Mirko Cro Cop: K-1 2012 Grand Prix champion? Maybe... (Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
News continues to pour in from K-1, as the kickboxing organization keeps things rolling for their 2012 season. Here's the latest, including the full card for their Los Angeles show, rumors for the Heavyweight Grand Prix, and the latest on K-1 veteran Ewerton Teixeira.
Full Card for K-1 Rising Los Angeles
The final card has been announced for K-1's return to US soil. On September 8, K-1 Rising 2012 presents their US Championship in Los Angeles. We reported previously on some of the announced names - now we have them all. There have been a few additions, and a few changes - most notably, the show will not in fact feature tournaments in either the Heavyweight or MAX divisions, and will be only comprised of single fights. Here's the full fight card:
K-1 Rising Los Angeles Fight Card
Chaz Mulkey vs Kit Cope
Michael Mananquil vs Scotty Leffler
Bryce Krause vs Justin Greskiewicz
Ben Yelle vs Joey Pagliuso
Lerdsilla Chumpairtour vs Gabriel Varga
Andy Howson vs Romie Adanza
Justin Buchholz vs Zhipeng Zhou
Markhaile Wedderburn vs Jeremiah Metcalf
Plus 3 opening fights to be determined featuring fighters from the open tryouts in LA.
There you go. Again, the big news here is the lack of a tournament, which is a shame as the tournament format is, to me at least, what makes K-1 so unique. Winners in the four Heavyweight fights may move on to the K-1 Final 16, though that's not officially set either.
One name that sticks out is Justin Buchholz. The Team Alpha Male fighter and UFC veteran makes his K-1 debut here. I know K-1 has interest in opening the door for more MMA fighters to come into K-1 a la Alistair Overeem, and I'll be interested to see just how Buchholz does here.
Much more in the full entry.
Final 16 Line Up Rumors
This year marks the return of K-1's flagship event, the Heavyweight Grand Prix, and, as is tradition, the event starts with a round of 16. That Final 16 will take place on October 14 in Tokyo, Japan. While K-1 is yet to officially announced anything other than the date, kickboxing site Liver Kick has been talking to various fight camps and has begun to put together a list of Final 16 participants, and so far, it's looking pretty good:
Again, these are just rumors and should not be taken as an official list, though some have been confirmed by their trainers.
One big name missing here is Badr Hari, who looked like he was going to be the key player in the new K-1 Heavyweight division. But with him currently in jail and getting ready to plead guilty, I can't imagine him competing in October.
Overall, a solid list here, with room for 7 more names yet to be added. Right now, you'd have to call Ghita the heavy favorite, though both Lascenko and Gerges are more than respectable contenders. And of course, when the time comes, my heart will be rooting for Cro Cop. The K-1 veteran has never won a Grand Prix - how great would it be to see him wearing that crown to close out his legendary career?
Ewerton Teixeira Wins MMA Debut
Finally, former K-1 champion Ewerton Teixeira made his MMA debut over the weekend, competing in Brazil. He was victorious via KO in the third round. A decorated kyokushin karate veteran, Teixeira has been training with UFC Heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos lately and has been inactive in kickboxing since the K-1 2010 Grand Prix. He's an excellent striker, and while he would be a loss to the kickboxing scene, I'm very interested to see how he does should he stay in MMA.
Check out footage of Teixeira and dos Santos sparring below: