In 2006, Paul Slowinski of Australia wins the Oceania GP Tournament in Auckland, K-1's first major event in New Zealand; Chalid Die Faust of Germany emerges victorious in the USA GP in Las Vegas; Yasuke Fujimoto wins the Asia GP in Seoul; and Bjorn Bregy of Switzerland is the best on the night in Amsterdam to take the Europe GP.
In World Max action, Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand becomes the first two-time Champion; while in K-1's mixed martial arts format Hero's Series, Yoshihiro Akiyama wins in the Light Heavyweight Championship, and JZ Calvin of Brazil takes the Middleweight Belt.
Some 54,800 are on hand at the Tokyo Dome to watch Semmy Schilt defend his World Grand Prix Championship. The Dutchman dispatches veterans Jerome LeBanner, Ernesto Hoost and Peter Aerts en route to victory in a Final that would be broadcast in more than 120 countries.
K-1's popularity rockets in South Korea, as the gargantuan Hong-Man Choi beats three fighters (including defending Asia Champ Kaoklai Kaennorsing) to win the K-1 Asian GP in Seoul. Brazilian Glaube Feitosa emerges best in the Americas, winning the USA Grand Prix in Las Vegas in impressive style; and in Paris, Semmy Schilt of the Netherlands powers his way to victory at the European Grand Prix.
Successful Fighting Network events are held round the globe -- more than 10,000 fans fill the Globen Arena in Stockholm for the Scandinavian Tournament. Meanwhile, in World Max action, Andy Souwer of the Netherlands takes the Crown; while in K-1's mixed martial arts format Hero's Series, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto wins the Final in front of 53,025 at Osaka Dome on New Year's Eve.
The year's main event, the World GP Final, attracts a sellout crowd of 58,213 to the Tokyo Dome and is broadcast in more than 90 countries. And for the tenth time in K-1's 13-year history a Dutch fighter is victorious, as Schilt stays perfect -- beating Ray Sefo, Remy Bonjasky and Glaube Feitosa to earn fightsports' most coveted crown.
K-1 makes its first foray into Korea, and the sellout crowd sees Thai fighter Kaoklai Kaennorsing win the first K-1 Asian GP. In World Max action, another Thai fighter, Buakaw Por Pramuk stuns the opposition to take the crown. Mighty Mo is a surprise winner at the Battle at the Bellagio III, and the slugger represents the US at the Tokyo Dome World GP Final. There, Japanese Seidokaikan fighter Musashi makes it to the last bout for the second year running, but Remy Bonjasky is better once again, and repeats as Champion. Dutch fighters have now won nine of the twelve K-1 World GP Championships.
Masato beats Kraus in the World Max Final and is crowned the first Japanese K-1 Champion. The emergence of Battle at the Bellagio winner Carter Williams of the United States and Muay Thai fighter Remy Bonjasky of the Netherlands heralds the arrival K-1's new generation. With a flashy style featuring flying knees and kicks, the 27 year-old Bonjasky outclasses the competition to take the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship at the Tokyo Dome.
K-1 introduces its World Max Series, which has a 70kg weight class, and the Dutch fighter Albert Kraus is crowned the first World Max Champion. In the World GP Series, big Bob "The Beast" Sapp of the United States stuns the K-1 world by beating Ernesto Hoost twice. But an injury stops Sapp at the Tokyo Dome Final, and Hoost goes on to win it all and become K-1's first-ever four-time World Grand Prix Champion.
Mark Hunt, a hard-punching 27 year-old New Zealander, comes into the Tokyo Dome Final as an underdog, but defeats veterans Jerome LeBanner, Stefan Leko and Francisco Filho on a super Saturday to pull the biggest upset in K-1 history and become the sport's first non-European World Grand Prix Champion.
The new millennium and K-1 sees unprecedented expansion and popularity in Europe and the Americas. At the Tokyo Dome Final, yet another sellout crowd watches as Dutch fighter Ernesto Hoost successfully defends his World Grand Prix Championship.