“March Madness” mostly baffles me. Every year tons of people fill out brackets and compete against friends and coworkers. Invariably, someone without any basketball knowledge takes home the money. For example, my friend Dan, who once scored on his own hoop in a basketball game, was our pool champion last year. I always have my Maryland Terrapins in the final four, so I never come close to winning. (*Side note: Shout out to Danny O’Brien for leading the Terps’ football team to an 8-4 record and winning “ACC Rookie of the Year.”)
In combat sports there are very few tournaments, and most of the tournaments do not have brackets. The biggest exception is the K-1 World Grand Prix Final. Since 1993, K-1 has been assembling some quality kickboxers, setting up a bracket and crowning a champion.
So, here is my attempt to start “December Madness.” Naturally, I waited until the vultures started circling FEG. If you get into the spirit, please submit your picks in the comments section. If you beat me, I will hook you up with a ProMMANow prize pack. I am talking about DVDs and maybe even some t-shirts with skulls and chains.
Mighty Mo vs. Peter Aerts
A lot of people have been saying that this is one of the weakest K-1 Grand Prix fields in history. The participation of Mighty Mo is undoubtedly responsible for at least some of that assessment. To be fair, he did earn his shot by defeating Raul Catinas in the Final 16. However, that fight was a slop fest that only Dana “I cut Gerald Harris, but keep Stephan Bonnar on the payroll” White could appreciate.
Mighty Mo does come forward with a lot of bar-fight overhand rights. Kyotaro did recently send Peter Aerts to an early shower. However, after the first few minutes Mo will be entirely gassed. Aerts will chop his opponent down and once against assert himself as the ultimate flannel wearer in combat sports. Paulo Filho will have to go back to the drawing board and try again next year.
Pick = Peter Aerts
Kyotaro vs. Semmy Schilt
It appears as if the efforts of Hesdy Gerges’ camp to have Semmy Schilt disqualified came up short. This is good news. Now, Schilt has a chance to break the record for K-1 World Grand Prix championships. If he missed the opportunity due to some tape, I might have lost my mind.
Kyotaro does not have the technical game to deal with Schilt. Perhaps if he pressures the taller fighter, he can do some damage, but that would be out of character for him. Look for Schilt to take a decision and move on to the next round. He might even throw a “Question Mark Kick” and make Tomas Rios’ head implode.
Pick = Semmy Schilt
Gokhan Saki vs. Daniel Ghita
After going 2-3 and having a terrible year in 2009, Gokhan Saki has rebounded big time in 2010. He is currently 6-0 on the year with wins over Melvin Manhoef and Singh Jaideep. In the Final 16, he put on a impressive performance and finished Freddy Kemayo in the first round. However, he was facing Kemayo, who also lost to the ghost of Alexey Ignashov this year.
This really is Ghita’s fight to lose. He is a physical specimen and has devastating leg kicks. Last year, I predicted that he would kick Sergei Kharitonov’s leg clear off his body. Ghita didn’t quite detach the leg, but he came about as close a person can.
Pick = Daniel Ghita
Alistair Overeem vs. Tyrone Spong
Tyrone Spong is a good fighter. He has beaten some top fighters and held some titles. The problem is that he is not a heavyweight. In the Final 16, he was able to use his speed to avoid big shots from Ray Sefo. Here, he is taking on Overeem, who is extremely physical. K-1 has changed the rules to take away most of the clinch game. However, Overeem should still be able to use his size advantage to bully the smaller fighter.
Pick = Alistair Overeem
Daniel Ghita vs. Alistair Overeem
MMA fans are convinced that Alistair Overeem is going to dominate the field. For example, our very own Jack Bratcher sent me an email after watching Overeem’s first-round knockout over Ben Edwards. Here is an excerpt from said email. “OMG Alistair Overeem is an absolute beast! I heard on “Coast to Coast AM” that after the Ancient Aliens built the pyramids and made crop circles, they spent a few thousand years making Alistair Overeem. He could knockout Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, while keylocking Mark Hunt!” (*Side note: He did not really email me this.)
Since I just made fun of Jack, I have to get technical. I really need this job. In K-1, Overeem’s defense is basically throwing up the ear muffs and waiting to take a shot. It reminds me of Tito Ortiz’s striking defense, and that is never a good thing. This style will leave him open for Ghita’s devastating leg kicks, which I emoted about earlier in this column.
Look for Ghita to score constantly with leg kicks and score the first major upset of the tournament.
Pick = Daniel Ghita
Peter Aerts vs. Semmy Schilt
Anyone who has spent a great deal of time watching K-1 fights on youtube knows that Peter Aerts is one of the worst style tests for Semmy Schilt. Aerts can take Schilt’s shots and continue to walk him down.
With that being said, time has really started to catch up with Aerts. He has started to slow down quite a bit. Plus, his chin is not what it used to be. Look for Schilt to have some trouble, but ultimately he will move on to the final.
Pick = Semmy Schilt
Semmy Schilt vs.Daniel Ghita
Much like Emily Dickinson, Semmy Schilt’s greatness will not be fully appreciated until after he is gone. The guy has already won four K-1 World Grand Prix championships. That is more than anyone other than Ernesto Hoost. On top of that, I would argue that he is one of the three-best K-1 fighter to fight MMA.
With all this success do you really think he will lose in the final match? Schilt can score a knockout. He also knows how to win ugly. If he gets into trouble, he can fight in a way that lets him win rounds and get out with a victory. Look for him to do just that.
Pick = Semmy Schilt
So there it is. Leave your picks in the comment section for a chance to win the prize pack. Also, join us here at ProMMANow.com on Dec. 11 for a live blog during the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 2010.