Kickboxing organization Superkombat has officially severed ties with K-1. The two companies announced a partnership last year with big plans that would help increase the brand of Superkombat, while at the same time breathing life back into the badly wounded K-1 organization. Unfortunately, those plans didn't quite pan out, and, as should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following kickboxing in recent years, it appears the problem was K-1's inability to make good on their promises.
Here is Superkombat President Eduard Irimia addressing the situation in an open letter (Note: This is a translation):
[W]e are forced to announce that SUPERKOMBAT® has nothing to do as promotion in any way with K-1 and the only collaboration is between some fighters and their managers as they are engaged in some fight agreements.
Also as a very loyal to the K-1 brand in the last years, I did not want to make noise around, but unfortunately in the last month there were many visible mistakes and we don't want to be associated with the failure of others...
For me, the dream that K-1 will be back as old times is not any more through the K-1 logo, we will do the best slowly and responsible work to happen through our work or to cooperate with other promotion with the same goal.
With the respect to all the worldwide media and fans we will continue our young project to create new heroes and to provide good events in direct proportion with the budget, if we will be lucky to get investors as others got, for sure we could touch the target.
Irimia brings up a few specifics, including K-1's inability to promote their shows and their desire to cancel events. Read the full letter here.
Sadly, this is essentially business as usual for the new K-1. Since the 2010 Grand Prix, the company has been limping along, changing owners and managers multiple times. In 2012, they managed to put together a few shows that were successful from a show quality standpoint, but not from a marketing/sales perspective. The deal with Superkombat seemed like a way to help them get back on track, but they were not able to capitalize.
For those keeping track, this means that in the past year, K-1 has announced official partnerships with It's Showtime, Spike TV, and Superkombat, only to see all cancelled after K-1 could not deliver.
So does this mean the death of the K-1 brand? It's hard to say. They'be been on life support for some time now, and while this is definitely a bad blow, they've somehow managed to barely squeak by so far. I suspect that's what they'll keep doing - for now at least. K-1's next show is April 27 - a 2013 GP qualifier (in theory at least) held in Vilnius and headlined by Artur Kyshenko.
For their part, Superkombat should be just fine without K-1. While they may not yet have the same level of brand recognition, they are quickly growing, and have become one of the very top kickboxing organizations worldwide. They have been holding an ongoing Tryouts and New Heroes series to build new talent, including making moves to North America where they are looking to host an upcoming event in Canada. Their 2013 Grand Prix is already underway, with Muamer Tufekcic winning this year's first GP tournament earlier this month. He now moves on to the Final Elimination round of 8 on November 9.
Next up for Superkombat is a Grand Prix qualifier on May 18. Look for more information on that card coming soon to Bloody Elbow.