Last year was by far the most successful year for King of Kings. With sixteen events in ten different countries, the European promotion was one of the busiest in the fight business. However, as they say, “Rome was not built in a day” and success did not come overnight for KOK. The brand has been ever evolving and growing since 2009. There has been a slow, steady and measurable growth for King of Kings.
Having spoken with President Donatas Simanaitis, I’m convinced that, even though 2018 was the biggest year ever in the promotion, 2019 promises to be even bigger. I think this interview will help shed some light on what his plans are for the coming year.
Kings of Kings President Donatas Simanaitis interview
Last year was a big year for KOK, the biggest ever. Where can we expect to see KOK going in 2019? How many events are you planning?
“2019 will be a very interesting year geographically and with the fights as well. This year KOK plans to have 16 events plus 4 extra tournaments, so in total the real plan is to have 20 events. We will have tournaments in the UK, Turkey, Holland, Finland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Spain, Poland and Germany. In addition to this, I need to mention that we are having preliminary work done for a KOK tournament in the USA.”
There were many events in 2018. Which one was your favorite? Which fight was “fight of the year” in your opinion?
“All the tournaments had their own intrigue and heroes. In my opinion the KOK World Series 2018 in Vilnius, which was held in November in front of over 10,000 KOK fans stood out more than any other event in 2018. I would also like to mention the KOK World Series 2018 in Sarkoy, Turkey where there were over 25,000 KOK fans in attendance. There were 16 KOK tournaments held in 2018 and 224 fights, so it’s very difficult for me to decide which of those fights was the best. There were over 50 fights which could be number one.”
The first big event of the year will be in Latvia on February 23rd. A lot of MMA fights are planned for this card. What else can we expect from MMA Bushido this year?
“The first KOK tournament of 2019 will be held in Latvia at Arena Riga and it will be held inside the ring. On the first part of the tournament there will be several MMA Bushido fights. We are also planning four MMA Bushido tournaments this year in Lithuania, Cyprus, Ireland and Ukraine.”
I have heard you talking about a new ranking system. What kind of a system is it and how will it work?
“There has always been a ranking system in KOK. Whoever wins the fight goes up one step. From 2019 the rules of title fights will be changed. The only way to fight for the title is to be in the top five ranking or win a 4-man WGP tournament. If a fighter with a title does not defend his belt and refuses to fight, the championship will become vacant and there will be a chance for other fighters in the top five ranking and WGP tournament winners to win the title.”
Last year you mentioned a big heavyweight tournament coming in 2019. Can you give us any more details?
“Yes, we will have an 8-man heavyweight tournament coming up in 2019. We will see the best and most talented heavyweight standup fighters from all over the world.”
Sergej Maslobojev has been very successful both in the KOK ring and for other promotions in recent years. However, he has not defended the title very often. When will he defend the KOK Light Heavyweight title and who will the challenger be?
“Sergej Maslobojev will continue to fight in KOK superfights this year and in the autumn we are planning a title defense for him. We also have plans to “lend” him to the RIZIN promotion in Japan.”
The KOK lightweight division is very exciting. Last year there were four WGP winners and we also had a new champion, Vitalei Matei. How will you decide who gets to face Matei for the championship? Do you know when this fight will take place?
“This weight category has a long history in KOK. Without a doubt, the fighters in this division are the best in the world. Vitalei Matei will defend his belt at the KOK World Series in Vilnius this year on the 16th of March. He will be fighting against a -71 kg 4-man WGP winner who is ranked number one in KOK, Henrikas Viksraitis.”
KOK is a place where new stars are born. Are there any fighters you think we should watch out for in 2019? Any emerging stars?
“In 2019 KOK will reveal more new talents than ever before, even more than in 2018. At this moment we need to draw attention to the new KOK generation: Janis Freimanis, Lauri Soumela, Jurijs Orlovs, Mindaugas Narauskas, Mike Sprangh, Simon Santana, Markko Moisar, Chico Kwasi, Hubert Dylweski, Vladimir Konsky, Irem Capar, Raimondas Avlasevicius and many more…”
Is there anything else you would like to say?
“In 2019 the IBF (International Bushido Federation) officially confirmed 4 additional weight categories: for men -60 kg Bantamweight and three new categories for women: -55 kg Flyweight, -60 kg Bantamweight and -65 kg Featherweight. These weight categories will bring something new.”
So, as you cans see, Donatas Simanaitis and his brand are certainly not showing any signs of slowing down in 2019. In fact, the promotion will be growing, and visiting many new places. A lot of the weight divisions are red hot right now and with the addition of a few new weight categories in the women’s division, many new surprises are certainly in store for us.
I’d also like to point out that even though KOK is primarily a kickboxing promotion, there are also two other branches to the KOK organization: MMA Bushido for mixed martial arts fights and Dream Boxing for boxing fans. Many times King of Kings also mixes in Muay Thai contests on their shows as well, so they certainly have all the main combat sport bases covered.
Most, if not all of the KOK events this year will be broadcast on FightBox, so make sure you check the event schedule to see when the next shows will be.