAllister
Harut Grigorian vs. Murthel Groenhart
Chain Superpro Samui vs. Chris Ngimbi

Heavyweight Superfights:
Emad Kadyear vs. Zeben Diaz
Badr Hari vs. Anderson "Braddock" Silva
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Loren Javier Jorge
Daniel Ghita vs. Damian Garcia
Rico Verhoeven vs. Sergei Lascenko

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