K-1's future has gone from confusing and bleak to confusing and busy, as the sleeping giant awoke in June to put on their first show of the year as well as talk about new funding and potential new buyers. From all accounts, the new buyers have big plans for K-1 and are looking to get the ball rolling very soon, but one piece of the puzzle wasn't quite fitting in to the equation and that was K-1's founder, Kazuyoshi Ishii. Ishii has stated his intentions to not give up on K-1, and many who are close to him believe that he would never let go of the K-1 brand that he started and made a worldwide brand.
Kazuyoshi Ishii has had his hard times, and while he publicly is not the face of K-1 anymore, Sadaharu Tanikawa is the man that Ishii personally chose to run the newly-formed FEG, including his K-1 brand, and many who know the operation know that Ishii is never far from K-1. Ishii's presence is even felt backstage at events, and oddly enough we heard reports that Ishii was not seen at the last K-1 show.
A while back I remember reporting on an idea from Ishii (check this article on NOB), an idea that seemed like grandstanding to many, but already showed signs of moving away from K-1 into a new venture. This idea was a world cup of kickboxing to be held every two years and move away from the K-1 system, which is primarily based on entertainment and character building as opposed to a pure sport atmosphere. Ishii of course made famous the entertainment-based kickboxing industry with help from RINGS founder Akira Maeda, who liked Ishii's K-1 concept but pointed out that fighters like Branko Cikatic might make for tournament champions but aren't the type of fighters that you can build a strong following on. Ishii then became known as one of the best in the industry at cultivating talent and making them stars, as fighters like Peter Aerts, Andy Hug, Jerome Le Banner and even Alistair Overeem can attest to.
So the one piece of the puzzle in a post-PUJI K-1 world that didn't quite fit seemed to be Kazuyoshi Ishii, so when there is an article from a Japanese news outlet that Kazuyoshi Ishii's "World Congress" of kickboxing, a "New K-1" is in the works and that we'll see more details in August, it is clear that his gears are turning and that he might be splintering away from his baby and attempting to create an entirely new kickboxing project.
Stay tuned, things might get interesting. [source]