To say that kickboxing in Japan suffered a severe blow when FEG's K-1 went bankrupt would be an understatement. While the sport was already struggling in Japan from rounds of bad press, the dissolution of K-1 was effectively the end of kickboxing as we all came to know and love it.
Since 2014 K-1 Japan -- under agreement with K-1 Global -- has been putting on some of the best kickboxing shows on the planet, highlighting lighter weight classes with fighters primarily from Japan, but also talent from all over the world. In those years they've made the best out of a bad situation and have been able to book stars like the Urabe brothers, HIROYA and Masaaki Noiri while building up new stars like TAKERU, Minoru Kimura and Kaew. At a press conference today in Saitama, K-1 gathered 56 of K-1's best fighters for an announcement that on March 21st, 2018 K-1 will return to the Saitama Super Arena.
The event, which will be held in the arena where many historic K-1 events took place, will be a triumphant return home for the sport of kickboxing and the K-1 brand in Japan. They believe that they will set the building up for 18,000 fans, although it should be noted that Saitama Super Arena can be configured to hold well over 20,000 fans. The organization wants the March 2018 event to serve as their big, yearly event much like the prior K-1 World Grand Prix for heavyweights in December or the K-1 World MAX tournaments became mainstays in both July and October. They will hold smaller events in Saitama Super Arena as well, but the March event will be the big one.
It's clearly too far away to predict who will be fighting, especially with K-1 Japan holding a ton of events this year, but it's safe to assume that they'll be putting their best foot forward on March 21st, 2018. In addition, K-1 Japan, KRUSH and Khaos will all be merged under the name "K-1 Japan Group" while keeping their individual show names moving forward, but talent-sharing will be across the board.
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 second novel, Terminus Cycle, is available now via Kindle and Paperback.
Dave (a) LiverKick dot com | @dvewlshWebsite: www.dvewlsh.com