World MAX 2010 - Where History was Made
November 8, 2010 - Tokyo, Japan - At the historic Ryogoku Kokugikan the most prestigious -70kg kickboxing event was held today to decide who the strongest fighter in the world really is.
The FieLDS K-1 World MAX 2010 World Championship Tournament is the event every stand up fighter wants to become the champion of.
The reigning champion is Giorgio Petrosyan. While there have been 3 champions in the past that have held the title twice, no one has ever done so at consecutive events. Will Giorgio be the one to do so? Can Albert Kraus become the 4th man to win it twice? Or can the local favorite, Yoshihiro Sato finally make his dreams come true with his fifth attempt?
The event kicked off with the reserve bout for the tournament. It was between Brazilian MMA fighter, Andre Dida and Japanese hopeful, HINATA. As expected, Dida came out looking to knock HINATA's head off, while HINATA kept his distance and powered in his patented mid kick, coupled with the crescent kick that DREAM's Kikuno is famous for. It took less than half a round for HINATA to land so many left kicks that Dida looked like he had gravel rash down the right side of his body, and his right arm looked all but dead. After a particularly hard mid, the Brazilian winced in pain. That was just what HINATA was waiting for, and he drilled in another crescent kick to drop Dida to the mat.
Dida survived the round, only to have a second that was just as, if not more painful. In fact, in the second round, after even more kicks to the body, HINATA took advantage of Dida's lowered guard and threw in a surprise head kick earning himself the second down of the fight. Yet again, Dida showed he has serious heart, and made it to the end of the round.
Perhaps having injured his leg after kicking so much, HINATA basically boxed out the third round. With Dida having virtually no power in his right arm, it wasn't that difficult for the Japanese fighter to win that round with techniques more favored by his opponent. Though he won the fight by 5 points on all cards, HINATA didn't seem at all pleased with himself.
In the first bout of the Final 8, the original mini-Tyson, Mike Zambidis was here to face the local cosplayer, Nagashima. Mike was coming off the fight of the night on the MAX side of the F16 card, while Nagashima knocked out 3 opponents in round 1 on the Japan GP card, and then defeated Andre Did to qualify. The Japanese Silver Wolf member made great use of his knees on the shorter "Zambo", but in the first round the speed advantage was clearly Zambidis'. He landed body blow after body blow, and avoided taking much damage himself.
In the second round those knees and the addition of his mid kicks seemed to slow down Zambidis significantly. The Greek fighter stayed light on his feet, but his work rate appeared to almost halve, while Nagashimi's increased quite a deal.
In the third round though, the fire was back in the little man and the Mike from Korea came out. Nagashima did his best to keep up with him, but took a punch to his forehead that stole his equilibrium for a 9 count. He somehow got to his feet but only to take a beating that looked like it was happening in double-speed until the referee called an end to it.
Nagashima said post-fight, "I feel disappointed. I guess the difference between us was experience. I felt like I was fighting smart, but I guess not."
The rematch between Albert Kraus and Giorgio Petrosyan was next, and the crowd seemed notably quieter in anticipation. Kraus hasn't lost since they last met, and Pterosyan hasn't lost in twice as many fights. The bout started at much closer range than the previous one, and Kraus actually landed his hands this time, particularly to the Italian's midsection. Petrosyan remained his calm self though, and threw nothing that didn't land. His low kicks found their mark, and the punches that were even on the guard seemed to slip through cracks.
In the second round Kraus seemed to find a new level, and he pressured from start to end. He landed shots to the body repeatedly, the occasional one also found the face. Petrosyan's strikes were landing far cleaner, while the Dutchman's more often.
The final round had Kraus putting absolutely everything he had into it. The normally elusive Petrosyam was even hit with a rare highkick. Kraus was like a dog chasing a bone, while the champion was looking to make distance to throw his more powerful blows. Unusually "The Doctor" got caught up in exchanges rather than avoiding damage while causing plenty. While many of the press were expecting it to go to an extra round, the judgment came down with 2 of them giving it to the champion by a single point, and the third judge by 2. Later Albert Kraus said, "At a very minimum, I feel that I earned an extra round. I really don't accept the result."
DRAGO danced his way out next to fight the youngest fighter in the tournament, newcomer Mohamed Khamal. The Moroccan shocked many by beating Artur Kyshenko to qualify for this fight, while DRAGO did the same with a brutal knockout out over Su Hwan Lee that caused the Korean to be stretchered from the ring. The first round saw them walk to the middle and both refuse to step back. DRAGO was all power, while Khamal was throwing combinations even Gohkan Saki would approve of. It was a very even round.
In the second the DRAGO that grunts better than any tennis player was back. If you turned away from the fight you could well be forgiven for believing there was a dog in the ring. He put so much power into every shot that even when he landed on Khamal's guard, the youngster wobbled. Khamal was starting to slow down, and was covering more and more. Not quite enough though, as powerful left hook just grazed his temple and he dropped. He took the down, and weathered the following storm to make it into the final round.
The Khamal with combinations and aggression was back in this round, and he brought it took DRAGO. He got drilled with a right straight early though, and met the mat for the second time in the fight. After gathering his wits though, he was the one that went on the attack. DRAGO got caught with one of those combinations, and his footwork turned into something resembling drunken ice-skating for several long seconds. The Armenian does what he tends to when in trouble though, and that is fight back harder. Spinning-wheel kicks, knees and everything else he had flew, and sadly for the views the bell rang ending this entertaining bout. With 2 downs to his name, DRAGO was awarded the win.
Khamal later said, "I feel okay now, but I couldn't feel my own strength today. I went into the third round thinking, everything or nothing. DRAGO is a very strong fighter."
Japans' only remaining hope, Yoshihiro Sato, came out to the ring next to fight the model-like Michal Glogowski. Michal managed to drop, and defeat Sagadpet after being fouled several times in Korea to make it here. The bout opened as all Sato fights do. Low kick, low kick, low kick. Michal used his boxing well, however Sato used an unusual amount of head movement to avoid the bulk of the shots in this fight.
In the second round Sato began to eat a few more shots, yet he landed several times more low kicks at the same time. Towards the end of the round, it was clear the Polish fighter, while tough as nails, was feeling the pain.
In the third it was more of the same. This time however, Sato's punches started to find their mark as the damage started to build in Michal's legs. The Japanese fighter was relentless with his low kicks, and Michal's forward movement disappeared completely. Twice he was forced to turn his back on the attacks of Sato, and the final round was enough for the judges to decide that Sato was the overall winner of the bout.
About the fight Michal said, "I think it was a very hard fight, but quite an even fight. I fought in Japan against a Japanese fighter, so it was hard. Sato is a really good fighter. I can feel his strong kicks in my legs. I hope he wins the tournament tonight."
The first of the semifinals was between Petrosyan and Zambidis. Neither took much damage that was noticeable in their first bout, so expectations were high. The opening round saw each paying the other a lot of respect. Zambidis spent more time hunting than attacking, but his distancing was such that he was in perfect range for the champion to land his deadly knees. "The Doctor" was back to his elusive ways too. Slipping and weaving better than anyone.
In the second round Zambidis found his distance a little better, and while Petrosyan still avoided most of the blows, he got nailed several times too. The Italian kept up his offence just enough to keep the Greek guessing as well, and landed a beautiful step up knee a handful of times.
In the third round Zambidis went for it. His reach betrayed him on many occasions though, and at other times Petrosyan was just too fast. For the entire round Mike was the aggressor, though the pair of them probably landed a very similar number of scoring shots. In the end Petrosyan won the bout by exactly the same margin as he did his first bout against Albert Kraus.
Mike Zambidis said, "I'm pretty sure that (shot that was rules a slip) was a knockdown. I'm disappointed the judges didn't give it any recognition at all. I can't really complain until I see the fight on video I guess. I was the one that hit him though, and I know what a knockdown feels like. However, I don't know if it looked that way to others or not. I do think it was enough to at least have given me an extra round though. Honestly, I expected more from him. He isn't anywhere near as strong as I thought he would be."
The next semifinalists have some serious history. DRAGO knocked Sato out of the tournament but beating him in the Eliminations. Sato said he had never felt so depressed in his life, and later thanked DRAGO for the motivation to train harder than ever to improve. Sato also predicted that this fight would happen tonight, and that he would win. DRAGO came out hard in the opening, but Sato stayed in the pocket and returned the punches, added low kick after low kick and several knees to the body. Sato must have thrown close to 50 knees in the round, and ended it with a right straight that buckled the Armenian's knees.
As expected, DRAGO didn't roll over in the next round. He came out hard and was as aggressive as ever. They stood near the middle of the ring, and exchanged knees and punches for almost the entire round.
In the final DRAGO came out harder than ever, and he landed 6 or 7 clean shots to the chin. It was looking like it might be an upset when Sato regrouped and went on the attack. He landed a knee to DRAGO's stomach that had him back all the way to the other side of the ring, and kept on the attack. Again, DRAGO came back at him, but it wasn't enough as the bell rang, and Sato got his revenge.
DRAGO said, "I think I used all of my energy in the first fight, so I had little left for this fight against Sato."
We finally have the fight we were supposed to see back in March of this year. Yoshihiro Sato vs. Giorgio Petrosyan. The difference is, this time they have already fought twice tonight, yet more importantly, this time they're fighting for the coveted title of K-1 World Max 2010 Champion. Once again, no one in MAX history has won the title twice in a row. Will Giorgio become the first? Sato selected his position in the tournament as the final fight, as he noted that is the position he has been in every time he has won a tournament. In World MAX, it is his first time making it this far though.
The fight began with them feeling out the distance, and Sato throwing the odd low kick. Petrosyan avoiding Sato's punches for the most part, but managed to power in several of his own that threaded through the guard.
Sato came out a little harder in the next round, but he certainly looked a lot more tired than Petrosyan. The Italian's boxing looked crisp, while Sato's low kicks all but faded away completely. He tried to keep up with the knees that brought him victory over DRAGO, but even they didn't seem to be the same, and they were getting countered.
Sato came out with everything he had in the final round, but "The Doctor" used his distancing perfectly to duck in and out of range ensuring he stayed out of danger while scoring some points. When the final bell rang, the judges' cards were barely needed as the look on Yoshihiro Sato's face told the entire story.
The first ever consecutive champion in K-1World MAX was final crowned. His Name, Giorgio Petrosyan. He said, "I don't know what to say. This year my goal was to become the first champion winning two belts in a row. Now, I truly feel like I have become number 1!"
In other bouts on the card: There was a -70kg Superfight of the night was between Yuya Yamamoto, and DREAM fighter Seichi Ikemoto. The MMA fighter promised to use strikes never seen before in MAX, and in the first round he used some double punches, scissor-kick takedowns, and something I can't even really describe. None of it was enough to stop Yuya from going to town on his body though, and the 13kg weight cut over 2 weeks probably left it more susceptible to damage than usual. He may well have interesting stand up for DREAM but Yuya decided to show him the difference between that and MAX level. He started by dropping him with a low kick. After that, and 8 or 9 punch combination. Once he got up off the canvas, the 2009 Best 4 fighter kept him against the ropes and flurried until the referee stepped in to save Ikemoto from taking any unnecessary damage.
In the ring Yuya then took to the microphone and said, "I want to fight at DYNAMITE, and I want to fight against Hong-man Choi."
Yuta Kubo was matched up against HIROYA in a very intriguing -63kg bout while the MAX fighters rested for their semi-final bout. They mixed it up very well, but HIROYA fell into the pattern of fighting at his taller opponents' idea range. He could barely land anything with his right side, while Kubo had free range with both hands and legs. But it wasn't only the distancing. He was having serious trouble with the face Yuta is a southpaw. HIROYA showed no ring-rust even though it was his first fight in 11 months, but his opponent was just too much for him tonight. Yuta was confident enough that he was mixing in his spinning back fists, Brazilian high kicks and jumping knees. HIROYA really had no answers, and the judges thought so too.
The opening bout saw 2 Kyokushin fighters face off against one another with their pupils. The legend Francisco Filho brought along Fabiano Da Silva, while the original Blue eyed Samurai, Nicholas Pettas was represented by the Canadian Jan Kazuba. As you'd expect, the fight opened with neither man will to give an inch, yet surprisingly both were replying on their hands more than the devastating low kicks. The second saw much of the same, with both fighters landing some serious leather, and the flow going back and forth between the two. In the final round Fabiano's body rips and right hooks started to take their toll, and Jan hit the canvas twice. He toughed it out until the final bell, though there was no doubt in the end which the winner was.
Shunsuke Oishi was bitterly disappointed at not being able to show his skills in his debut bout, and he was given an opening fight here against Makoto Nishiyama. He managed to show some good combinations and looked very light on his feet. Nishiyama is no push-over though, and by the end of the first round at least one judge believed he had taken it. In the second both looked a little looser. Early in the round Oishi came forward looking to pressure his 12-year-older opponent, only to have his punch slipped and be countered with a stiff right straight. Oishi threw a right hook after the impact, before falling to the mat in clear pain. He beat the count, but only to walk around looking out of it. The referee justly called it off.
The DREAM rules fight of the night was between Olympic gold medalist, Satshi Ishii and last minute replacement Katsuyori Shibata, after his original opponent Antz Nansen, was apparently stopped by the doctor for some reason. Shibata made quite a deal at the announcement yesterday about having the rules changed to K-1 rules due to the fact that Ishii's original opponent was a stand up fighter, and they were after all, fighting in the K-1 MAX ring. After saying he wanted to keep the rules as MMA, yet planned to stand and bang, Ishii wasted little time closing the distance, tying up, then taking down the 30lb lighter opponent. He passed guard, moved to north-south position, then transitioned into full-mount. From there, he simply took the left arm or Shibata, locked in a kimura and cranked like hell. Shibata had no choice but to tap.
Ishii later said, "I was told by those around me I had to finish the fight this time, so I had positive pressed." He went on to say he wants to become an actor the level of Ken Watanabe. Adding to the comment that we weren't sure whether to take seriously or not, he said he didn't want to fight on DYNAMITE!! because of the trouble with his opponent this time, and the fact that "Events Producer Mr. Tanikawa supposedly laughed at my hairstyle, and I felt hurt by it."
What an historic and dramatic event this was. It also seemed like each and every fighter on the card performed to the best of their ability, and many surpassed previous bests. If you didn't manage to see it live, check it out on HDnet coming up later in the month. And, keep checking back here for news and updates about MAX, as well as the upcoming K-1 World Grand Prix Finals. There will be news, information and giveaways coming soon!