Karate Combat league announced, exclusive interview

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A new combat sports league has been announced hoping to revitalize the art of Karate.

Karate Combat will be full contact, fights will take place in the patent-pending Karate Combat Fighting Pit, designed to encourage continuous action. The Pit will also mean the action will be clearer for spectators with no cage or ropes in the way.

The promotion has signed up a host of top level Karateka from over 30 countries worldwide. The roster includes,

Elhadji Ndour of the USA, Achraf Ouchen of Morocco, Dionicio Gustavo of Dominican Republic, Davy Dona of France, George Tzanos of Greece and Rafael Aghayev of Azerbaijan. Rafael Aghayev is according to Karate Combat, the most decorated fighter alive, arguably the world’s greatest living karateka and a 2020 Olympic front runner.

Karate Combat

Achraf Ouchen vs. Elhadji Ndour

In the official press release Michael DePietro declared “Karate is back,”

Approximately 50 million Americans have participated in karate at some point in their lives with an even greater worldwide following, yet no professional league exists. To date, nobody has harnessed the beauty of this ancient sport for 21st-century fans and mass media appeal.”

Karate Combat Rafael Aghayev vs. Dionicio Gustavo

Rafael Aghayev vs. Dionicio Gustavo

Michael DePietro spoke exclusively to MMA UK to discuss his hopes for the new league.

We want to bring karate into the 21st century: presenting the martial art at its best, optimized for the way fans consume sports today. We believe our full contact rules, our fighting pit and the enthusiasm of our fighters will reignite the world’s love for the sport— and bring its values back to professional martial arts.

We also want the fighters to love being part of it. Ask any karateka if they’re happy with their current options and you’ll have a very hard time finding anyone. We are creating a league where they can make real money, cultivate a fan base, and celebrate this art and their talent for it in the way it was meant to be practised.”

Bas Rutten and Chuck Liddell, two legends of mixed martial arts have been named as ambassadors of the promotion, I asked DePietro what this would involve?

“What we love about having Chuck and Bas onboard is that karate was where they each got their start. Their enthusiasm for our full contact version is intense and infectious. They’ve already given us their expertise as we fine tuned the rules to make the best experience for fighters. Now they’re spreading the word that what we are doing is legit, and will appeal to their fans. In addition they’ll be doing some announcing and commentary going forward. Bas will announce the Miami event.

So how can we watch Karate Combat in the UK, DePietro explained, “The primary way to follow the league and watch the action is at but we have distribution partnerships with many OTT and cable providers around the world, with many announcements coming soon.

Our content looks great on TV—that’s the easy part. But we also think our presentation for mobile — and the interactive features via our Heads-Up Display—is better than any in combat sports and we wanted to focus on a digital-first launch.”

The good news for UK karate lovers is that the promotion aim to have a show here later in the year.

Yes— our next fight, which will stream live, will be in Miami Beach on April 26, followed by events in Athens and Dubai. We expect a UK fight by the end of the year.”

Finally I asked DePietro what the fans should expect from Karate Combat?

Fans should expect non stop action, tons of striking. Everything was designed to reward agressive risk taking, and to stomp out the boredom of no-contact bouts that end in disqualifications so much of the time. We reward knockouts— and you’ll be seeing plenty.”

The league will air its first live event, Karate Combat: Inception in Miami Beach, on April 26, 2018. This will be followed by an all USA-vs.-Iran fight card in May in Dubai. A string of exotic locations for future fight cards will be announced soon, including Athens, Las Vegas, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Karate Combat: Genesis, the company’s private pre-season event, took place in Budapest, Hungary, in February 2018. All Genesis bouts, highlights and recaps are available for viewing now on

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