Earlier this year, news about the Japanese scene coming from a Dutch source stated that K-1 and DREAM’s parent company FEG was filing for bankruptcy. With the cancellation of the 2011 K-1 Grand Prix and the postponement of several prospective DREAM dates, things were certainly looking grim for fans in the Land of the Rising Sun. However DREAM recently announced that they were going forward with a show being planned for New Year’s eve, and K-1 is reported to be working on a schedule for 2012.
There is more news. K-1 elder statesman Kazutoshi Ishii, who has spent time in jail for tax evasion and is considered to be part of the problem with K-1 by some observers, announced the formation of a governing or sanctioning body to oversee K-1 events. Reportedly, this new group has it’s home office based in Beijing, China and not in Japan which has been K-1′s traditional home. But they are announcing big plans for 2012.
The DREAM event is building up to be the typical New Year’s Eve extravaganza, with nearly 2 dozen matches promised under MMA, Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Pro Wrestling rules in the works. Equally impressive is the plans for K-1 in 2012.
Whatever 2011 tournaments and events remain are cancelled, but the new sanctioning body is promising big things for 2012. The calendar will feature a return to the old, international tournament qualifier format, with the 8 man finals programmed for Tokyo at the end of the year.
The calendar will start with international qualifiers in April of 2012. This will settle the field down to 32 fighters, who will start to compete in single elimination tournaments by June or July. In September or October the field of 16 will get trimmed down to the eight finalists.
The new governing body also confirmed that the weight classes for K-1 kickboxing would remain the same as before, that is K-1 – Heavyweight, 70kg (MAX), and 63kg.
It will be interesting to see if K-1 will lose some of their roster. For years, K-1 has counted on a pool of elite kickboxers who have participated in K-1 for years. However with the new sanctioning body, and still with many open questions about their finances, will K-1 continue to attract the top talent?
Certainly recent K-1 champion Alistair Overeem will not be back since he joined the UFC. There are still also many open questions about sponsors and investors, since this is the first time that the K-1 group will be based outside of Japan. Whether they are they a viable group or not wil lhave many people sitting back and watching.
Much more to come on the K-1 saga, keep your eyes peeled right here!