It was announced today that Spike TV and K-1 have come to terms and that Spike TV will be the new home of K-1. For the Kickboxing world in the United States, this could completely change everything in the blink of an eye, as K-1 has not had a chance like this in a very long time. K-1 did, for a brief period of time, have a broadcast deal with ESPN, but it was mostly for filler content on ESPN 2 late at night and was never given its proper due.
This time around, it is different as K-1 has been turning its attention to the United States in a big way with their new management. Of the four events left for the rest of the year, two of them are slated to take place in the United States, with the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals happening in New York City on December 26th, for the first time outside of Japan. The recent fracturing of the Kickboxing world has left talent scattered between K-1 and GLORY or in the middle of a legal limbo with contracts with both It’s Showtime (which Glory acquired) and K-1. The names that K-1 has been announcing might not be captivating the old K-1 fans like they’d wish, but the real question right now is; does that matter?
K-1 has the unique opportunity to start anew with this television deal on Spike TV. Yes, K-1 does have a rich history and there are a lot of legendary fighters who helped build the brand to be what it is today, but at the beginning of this year, EMCOM became the new owners of K-1 and the team in charge of operations is entirely new. For the UFC, Spike TV served as a savior of sorts, giving them a chance to show off their unique product and even developed a reality show which helped appeal to a broader audience and push MMA to the masses unlike ever before. There is a good chance that K-1 has a very similar opportunity with Spike TV, and that it might be time to stop turning to the past.
If there ever was a time to build K-1 up with a different format, different approach and with different stars, right now is it. Many of us are certain that some of the fighters on the K-1 Los Angeles show are not going to be the new stars that they are looking for. Rick Roufus, Mighty Mo and Seth Petruzelli have all had their time in the spotlight in one place or another, and this time might not be their time to shine. Instead, K-1 has signed a few new fighters that will participate on the card, including Jarrell Miller, Jack May, Randy Blake, Xavier Vigney, Justin Greskiewicz and more. These fighters, and possibly others, could be the names that truly impress and help re-launch K-1.
As much as we all love the one-night tournament format and the fighters that made K-1 what it is today, it might be time to simply let go of the K-1 of the past. There is a good chance that the “Japanese production” style could also be one of the relics of the past that is not needed to make K-1 a success in the United States, with that possibly deterring new fans due to the spectacle nature with less focus on the sport itself. Time can only tell what will work and what K-1 will ultimately do with this new television deal, but what is clear is that they have a very big opportunity placed in their laps right now, and that failure would probably mean the end of K-1.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His first novel, the Godslayer, is available now.