Every time I think one company has an advantage in what I call the Kickboxing Wars, something crazy happens to switch up the game. Recently Golden Glory staged a pretty big coup over K-1, snatching up a large number of top fighters and blasting K-1 publically over their sketchy business practices. They then announced a big 16-man one night heavyweight tournament in Japan. Boom! Try and come back from that, K-1!
Spike TV and K-1, the world’s premier kickboxing organization, have agreed to a strategic partnership that will begin this fall with live fights streamed on Spike.com beginning Saturday, September 8 at the U.S. World Grand Prix Championships in Los Angeles. There will be a total of four events that will be streamed live in 2012. In 2013, the K-1 events will move from Spike.com to Spike TV to coincide with the network’s extensive coverage of Bellator Fighting Championships.
“We are thrilled to be in business with the world’s preeminent kickboxing organization,” said Jon Slusser, Senior Vice President, Sports and Multiplatform Events, Spike TV. “Spike has the most passionate and knowledgeable fans of combat sports and we are confident that they will enjoy the high-action of K-1, which serves as the perfect complement to our Bellator coverage next year.”
“K-1 is excited to join forces with Spike TV, a powerful and highly experienced cable network known nationally for its combat sports programming, presenting our live K-1 events,” said Doug Kaplan, CEO, K-1. “Spike is the perfect television home and stage to introduce our K-1 warriors and the fast-paced, aggressive style of K-1 fighting to fight fans across America.”
This is all pretty exciting, but there are still many questions that need answering regarding the ‘new’ K-1. The old K-1 had a horrific track record when it came to paying fighters over the last two years of it’s existence, and there are rumors swirling that these issues haven’t completely ceased since Hong Kong entity EMCOM took over earlier this year. Just yesterday fighter Braddock Silva’s management released a statement complaining that their man wasn’t paid for a bout against Badr Hari at EMCOM’s first K-1 event in Madrid.
Fighter pay issues are just a symptom of what may be significant cashflow problems for K-1. I have to wonder what kind of deal the kickboxing promotion signed with Spike – was it a generous deal that will give them the financial latitude to put some big fights together? Or is Spike paying K-1 a pittance in exchange for the exposure the promotion will get being on their cable channel? K-1 wouldn’t be the first promotion that’s accepted a shitty deal just to get on television. They also wouldn’t be the first promotion to financially collapse because of it.