2010 K-1 World Grand Prix

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The 2010 edition of K-1′s World Grand Prix takes place this Saturday and will be aired live from Japan at… two in the morning. Because I’m a masochist and I love my kickboxing, I’ll be watching it live and be drinking heavily. I did it last year and it was ridiculously fun. This could be the last year of the tournament, which has happened every year since 1993, as the parent company of K-1 is having some financial issues.

If you’re a MMA or boxing fan, you should really give K-1 a shot. Its more violent than boxing and more active than MMA. What can you hate about it?!

The WGP is a one-night tournament with eight men competing, all of whom qualified by winning a fight at a show back in October. I’ll take you through the eight competitors now.

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Semmy Schilt

Schilt is the odds-on favorite to win the tournament. He’s won four out of the last five WGP titles, including last year’s. He is a 6’11″, 294-pound monster that rolls through his opponents like a hot knife through butter. Schilt has lost three fights in his K-1 career, two of which were majority decisions to Peter Aerts, also competing in this year’s tournament.

He also likes screaming.

Kyotaro

Kyotaro has been called the next big Japanese kickboxing superstar, if a title like that really means anything in the long run. He’s the current K-1 Heavyweight Champion, a title previously held by Moroccan bad boy Badr Hari, stripped of the belt after he stomped on Remy Bonjasky’s head in the final of the 2008 WGP and was disqualified. Hari isn’t in this year’s tournament because he was in jail after punching a bouncer in the face at a club in the Netherlands. K-1 fighters, baby.

Anyway, back to Kyotaro. He’s the only native Japanese fighter in the tournament so the hopes and prayers of an entire nation that is about to let this company die fall on his shoulders. No pressure or anything… but the kids love him.

Mighty Mo

Mighty Mo is the only American in the tournament…and he’s a Samoan. Hear that America? YOUR hopes for this tournament in a sport that absolutely no one in your country gives a rat’s ass about are held by a Samoan who’s only here because Andrei Arlovski is made of glass. Mo really has no shot in this tournament, but you know what? I’m cheering for him because it would be hilarious if a fat Samoan was crowned as the best kickboxer in the world.

K-1 thinks so little of Mo’s chances in this tournament that they don’t even have any hype videos for him on their YouTube page. As a compromise, here’s a MMA fight with Mo against Josh Barnett, with Mo getting kicked in the balls and going down like a sack of potatoes for about 15 minutes or so.

Peter Aerts

Aerts is Mr K-1, a legend in the sport. He’s a three-time WGP champion and two-time runner up. His K-1 career is 88 fights long, and he’s still competing at a high level at 40-years of age.

He fought in the first WGP back in 1993 and is fighting in what could be the last match here in 2010… pretty amazing when you think about it. He’s a real tough old man, the only man to beat Semmy Schilt twice in K-1. He could easily do it again if he gets the chance.

I have no idea why anyone would not love Peter Aerts.

Gokhan Saki

Saki is from Turkey, not exactly a massive hotbed for kickboxing… hell, for any sports really. For all I know, he’s the most famous athlete to come out of Turkey. He got his shot in the WGP after winning one fight to break a three-fight losing streak. One win in the Final 16 later, and he’s on the biggest show of the year. Imagine that.

Hilariously, K-1′s website lists Saki’s height at 5’12″. I don’t know why. Japan uses the metric system, right? I guess the metric to English conversion confused the hell out of someone. Not really sure.

K-1 apparently wanted to show that he’s a good boyfriend with the hype video posted below. All I know, is that he’s got one hell of a girlfriend. At least we’re assuming that’s his girlfriend.

Daniel Ghita

Ghita is a relative rookie in comparison to the others in this tournament as he only has six career fights in the organization. Last year, he ran through K-1′s Japan qualifying Grand Prix to earn a slot in the Final 16 where he was matched up with a pissed-off Semmy Schilt, who dominated him for three rounds en route to a decision victory.

Ghita has more experience under his belt this year and draws a man he can easily beat in the first round in Saki. Last year’s hype video was pretty funny as it showed Ghita’s mom knitting him a sweater. This year, he’s working out with Romanian techno music blaring. He’s a sleeper to win this year.

Tyrone Spong

Like Ghita, Spong is a K-1 baby in comparison to the rest of the field with only five career fights in the organization. He’s only 25-years-old and is from another athletic mecca…Suriname. What is it about K-1 that draws athletes from these random countries? Holland, Suriname, Romania, Samoa, Turkey…a lot of the lighter guys are from Thailand, which I guess isn’t that weird when you figure that’s where muay thai originated. Anyway, back to Spong.

He’s just a scary dude.

Alistair Overeem

And then there’s Alistair Overeem, the Strikeforce MMA heavyweight champion. He took up K-1 at the end of 2008 at their yearly Dynamite!! event and ran through Badr Hari in one round. Three months later, he lost a decision to defending WGP champion Remy Bonjasky. He’s won four out of his last five K-1 fights and hasn’t lost a MMA fight since 2007.

Since taking up K-1, his body has blown up to superhero proportions with many fans guessing that he eats vats of horse steroids for breakfast every morning. Whatever the case, the man is an absolute freak of nature and can break your jaw with a punch or a knee whenever he wants. He’s also one of Semmy Schilt’s training partners in Holland. Imagine a final between those two.

After reading this piece, I hope you all care about K-1 a little more, and are willing to give it a shot. If you don’t want to stay up until the wee hours of the morning this weekend, you can watch the show at 10 PM EST next Friday on HDNet.

I’m watching it live. There’s just something awesome about early-morning Japanese kickboxing that gets the heart racing and the blood flowing.

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