What do you call a professional sports player under contract who casually decides to not report for duty? Not sure either, but it would definitely be a shock.
There is no comparison to the Jon Jones situation and UFC 151 cancelling. Jones will defend his belt soon enough. And he has also stepped foot in Tulsa this year.
K-1, for the uninitiated, is the preeminent world-wide kickboxing promotion. The organization was founded in Tokyo back in 1993.
The organization crowned a champion from 1993-2010 until financial troubles besieged the promotion. Semmy Schilt, Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts and Alistair Overeem are just a few of the K-1 World Grand Prix Champions throughout the years.
Traditional kickboxing rules are used, except knees are allowed. Winning the Grand Prix is to standup fighting what the Masters is to golf or Wimbledon to tennis. It is the most prestigious honor.
The event is back this year in full force. The first round takes place in Los Angeles on Saturday, Sept. 8. K-1 signed a broadcast deal with Spike TV. The fight card will stream live via spike.com.
Several weeks ago we profiled a young kickboxer named Randy Blake. The undefeated Owassoian is one of eight Americans competing in this world-wide tournament.
He was supposed to fight Dewey "Black Cobra" Cooper in Tulsa back in February. He gets his chance in the first round of the K-1 Grand Prix.
"He decided to take a boxing match instead," said Blake. "It is amazing how things work out."
Blake has been training for Cooper on and off again for several months. Cooper is a southpaw while Blake fights orthodox.
"He is predominately a boxer who does kickboxing," he said. "He's done really well." Cooper sports a 19-3 boxing record. He has also fought K-1 level competition.
Cooper holds the experience advantage. He is also documenting his preparation on bloodyelbow.com. Here is an excerpt from his blog.
"I'm not really thinking about my opponent in any way, I'm just doing my thing. I'm only worried about being the best I can be, fighting the best possible fight I can on fight night. I have enough information on him now. I know he's young. I know he has an undefeated record. He's obviously going to come to fight and throw down. I'm going to come to fight, and the best fighter is going to persevere that night. That's about all I need to know about him."
Blake is in the final stages of preparation. The hard sparring is over. Staying healthy is the main focus right now. Eating healthy and staying rested are key.
Is facing a southpaw going to be difficult? Blake fought Chris Bell twice in kickboxing matches. Bell took Blake to a decision in their first bout. Blake knocked Bell out in the second fight. Bell is the only southpaw he has fought to date.
Blake was born a lefty. His first instructor forced him into the orthodox stance. "I'm older now so I realize it just helped me out," he said. "Most guys stick to one stance. They only have one good leg. That is all they can do. That actually helped me out because now I can do all my kicks, everything, with both legs."
The first national sponsor has stepped up for Blake as well. Hooters, 8108 E. 61st St., will not only sponsor Blake but also hold a watch party. All ages are welcome.
The K-1 crew has been to Apollo's Martial Arts to watch Blake teach classes and train. His fight with Cooper is being billed as the main event of the stacked card. Is this too much pressure for Blake's first meaningful fight outside of Oklahoma?
A reader sent a letter to the editor a couple of weeks ago. He or she questioned the caliber of opponents Blake has faced to date. All of these questions will be answered as Blake enters the tournament to crown the top striker in the world.
A win in Los Angeles earns him a second round fight in Tokyo on Oct. 14. We can look past Cooper but chances are Blake is not.
Levi Avera (17-11) first stepped in the cage in 2006. According to sources close to him, the Sept. 21 rematch with Dylan Smith (8-4) could be his last in Oklahoma.
Avera is apparently growing weary of the fight game. Twenty-eight fights put a toll on your body. His training for Smith is going great, but he is not sure why he is even fighting him again.
Back in February, Avera won a majority decision over Smith. Not a split decision. Beating a guy twice does not necessarily boost your career. He probably feels as though his chance to move on to the big promotions is slipping away.
His desire to fight local guys is fleeting. Only one other name on the local scene excites him. According to those around him a matchup with rising middleweight Andrew Todhunter might be the only other Oklahoman he would step in the cage with.
Otherwise this is likely the last time we will witness "The Marine" battle in Tulsa. He will either fight in other states or perhaps lace up a pair of cleats and give semi-pro football a go.
The 30-year-old; staple of the Tulsa fight scene, declined to comment.
Fighters retire and then have comeback fights all the time. We see it in boxing, mixed martial arts and with Ric Flair.
Will Avera's fight at XFN 9 be his last? Will he get his wish and find himself staring down Todhunter across the cage for his swan song?
Will you be reading a similar retirement theme column about Avera three years from now?
Only time will tell.
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