King in the Ring Live : The King in the Ring Eliminator Series 2018 is back with the fifth edition of the lightweights, setting out to find the King of the 62kg weight division in the last man standing tournament format.
Be ringside at the Barfoot & Thompson Stadium on November 9th to witness 8 of New Zealand’s top stand up fighters as they square off under international K-1 rules, bringing together their own techniques born from kickboxing, boxing, muay thai, MMA, kung fu, kyokushin karate, and other martial arts, in a survival series of explosive, three-round elimination bouts.
Eight Fighters. Only ONE will be King.
Jordan ‘Le Sifi’ Maroroa vs Stefan Harrison
Joey ‘Filipino Kid’ Baylon – Reigning King
Nic ‘Icecream’ Aratema
Alexi ‘Phet’ Serepisos
Logan ‘Pitbull’ Price
TY Williams vs Hayden ‘Tat North’ Todd
Trans Tasman Super Fight
Fou ‘Fabulous’ Ah-Lam vs Patrik Dittrich
WKBF K1 Rules South Pacific Featherweight Title Bout
Kelly ‘The Warrior Princess’ Broerse vs Lara Ahola
The first King in the Ring event of 2018 is expected to be as wide open as ever as the big boys return to the elimination event.
Eight super heavyweight kickboxers will showcase their knockout power in a series of bouts at Auckland’s YMCA Stadium on Friday night in a bid to find the last man standing.
With Paulo Lakai not returning to defend the title he won in 2015, a new champion will be crowned and Wellington’s Nato La’auli is determined to go one better after two runner-up finishes at heavyweight.
“The new boys that have come through, they’re a threat because I don’t know anything about them,” La’auli said. “The boys like Riki, Ata and Wayne are all heavy hitters and one punch from them could finish a fight. Each and every one of them is capable of being favourites.
“I’ve done enough of these to know that anything can happen but all I can do is be prepared as I possibly can.”
The King in the Ring is an eliminator series that began in 2011, with the winner having to defeat three opponents in one night.
The brainchild of six-time world kickboxing champion Jason Suttie, the tournament has proven to be a genuine pathway onto the global fight scene for several Kiwi athletes.
Three-time winner Israel Adesanya fought for the Glory world title and is now making waves in the UFC alongside former middleweight champion Dan Hooker.
Last year’s heavyweight winner Carlos Ulberg has recently signed a contract to compete in China, while former welterweight Brad Riddell has joined One FC’s kickboxing roster.
“It’s good for the rest of the world to see that for such a small country we’ve got some good fighters,” Suttie said.
“If you win King in the Ring over seven other fighters you’re ready to stand on the world stage.”
Like his competitors, La’auli has had his hands full juggling preparations for Friday’s event with his daily commitments.
As well as working in mental health support, he is also studying nursing full-time.
It has made for some extremely late nights at the gym but he credits his training under Suttie for helping instil the mindset to persevere.
“At the moment, because I do shift work I don’t finish until 11 o’clock. I’m at the 24/7 gym in Wellington at 11:30pm and I’m not home till about 1:30am,”La’auli said. “So it’s training your brain to do things that other people are not willing to do, that is what Jason has imparted on to me.”
Suttie also trains Tuitupou out of his Elite Thai Kickboxing gym in Auckland and there are high hopes for the 25-year-old 150kg powerhouse.
The ‘Titan’ is the least experienced fighter in the field with less than two years training but Suttie has been delighted with his progress.
“I’m just taking my time with him. He’s young, he’s had close to 20 fights now but he’s definitely going to be someone to watch,” Suttie said.
“He listens really well and he moves amazingly quick for someone his size.”
Suttie is obviously backing his fighters to make the final but he feels there is little separating the field.
“They’re pretty evenly matched and everyone in there really wants to prove themselves,” he said.
“There’s a lot of newcomers but to win three fights in one night is not easy. So if you can do that, you’re definitely worth looking at.”
Eight-man lineup: Ata ‘The Smiling Assassin’ Fakalelu, Nato ‘Hard Knox’ La’auli, Wayne ‘War Machine’ Hehea, David ‘Titan’ Tuitupou, Riki ‘The Rock’ Barclay, Jarrod ‘The Saint’ Thompson, Moe Hussain, James Pascoe.
Super Fights: Hone Hepi vs Aaron Rei, Joey Parsons vs Luke Hiki
Curtain raiser: Grant Heka vs Fou ‘Fabulous’ Ah-Lam