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K-1 World GP '09 in Yokohama: Fighters' Interviews


Written by Monty DiPietro

TOKYO, March 26, 2009 -- The winter wait is almost over for K-1 fans. As the cherry trees began to blossom, K-1's biggest stars prepare to shine this Saturday night at the Yokohama Arena. Three-time and defending K-1 World Grand Prix Champion Remy Bonjasky of Holland headlines the first K-1 World Grand Prix event of the year -- an 11-bout extravaganza comprising the K-1 Heavyweight elimination tournament, a quartet of Superfights and three undercard bouts.

The fighters did interviews today at the Keio Plaza Hotel in central Shinjuku.


In the Main Event, Bonjasky will meet compatriot Alistair Overeem, the MMA fighter who scored a dramatic KO victory over K-1 bad boy Badr Hari on New Year's Eve. There is no love lost between Bonjasky and Hari, but ironically the man they call "The Flying Gentleman," will be playing the role of avenger on Saturday night. The reason is simple -- K-1 fighters are supposed to beat mixed martial arts fighters in standup bouts. On December 31, Hari didn't. Saturday night, Bonjasky must.

Waxing dramatic, K-1 Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa said that a Bonjasky loss on Saturday could amount to "The end of K-1."

Remy Bonjasky

"Of course you fell pressure because it seems the whole K-1 and kickboxing world is watching this fight," joked a relaxed Bonjasky. "Alistair, as you saw when he beat Badr Hari, used his knee and left hook combination, so I have to pay attention to his knees. Although he's not a K-1 fighter, that doesn't mean he's been playing tennis -- he one's a strong guy and a good fighter in MMA, and now he's in K-1. I want to say I'm 100% sure that I'll win, but there is always a 1% chance of losing. So I'll say that I'm very confident that I'll win this fight."

"I understand that it would be disappointing for K-1 fans if an MMA fighter comes in and beats two K-1 fighters. I think Alistair has a different stance from most K-1 fighters, but I know he'll have his hands up and he'll try to beat me, so when he steps into the ring I'm just going to see him as a K-1 fighter that I have to beat. I trained hard and I'll do my very best to win on Saturday!"

 Alistair Overeem

Informed of Bonjasky's "99%" prediction, Overeem smiled. "I don't think in percentages, I'll just say that I'm confident and that I'm not impressed with Remy at all. I'm not worried about his boxing, I'm more afraid of his acting -- that he will fall down and pretend to be hurt when he's not hurt!"

"But Remy is the K-1 Champion and I've always wanted to fight him, so I'm very excited and happy with this fight. After the Badr Hari fight on New Year's Eve, I promised to challenge the K-1 Champion on behalf of all DREAM and MMA fighters, and so if I win this then I'll have beaten the best K-1 fighters, and then I can go back and fight in DREAM, because MMA is my passion. Also, I want to say that I think if you let K-1 fighters into MMA rules, they would lose nine times out of ten!"

The penultimate match will feature another Dutchman, K-1 superstar Peter Aerts, fighting Errol Zimmerman, from the Netherlands Antilles island of Curaçao.

Peter Aerts

Aerts, who lost to Badr Hari at the 2008 World Grand Prix Final, was less than pleased with the Moroccan. "I told K-1 I wanted to fight Badr Hari at Yokohama, but I heard he refused. Anyway, that's not the way it used to be in K-1, when all the fighters would fight anyone. In my last fight against Hari my physical condition was good, but I couldn't get to the mental level I wanted -- mentally I felt like a beginner. After the fight I went back to my old gym, Chakuriki, and I've been focusing my training on mental preparation and strength. I feel great for this fight."

Errol Zimmerman

Zimmerman had also hoped to get a shot at Hari here. "What Peter Aerts said about Badr Hari is true, when a fighter takes the fight he should fight," said Zimmerman. "I don't know if he's injured, but if I had to fight with just one leg, I would still fight. I will never say no to a fight. I'm sad not to fight Badr Hari, I wanted to knock him down. But it's also good to fight Peter because he's a big legend, a big name, and I will destroy him. I hope Peter Aerts will give me pressure on Saturday so we can make a good fight. I'm going to hurt him, and to knock him out, I hope in the first round!"

French slugger and K-1 veteran Jerome LeBanner will meet see explosive young kyokushin fighter Ewerton Teixeira of Brazil.

Ewerton Teixeira

"I trained as usual, especially focusing on kicks. Francesco Filho told me not to let the pressure get to me, to clear my mind of all that and focus only on winning the fight! I know LeBanner has hard punches, but again, my focus is not on that, my focus is 100% on winning the fight! And of course, I hope to do that by KO!"

LeBanner did not appear for interviews.

Another kyokushin fighter, K-1 veteran Glaube Feitosa, will meet Japanese wunderkind Junichi Sawayashiki.

Glaube Feitosa

Said Feitosa, "I feel great, I first trained a bit in Brazil with Francesco Filho, then I came to Japan and I have been training here for a month, focusing on my defense. I think Sawayashiki is a good young fighter with good fast movement and aggression, so I will do my best to stop that. As for my Brazilian kicks, I understand that fans regard them as my 'trademark', so I use them when I have the opportunity. I told my son that I would train my best and fight my best for him, I want to put on a strong fight in Yokohama to advance to the World GP Final. But first things first, I will do my very best to win on Saturday!"

Sawayashiki did not appear for interviews.

K-1 Heavyweight Title Tournament

The K-1 Heavyweight Title Tournament is a four-man elimination, fought in a 100kg/220lbs weight class, for the K-1 Heavyweight Belt. A pair of semifinals go up early on the Yokohama card, the winners meet in the final later in the evening.

Melvin Manhoef

Dutch Dynamo Melvin Manhoef was supposed to fight Chalid "Die Faust" Arrab here, but FEG announced that the flu bug had bit Die Faust, and he hadn't made the trip to Japan. Taking his place on Saturday will be Japanese fighter Keijiro Maeda, promoted from the tournament reserve.

Manhoef said he wasn't concerned about the change: "My condition is very good and I trained hard for two fights, to be explosive and aggressive and to get the KO. Chalid is not here, it affects me a little but it doesn't matter, now I fight Maeda, I know him only a little, my trainer checked him out a little because he was in the tournament reserve, but I will study him good now, then we will put the techniques together. So we'll see -- in my second fight, I'm prepared to fight Gokhan or Tyrone to become the champion. But I think Badr Hari is still the 100kg (220lbs) champion, and his advice to me was 'you have to win, bring the belt home!'"

Keijiro Maeda

"It seems every time I fight something unusual happens, which is lucky for me! I'm happy to fight Melvin, but to tell the truth, he's also guy I really didn't want to fight because he's so dangerous. Of course, I'm small and he's small but he's very strong, one punch from him can do a lot of damage, so I have to be careful. K-1 asked me to take the fight yesterday, I couldn't refuse! But I woke up this morning with Melvin's face in my mind, and he was laughing, so I'm a little bit scared!"

The second semifinal of the K-1 Heavyweight Title Tournament sees Tyrone Spong of Suriname take on Gokhan Saki of Turkey.

Tyrone Spong

Spong, a muay thai fighter making his K-1 debut, said "I'm happy to be here, I put on some weight, about 15kg (33lbs), I'm now 95kg (210lbs) and I don't think -- I know I'm going to win this tournament! Of course I'm faster than the other guys and have better technique, but the difference is I think I have a better game plan. I am a very complete fighter, and the combinations of my hands and feet, those are my greatest strength. Saki is a very fast and very good fighter, but, again, I have the better game plan. Of course, I can't tell you what the plans is, but come and see Saturday! In the second fight, I really don't care, but if I have to choose I think Melvin Manhoef will win, and I'll face him. I am going to win, and then come back to take both K-1 belts -- the Heavyweight and the World Grand Prix!"

Gokhan Saki

Said Saki "For me, they make Tyrone Spong big, they talk about him a lot. Well, he fought at 76kg (168lbs), but at heavyweight he has fought against nobody strong. So whatever they say, for me he's not the best fighter from Europe. And we will see on Saturday if he can really fight at heavyweight. This is a tournament, I trained really hard, two times a day, and I have really good motivation to come here and win the tournament. In my second fight, well, I think maybe Melvin will get tired from running, and Maeda will make his points and win the fight!"

In undercard action, Mitsugu Noda will meet Yang Rae Yoo; Hiraku Hori fights Takumi Sato; and Takashi Tachikawa takes on Yutaka Sakuma.

All bouts will be conducted under K-1 Official Rules, K-1 Rules / 3Min. 3R Ext.2R (Ext. 1R in the tournament semifinals).

The K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 in Yokohama kicks off at 5:00 pm on Saturday, March 28 at the Yokohama Arena. It will be broadcast in Japan on the Fuji TV network. For international broadcast information, contact local providers. Visit the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp/k-1gp) for comprehensive coverage and official results of this and all other FEG events.


Post new comment
D-rop, Video editor (2420 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-26 at: 05:08
Thanks for posting Rob.

I can hardly wait till saturday ....
universal (180 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-26 at: 05:29
nice interview

some weird statements about bad hari that he refused to fight aerts and zimmerman,
tyrone spong is very confident, I like that.
manhoef is taking the belt back home haha

Rob, Holland reporter (1964 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-26 at: 05:55
Always interesting to read the fighters thoughts on their upcoming fights.
Aerts opinion was very oldskool ...love it haha
I feel sorry for Maeda haha, it's almost as if he's counting on getting KTFO :P
Let's hope JLB's arm will hold out against the hard Teixeira.
Plus we get to see Spong in action. I am one of the people who doesn't like the growing hype around him, because we still have to see him against some of the big names. But that doesn't mean I'm not excited haha.. in fact I placed my bet on him in the fight.

singing: I'm so excited...and I just can't hide it!! ;-)
marcelt (319 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-26 at: 07:04
Iam very exited too. Thnx for posting Rob!
ricardo (126 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-26 at: 07:16
really nice...

hope rémy wins with a ko to shut up allistar;
peter aerts wants badr hari but now he`s better to be focused on zimmerman or he`ll be ko again;
in the tournament all the three guys are really confident so i think we will have awesome fights but i hope manhoef takes the belt
Daniel, Sweden reporter (2501 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-26 at: 08:35
interesting interviews, seems like almost no one is humble anymore, is it a Badr Hari "bad Boy" effect?

No mention of the Sem Schilt fight? aint it gonna happen or what? I guess we will se on saturday.

thanx for posting.
MOHAMMED AII (31 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-26 at: 10:52
I can wait 4 saterday!
hehe i hink aerts and zimmerman still have nightmares about badr hari.

thanks rob
stark (1143 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-26 at: 11:59
You're right Daniel. There is no respect anymore. I just love when overconfident fighters get knocked out like Leko in Split
Eldarbong (989 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-27 at: 01:21
Fighters should be confident and cocky, it makes for good fights! When they respect each other too much... the fight is not as good, and there is no suspense.

That being said, I hope remy does not take alistair lightly! I hope he gets a big KO win, but you never know, if overeem pressures remy enough he has a good chance! Remy has never done good when fighters constantly pressure him and push him back, and I'm sure overeem knows this.

Spong better not disappoint either!
Kim, Editor (1548 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-27 at: 07:41
Nice to hear confident fighters....get little worried about Feitosa making statement about focusing on his defence training, lol. Great fights for sure!
K1Fan (846 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-27 at: 08:44

@ everyone

Does someone think Feitosa will lose this one?
I am sooo exited!
Rob, Holland reporter (1964 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-27 at: 09:15
@Nabil Kania

You should be with that much money bet on Feitosa ;-)
But Feitosa will probaly take this one. Sawayashiki always has this look on his face in the ring saying: "WTF am I doing in here with this guy?!?!" He somehow lacks the killer instinct, then again he isn't the biggest out there.
Pablo (795 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-27 at: 10:43
Nice survey of interviews; I think Manhoef is right not to worry much about the change, everything points out like Maeda could have had a better oportunity. As for the supposed excess of self-confidence, I don't mind much as long as fighters conserve their manners; just before a fight they're assumed to be concentrating on getting the full of their capacities and piling tons of testosterone to fit their fighting condition, so maybe sounding humble would be difficult to achieve under those circumstances; but Daniel is right, as usual, when he speaks of the 'bad boy' effect being not so present in earlier similar interviews
Daniel, Sweden reporter (2501 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-27 at: 10:44
@Nabil Kania

Dont worry, Glaube will win and you made a good bet.
Eric#108 (40 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-27 at: 05:21
@ Daniel, I think they are all a bit cocky but I must say that Remy is still a class act. I guess I am biased as he is my favorite. I think Overeem is on steroids huge and he is going to gas out, and in the 3rd round eat a flying knee for sure. Overeem only 1 year ago was relatively skinny now he has no neck and has acne--hmmmmmm. Obvious?

I find it really interesting that the head of K-1 would say that if Remy loses it is the "end of K-1." Foolish in my opinion. Why would he do that-- it seems only to hype the match up...

There is nothing wrong with being 99% sure of yourself. But yes lots of words for sure.

Errol Zimmerman talks like a kid, like he's going to KO Aerts --and i hope the opposite happens. I really hope Zimmerman leaves the Bone Suit at home. If I have to see him dancing in that costume i will throw my beer at the TV. Embarrassing. I am surprised K-1 officials even allow him to wear that crap. It looks like he bought it at a yard sale. I think Aerts will pound his body which I think is a weakness of Zimmerman and the low kicks will do him in too. Hari devastated Zimmerman's body as have other fighters. Go Aerts you old man!

A great card generating excitement worldwide.
K1Fan (846 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-27 at: 06:27
haha thnx

crazy bets :P
Kim, Editor (1548 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-27 at: 08:22
@Nabil Kania

No, he cant loose now. I bet some money on Feitosa as well (more than coffe money ;-).

K1Fan (846 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-28 at: 08:49
ok good, now I am searching for a place to watch it live.
K1Fan (846 posts)
Posted: 2009-03-28 at: 05:48
hahahah Maeda. ''seems like everytime I fight something unusual happens''. the next day it happens again! xd crazy dude.
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