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.
You 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.
Alistair Overeem has been getting the star treatment of late, which includes getting a tour of the United States as a celebrity, basically. Overeem attended the Super Bowl with Michael Schiavello over the weekend, then went off to New York City where Strikeforce held a meet-and-greet event for fans and participants in the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP. Ariel Helwani caught up with Alistair Overeem to discuss his plans for 2011 and how he feels about Fedor and his camp. Alistair is as always, well-spoken and collected, and by the sounds of it, his main priority is the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP. Good news for American fans, possibly mixed news for K-1 fans who want to see Overeem defend his GP title.
The mobile gaming market is ever-growing, and with that should come a few more fighting games. As of right now, the market for mobile fighting games is wide open, as there are only a select few. Enter "Fight Game" -- a Bas Boon company that produces some of those really cool t-shirts that you've seen Golden Glory fighters wearing for the last year or so; Gokhan Saki, Alistair Overeem, Errol Zimmerman, Sem Schilt and more. There have been rumors mulling around that Fight Game will also become, well, a game and for a mobile platform.
It turns out that Fight Game is currently being developed and will be released for Windows Phone 7. As an avid fan of the mobile phone market, this move does confuse me, but makes sense as well. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launched late last year and is an incredibly late entry into the smartphone market which is currently dominated by phones using Google's Android operating system or Apple's iPhone. Android and iPhone dominated the United States mobile phone market and make up a bulk of users in the world as well. As a former owner of a few Windows Mobile devices (up until 6.1, where I put Android on an SD card and booted off of that -- phone nerd, I know), I can honestly say that there would not be much incentive to switch from using Android to WP7.
Why WP7? Microsoft has been very aggressive trying to onboard game developers and offering interesting incentives to them. Games on WP7 are able to link up with Microsoft's XBox Live platform and some games are cross-platform as well. So, on that note, it makes perfect sense as to why they are working on WP7, but as owners of a different platform I can only hope we see the game make it's way to other phone platforms and to a wider audience.
The game will feature some sort of strange storyline involving Semmy Schilt and Alistair Overeem and a Mortal Kombat-ish martial arts tournament. Did we mention Ubereem has a giant hammer and is crushing rocks? Oh, and Semmy drives a chopper on the streets of Miami. This is literally all we know about the game.
If you follow kickboxing you should know the name Andy Hug by now. If you aren't overly familiar with him or his body of work, you'll at least know the name from being tossed around by fans. There is a reason why the name Andy Hug lives on over ten years after his death; he was an incredible fighter who made a deep impression on every fan who has ever seen him fight.
HDnet's Michael Schiavello takes a look at Andy Hug's life and death in another great article on the HDnet website.
His third kickboxing fight was against Croatian legend Branko Cikatic at a time when Cikatic was at the height of his powers as K-1 world champion. In the end there was blood all over the canvas: Hug’s nose was broken and Cikatic’s face a bloodied mess. Hug’s hand was raised in victory and a new era in the sport was born.
Hug’s lack of boxing skills (full contact Karate competition does not permit punches to the head, so Karate exponents traditionally lack competent boxing skills) and ring savvy saw him dropped three times in the opening twenty seconds of his K-1 elimination fight against USA’s Patrick Smith in early 1994. Though Hug was never in serious trouble and jumped to his feet after each down, the referee stopped the fight on the three knockdown rule.
Hug swore revenge.
He enlisted the services of boxing trainer Uwe Ulman and on September 18 1994 claimed his revenge with a savage knee knockout to Smith’s head that stopped the American midway through the opening round.
Do yourself a favor if you don't know Andy Hug, read the rest of Schiavello's article, and go to YouTube and type in "Andy Hug." [source]
If you were ever curious as to what a retired Dutch kickboxer does after he retires other than train the next crop of champions, look no further than what goes on in Japan. In Japan, being famous means a lot more than it does in other places, as long as you have the attention of the people, you are worth piles of money. Ask Bob Sapp about that.
Ernesto Hoost is known as "Mr. Perfect" and holds four K-1 World Grand Prix Championships, which is something the Japanese fans are not going to forget any time soon. Even though Hoost hasn't participated in K-1 for a few years now, he is still popular with the Japanese people, so enter this latest ad featuring Mr. Perfect. It is for Reebok's ZIGCAMP campaign and, well, the video speaks for itself.
Results from last week's poll:"Would you be interested in a K-1 women's division?"
36% - Yes, absolutely!
29% - Yes, if they get RENA
22% - No, not interested
11% - Not yet, there aren't enough fighters
2% - Not sure
This week: K-1 veteran Pat Barry was in action this weekend, defeating Joey Beltran at the UFC Fight for the Troops event. Opinions on Barry are split, with some reports saying he used great striking to take the win, and others saying he lacked something in the victory. What was your take?
We 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]
When it rains it pours, and right now it will pour for FEG. Amid reports of FEG's financial woes and possible bankruptcy and morbid fate, Bob Sapp decided to speak out about FEG after the Dynamite!! 2010 disaster where his fight with Wakakirin never happened. Tanikawa told fans and the press that Bob Sapp attempted to renegotiate before the fight and that his "fighting spirit" was low. Seeing as though Bob Sapp made himself a millionaire in Japan, he couldn't let that sit. He spoke with MMAJunkie and some of what he said was known, some was rather shocking, like FEG not even having its own office anymore. Sapp was contracted to fight for $30,000.
Instead, he claims FEG executive Sadaharu Tanikawa offered him $15,000 shortly after he arrived in the country the week prior to the event. He refused and made a counter-offer of $25,000, a sum which he claims is half of what the promotion owed him for previous services.
Sapp claims he has a contract with FEG that verifies the rate of pay he was expected to receive for the Dec. 31 fight, as well as other fights, though he said the promotion has yet to honor the terms of that deal. During the promotion's heyday in the mid-2000s, he said he was routinely paid between $350,000 and $400,000 to fight.
Sapp went on to explain that K-1 and DREAM are "extremely broke" and that he has no expectations for them. Could this be the last we see of Bob Sapp in K-1 or DREAM? [source]
Fighting Entertainment Group was formed in 2003, it came from the fallout of K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii's massive tax scandal that left K-1 financially in ruins. The company's public image had also taken a hit, so the only thing to do was change. Fighting Entertainment Group (FEG) was formed, with a former pro wrestling writer, Sudaharu Tanikawa at the reigns. It was implied that the entire organization was put together by Ishii, it was to be the parent company of K-1 and all of K-1's other ventures into combat sports.
It is now 2011 and it looks like Fighting Entertainment Group is ready for the chopping block. Since this initially came out, there have been articles posted with speculation that this "clearly" means that K-1 and DREAM will go the way of the dodo. I've even seen one article go as far as to say that the UFC should swoop in and purchase their assets. I urge you to not give these articles any mind and ignore them, wholesale. The headline that NightmareOfBattle used was enough information as you'll need; "The Event Name Will Be Left, But the Promotion Will Change."
Mike Hackler of MMA-Japan.com uses his business acumen to point out why this is actually the best case scenario:
Now there are many possible scenarios here. The way I take this comment, is similar to corporations restructuring their operations when taking bankruptcy. They do so to shed debt, to boost liquidity, and reduce liabilities. When this is done, the company most likely comes out smaller, yet fine tuned, able to run more efficiently.
FEG is running on a business model that was working ten years ago. Ten years ago, they were huge.
FEG needs to model themselves after World Victory Road. They are not what they were ten years ago. They need to shrink and position themselves in a way that, when and if things take off again, they will be able to grow.
FEG was bloated and signs pointed to bankruptcy for a while now, shooting FEG into the ground, restructuring and coming forward as a new company could very well be exactly what they need to move forward. This would be like if Zuffa fell on rough times, would that mean that UFC would die with it? No, it has too strong of a brand and name value, think of K-1 and FEG like this.
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