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So, K-1 Hasn't Paid Alistair Overeem

  • Published in K-1

Alistair OvereemYou know, with all of the hype going into the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP, you'd think an interview with Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion from ESPN wouldn't slip through the cracks, but it did. To me, that speaks volumes for just how tired of hearing about K-1's financial problems people are, as well as how few people pay attention to ESPN's MMA Live. No offense intended for MMA Live, but the close affiliation to UFC and the complete lack of coverage of the rest of the world of MMA (it serves as an afterthought, usually) has made the show less-than a must-see for most fans.

Well, regardless of how worthwhile it is to watch MMA Live, over the weekend they spoke with Alistair Overeem, and most MMA websites picked up the interview for purposes of predictions and to gaze into Overeem's dreamy eyebrows, but what struck me was that Alistair Overeem claims that K-1 has yet to pay him and that he would actually prefer not to fight in Japan this year, he would rather just fight in America.

This just serves as a gentle reminder of how business matters in Japan have effected the sport of kickboxing as a whole. If everything is in order for K-1, it looks like Alistair Overeem has no plans on fighting for them this year and will continue to fight in the United States for Strikeforce instead. Watch the below video at about the 4:30 mark as Anik asks if K-1 has paid him and Overeem jovially says they didn't. Ouch.

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How the Ghost of PRIDE Haunts K-1 and DREAM

  • Published in K-1

Kazuyoshi IshiiWe are all-but-done writing about FEG's financial woes. At this point what needs to be said has been said, and there is a lot of information on this topic that will never be released to the public. Until FEG makes their move, it is a dead horse that I'm sick of beating. So I've seen some articles and questions floating around that pertain to the future of DREAM and K-1, which of course revolves around television and ownership.

What many people tend to forget is way back to the death of PRIDE, the one-off event known as "Yarennoka" and the formation of DREAM. DREAM is not simple a FEG production. There is a company called "Real Entertainment" that was formed by what was left of DSE, and all of those great video packages on those DREAM events, Lenne Hardt screaming out fighters' names and even lots of the fighters themselves participating in DREAM? Thank Real Entertainment. DREAM is a co-production between RE and FEG, which is why you'll never see DREAM on Fuji TV.

So now, to fully understand how this impacts FEG, I'll hand this over to Mike Hackler of MMA-Japan.com, who did some digging and found out exactly what Real Entertainment's services mean to FEG.

FEG is in debt to Real Entertainment around $7 million USD.  Real Entertainment's involvement is a large reason why there are problems getting a TV deal done, due to the fact they still have management from DSE.  FUJI has no interest in a television deal, solely for this reason.  Real Entertainment is also responsible for paying the fighters (as to what extent, I do not know).  Many fighters contracts are with Real Entertainment and not FEG.

FEG is stuck.  Ishii owns the rights and the brand names with FEG.  This makes reorganizing the company extremely difficult, if not impossible. That said, it has been confirmed that PUJI has backed out of this altogether.  As any private equity does, FEG is reluctant to allow for managerial changes to take place.  This creates a brick wall for outside investors to get involved.

This beautifully articulates how FEG is stuck in a tough position, and some of the power struggles that are going on during this downtime for K-1 and DREAM. Many people I've spoken to have talked about (off the record, as always) Tanikawa wanting to form a new company and leave Ishii out of the business entirely, but as long as Ishii owns the name "K-1" it will be impossible to break away from his influence. [source]

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Let's Kill that Bobby Lashley vs. Overeem Rumor

  • Published in K-1

As with anything FEG-related, it is best to approach anything you hear like a one night stand; carefully, with protection, and to do your best to forget about it the next morning. Our friends at NightmareOfBattle learned that the Lashley vs. Overeem bout is indeed "off" -- as if it was ever truly on.

From what we are hearing currently, Lashley's management turned down the fight due to not having enough time to prepare for a bout of that magnitude, which all-in-all is a very smart move. Liver Kick is still waiting to hear back from Alistair Overeem's management as to what the future plans are, but we do know that Bobby Lashley will not be the opponent, nor will Satoshi Ishii, who is fighting Jerome Le Banner instead.

The current rumor is that Golden Glory fighters will clash in the fight that fans across the world were waiting for at this year's World Grand Prix; Alistair Overeem vs. Semmy Schilt. No word on the validity of this rumor, or if it would be DREAM or K-1 rules, but we should have more details within the next few days.

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Could Shootboxer RENA's Popularity Help FEG?

  • Published in Kickboxing

RENAI'm not sure if what I'm posing at this point is a rhetorical at this point or if it actually has value. Recently SHOOTBOXING Girls S-Cup 2009 and 2010 champ Rena Kubota (simply called RENA) made a television appearance on the Female Athletes TV show on TBS, and the ratings she scored for her segment were quite positive. The overall rating for the show was 11.8%, with RENA's segment where she embarrassed three male comedians in the ring received a staggering 16.8%.

RENA, to say the least, has proven that she has the attention of Japan's fickle audiences, and once again on a show featuring female athletes from different sports, was able to prove that combat sports can be seen as "cool." This is immensely important for combat sports. Recently, @DanHerbertson, @Kuri_Kinton and myself (@LiverKickdotcom) had a discussion about the future of combat sports in Japan. Stuart Tonkin (Kuri Kinton), of course, for the uninitiated has been in Japan for ages and does work for K-1, while Herbertson is MMAFighting.com's Japan reporter.

The talk came on the heels of Herbertson and myself discussing TBS and FEG's future, which at this point is a big unknown. TBS had a two year deal with FEG that expired at Dynamite!!, which means as of right now the future of K-1 MAX and DREAM are uncertain on television. This of course could all be idle talk and TBS picks FEG programming back up and simply alters the contract a bit, but if they opt out it is incredibly uncertain for the future. K-1 MAX was the brainchild of FEG and TBS, used mainly to capitalize on the popularity of Japanese Middleweight kickboxer Masato. Masato scaled back his participation and soon retired, leaving MAX in a bad spot.

Then there is DREAM. DREAM is essentially a venture between FEG and what we all knew as DSE. If you don't remember DSE, think back to PRIDE. K-1 currently resides on Fuji TV, who killed off PRIDE's programming after the yakuza scandal DSE had and refuse to associate with that again. This means even if Fuji TV, who have a great relationship with Kazuyoshi Ishii, pick up K-1 MAX, DREAM might be without a home.

Are you following where RENA comes into play yet? Satoshi Ishii's popularity is in the balance right now, and if he disappears again for a prolonged period of time or says something ridiculously stupid in interviews, well, that is it for Ishii. Ishii really needs better handlers, but then again, that won't change anything now. With proper management from the beginning we wouldn't have these issues with Ishii. K-1 has used RENA before, in 2009 she participated in their Korean MAX show where she had a tough extra round decision loss to Su Jeong Lim after being promoted as one of the show's headliners.

RENA has rebound, though, having an incredible 10-fight win streak after that loss and taking two SHOOTBOXING tournaments, which is nothing short of spectacular. For TBS to feel comfortable with further FEG programming, they need some sort of star to push, a Japanese star, and there have not been any outside of Ishii that have presented themselves. If you think back, since the fall of PRIDE there have been no stars created, everything has been left over from PRIDE and earlier K-1 success. Using a female fighter like RENA might not attract the crowd that Japanese broadcasters and sponsors are looking for, but it will bring in viewers. At least until they finally find that "next Masato" they are grasping at straws for. There is a very, very good chance that K-1's KOSHIEN division, which we all laughed at years ago, can provide that next big star for them. There have already been a few fighters not named HIROYA who have come from the KOSHIEN program who have gone on to have success and could be huge stars. [source]

Video of RENA's appearance after the break.

 

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So, Apparently "FEG Will Die" According to Tanikawa

  • Published in K-1

FEG Might be No More?That really isn't a sensationalist headline or anything, that is a quote from FEG President Tanikawa from Sports Graphic that was released the other day in Japan. This comes around the same time that Tanikawa posted on his twitter that he would "do something huge." Actually, this interview came before that tweet was pushed out to the public. Quote comes from NOB, as always.

“The current course is that FEG will die. There are probably staff members that will leave as well. The event name will be left but the promotion will change. If the current structure remains as it is it will be impossible to continue. If many investments from companies overseas do not come in we can’t survive.”

One can only really wonder what exactly will become of K-1 and DREAM. As we have been reporting from way back when we were HKL, part of the deal in place with PUJI was that FEG would need to do some serious restructuring to continue on into 2011. FEG was against major restructuring and the deal came to a standstill, when in the 11th hour PUJI and FEG came to an agreement and PUJI had found a few suitable investors for the restructured FEG.

So it looks like the FEG that we know and love will cease to exist, and in its place something new. K-1 and DREAM will continue on, and to the casual observer, there may not be too many differences. Now it is time to simply wait and see what else is announced in the coming days.

UPDATE: As always, if you use Twitter, you should follow @DanHerbertson, as he has some more quotes.

UPDATE 2: A sneaking suspicion was confirmed by Stuart Tomkin, that these quotes are indeed from the Dynamite!! post-press conference.

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It's Showtime Cancels May Amsterdam ArenA Show

  • Published in Kickboxing

Simon Rutz and Saduharu TanikawaThere is a sad state of affairs in the kickboxing world right now, mostly revolving around the turmoil happening within FEG. Sadly, there is some collateral damage when it comes to FEG's financial and organizational woes by the way of Netherlands kickboxing powerhouse It's Showtime. It's Showtime has for the past few years ran in the Amsterdam ArenA, a large-scale arena, hosting kickboxing's biggest non-K-1 event. There wasn't much word on the show for the past few months, but the assumption was always that it would happen, regardless of any outside forces, as It's Showtime has been expanding and putting on bigger and better shows.

According to Simon Rutz today, he has officially put the final nail in the coffin of the May ArenA show, and sadly it all rests on the shoulders of K-1. K-1 has partnered with It's Showtime in the annual ArenA show, exchanging talent, helping cover production costs and assembling the card in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The last two years it has been an It's Showtime exclusive, but in 2011 it was going to be a joint production between It's Showtime and K-1. It's Showtime held up their end of the bargain, but were simply waiting on K-1 to complete the matchmaking as per the agreement. Rutz explains his frustrations:

However, after months of asking questions by email, text messages, personally and by telephone we never got an answer from K-1 regarding the fight card. We had set a deadline for the fight card for January 11, because otherwise there would be too little time for us to organize everything before May 21.

It was January 18 when K-1 finally told me that it isn’t able to put the fight card together, because many fighters who have fought for K-1 still have to get their money, and K-1 can’t negotiate with fighters whom K-1 still owes money to. For a long time it’s not a secret anymore that K-1 is in bad financial problems and that it’s still the question whether they will survive this crisis. FEG (K-1) tries to do everything in its power to get out of this crisis but the negotiations with potential investors are stagnating for a year already.

Rutz goes on to talk about how his company, Black Label, that manages many of K-1's biggest stars, from Melvin Manhoef, Badr Hari, Giorgio Petrosyan, Gago Drago and Hesdy Gerges, has been patient and helped K-1 financially, they need to draw the line somewhere.

We from IT’S SHOWTIME have tried to help K-1 in every area the last couple of years and we have been very merciful regarding the payments of our fighters. The debts keep increasing in a very fast pace, though. According to FEG, everything will be alright but everything takes more time than they had expected and FEG asks us for more time regarding the payments of our fighters and the final fight card for the Amsterdam ArenA.

I find it admirable how Rutz does business and it is understandable that their patience has run out. Quite honestly, this is a case where East meets West and the West can't wait for the East to do business their way. Rutz is very realistic that if K-1 sorts out their financial problems and is open to working with It's Showtime on the joint card, that sometime in September or October would be for the best, while K-1 officials have told him to keep an open mind to the May deadline. It's Showtime manages many of its fighters and understands matchmaking must take place months in advance to ensure that the fighters are prepared for their fights as well as compensated.

There are six events booked so far, with It's Showtime looking to assemble at least ten cards this year, which is an astonishing amount of high-level kickboxing and leaves a smile on our faces. [source]

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Where Will FEG Stand in the New K-1

  • Published in K-1

While there has yet to be any news on what is possibly going on with K-1 and FIKA, we can begin to piece together some clues as to who is and is not involved. There is talk of possibly Golden Glory being involved with FIKA, as we could plainly see from his appearance at the initial FIKA press conference. The big question that has been hanging in the air revolves around whether or not the former team that headed up K-1 while Ishii was away in FEG will be involved or not.

There was some proof from the recent GenkiDesuKa show that was promoted by REAL Entertainment, who are known for co-promoting DREAM events with FEG.

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Strikeforce Heavyweight GP in Japan Will Air Live in the US

  • Published in Kickboxing

Alistair Overeem (C) FEGWe've had a lot of rumors lately about Strikeforce moving over to promote a show in Japan, with an arbitrary date tossed around of April 9th. It turns out, from sources close to Real Entertainment who spoke with our good friend and former contributor Mike Hackler of MMA-Japan.com, that the show will be April 10th in Japan during the afternoon.

What this means is that the show will take place in the mid-afternoon in Japan on April 10th so that it can air live in the United States on Showtime. This has been one of the main criticisms that I've seen towards the Strikeforce in Japan show; that it probably would be airing on tape delay in the United States and as most fans are antsy to get the latest news, the event would be spoiled and viewers would not tune in to watch the event. This has been an ongoing issue for UFC when they have international cards and do not adjust the show to be live in the US.

I feel as if a lot of people are not giving Scott Coker the proper credit here, as he has a handle on promoting cards internationally and what needs to be done to make it all work out for everyone. The event will host a few fights from the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP, most likely Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum as well as Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers. M-1 might also be thrown into the mix, as Fedor Emelianenko is rumored for the card, making it a co-promotion between Real Entertainment, Strikeforce, Showtime and M-1 Global.

There should also be a few Lightweight bouts in place, possibly from the rumored Real Entertainment and Strikeforce Lightweight GP we mentioned previously. There are lots of names of top Japanese Lightweights being thrown around, including Tatsuya Kawajiri and Shinya Aoki, considered two of Japan's top Lightweights. But for now, we'll wait and see, as with anything in Japan, things can change in a heartbeat. [source]

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Sadaharu Tanikawa and FEG Talk of Withdrawal From K-1

  • Published in K-1

In a way, it feels like a victory, although a small victory at that, when FEG President Sadaharu Tanikawa finally broke his silence on what has been going on with FEG. FEG is broke and Tanikawa has formally announced that they no longer have control over K-1. If you have been privy to what has been happening behind the scenes, this is no giant surprise, but for Tanikawa to come out and yield like this is a pretty big deal.

Fighting Entertainment Group (FEG) took over K-1 when Kazuyoshi Ishii was forced to resign from K-1 due to a tax evasion scandal. The company was completely re-organized, with FEG as the parent company and K-1 becoming a brand, but to many on the outside it was seamless. Things continued on, K-1 shows kept going and it seemed like business as usual. The problems were that FEG and Tanikawa were still at the mercy of Kazuyoshi Ishii and money was being lost on a regular basis. Eventually, this began to come out to the public when fighters began speaking out, and it flowed like cheap wine at a party. Tanikawa and FEG did damage control, but never really faced the problems head-on, which only made things worse.

This, in turn, left the K-1 brand in a terrible place, with fighters owed incredible sums of money and K-1's former home in Japan no longer willing to accept it with open arms. In Japan, broadcast television is king, and do not expect to see K-1 on broadcast television again any time soon there. Much like PRIDE had to do, K-1 has to look elsewhere to survive, only for K-1, the new owners are not simply looking for another notch in their belt. Tanikawa wished the new K-1 owners well and said that he would continue to work towards a resolution of repayment, but it came across as hollow, as hollow as him announcing that he is already lining up investors for his new series of martial arts events.

In FEG's stead we are left with Ishii holding K-1 tournaments for high school students in Japan, Mr. Kim and EMCOM owning K-1 and working with It's Showtime to produce events and Golden Glory as the spurned lover running their own series of events after losing out on the K-1 brand in a bidding war with Mr. Kim that never quite turned into a bidding war like they imagined it would.

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Tanikawa Claims All Fighters Paid, Ray Sefo Disagrees

  • Published in K-1

Sadaharu Tanikawa went on a talk show the other day to clear the air about a few persisting FEG/K-1 rumors. The FEG camp has been notoriously quiet and hard to deal with during their period of restructuring, which has included fighters not being paid their promised purses. One can say that this is simply "business as usual" for the Japanese company who is known to put clauses in their contracts that they might not pay fighters for a full six months after they fight.

There have been many voices that have spoken out over the past year, but one of the most surprising has been Sugar Ray Sefo. Sefo is a K-1 legend and has had a very good working relationship with them for many years now. If any fighter were to know how business is done with K-1, it would be Sefo. It all started when the American contact within FEG, Mike Kogan, parted ways with FEG. For many fighters, Kogan was who they would directly deal with, who would be the go-between and make everything a bit easier to deal with. People have given Kogan flack over the past few years, but he is a veteran of the martial arts world and knows the ins and outs very well.

Tanikawa told fighters they were to deal with him directly now, of course, Tanikawa does not exactly speak English very well. This interview with Tanikawa is really a must-read, as it contains a lot of information about the future of K-1 and DREAM on top of the usual fluff. Some of the topics are just out there, like Spike TV was in negotiations with K-1 until the manager they were in talks with was fired and Spike TV went with UFC. He also fired another blow over the bow at main rival It's Showtime, claiming that K-1 has "no rivals" and that It's Showtime does great in Amsterdam but not well outside of there, which we know is a lot of hot air.

There is a key word coming up in regards to the World Grand Prix, and that is if. IF K-1 decides to run a World Grand Prix, it won't start until late summer, and he also states that there will not be any large scale shows until later on in the year, fall or later.

Then comes the bit about pay, where he claims that all fighters, including Ray Sefo, have been paid. Our good friend Mike Hackler at MMA-Japan.com reached out to Ray Sefo to ask if he had received the $700,000 he was owed, and the response was that no, he was not paid yet. There is still a lot of uncertainty right now and while the public face that FEG is pushing out is one that is fixing itself, one has to wonder what is really going on behind closed doors.

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