K-1's recent purchase was bound to lead to more announcements and speculation, and outside of the rumor of the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 in October, there has actually been another show scheduled for September, which is looking to be the K-1 World MAX Japan tournament finals for the 70kg weight class. This is the tournament that would usually happen around February, but due to K-1's problemed year, this tournament will be happening in September instead. We've already seen a few fights in this "tournament" and are set to see the rest of the tournament unfold on the 25th of September.
It will happen in Osaka, Japan on September 25 with a host of participants planned for the show; Albert Kraus, Yuya Yamamot, Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima, Yasuhiro Kido, Yuta Kubo, Kizaemon Saiga, Yuji Nashiro, KENTA, Takafumi Morita, YOSHI and Takeshi Yokoyama. As you can tell, a mix of -63kg fighters and 70kg fighters, so it won't strictly be the 70kg tournament, much like there were MAX/70kg fights at the -63kg tournament.
It should also be noted that if K-1 wanted to hold a World MAX tournament around that time it would be impossible for them, as It's Showtime is promoting their Fast and Furious 70kg MAX tournament on September 24th. It will be two incredible days for kickboxing for sure. [source]
In the world of kickboxing, most of the focus is on K-1. Over the years, K-1 has in some cases made itself synonymous with the sport of kickboxing. With the recent downtime of K-1, It's Showtime has stepped up and garnered much attention. SuperKombat and Fight Code have gotten a bit of exposure too. What about the smaller shows though? Every weekend there are many small kickboxing events around the world. It's not uncommon in kickboxing for a world class fighter to be fighting on a smaller event. Kickboxing, compared to boxing and MMA is very hard to keep track of and follow.
Now, onto the Tatneft Cup. The Tatneft Cup is a kickboxing tournament held every year in Kazan, Russia. The tournament is spread over many events, with four rounds of the tournament. The first four events are labelled "1/8 Final" and feature opening round tournament matches within the different weight divisions. The tournament advances on to two 1/4 Final events, one 1/2 Final event and the tournament final at the very last event.
In hindsight, the Tatneft Cup would be labelled a smaller show. In terms of who is taking part in the tournament though, it's anything but that. The 2010 Tatneft Cup saw names such as Artem Levin, Ismael Londt, Sergei Lascenko, Dzhabar Askerov and Dmitry Shakuta. The tournament also showcases some of Eastern Europe's top kickboxing talent, who are otherwise unknown to most kickboxing fans. Enriko Gogokhia, Alexander Stetsurenko, Armen Israelyan, Uranbek Esenkulov and Alexander Oleinik are all very good kickboxers who have yet to get any exposure on the big shows.
Enriko Gogokhia lost to Mike Zambidis in April but was very competitive in the fight. He recently lost another competitive fight to Dzhabar Askerov at the Tatneft Cup 2011 1/2 Final. At only 20 years old he is giving widely renowned kickboxers all they can handle. Good things can only come for him. Alexander Oleinik won a K-1 KOK Grand Prix tournament in Moldova in December, stopping Sem Braan, a top fighter in the first round and then winning his other two matches to win the tournament. He just beat Alexander Stetsurenko who I mentioned above, at the Tatneft Cup 2011 1/2 Final, advancing to the final. Oleinik is a very good fighter, and if he can make 77kg, could probably make some waves in It's Showtime.
The Tatneft Cup 2011 Final will probably be in October. The finals are Dzhabar Askerov vs. Maxim Smirnov (-70kg), Alexander Oleinik vs. Dmitry Shakuta (-80kg) and Dmitry Bezus vs. Hicham Ashalhi (+95kg).
The Tatneft Cup is like many in kickboxing, a great show but struggles to get any recognition within the kickboxing world. Kickboxing just isn't that popular and most shows will be lucky to get any mentions.
You can watch all matches from every Tatneft Cup from the Tatneft Arena website. It's in Russian, but a simple run-through Google Translate will make it easy to navigate. All the fights are action packed and showcase some great kickboxing talent that you might not have seen before.
Here's a great fight from the recent Tatneft Cup 2011 1/2 Final featuring Dzhabar Askerov taking on Enriko Gogokhia: