BREAKING! Buakaw Banchamek Joins the K-1 MAX Grand Prix on July 7, Faces Tournament Favorite Ouyang Feng

Jun 11, 2024
Buakaw victorious. Photo: RWS
The Thai kickboxing great returns to Japan.

Twenty years after winning his first K-1 World MAX tournament, Buakaw Banchamek returns to Japan to reclaim his throne. The two-time champion has been announced as the last entry for this year's Grand Prix on July 7 at the Yoyogi 2nd Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan. 


He will have a tall order in front of him, as he's been paired against tournament favorite and reigning K-1 champion Ouyang Feng. The crafty Chinese fighter, ranked No. 9 in the Beyond Kickboxing Rankings, is considered one of the biggest Lightweight prospects, boasting an impressive 38-3 record.

After his performance against Pascal Schroth in the tournament's opening round, the other six participants wanted nothing to do with him during the quarter-final draw, leaving him with the – at that time yet to be announced – wild card.

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Ouyang Feng lands a right. Photo: K-1 Japan

Darryl Verdonk, Viktor Akimov, Kacper Muszyński, Zhora Akopyan, Romano Bakboord, and Dengue Silva will make up the other portion of the tournament – an intriguing mix of veterans, upcoming fighters, and local champions.

For the past few weeks, K-1 had trouble securing a worthwhile wild card for the tournament. Obvious picks, such as Masaaki Noiri and Kaito Ono had other plans and cross-promotional efforts with ONE Championship to get Marat Grigorian or Chingiz Allazov on board have not come to fruition. 

Alongside Masato, Andy Souwer, and Giorgio Petrosyan, Buakaw has been one of the faces of the MAX generation. Throughout his storied career, he has most certainly inspired many of the current tournament entrants to get their start in the sport.

At 42 years of age, the Thai might not be in his prime, but he has kept busy over the last few years and continued to pick up quality wins. In his latest outing, he knocked out heavy-hitting Minoru Kimura at RIZIN Landmark 9.

Buakaw and a hurt Minoru Kimura.
Buakaw against Minoru Kimura. Photo: RIZIN FF

For Ouyang Feng, it's an opportunity to get his name into the mainstream with a win against a legend of the sport. For Buakaw, it could be a chance to go out with another major belt around his waist.