MMafighting try to talk Americans into staying up late, and give their picks for the fights on the show (Final 16 only):
Many American fans are disappointed that former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski has pulled out of the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Final 16 in Seoul. But the event still includes (by my count) eight of the Top 10 heavyweight kickboxers in the world, a collection of talent you almost never see on one fight card, in any combat sport.
So if you're an American fan staying up very late Friday night or getting up very early Saturday morning to watch on HDNet, you're not going to be disappointed. We've got the full preview and predictions below.
What: K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 in Seoul Final 16
Where: Olympic Gymnastics Arena, Seoul, South Korea
When: The event starts at 2 AM ET and is broadcast live on HDNet in the United States.
Predictions on the eight tournament bouts:
Ray Sefo vs Tyrone Spong
The 39-year-old Sefo is one of K-1's greats, but I don't think he has enough left to beat the 25-year-old Spong, who's a little undersized but still getting better while Sefo is past his prime.
Gökhan Saki vs Freddy Kemayo
Saki is both younger and more accomplished than Kemayo, and Saki is coming off a very good performance in a TKO win over Melvin Manhoef. But I like Kemayo to use his height and reach advantage and pull off what should probably be considered a small upset.
Errol Zimmerman vs Daniel Ghiţă
This is a tough draw for Ghita: I think he's good enough to beat most of the kickboxers in the Final 16, but Zimmerman is among the sport's truly elite, looked like an absolute beast in his last fight, and probably wins this one handily.
Jérôme Le Banner vs Kyotaro
The French Le Banner is a longtime fan favorite in K-1, but Kyotaro is coming off a great showing in defending his K-1 heavyweight title by knocking out Peter Aerts, and I expect Kyotaro to roll into the Final 8.
Ewerton Teixeira vs Peter Aerts
This is yet another match-up of an up-and-comer in his 20s taking on an aging legend of the sport, and although it would be great to see Aerts -- who will turn 40 this month -- in the Final 8, I just don't see him being at a stage in his career when he can still beat an opponent at the level of Teixeira.
Mighty Mo vs Raul Cătinaş
The short and portly Mighty Mo is a late replacement for Arlovski, and it's hard to see him having much of a chance against Catinas. This doesn't look to me like a competitive match-up.
Semmy Schilt vs Hesdy Gerges
Schilt is without a doubt the best heavyweight kickboxer in the world, and the biggest question about this year's World Grand Prix is whether anyone can stop Schilt from becoming the first five-time K-1 World Grand Prix champion. The two guys who had the best chance of derailing Schilt, Remy Bonjasky and Badr Hari, are both sitting this year's World Grand Prix out, which should mean Schilt rolls. Gerges is a fine kickboxer, but he's not the guy to beat Schilt.
Alistair Overeem vs Ben Edwards
Most American fans wish Overeem would defend the Strikeforce heavyweight title instead of kickboxing in Japan, but I love seeing him test himself in the K-1 ring. Edwards is a heavy-hitting Australian who broke Jerome Le Banner's K-1 record for fastest tournament title, needing just 3 minutes, 28 seconds to win three fights in this year's K-1 World Grand Prix in Canberra -- so don't assume that Overeem is getting an easy knockout here. But I do believe Overeem's size and strength advantage will be too much for Edwards.