Tonight, the Karate Combat promotion aims to set a new record when it touches down in New York City at the One World Trade Center. Karate Combat: One World will feature 10 full-contact karate matches from the One World Observatory on the 102nd floor observation deck and will set the world record for the highest sports event from ground level. The karateka competing on the card hail from 12 countries and are bound for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo where karate will make its official debut.
The promotion has several unique aspects, one of which is the sunken fighting pit that uses a 45-degree angle allowing the competitors extra leverage in their bouts, as well as being very camera-friendly, providing unobstructed views for photographers. The league’s intent is to recreate the feel of the Street Fighter video game and to provide a flashback to the 80s when karate was king. They’ve hosted three previous events, one of which was in the ultra-exotic location of the courtyard of the Zappeion in Athens, Greece, near the Parthenon and the Arch of Hadrian.
The streams of the bouts feature live biometric, nutrition, training and DNA- based data in real time to the viewers, as well as a chatroom for interacting with other fans. The rules are very straightforward: Each match is three rounds with each round clocking in at three minutes. Offensive techniques are scored higher than counters. Full rules and regulations can be found here.
“Holding an event like this atop the One World Tower came as a total surprise for me. When Mike DePietro was trying to get it, I told him, ‘Man, it’s going to be hard to get the 102nd floor there.’ But, he pulled it off. To be there and to have that feel, that background, while the guys are fighting in the pit, they have these incredible high ceilings—I mean it’s the perfect place for it. I can only imagine how the video will be, because the video production from Kararte Combat is really cool. It feels more like a movie. Some angles are filmed from behind the spectators, and it just feels like Kickboxer or one of the big martial arts movies. I think it’s a really gritty feel and new viewers are going to love it.”
El Guapo is the official ambassador for Karate Combat, an honor of great personal significance to the Dutchman.
“When they called me and said that they wanted me to be the ambassador for this, I was so psyched about it because it brought me back to my roots. That’s where it all started with me—karate. It’s perfect to bring karate back in the form that they are doing it, with the pit, with the special 45-degree angled walls that you can actually use in competition (think Showtime kick). It’s a dream come true. I love it. I love the respect these fighters have for each other. To bring that all back, I think it’s a great thing for the martial arts world.”
The rules of Karate Combat were borrowed from the Olympic rules for karate but have one important difference.
“As far as the rules, what they did was kind of mimic the ones from the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, since they’re going to have karate in the Olympics. The only difference is that this is full-contact, and the Olympics are not. […] Now, the parents have a sport they can watch together with their kids because it’s more a clean sport, so to speak. Also, the rules are easy to understand for the people at home. All the kicks are allowed except low kicks to the thigh. A lot of people complain about this, but again, these are the rules that they’re going to have in the Olympics, so it makes sense to keep them as uniform as possible.”
Rutten says the prize purses are very good, even better than most UFC purses, and that’s something, especially since this is still very much a niche sport.
“They all get paid pretty well. They get more money than the majority of fighters in the UFC. I can tell you that with 100% certainty. Then there’s the fight of the night and knockout of the night bonus, and I think that’s either $40K or $60K, but don’t hold me to the number exactly. They’re definitely throwing big numbers at these guys—the kind of numbers you see some of the best fighters in the top organizations get, but even higher.”
The promotion has also launched a dedicated channel on the Roku platform which will air past events, live event streaming, and with future plans to possibly include training footage from their worldwide dojo network, as well as candid home footage to give fans a chance to get to know the fighters better.
“I think they’re going to start following the fighters, so people get more invested in them. Once you know a fighter, and you like him, you root for him and start following his career path. It’s a great thing to do. It’s what The Contender did in boxing, it’s what The Ultimate Fighter did in MMA, and I’m pretty sure Karate Combat is going to do the same thing. The people at home get to know these guys, they travel with him, they go into his home, meet his family. They get to see that these are just regular people with a unique profession that doesn’t fit the 9-5 job standard.”
Karate Combat: One World will be called by Bas Rutten and Sean Wheelock, with pit-side reporting by Phoenix Carnevale. The fight card starts at 7 PM Eastern and is FREE at Karate.com or via their Karate Combat Android and iOS apps. UFC Fight Pass subscribers can also get the full event at the same time. The bout list is as follows:
Teeik Silva (Brazil) vs. Edgars Skrivers (Latvia)
Gabriele Cera (Italy) vs. Fernando Moreno Paz (Spain)
Willians Quirino (Brazil) vs. Mohammed Hebbal (Morocco)
Pedro “Roman” Roig (Spain) vs. Jesus Paucarcaja-Lopez (Peru)
Andras Virag (Hungary) vs. Adham Sabry (USA/Egypt)
Jorge Perez (Dom. Rep.) vs. Spyros Margaritopoulos (Greece)
Josh Quayhagen (USA) vs. Vitalie Certan (Portugal)
Elhadji Ndour (USA/Senegal) vs. Adilet Shadykanov (Kyrgystan)
Dimitrios Triantafyllis (Greece) vs. Luiz Rocha (Brasil)
Abdalla Ibrahim (USA/Egypt) vs. Dionicio Gustavo (Dom. Rep)
H/T Fansided for additional info.
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