K-1 USA News

Leo, Two Japanese Fighters Complete K-1 "Battle At The Bellagio II" Tournament Lineup

Kickboxing champion, Kelly Leo (29-6-1 (16 KO's), and Japanese fighting standouts, Tatsufumi Tomihira (10-8 (5 KO's)
and Nobu Hayashi (12-11-1 (1 No contest) (6 KO's), have filled the three remaining spots in Friday, April 30th 's K-1 "Battle At The Bellagio II" eight-man, single elimination tournament draw.  The Bellagio Hotel and Casino-hosted event will air live on Pay-Per-View television. 

The 6-foot, 210-pound Leo, who hails from Gainesville, Georgia, was seen in action during the inaugural "Battle At The Bellagio" show last August. As a tournament "reserve" fight contestant, he faced 6 foot 7 inch giant, George Randolph.



  Despite giving up seven inches to Randolph , Leo was able to score repeated shots on his opponent before being victimized by an accidental head butt that opened a cut over his left eye.  The severity of the cut forced a doctor stoppage to the bout at 53 seconds into the third and final scheduled round, giving Randolph the technical knockout win.  Prior to the stoppage, though, Leo was winning the bout on all three judges' scorecards.

At 28 years of age, Tomihira has been in the ring with the likes of Mirko "Cro Crop" Filipovic and 2000 K-1 World Grand Prix tournament runner-up, Ray Sefo.  His best performance to date, however, came against The Czech Republic's Petr Vondracek on September 22, 2002 . A classic toe-to-toe struggle unfolded over the course of three rounds and two "sudden death," overtime rounds before the Japanese native was declared the winner by way of judges' decision.

  The 26-year-old Hayashi is a former student of Karate, who left his place of birth to train in the country that has produced the greatest number of K-1 champions in history – Holland .  There, he found a new home at kickboxing school, Dojo Chakuriki, the former training ground of three-time K-1 World Grand Prix tournament champion, Peter Aerts. 

 Leo and the two Japanese fighters will be joined in the tournament event by 2003 K-1 USA champion, Carter Williams (15-3-1 (11 KO's); two-time K-1 tournament champion, Michael McDonald (44-15 (17 KO's); two-time kickboxing champion and undefeated professional boxer, Dewey "The Black Kobra" Cooper (37-6-2 (1 No Contest) (24 KO's); "Mighty Mo" (22-18-2 (18 KO's); and King Of The Cage and World Fighting Alliance lightheavyweight champion, Marvin Eastman (17-4 (10 KO's).

The tournament will be accompanied on the card by several single "Superfights," including a showdown between former NFL lineman turned K-1 wrecking machine, Bob "The Beast" Sapp (17-4 (8 KO's) and K-1 veteran, Tommy Glanville (19-5 (11 KO's).   Undefeated world champion, Cung Le ( 15-0 (9 KO's), will square off with Brian Warren (19-7 (7 KO's) while "Razor" Rob McCullough (23-3 (6 KO's) will battle John Polakowski (9-6 (3 KO's). 

Tickets for Friday, April 30th 's K-1 "Battle At The Bellagio II" event can be purchased online at K-1 USA's website ( www.k-1usa.net ) store or by calling The Bellagio Hotel and Casino box office toll free at 1-800-963-9634.

 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.  Last year, K-1 USA, the North American subsidiary of K-1, inked a partnership with ESPN to jointly market Pay-Per-View televised K-1 fight cards.

I think American fans would love K-1 so much more if they brought K-1 Max fighters, instead.