Press Release: Monte DiPietro
Countdown to Mayhem: K-1 USA GP ’06 Press Conference
LAS VEGAS, April 27, 2006 — Fighters met the media today in advance of Saturday’s “Mayhem at the Mirage” K-1 event. Set for the Mirage Hotel and Casino, the fightsport extravaganza features the 8-man K-1 USA Grand Prix tournament, with the winner advancing to the World GP Final Elimination and a shot at fightsport’s most coveted crown in the K-1 Tokyo Dome Final. There are also three Superfights on the card. All bouts will be contested under regular K-1 Rules (3Min. x 3R w/1R tiebreaker).
MGM Mirage Sports Events Director Bob Halloran, a great fan of K-1, was on hand to share his thoughts.
“I love the excitement of K-1 events, especially the tournaments,” said Halloran. “K-1 has been a great, great promotion for us — the martial arts fighters are outstanding and they always come into the event in great shape. Fans definitely get their money’s worth.”
America’s fightsport capital, the glittering Las Vegas Strip would be but a stretch of sand and tumbleweed if not for gambling. And so it’s no surprise that people are lining up to place bets on this tournament. The current odds board favorite is Carter Williams, the California street kid turned martial artist who upset the field to win the K-1 US GP in 2003. On Saturday, the 26 year-old Williams will face Yusuke Fujimoto of Japan. These two guys have issues. Broken nose issues.
A Williams knee foul cracked Fujimoto’s snout when these two fought in Vegas a year back. This time, Fujimoto is bent on revenge. “I’ll not only win the fight,” he joked, “but maybe I’ll break Carter’s nose while I’m at it!”
Williams didn’t seem fazed.
“What happened last year was an accident, but I want to reclaim my title and that means getting past Fujimoto. I’ve been working on kicking and punching as well as some flying attacks,” said Williams, “because I believe that ‘prior proper planning prevents piss poor performance’! Of course, there has been more pressure since I won the US GP. As soon as I climb into my car in Modesto to drive to Vegas, I already feel the pressure. But I’ve learned to deal with it. When I get here, I relax, I watch TV, I do things to stay loose and take my mind off the fight. I’ll get in the ring on Saturday, there’s no use worrying about it today!”
Rock ’em Sock ’em Gary Goodridge is a Trinidad and Tobago-born, Canadian-based slugger with a go-to ring philosophy “If I knock somebody out quick, I don’t get hurt. If somebody knocks me out quick, I don’t get hurt!” His opponent Saturday will be Japanese fighter Kengo Watanabe of Team Oyama
A sometime model and action film star, Watanabe said he was attracted by the “charisma” of K-1.
Goodridge was more pragmatic: “I’m here to win all three fights by KO!”
A bit of last-minute card-shuffling saw American Scott Lighty promoted from the reserve bout to the tournament bracket after scheduled Superfight participant Glaube Feitosa broke a toe in training. A Muay Thai stylist, Lighty got to the final at the “Mayhem at the Mirage” event last year. His opponent this time round will be Las Vegas’ own Dewey “The Black Cobra” Cooper.
Lighty: “I trained harder than ever and I’m ready to KO everyone!”
Cooper: “I know Scott is good, but Saturday we’ll see who’s best!”
In the last of the quarterfinals, boxer Chalid “Die Faust” Arrab of Germany will take on a former wrestler, hard-hitting Sean O’Haire of the United States.
O’Haire: “I’ve been working hard and have improved my K-1 skills tremendously!”
Arrab: “My strategy for the fight is secret. I will not talk about it now, instead I will show everybody Saturday night!”
Defending K-1 World Grand Prix Champion Semmy Schilt of Holland is a big boy, standing 211cm/6’11 and weighing in at 123kg/284lbs. Only one man, the legendary Peter Aerts, has ever beaten him. On Saturday, Japan’s premier K-1 fighter, Musashi, hopes to become the second.
Musashi: “I’m honored to fight the Champion, it will be hard because he’s so big, but I’ve fought big guys below, so I’ll do my best!”
A man of few words, Schilt simply promised to “show everyone a great fight.”
A K-1 veteran with a lethal combination of fast and technical punch and kick attacks, Stefan Leko of Germany will take on the ferocious Ruslan Karaev in his Superfight. Karaev is a 22 year-old Russia who brawled his way to the “Mayhem at the Mirage” Championship last year.
Leko: “Yes, he was the Champ here last year, but I will win this time.”
Karaev: “Stefan is talented and experienced, he has good kicks and punches both. But I am ready for this one!”
The Defending K-1 Asia GP Champion is the gargantuan Hong-Man Choi (218cm/7’2″;161kg/355lbs). Here, the Korean will step in against former wrestler Sylvester “The Predator” Terkay of the United States, a large fellow himself at 198kg/6’6″;138kg/305lbs.
“I’m used to being the tallest guy in the ring,” laughed Terkay, “but this is my chance to try out-fighting a big, big, big guy. I’m looking forward to a slugfest!”
Choi: “I’ve moved my training to Osaka and am working with the Seidokaikan style so I will be showing my fans some new moves and strategy.”
The card promises to deliver, and K-1 USA’s Scott Coker sees Saturday as an important step developing the American market.
“America is a patriotic country and so American fans want to see American fighters, says Coker. “I think having more homegrown fighters will help grow the sport here.”
“We get a lot of calls for K-1 DVDs and so on,” explains Coker, “but the key now is going to be our television deal. If you look at the Japanese model, K-1 works very closely with Fuji TV on the World Grand Prix. We are talking with broadcasters and that is the sort of partnership that we are working towards. I believe we have the best stand-up martial arts product in the world, and with the right marketing and television initiatives we can expect to see growth triple in America in the next couple of years.”
The K-1 USA GP ’06 will be broadcast live on the Fuji Television Network and Fuji Satellite TV in Japan and on MBC/ESPN in South Korea. The event will be time-delay broadcast on inDemand in the United States, Viewers’ Choice in Canada, EuroSport across Europe, ProTV in Romania and GroboSat in Brazil. Please check with local broadcasters for scheduling details.
And as always, visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp) for complete post-event coverage.