Big news kickboxing fans - the K-1 Grand Prix is back on. K-1 has announced that the delayed 2012 Grand Prix will indeed be completed. On March 15, K-1 will crown a new Heavyweight GP champion as they stage their Final 8 event in Zagreb, Croatia. K-1 held the final 16 last year, and was originally planning on a December date in New York City for the GP finals, but that didn't happen.
Expect more details to come later this week, but we do already know the final 8 participants in this year's GP:
Gerges is probably the smartest pick to win it all here, though in this field, a lot of guys have a shot. Clearly the story to watch is Mirko Cro Cop. The K-1 and MMA legend made it to the GP finals in 1999 and had a decorated K-1 career, but he never wore the GP crown. If he can do it here, in Croatia, it would be an amazing moment. And don't count him out. He's not the same KO machine he was in his prime, but he's a crafty veteran who could absolutely win this if the tournament brackets work out in his favor.
K-1 has been working with Superkombat lately, which helps explain why they chose Zagreb, as this is right in Superkombat's main operating area.
During this press conference, K-1 and Superkombat also announced that they would be holding a worldwide search for new Heavyweights, with regional shows across the globe. Here's the schedule for those events, which includes a stop in the US:
Greece (tryouts, 25 january, Athens), Germany (tryouts, 9-10 february, Dortmund), United Kingdom (try-outs, 15-16 february, London), Croatia (event selection, 23 february, Opatija), USA (event selection, 28 february, Columbus), Cyprus (tryouts, 1 march, Nicosia), Egypt (tryouts, 8 march, Cairo), Bulgaria (tryouts, 15 march, Sofia), Romania (tryouts, 18 march, Bucharest) and Brazil (tryouts, 23 march, Sao Paulo)
It's been a very up and down road for K-1 in recent years, and last year was no exception, but I for one would be happy to see the company back. The more worldwide exposure for kickboxing, the better. Crowning a new GP champion is a great start, and this should be another very fun event from the new K-1.