MMA WEEKLY today broke the story that K-1 and Strikeforce Champion Alistair Overeem had not been paid for his K-1 Grand Prix victory last year. This is interesting, as it provides an insight into how unhealthy the MMA and fighting scene is in Japan.
K-1 is one of the oldest and most established companies in the business. Their forte is kickboxing, not MMA though they have done MMA events before (for example, Brock Lesnar made his debut for them in Los Angeles). A big part of Overeem’s resume is winning their Grand Prix, since it indicates the highest level of kickboxing. Beating Ray Sefo is no small feat.
But K-1 has long been an organization with what is perhaps a dark side, and things do not seem to be as transparent financially in Japan as they are in the US. Their president, Master Ishii, spent at least a year in jail for tax evasion.
And all the big organizations in Japan, including Pride when it was up and running have had a reputation for paying late. Thankfully, this is something that simply doesn’t happen in America.
A little known fact is that most of the Japanese organizations, like Pancrase and SHOOTO, as well as Sengoku are floated by a wealthy player who loves MMA. He owns a chain of discount stores there called Don Quixote, and he spends millions of dollars yearly on MMA and combat sports.
Basically, because of it’s dark side, PRIDE died because they lost support of the Japanese television networks that aired it. and K-1, for all it’s talk about a worldwide network is backed up on payments to the fighters, which is the worst thing for the sport.
Don Quixote does not back the K-1 events, perhaps because of their ties to what might be nebulous groups.
So here is the K-1 champion Alistair Overeem claiming he has not been paid a substantial amount, and he went on to further elaborate that the 2nd place finisher has not been paid either.
With the UFC dominating the MMA world, and now K-1, perhaps the only other company in the business of combat with any real muscle, not living up to standards, it is clearly another feather in the UFC cap.