> Lost password

> Register

K-1 Las Vegas 2007 Press Conference

Today, admist the glitz and glamour of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, thirteen men of kickboxing's elite sat down to face the press. Forty-eight hours remain before the 2007 World Grand Prix in Las Vegas, K-1's annual foray into American martial arts. With three out of the four 2007 qualifying tournaments already completed, this year's "Battle at the Bellagio" could not be more important. For some, this will be the final opportunity to earn a place in September's Final Elimination in Seoul. For others, that have already earned a ticket to Seoul, Saturday's event will be either a chance to dust off their gloves or to sample the competition they'll be facing in September.

Headlining this year's event will be three super-fights between some of the biggest names in K-1. Perhaps the most anticipated bout will be a matchup between this year's World Grand Prix in Hawaii champion, Mighty Mo Siligia (32-5 (26 KO's)) against the 2006 WGP in Las Vegas II champion, Stephan "Blitz" Leko (71-54-15-1 (32 KO's) (1 No Contest)). Leko was a late switch, Mo's original opponent, Chalid "Die Faust" Arrab, having been unable to acquire a visa to enter the United States. With each fighter having already earned a spot at the Final Elimination in Seoul, the fight offers each an opportunity to gauge the competition they'll be facing in September.

Mighty Mo told the press that he was feeling strong and eager for competition, pleased with winning this year's WGP in Hawaii, the second tournament win in his career. When asked about his late matchup with Leko, Might Mo appeared unphased by the shake-up, responding, "Stephan is up there with the best. To be the best, you've got to fight the best, and that's what I want to do."

When asked if he had any regrets about his prior departure from K-1 to pursue boxing, he expressed mixed feelings. "I learned a lot about myself during that time... I don't regret my decision, you've got to crawl before you can walk.... But knowing the things I know now, I wouldn't do it again."

Leko earned himself a spot in Seoul after being victorious at last year's Final Elimination in Osaka, but has not fought since December after a particularly painful match ending in a decision loss to Remy Bonjasky (72-59-13 (32 KO's)) at the WGP in Tokyo. Needless to say, his fight against Mo promises to be brutal return to K-1.

When Leko was asked his thoughts about being a last-minute replacement for Might Mo, he also seemed unphased by the matchup. "I love the sport, I love traveling, I love winning... Nothing is better than winning, that is my only focus right now..."

Having fought in Las Vegas many times previously, Leko was asked about his opinion of America's "Sin-City". He responded, "I love Vegas, this time I'm going to win the tournament so I can get some money to buy an apartment here...", drawing laughs from those in attendance.

The second of the super-fights matchups will see Ray Sefo (61-15-1 (49 KO‘s)), considered by many to be the greatest K-1 fighter to have never won a World Grand Prix, pitched against this year's WGP in Amsterdam finalist Bjorn Bregy (14-7 (7 KO‘s)). With neither fighter participating in Saturday's tournament, and with neither having a spot in this years Final Elimination, both will need to have a dominant performance in order to have a chance at getting one of the two "wild card" positions.

When Sefo was asked about his expectations for Saturday's matchup with Bregy, he offered a bit of advice, "Don't blink, or you won't see the last blow."

He was also asked about his extensive list of fights, and responded, "I had 76 fights as of last year. But age is just a number, right now I feel like I'm 24, ready to go another 10 years. Martial arts has been part of my life for 20 years. I got my first boxing gloves when I was a teenager. Its part of my life, its something that I wake up loving to do. But you have to have a good team behind you, it makes your life easier. I have the best team in the world, I love you guys, without you this job would be much harder."

Sefo also explained that he was currently living in Las Vegas, having fell in love with America after a childhood watching American television. He also mentioned his hopes for a career in film someday.

Sefo's opponent for Saturday, the Swiss juggernaut and former WGP in Amsterdam 2006 champion, Bjorn Bregy, had a dominant performance at this year's WGP in Amsterdam, only succumbing to Paul Slowinski (77-70-7-1 (42 KO's)) in the finals via 2nd round knock out. Bregy is going into the fight with an eight-inch height advantage, but the six-foot Sefo has made a career of punishing taller fighters.

When asked about Saturday's matchup the tight-lipped Bregy promised a good fight with the strongest man winning. His remaining time before the microphone was consumed with a rather bizarre series of questions from the conference's moderator, who asked Bregy why he hadn't fought Sefo before in any of Sefo's fights, and if Bregy had ever heard of Sefo before this matchup. Bregy somewhat tersely reassured the moderator that, "...yes, I've heard of him..." then discretely rolled his eyes while walking away from the podium.

The final super-fight matchup will pit the Czech kickboxer, Petr Vondracek (63-44-19 (23 KO's)), against last minute replacement Israeli kickboxer Ariel Mastov (10-1 (7 KO)). Mastov had previously been scheduled to fight on the undercard, but was moved up to the super fight when Vondracek's original opponent, Leko, was moved to fight Might Mo. For Vondracek, Saturday's matchup will be an opportunity to reenter the winner's circle, having had a loosing record since 2004.

When asked about his preparation for the fight, Vondracek replied, "For five years I have been training very hard, for a long time I'm not with K-1, but now I'm here, this is my chance."

Mastov previously lost his K-1 debut in the WGP in Las Vegas in 2006 against Michael McDonald via decision. When asked about the affect the last minute change had on his state of mind, Mastov replied, "I'm happy to be here, I only learned that I'd be fighting Petr a short while ago. But I've been training very hard to fight here, I wish to show you my best, and the best will win of course."

In addition to the much anticipated super-fights, Saturday will also feature the last tournament offering fighters an opportunity to earn a spot in the 2007 Final Elimination. K-1 event organizers have stacked the tournament with K-1 newcomers as well as strong contenders from this year's prior WGP tournaments in Hawaii and Amsterdam.

The first of the quarter final matchups will see this year's WGP in Hawaii finalist, Aleksandr Pitchkunov (6-1-1 (3 KO‘s)), fighting against Japanese karate fighter, Tsuyoshi Nagasaki (18-24-1 (5 KO‘s)). Pitchkunov distinguished himself earlier this year in Hawaii where he was able to advance to finals against Might Mo where he suffered a devastating 3rd round knockout.

When asked about his expectations for Saturday, Pitchkunov responded, "I wish good luck to everyone, of course the best will win," and then promptly took his seat.

Nakasako, entering the tournament with the dubious distinction of having the worst record of any contestant, was asked what was different this time from last? What had he learned from his wealth of experience? He responded, "Last time I fight here in Las Vegas, I was not able to do my best. This time I'll push myself to the limit and do my very best."

The second quarter final matchup will see the late addition Imani Lee, pitted against the massive Rick "Savage" Cheek (19-0 (17 KO‘s) (1 No Contest)). The undefeated Cheek previously distinguished himself in his K-1 debut match in the undercard of the 2005 WGP in Las Vegas with an impressive 2nd round knock out of Mike Sheppard. Having been out of competition after that match due to an unfortunate knee injury, Cheek has amassed a 3-0 record since making his return.

As Cheek was introduced, the conference moderator announced that the Las Vegas casinos had chosen Cheek as the favorite to win the tournament with 9 to 5 odds. Asked about the impact of his favored status, Cheek replied, "I don't know who decided it... These guys have all fought before, they'll all probably a step above me... But I do belong here, and I'm going to win."

Asked about the significance of returning to K-1, Cheek replied, "Being in K-1 is a dream come true, being here with the level of skill, its amazing. This big fight with Imani, Jesus! It's going to be a good fight! I'm going to win, going to keep the title in the US, the American's rule, we're going to keep it that way."

Lee was asked about the controversy that surrounded his last K-1 fight with Michael McDonald, where he lost by a narrow decision after being docked a point for an alleged blow to his downed opponent. He replied, "Last year, I felt like the punch was thrown that never landed, and because of the controversy, they took a point away and I was robbed of victory. This year there will be no mystery punches, nothing to take away my victory. I'm here to win, its my dream, I'm going to win."

When asked about his preparation for the tournament, he replied, "I've had a year to watch tapes, work on my conditioning, to prepare for three fights. Last year I fought hard and it didn't go my way. This year I'm going to win. I've been training with Mighty Mo for this fight, and we all know what Might Mo does...", drawing laughter from the crowd.

The third quarter final matchup will see this year's WGP in Hawaii semi-finalist Patrick Barry (14-3-1 (8 KO's)) entering his second tournament this year against the Swedish K-1 fighter, Rickard Nordstrand (16-3 (3 KO's)). Barry responded to questions about his improvement and recent training, saying bluntly, "To be the best, you've got to train with the best. I've been training with Team Mr. Perfect in Holland."

When asked about differences in his training with Hoost, Barry explained, "We don't train by hitting pads, almost never hit bags, we train by fighting, that's how you learn to fight. Its such a honor to be training with Hoost, some days I wake up and I still can't believe I'm having this opportunity."

Barry also spoke at length about his family's hardship after hurricane Katrina left the majority of his family homeless and without any possessions.

Norstand was introduced as a dual-sport athlete, a professional hockey player and kick boxer. He was asked about his difficulties training for both sports, replying that it was, "Not difficult, but hard to find time, training is fun, its not problem. I hope to win this tournament."

The moderator then proceeded to enter another bizarre line of question about whether or not ice-skating was good for strengthening his legs. Norstrand, seeming eager to get out of the lime-light, responded, "Maybe... You'll see this Saturday."

The fourth and final quarterfinal matchup will see the WGP in Amsterdam semifinalist, Zabit Samedov, pitted against K-1 newcomer, Esh'Chada "The Dispossessor" Brown Ton (6-1 (3 KO‘s)). Unfortunately, Samedov was unable to attend the press conference. Expectations at the tournament are high for Brown Ton, who has been billed as the "USA's best kept secret," after becoming a runner up in the prestigious S-1 Super 8 World Championship Muay Thai tournament in late 2006.

However, Brown Ton made clear that he felt his opportunity to fight in K-1 was the most momentous opportunity in his career. Speaking of S-1 and K-1, he replied, "They're both very professional organizations, but K-1 is a much bigger organization... Most of the guys in S-1 want the chance to fight in K-1."

When asked about his rather unique nickname, "The Dispossessor", explained that, "The name was given to me by my father... I had a personality as a kid, determined to do a lot of things, participated in several sports, tried very hard. My father saw that I had an ability, to project myself, to take control of others... That's where it came from..."

Tickets for "K-1 World Grand Prix 2007 in Las Vegas," priced at $300, $200, $100, and $50, are on sale at Bellagio's box office (888-488-7111).  Bellagio Ballroom doors will open for "K-1 World Grand Prix 2007 in Las Vegas" at 5 PM Pacific Standard Time on Saturday, August 11th and the card's first preliminary bout will begin at 5:30 PM.  The eight-man tournament will commence at 7 PM.


Post new comment
Kim, Editor (1548 posts)
Posted: 2007-08-10 at: 09:10
Well written Pathologist. Look forward to hear more.
Dennis, Administrator (1174 posts)
Posted: 2007-08-10 at: 10:07
You're the bomb Pathologist! You a professional reporter on your sparetime?

This was really well written, better than the official K-1 reports.

Did you manage to take pictures or talk to any of the fighters?
Henrik Rautila (29 posts)
Posted: 2007-08-10 at: 11:21
Very nice job! Got me pumped up to see the show.
sanadathetiger (319 posts)
Posted: 2007-08-10 at: 02:05
too bad that Zabit Samedov was unable to attend the press conference.
(144 posts)
Posted: 2007-08-10 at: 04:02

i'll try to post pictures from the weigh-ins today.

most of the fighters were really laid back and friendly, after saturday i may try to do more formal interviews with some of the american fighters, life patrick barry, imani lee, and brown ton. they were really great.

the bigger names all had groups of six or seven guys around them, a little more intimidating to just walk up to. sefo had the biggest group, nortje from amsterdam was with him. vondracek was by himself, looking constantly irratated, but brought some arm-candy to stand with him.

a lot of the fighters didnt speak english (or preferred to answer questions through an interpreter)...

hands down, leko was the toughest looking guy in the whole room. he's a sort-of a pretty boy, but he has murder in his eyes when he scans the room. at one point the moderator made a rather awkward statement about how handsome leko was, something about placing guards outside his door to keep the ladies away.

the moderator for the event was just amazing, i'm going to try to find out who he was (he was some big-shot with the NSAC). he was completely ignorant of K-1 and the fighters hated him. bregy was literally rolling his eyes when he left the podium, he was so disgusted with being asked if he'd heard of sefo.

i have to say, its amazing how little-known k-1 is in the US. after seeing the arenas where events are held in other countries, you wouldnt believe how small the venue is here in vegas. its being held in a ballroom, they're just bringing in some bleacher-seats. there is literally no bad seats in the house. for $50 anyone can have a seat that would cost a fortune in japan. people in the US don't know what they're missing!

Dennis, Administrator (1174 posts)
Posted: 2007-08-13 at: 06:01
Pathologist, I helped with categorizing the article with all the fighters. When categorized the article gets linked from each fighters profile. It raises the quality of FansOfK1 and creates more visits on the article.
Post new comment


The Pathologist

Written articles: 27
Written comments: 144
Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

View The Pathologist's profile

Share article

Bookmark and Share

Kickbox TV
Strikezone Dortmund

The best K-1 community online!

The focus is on building a community that offers more to the users than any other K-1 website. The focus is also on that the community should be totally user driven, with the users as main writers of content. Who would for example write a better fight report than a fan who actually was at the fight? Or who could write a more interesting fighter profile than the fan who loves and really knows about a fighter? We believe that this approach will lead to that fansofk1.com has the most interesting K-1 information.

Advertise on FansOfK1.com

Would you want thousands of martial arts fans and practitioners to be exposed to your brand and products?
Read more