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Final 16 Press Conference

K-1 World GP '08 Final 16 Press Conference

written by Monty DiPietro


SEOUL, September 26, 2008 -- No fightsport competition can match the drama of the annual K-1 World Grand Prix Final. But for many purists, the sheer depth of all-fresh talent in the K-1 WGP Final 16 Tournament makes this an equally exciting, must-see event.

Early each autumn, culminating scores of regional qualification and elimination tournaments held around the globe, the best 16 stand-up martial arts fighters in the world go head-to-head in eight bouts at the K-1 Final 16. The winners advance to the K-1 WGP Final, to fight for the world's most prestigious fightsport championship; while the losers limp home empty-handed. For the athletes who will battle tomorrow at Seoul's Olympic Sports Complex, the Final 16 showdown is nothing short of do-or-die.

Fighters from the 2007 K-1 WGP Final automatically qualified for this year's Final 16, while the other participating fighters either prevailed in one of this year's regional qualifying tournaments or were voted onto the card by fans. Tomorrow's bouts will be fought under regular K-1 rules -- three rounds of three minutes each, with two possible tiebreaker rounds.

On the eve of the event, hundreds of Korean, Japanese and international sports writers and photographers filled the main ballroom of the Imperial Palace Hotel to hear from the fighters.

In the Main Event, three-time and defending K-1 World GP Champion Semmy Schilt of Holland will meet compatriot Peter Aerts -- a K-1 veteran who has also thrice won the World GP and holds the distinction of being the only fighter to have competed in every K-1 World Grand Prix final since the sport's inception in 1992.

A big man of few words, Schilt delivered his trademark pre-fight comment: "I'm very glad to be here as the K-1 champion and tomorrow I'll show you a great fight!"

Responded Aerts, "Not much to say, I'm happy my team is all together here and tomorrow we'll see what happens."

K-1 2007 and 2008 Heavyweight Champion Badr Hari ruffled some feathers earlier this week at the DREAM Middleweight GP Final in Saitama, Japan. Speaking from center ring at the mixed martial arts event, the outspoken Moroccan kickboxer likened MMA's grappling to "hugging and kissing," and proclaimed K-1 as the home of "real fights and real knockouts," where "everyone who fights me gets knocked out!" Notwithstanding the bravado, Hari is an undeniably explosive fighter with a tremendous KO ratio. Tomorrow he will step into the ring against the man whose appearance at the press conference garnered the loudest cheers, local favorite Hong Man Choi -- a former Korean ssirium grand champion who stands 218cm/7'2".

Joked Hari, "It's an honor to fight the smallest and prettiest fighter around. For me it's no problem, I don't have to date him so tomorrow I will just knock him out"

As he listened to the translation of his opponent's remarks, Choi smiled. "As always I don't give a damn what anyone else says," he quipped. "But I'm pleased to meet such a great fighter as Badr Hari."

Brazilian kyokushin karate fighter Ewerton Teixeira earned a spot here by winning this year's K-1 Japan GP. Tomorrow he will meet Japanese seidokaikan karate fighter Musashi.

Said Teixeira, "I prepared a lot and I'm sure I will win tomorrow."

Musashi, who failed to qualify for last year's Final 16, appeared determined to reclaim preeminence among Japanese K-1 fighters. "This is my first fight in Korea I'm very excited, I trained a lot and I will win!"

Flashy Dutch kickboxer Remy "The Flying Gentleman" Bonjasky used spectacular knee and kicking attacks to capture the WGP  Championship in 2003 and 2004. Tomorrow he will step in against Australian muay thai fighter Paul Slowinski.

"I'm glad to be back in Korea," said Bonjasky, "the people here love K-1 and they love me! Yesterday when I was in the hospital for some blood tests, people were running up to me, some of them limping on crutches! Paul is a good fighter, he has good strength and good technique and good heart. So, I wish everyone good luck, except Paul!"

Slowinski, who trains with K-1 legend Ernesto "Mr. Perfect" Hoost, earned a wild-card spot on the card through a fan poll on the K-1 website. Yesterday was his 28th birthday. "I want to say thanks to all the fans who voted for me, I feel good and I have a good opponent for a good fight!"

A reticent fighter who prefers let his exquisite kyokushin kicks do the talking, Glaube Feitosa of Brazil will meet Dutch kickboxer Errol Zimmerman, this year's K-1 Europe GP Champion.

"I have a great opportunity tomorrow," said Feitosa, "and I promise to give my all."

Said Zimmerman, "I'm glad to be fighting here and will go for a KO for sure."

Veteran slugger Ray Sefo of New Zealand has come awfully close, but has yet to win the World GP. Although slumping with a five-bout losing streak, the perennial fan favorite was voted onto tomorrow's card. Sefo's chances this year hinge on a contest with Gokhan Saki of Turkey, the K-1 USA GP 2008 Champion.

"Last year I didn't perform well, so I have something to prove to myself and to the fans tomorrow," said Sefo, "I know that Saki comes to fight, and I come to fight too."

Said Saki, "I'm happy to be fighting Sefo, he's one of my favorites and I wish him good luck -- but of course I'm going to beat him!"

Another K-1 veteran and fan favorite, French kickboxer Jerome LeBanner will meet 24 year-old Japanese fighter Junichi Sawayashiki. There is history between these two -- Sawayashiki upset LeBanner in March, 2007.

"Yes, last year yes he beat me because he was better," said LeBanner. "It wasn't my day, I think bad days happen to everyone -- like when you wake up and then you put your feet in shit. I will wake up tomorrow and look around and step carefully, so I don't put my feet in shit! Instead, I'll show you a great fight."

Said Sawayashiki, "I'll give 100% to make a great fight."

The last of the Final 16 Tournament matchups will pit this year's Asia GP Champion Ruslan Karaev of Russia against fan selection Chalid "Die Faust" of Germany.

"I have a lot of friends and fans in Korea," said Karaev, "and Chalid is also my great friend. He's a strong fighter with great technique, but I will beat him"

Die Faust smiled at this, responding "We will see about that tomorrow. And I want to thank the fans who voted me onto the card."


The opening bout will feature a couple of South Korean fighters, Yong Soo Park Republic and Randy Kim.

Said Park, "I will do my best to put on a good fight"; and Kim, "I am pleased to fight this good fighter, and I will do my best."

In undercard action, the always exciting Belorussian kickboxer Zabit Samedov will meet kyokushin fighter Fabiano Da Silva of Brazil; while Keijiro Maeda of Japan will step in against Min Ho Song of South Korea.

The K-1 World GP 2008 in Seoul -Final 16 kicks off at 17h00 on Saturday September 27 at the Seoul Olympic Complex. The event will be broadcast live across Korea by CJ Media and in Japan on the Fuji TV Network. For scheduling information in other regions contact local broadcasters. For complete coverage of this and all K-1 events visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp).













Post new comment
D-rop, Video editor (2420 posts)
Posted: 2008-09-26 at: 02:11
Where have we been able to vote for the extra fighters?
Does anyone of you know this?

I´m really looking forward to this event!!
Daniel, Sweden reporter (2501 posts)
Posted: 2008-09-26 at: 02:23
Chrzan_ko,, there are alot of good pictures that could be aded to this article, it would also be good if you sorted the article under the "final 16" category, and also ad the fighters that are partisapating at this event.

If you dont know how to do it i can do it for you =)..

Daniel, Sweden reporter (2501 posts)
Posted: 2008-09-26 at: 06:42
Okay so i did some edeting to your article Chrzan_ko, i hope that you and the rest of the mebers enoy the article more when it looks like this and with all the related info gatherd.
Kim, Editor (1548 posts)
Posted: 2008-09-26 at: 07:00
Sweet! Thanks for posting and editing =)
Chrzan_ko, Video editor (749 posts)
Posted: 2008-09-28 at: 04:52
@Daniel: Thanks Dan, I couldn't do that as I was already on route to the seaside (little vacations). Feel free to edit my posts in the future.

@D-rop: I'm not sure but I think the voting was via Japnese website of FEG.
Post new comment


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