by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
Hero’s, the MMA promotion operated by K-1, is scheduled to make its debut on American pay-per-view next month.
Airing on a two month tape delay, the Hero’s event that took place on May 3rd in Tokyo, Japan will debut on American PPV on Friday, July 14th.
The May 3rd Hero’s show featured Japanese MMA stars such as Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, Caol Uno, Hideo Tokoro (a 150-pound fighter who fought Royce Gracie to a draw last December), Yoshihiro Takiyama, and Kazuyuki Miyata, as well as a special attraction match with Don Frye taking on Chad “Akebono” Rowan.
This development brings to five the number of MMA promotions that have widespread PPV distribution in the United States: UFC, Pride, Hero’s, WFA, and King of the Cage.
In addition to the May 3rd Hero’s MMA show, two of K-1′s kickboxing events will also debut on American PPV in the coming days and weeks. As previously announced, the K-1 USA event that took place on April 29th will debut on North American PPV this Friday, June 16th. That event featured an eight-man tournament for a spot in the final 16 of this year’s K-1 World Grand Prix, along with a non-tournament super-fight between Semmy Schilt and Musashi.
MMAWeekly has also learned that the K-1 Amsterdam show that took place on May 13th will debut on American PPV on Friday, July 28th. This was the event that was supposed to feature the super-fight main event of Bob Sapp vs. Ernesto Hoost, but Sapp pulled out in the middle of the show and was replaced by Peter Aerts, who had been doing color commentary up until that point in the show.
While it’s better late than never for fans in the United States who want to see these events, it remains to be seen if K-1 events will move back to having a more timely U.S. broadcasting schedule at any time in the future. When K-1 lost its deal with ESPN PPV in the United States last summer, over six months passed without any K-1 events airing on American pay-per-view.
Integrated Sports, a California-based sports marketing company, picked up the American PPV distribution rights to K-1 shows earlier this year, but has only aired the shows on tape delays of a few weeks or months. There has yet to be a K-1 show distributed by Integrated Sports that has aired on U.S. PPV on a one- or two-week tape delay, much less the 18-hour tape delay that American fight fans have come to expect.