The MMAFIGHTING.COM website broke some startling news about K-1. They are quoting Dutch promoter Simon Rutz, who has long ties to the K-1 brand, that the parent company Fighting Entertainment Group, or FEG is bankrupt. On the MMA side, FEG also promotes the Japanese event DREAM, so this is bad news all around for the fight scene in Japan. Certainly it is awful news for high level kickboxing.
Who stands to benefit the most from this? Why, the UFC of course. Why is that? Ok, let’s take a look.
First it KO’s Dream, leaving the MMA scene in Japan a little more open for a consistent UFC product. It isn’t so much signing the athletes as it chips away at what s a saturated product in a market they want to break into.
Secondly, it leaves a solid handful of top tier fighters without the option of doing K-1 events as opposed to MMA. Alistair Overeem turned to K-1 in the past years, as did Gegard Mousasi. Semi Shilt left MMA for K-1 a long time ago. It was an excellent bargaining chip and option if negotiations with the UFC were not working out.
Earlier this year, Overeem revealed that he had not been fully paid for his K-1 World Grand Prix victory. Now the 2011 Grand Prix is cancelled according to the MMAFIGHTING.COM article.
Certainly the K-1 name will rise again, it is a long term brand and the article states there are already investors out of Japan and Korea that may be willing to take on the challenge. But in the short life of a combat athlete, losing a year in your career is earth shattering news. Not to mention the loss of income.
So this may be a good time for the UFC and Dana White to scoop up some top level athletes from the K-1 rotation. They grabbed Overeem. I want to suggest Semi Shilt. The giant six foot ten inch Dutchman is someone who could battle many of the top UFC Heavyweights. There will be other talent there, the UFC needs to put the pressure on now.
It will be harder for K-1 to come back onto the world scene without some of it’s world class talent, and the longer the investors take, the more of it is hanging out there for UFC to take. It will be very interesting to see if this leads to any new talent in the UFC.