K-1 ’06 World GP Final Draw

The K-1 ’06 World Grand Prix final eight were determined at the Osaka Elimination tournament last Saturday TOKYO, October 2, 2006 — The K-1 ’06 World Grand Prix final eight were determined at the Osaka Elimination tournament last Saturday (http://www.so-net.ne.jp/feg/k-1gp/top732.htm). Today the fighters participated in a draw to determine first-tier matchups for the December 2 Tokyo Dome Final.

The selection system combines elements of choice with a bit of good old-fashioned luck. In a room packed with media, the eight fighters first blindly chose from a set of balls printed with the numbers one through eight. They then proceeded in the order determined by their numbered ball to a stage at the front of the room where they were free to install themselves in any of eight positions, indicated as A through H.

If a fighter likes his chances against a particular opponent, he can install himself beside him if that position is available. If he would prefer not to face a particular fighter, he can place himself elsewhere. When completed, the stage setup became the tournament tree — A vs B and C vs D being the first bracket; E vs F and G vs H being the second bracket.

This year, the draw developed as follows:

Ruslan Karaev had drawn ball number one, and chose position F, the blue corner in the third bout. “I like blue and I like the number three!” he would later explain. Second up was Glaube Feitosa, who wasted no time walking up to the E spot for a date with Karaev.

“I had prepared to fight Ruslan in Las Vegas,” said Feitosa, “but that fight was cancelled, so I chose him today. I’m happy to have the chance again, and I will do my best!”

Said Karaev: “I was ready to fight anybody here, but it’s good Glaube chose me because as he said we were meant to fight before so now we get the chance!”

Picking third was Ernesto Hoost, who went to the C position, red corner in the second fight. Next up was Semmy Schilt, who avoided Hoost, choosing instead the A position, red corner in the first bout.

“I chose the first position because I want to be #1,” said Schilt.

Next up was Jerome LeBanner, who had already returned to France where he is filming a movie with Alain Delon, and so participated via long-distance telephone hookup. LeBanner provided a bit of excitement when, presented with a choice between Hoost and Schilt (or a spot in the still vacant fourth fight), he opted to square off against Schilt.

“I picked Semmy because he is the champion,” said LeBanner. “I was glad I got the chance, because I want to fight the champion more than anyone else!”

“I’m very glad Jerome chose me,” said Schilt, “he did a good job in Osaka against a big guy [Hong-Man Choi], this will be a great matchup!”

Next it was Remy Bonjasky, who made a little fake toward Ernesto Hoost, stopped to shake his hand, then went over to the G position and the fourth fight.

“Actually I had wanted to fight Semmy because he took my belt last year,” said Bonjasky. “I didn’t take Ernesto because I didn’t want to be the one to stop him [laughs]!”

Chalid Die Faust had number seven, and also made a bit of drama out of his choice between Bonjasky and Hoost, walking along and shaking hands, before settling on the F position and Hoost.

“For me,” said Die Faust, “Ernesto wrote the history of the sport. I am happy and I am honored to fight against him. I hope there will be no injuries, good luck everyone, and get ready to see a new champion!”

“I am glad Chalid chose me,” said Hoost, “he is one of the only guys here I have not fought, this will be my last series and I’m glad to fight a new fighter!”

With the eighth pick, Leko was consigned to the H position and a bout with Bonjasky.

“I’m happy I won’t have to fight against my Golden Glory gym teammates in the first fight,” said Leko, “but maybe in the final!”

The mood was friendly throughout — Bonjasky joked with media that “a very beautiful Japanese reported told me during an interview yesterday that if I won the GP I would get her.” As the woman in question blushed, Leko jumped in “You won’t get her, Remy, but there is a girl sitting over there who said if I got the championship and became rich, she’d give me her phone number…”

“These guys think it’s a dating show!” chipped Feitosa — and, actually, the way the stage was set it did look a little like a dating show.

The date that matters now is December 2, 2006, and the place is the Tokyo Dome. In a new development, fans will have the opportunity to choose the fighters for the Final’s two tournament reserve bouts. Voting will start shortly and can be done on the K-1 Official Website (www.k-1.co.jp), where you will also find the final tournament tree, complete fighters’ profiles and information on all K-1 events.

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Monty DiPietro