Apologies for our utter lack of attention to the results of Saturday’s K-1 World Grand Prix 07 Final tournament, but now that the Hong Man Choi/Fedor Emelianenko rumors are swirling again (read on after the jump), something needs to be said.
First things first: Surprising few, Hong Man Choi lost in the quarterfinal match to French kickboxing star Jerome LeBanner, who succumbed to a leg injury in the semi-final round to Semmy Schilt (the eventual tournament-winner). The matchups went down like this:
Jerome LeBanner def. Hong Man Choi (unan. dec.)
Semmy Schilt def. Glaube Feitosa (unan. dec.)
Remy Bonjasky def. Badr Hari (majority dec.)
Peter Aerts def. Junichi Sawayashiki (KO, round 1)
Semmy Schilt def. Jerome LeBanner (corner stoppage, round 2)
Peter Aerts def. Remy Bonjasky (unan. dec)
Semmy Schilt def. Peter Aerts (KO, round 1)
A detailed recap of the night’s events can be found at MMA Weekly, who made the following observation:
Schilt’s victory continues a Dutch domination of K-1 that is nothing short of astounding. The three Dutch fighters in tonight’s WGP Final all won their quarterfinals, and were only eliminated by fellow Dutchmen; the K-1 WGP Champion has been a Dutchman for the last six years; and in K-1′s 15-year history, a Dutch fighter has won the WGP 12 times.
Well sure, it’s like I’ve always said: “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.”
Anyway, back to our boy Hong…
As we mentioned before, Choi ran the risk of sustaining too much damage in the tournament to fight Fedor Emelianenko on New Year’s Eve at Yarennoka!, but despite the three-round drubbing he got from LeBanner, the big man is still relatively intact. As a result, his name is still on the table. Says The Fight Network:
Cross-continental negotiations are under way to finalize a proposed match-up between Fedor Emelianenko (26-1, 1 NC) and Hong Man Choi (1-0) at the Yarennoka event on Monday, Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan…[T]he only snag that could prevent this mismatch on paper from happening would be if the two sides cannot come to terms on the rules for the bout. Choi’s representatives have requested special rules be implemented to favor their 7-foot-2, 370-pound fighter’s striking-heavy style. Of course, the more stringent the rules become to limit or even avoid ground action, the less of a true MMA bout the headliner becomes.
“We have the right to review and approve any special rules,” said M-1 Global CEO Monte Cox, whose organization exclusively signed Emelianenko, the world’s top-ranked fighter, in October.
Recently acquired by the U.S.-based Sibling Sports LLC, M-1 Global brokered out the PRIDE heavyweight champion to the Yarennoka organization for an undisclosed fee.
Hinging on his team’s acceptance of any special rules, Cox said he anticipates a finalized deal could be reached by the end of the week.
Hoo-freakin’-ray. Fedor’s glorious return match will be such a joke of a farce of a mismatch that “special rules” must be implemented to make it more fair. I’m guessing that Hong Man Choi will either get a thirty-second head-start or the use of a helmet. I think both of those options would be particularly helpful to his “striking-heavy style.”
The good news is, Wrestling Observer is reporting that Fedor’s first official M-1 fight will be against Pedro Rizzo in Las Vegas in April. (So much for M-1′s focus on holding fights internationally…) Though not quite on Emelianenko’s level, Rizzo is a hard striker who has knocked out Josh Barnett, Andrei Arlovski and Jeff Monson, among others.