Ray Sefo To Replace Karaev in K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16

Aaron Young@ayguitarContributor IIISeptember 22, 2010

Although the official lineup for the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 in Seoul Final 16 was announced on Sunday, there has been one final modification to the card which will take place on October 2.

2000 K-1 World Grand Prix runner-up "Sugar" Ray Sefo has been confirmed as a replacement for Ruslan Karaev in the Grand Prix's round of 16. Although the exact reason for Karaev's withdrawal has not been release, a late injury is expected.

Sefo's opponent in the first round will be 25-year-old Surinamese fighter Tyrone Spong, who is 14 years his junior.

Sefo, who began his MMA career in the summer of 2009, last competed in K-1 this May when he defeated Ionut Iftimoaie at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 in Bucharest.  He competed in kickboxing only once in 2009, defeating Yousuke Nishijima at the year-end event Dynamite!! 2009.

The 39-year old New Zealander's last attempt to qualify for the Grand Prix Final was in 2008. He was unsuccessful in qualifying, losing to Gokhan Saki at the Final 16 event.

His loss to Saki was the last of six-fight skid that began in March 2007 against Semmy Schilt and ended in December 2008 when he defeated Hong-Man Choi.

Previous to his recent misfortunes, "Sugar" had established himself as a world-class kickboxer. Other than his second place showing to K-1 legend Ernesto Hoost in the 2000 Final, he holds notable wins over Jerome Le Banner, Musashi, Mike Hunt, Mike Bernardo, and Peter Aerts.

In an interesting side note, both times Karaev and his replacement Sefo have squared off, the veteran New Zealander has reigned supreme.

A return to prominence in this year's Grand Prix by Ray Sefo would be well received as he has become a fan favorite over the last decade in K-1.

Sefo was scheduled to commentate the Final 16 event for HDNet along with Michael Schiavello, who first broke this news on Twitter, but it could be easily guaranteed a return to Grand Prix competition is a more than satisfactory change of pace for Ray Sefo.