Sefo Returns To Vegas For “Battle At Bellagio” Superfight With Maksutaj
July 31, 2006; New York, NY….K-1 superstar Ray “Sugarfoot” Sefo will face off with five-time world kickboxing champion, Azem Maksutaj, in a “Battle At Bellagio” Superfight at Las Vegas, Nevada’s Bellagio on Saturday, August 12th.
For Sefo, the appearance will mark the second of his career in Las Vegas. During a Superfight two years ago at Bellagio, the 6 foot, 235 pound New Zealander rushed out of the gates against American brawler Marvin Eastman. A barrage of punches from Sefo put Eastman out on his feet and brought about a referee stoppage at the 1:32 mark of the opening round.
Sefo’s breakthrough year in K-1 competition came in 2000 when he reached the championship round of the annual, year-end “World Grand Prix Finals” eight-man tournament staged in Japan’s 70,000 crowd-capacity Tokyo Dome. There, he steamrolled his first two opponents, Japan’s Musashi and France’s Cyril Abidi, respectively, before meeting four-time World Grand Prix champion, Ernesto Hoost, in the championship round of battle. Against the man otherwise known as “Mr. Perfect,” Sefo stood his ground and went the distance of the bout before Hoost was awarded the victory.
Of late, Sefo has reaffirmed his status as a top contender in the sport by defeating two of K-1’s hottest prospects. In Hiroshima, Japan last June, it took Sefo a mere 37 seconds to stop the lightning quick Ruslan Karaev with a barrage of punches. Three months later, Sefo secured a victory over Thailand’s Kaoklai Kaennorsing by way of judges’ decision. On June 3rd of this year, Sefo met Karaev for a second time and produced a result similar to that of their first bout, sending Karaev down for the 10 count with a right hook at the 1:42 mark of the opening round.
Maksutaj’s appearance will also be his second on a K-1 card in Las Vegas. Last August, the 31-year-old native of Switzerland entered the eight-man “Mayhem At Mirage” tournament a relative unknown amongst American fight fans. Over the course of the fight card, however, he gained the respect and admiration of the near-sellout crowd on hand.
After scoring an upset victory over three-time Las Vegas K-1 tournament champion Michael McDonald in the quarterfinal round, Maksutaj engaged Russia’s Karaev in a relentless, toe-to-toe war that has since been referred to as one of the greatest K-1 fights of all-time. Maksutaj battled back from two knockdowns and nearly put Karaev down in the third round before the closing bell rang and Karaev, the eventual tournament winner, walked away with the decision.
In addition to the Superfight between Sefo and Maksutaj, “Battle At Bellagio” will be highlighted by an eight-man, single-elimination tournament as well as two additional Superfights. Two-time K-1 tournament champion, Alexey “The Red Scorpion” Ignashov; three-time Las Vegas K-1 tournament winner, Michael “The Black Sniper” McDonald; and 2003 K-1 USA tournament victor, Carter Williams; are scheduled to compete in the tournament.
In other Superfight action, Ruslan Karaev will take on two-time world kickboxing champion and undefeated professional boxer, Dewey “The Black Kobra” Cooper and world Muay Thai champion and K-1 Max veteran, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, will square off with three-time kickboxing champion, Fernando “Cool” Calleros
Tickets for K-1 “Battle At Bellagio” are available for purchase both online at K-1 North America’s official website, www.k-1usa.net, as well as at the Bellagio box office (888-488-7111). Tickets are priced at $300, $200, $100 and $50.
The Grand Ballroom at Bellagio will open for the event at 5 PM. The first preliminary bout will begin at 5:30 PM and the tournament will commence at approximately 7 PM.
K-1 is a martial arts fighting sport that derives its name from its inclusion of a wide array of combat disciplines, including Karate, Kung-Fu, and Kickboxing (“K”), and its intent to determine one champion in one ring (“1”). After being staged for the first time in Japan in 1993 under the direction of founder Master Kazuyoshi Ishii, it later evolved into the country’s most popular sport and achieved popular culture status there as its athletes turned into larger-than-life celebrities.