Report: 2011 K-1 Final 16 Grand Prix cancelled
It looks like the dreams of a 2011 K-1 World Grand Prix may finally be dead. Reports are beginning to surface that the Final 16 of the Grand Prix, scheduled for October 29 in Nanjing, China, has been cancelled, though there is still no official word from K-1.
The most credible report comes from Anil Dubar, manager to K-1 fighter Daniel Ghita, who announced on a Dutch blog that the Final 16 event was cancelled. This news is not much of a surprise, as it comes at the end of a week full of last minute scrambling on K-1's part.
As we reported last week, Tyrone Spong confirmed that, as of one week ago, he had not been paid for past K-1 fights and was unlikely to participate in this year's tournament. We've known for quite some time that many fighters were still waiting for payments, which could potentially cripple the 2011 tournament. Then, earlier this week, news came out that K-1 was working to take care of this problem, but in a rather odd way.
LiverKick.com reports that K-1 did indeed offer some of this year's Final 16 fighters a contract for the Final 16 event, but that by signing the contract those fighters would have to forfeit their rights to half of the money due to them from previous fights. It's unknown exactly who was offered this deal, or if anyone signed it.
One thing we do know - fighters represented by It's Showtime (the European organization who is helping promote the Grand Prix and manages many of the fighters involved) were not given this offer. It's Showtime President Simon Rutz has been very vocal about his fighters' lack of pay and the fact that if this was not sorted out, his fighters would not take part. He gave K-1 a deadline of this past Friday to receive payment. Again, LiverKick.com reports that as of Sunday, there is no word of that payment.
Finally, there is no mention of the event on the website for the Nanjing Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium (the alleged site of the show) nor any information on how to purchase tickets.
With only two weeks until the show, tickets not on sale, fighters and managers publicly saying that they are off the show, and K-1's biggest partner gearing up to pull their fighters, it certainly seems like this is a done deal. I would expect K-1 will keep trying to pull it together and will resist officially cancelling until the last minute. Given their track record, don't be surprised if they actually cancel the Final 16, but still say a Final 8 will happen in December. But at this point, it's time to accept facts. The best kickboxing tournament in the world is over.
Rest in Peace K-1 Grand Prix.