This Saturday, K-1 is in action with what is officially titled K-1 Rising 2012 U.S. Grand Prix Championship in Los Angeles. That's quite a mouthful. But the key here is that, for just the second time since being sold to new management, we have a new K-1 show to look forward to. And for the first time since 2008, it's in the United States. The show will be available for live stream at Spike.com, and of course, we'll have live coverage here at Bloody Elbow, including results and a discussion thread.
The main attraction on the show is a series of four Heavyweight fights. These are being billed as Grand Prix fights, though that is a bit misleading - winners could possibly move on to the 2012 GP Final 16 in October, but that's not a guarantee. Included in these fights is an odd mix of long-time veterans (Mighty Mo, Dewey Cooper, Rick Roufus), newer fighters looking to make a name for themselves (Jarrell Miller, Xavier Vigney, Jack May, Randy Blake), and Seth Petruzelli.
Also on the card are four MAX fights (K-1's 70kg or roughly 155 pound division). These are entirely focused on the younger fighters. UFC veteran Kit Cope is the most recognizable name from this batch, though I think Michael Mananquil has the best potential to break out from the pack here. Finally, there will be four additional superfights, plus three prelims featuring fighters from the open tryouts K-1 held earlier this year.
The end result is a card short on name power. For kickboxing fans, Mighty Mo is the biggest name, while for casual fans, Petruzelli is the closest thing to a draw.
So the real draw here is simply the K-1 brand. Which is something of a wild card. K-1's name has been through a lot of turmoil in recent years, and they've never had a strong US presence. With their recent announcement of a partnership with Spike TV, interest in the long-running organization has increased among US fans. This is their first chance to tune in since that announcement, and it will be interesting to see just how many people decide to watch.
Full fight card and more in the complete article.
For those viewers, especially new fans, K-1 has put together a very risky card. The focus on this card is clear - build up new names for the US audience. And that is a smart focus, no doubt. The danger is - how will these unknown names perform? Many will be competing on the biggest stage of their career. If the moment gets the better of them, there could be a number of underwhelming fights that don't represent what K-1 has to offer and won't entice new fans to keep coming back.
But if these new names rise to the occasion, fight to the best of their abilities, and truly show what they are capable of, we could end up with a night that signifies a new era in US kickboxing, and the start of a new generation in K-1.
To be honest, I'm not sure which way the card will go. The optimist in me wants to see K-1 succeed, and I definitely see the potential for that in this show. But the relist in me has fears.
Either way, I'll be tuning in for a live K-1 show, watching with anticipation to see just how everything plays out. I hope you'll do the same, and that you'll join me here at Bloody Elbow for all the kickboxing action Saturday night.
K-1 U.S. Grand Prix 2012 Fight Card
Xavier Vigney v. Seth Petruzelli
Rick Roufus v. Mighty Mo
Jack May v. Jarrell Miller
Randy Blake v. Dewey Cooper
Bryce Krause v. Justin Greskiewicz
Ben Yelle v. Joey Pagliuso
Michael Mananquil v. Scotty Leffler
Chaz Mulkey v. Kit Cope
Wentz Shuichi v. Romie Adanza
En Gang v. Travis Garlits
Lerdsila Chumpairtour v. Gabriel Varga
Markhaile Wedderburn v. Jeremiah Metcalf
Glen Spencer v. Mike Lemaire
Damien Earley v. Jermaine Soto
James Wilson v. Doug Sauer