In a press conference at the Fuji Television Bldg. in Tokyo's seaside district of Odaiba, K-1 organizing body FEG today unveiled the format and provisional schedule for the K-1 World Grand Prix '08.
The K-1 World GP is fightsport's most prestigious event, attracting the world's best fighters and televised in 135 countries. K-1's 16th season will feature major World GP Championship tournaments in four regions: Japan, Asia, the USA and Europe.
Things kick off in Budapest on February 9, with the first stage of the K-1 Europe GP. That tournament will qualify fighters for the Europe GP Final, set for April 26 in Amsterdam. The K-1 Asia GP will be held in June, and the host city will be Taipei or Macao. The K-1 Japan GP returns this year, with fighters from the land of the rising sun squaring off in Fukuoka in June. The last of the GP Champions will be crowned at the K-1 USA GP in Hawaii, to be held in July or August.
The four above-determined Regional GP Champions will advance to the K-1 Final Elimination in Seoul on September 29. There they will be joined by last year's WGP Final Eight, along with four additional fighters selected for exceptional performances in K-1 WGP bouts over the year. In Seoul, the 16 fighters will square off in a one-match format tournament, with the eight victors advancing to the K-1 World GP Final, set for December 6 in Yokohama.
K-1 Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa stressed both K-1's local focus and global vision in his remarks at the press conference, highlighting efforts to bring in fighters from new sports, for example rugby; and from new countries, for example Cuban boxers. Commenting on the fact that a homegrown fighter has yet to win the WGP, Sadaharu said improved scouting, tryouts and youth programs will help develop Japanese fighters to the level where they can contend seriously for the Championship.
The K-1 Heavyweight and Super Heavyweight Championship Belts introduced last year, will again be contested; and the popular 70kg weight class K-1 World Max will continue in its present format.
Seven Japanese fighters, led by Musashi and Junichi Sawayashiki, took the stage to pledge to do their best in competition this year; before the press conference concluded with the introduction of a sextet of smiling sweeties, the all-new K-1 WGP '08 Ring Girls.