Things are looking up in the world of K-1. The past week has been full of positive news from the long-standing kickboxing organization, all focused on the 2012 Grand Prix schedule, which now looks to be pretty much set. Here's the schedule for the rest of 2012 as of right now:
September 8 - K-1 U.S. Grand Prix Championship in Los Angeles
October 14 - K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 in Japan
December 7 - K-1 MAX Final 8 in Athens, Greece
December 26 - K-1 World Grand Prix Final 8 in New York City
We also have the line-up set for the US Grand Prix show in September, and it's an interesting mix. The show will feature one night, 8 man tournaments in both the Heavyweight and MAX divisions. The Heavyweight winner will move on to the Final 16 in Japan. For MAX, it's a bit unclear exactly what will come of the winner - they already held the Final 16 earlier this year, but perhaps the US winner will step in should one of the previous qualifying fighters not take part in the MAX Finals. Here are the line-ups for both tournaments:
MAX: Michael Mananquil, Kit Cope, Chaz Mulky, Scott Lefler, Bryce Krause, Ben Yelle, Joey Pagliuso, Justin Greskiewicz
Much more in the full entry.
For K-1 experience, Mighty Mo stands out, as he has been a fixture in K-1 since 2004. But he's also riding a 3-13 streak at the moment, and is far from his peak. Rick Roufus is the older brother of MMA trainer Duke Roufus, and is himself a K-1 veteran. Perhaps the best known name to MMA fans is UFC veteran Seth Petruzelli, best known for the KO of Kimbo Slice that killed EliteXC. On the MAX side, Kit Cope is the biggest name fighter, as he has UFC experience and a lot of international experience as well. But Michael Mananquil is my pick to take this - he's a talented young fighter who is the exact kind of name K-1 should be using in the US.
In addition to these tournaments, the show will also have a selection of four super fights. Two are yet to be determined, while two are already announced: Romie Adanza vs. Andy Howson and Lerdsila Chumpairtourvs vs. Gabriel Varga. With two tournaments, four super fights, and three more yet to be announced undercard fights, you have a 21 fight card, which is a lot to take in one sitting, though I know some are in favor of these types of loaded up cards.
Tickets for the show are now on sale through Ticketmaster. No news just yet on how to watch the show if you are not there live, but we will be sure to keep you posted.
Overall, it's kind of a weird line-up. The new K-1 is in a tough spot where they are trying to build up new stars for the future (hence fighters like Blake and Vigney) while also maintaining some connection with the past and trying to attract an audience in the US. It's a tough balancing act. I'm not sure they've quite found the right balance here, but I'm glad they're trying, and I'm excited that kickboxing is beginning to make its way into the US market.
We'll have much more on the US Grand Prix show in the coming month.