TOKYO — A draw was held to establish who will fight whom at the November 19 Tokyo Dome Final. The pairings were determined under K-1’s traditional selection system, which combines elements of choice with a bit of good old fashioned luck.
All eight fighters first reach in turn into a box to blindly choose from balls, these bearing the numbers one through eight. Next, fighters proceed, in the order dictated by their number, to the stage. There they are free to stand in any available fighters’ spot indicated as A through H. This becomes the tournament tree — A vs B and C vs D being the first bracket; E vs F and G vs H being the second.
Generally, fighters opt to position themselves in earlier bouts (positions A and B being the first fight), as these spots on the card will afford longer rests for those who advance. But after the first selection has been made, strategy also enters into the process. If, for example, the selector likes his chances against someone already committed, he can place himself beside that fighter if the position is still available. Or, if the selector prefers to avoid an already committed fighter, he can install himself elsewhere — beside either another fighter or a vacant position.
Picking along with Defending WGP Champion Remy Bonjasky of Holland today were Peter Aerts (Holland), Hong-Man Choi (South Korea), Ruslan Karaev (Russia), Jerome LeBanner (France), Musashi (Japan), Semmy Schilt (Holland) and Ray Sefo (New Zealand).
Sefo got first ball, and installed himself in position “C,” the red corner of the second bout. Next up was Hong-Man Choi, who elected to avoid Sefo and instead take the blue corner for the first bout. When Bonjasky selected third, he was faced with the choice of taking a second bracket berth or else lining up beside either Sefo or Choi. After careful consideration, Bonjasky decided to step into the red corner of the first bout and a date with Choi.
Said Bonjasky: “I chose Choi because he is the new guy in K-1, and he’s a great guy and I want to test him. He’s big and tall, but I think if I jump then I can reach him with my knees!”
Semmy Schilt had the next number and rather venture into the second bracket, walked straight up and paired off with Sefo.
“I had a feeling beforehand that I was going to end up fighting one of the big guys, either Choi or Semmy” said Sefo, “and that prediction came true. I have another prediction, which I am going to keep to myself for now, but you will all find out when the night of the Final arrives.”
Jerome LeBanner then went to the red corner for the third bout, giving the next selector, Ruslan Karaev, the opportunity to step in beside him. But Karaev declined, preferring to take his chances in the fourth bout. Musashi drew the seventh ball, and was so had the choice of either LeBanner or Karaev. After a quick huddle with his brother Tomo, the Japanese fighter planted himself in the red corner of the last match, beside Karaev. It therefore fell by default to Aerts to fight LeBanner in the third bout.
Said LeBanner, “I would have preferred to fight a young guy, because Peter is my friend, but as Peter knows it’s friendship outside the ring and war inside the ring!”
After Karaev remarked that he was going to focus his training on defensive techniques in advance of the Final, Musashi drew a laugh from the crowd with his comments: “If Ruslan wants to fight more defensively, then I will oblige him by fighting even more aggressively!”
The K-1 World Grand Prix 2005 Final is set for Tokyo Dome on Saturday November 19. It will be same-day broadcast across Japan by the Fuji TV Network