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K-1 WGP Japan Tournament report

Again spoiler in the title. Article is called: "Titles Defended: Kyotaro & Semmy Victorious"

April 3, 2010 ? Yokohama Arena, Yokohama ? For the second time in just 2 weeks FEG was back at Yokohama for what turned out to be another exciting night of fights. At the FeiLDS K-1 World Grand Prix in Yokohama veterans were welcomed back to K-1, and others thanked for all they have done over the years. Titles were defended, and legends were dropped. This event truly had something for everyone.

It all began with the return of Sergii Lashchenko to take on Kyokushin representative Takumi Sato. The first round began with Sato powering in low and mid kicks, managing to keep the pigeon lover on the back foot for the majority of the round. With his midsection bright red, the Ukrainian came back in the first half of the second round with a punch combination that lasted almost a minute. It also winded him, and he spent the remainder of the round blocking attacks from the youngster from Yokohama. In the final round, neither fighter was willing to give an inch, however neither had the gas left to seriously pressure their opponent. Sato had Sergii moving back the entire round, but Sergii did so while firing off punches. The judges deemed those punches more effective than Sato's attacks to Sergii's body and legs, and Sergii squeaked by with the decision.

The 13cm height difference caused Gohkan Saki no troubles when dealing with his Japanese-speaking Indian opponent. He opened the bout with vicious low kicks and spinning back kicks, and looped his punches over Jaideep's guard. He had the Indian's nose sprinkling blood by the end of the first round, and really didn't let up until the final bell. Jaideep did everything he could to give Saki one or two back every time he was tagged, but Saki's experience really shined and he managed to avoid taking any serious damage himself. In the end all 3 judges saw the young Turk as the clear winner.

After a stare-down the likes of which we haven't seen in quite some time in K-1, a true New Generation vs. Veteran bout began. Jerome LeBanner took on Tyrone Spong. The Ernest Hoost trained Spong went directly for the midsection/left arm of the Frenchman with mid kicks. LeBanner blocked them well through, and threw some seriously dangerous combinations. Spong went to throw a step-up knee, and Jerome showed the world he still has the reflexes by drilling him with a punch that dropped Spong to the canvas. He jumped to his feet, with a slight wobble in his legs. LeBanner kept the pressure on, but despite that wobble getting worse, Spong held on until the end of the round. In the second round each fighter landed a similar amount, but it began to become apparent that LeBanner had stopped using his left arm. During the final round Spong managed to change the flow of the fight to go in his direction, and he repeatedly attacked LeBanner's left side with knees and mid kicks. LeBanner started to tire, and the stamina of the youthful Spong really helped him keep the pressure on. Even though Spong managed to land a high kick, some knees and clean punches, LeBanner toughed it out and the bell rang signaling the end of the war. The opening round down won the battle for LeBanner as he took the unanimous decision by 1 point on all cards.

K-1 newcomer Jzevad Poturak danced his way to the ring to face the 121.3kg Alistair Overeem. The Dutchman has said his Bosnian opponent was nothing more than a snack before the bout, and he lived up to his word. Albeit, a slightly gray-zone snack. After Poturak warmed himself up punch Overeem's guard, Overeem punched above the guard and he seemed to graze the head of Poturak and he went down awkwardly. He got to his feet after the 8 count and walked straight into in a clinch in which Overeem kneed him once to the body before kneeing 6 inches past the back of Poturak's head. As that knee attempted to go through the Bosnian's head, he found himself flat on his back with the referee quickly stopping the fight.

During the intermission there was a retirement ceremony held for the best Japanese heavyweight fighter to step in the K-1 ring. Musashi may have suffered in the ring more than he enjoyed. But, the man single-handedly carried the dreams of the Japanese fans and fighters alike for a full 15 years. Many of his peers, friends and supporters came out to pay their respect to the warrior. One of the most notable was former rival, Jerome LeBanner. The Frenchman, with tears streaming down his face, dropped to his knees in front of Musashi bowing and offering a bouquet of flowers. Musashi himself finally broke down after K-1 founder Mr. Kazuyoshi Ishii entered the ring and presented him with a pair of golden gloves. Musashi, doing his best to hold himself together took to the microphone to say he a few words. "I debuted in this very ring 15 years ago. The 15 years have passed by quickly. I began fighting in K-1 at just 83kgs. I had a hard time with several losses, and slumps I had to deal with. I am not a strong person. I was scared before stepping into the ring on many occasions. I had to constantly reaffirm with myself if I was really cut out for this." He went on to thank the fans, his supporters and family, and wished the other fighters all the best. Musashi, his brother TOMO, and his mother and father all fought back more tears as the gong was rung for the final time. Farewell to one of the true veterans of K-1.

For the first time since winning the Heavyweight Championship, Kyotaro put it on the line tonight. His opponent was Mr. K-1 himself, Peter Aerts. The Dutch Lumberjack weighed in at just 97kg for this fight, and was so eager to get to it that he made it ringside before the opening of his entrance music had even finished. After listening to the national anthem of each fighter, it was on. And it did not disappoint. I think everyone, including maybe even some of Kyotaro's team expected Aerts to run through the champion. Kyotaro himself had alluded to the fact that he wasn't very happy about having to fight Aerts. How wrong everybody was. Aerts started the fight pressuring as he always does. He landed some nice punches and low kicks, but Kyotaro was keenly looking for the counter like usual. And, he found it. In the final 40 seconds of round 1 he caught Peter with a right hand that dropped the legend. Aerts, as fully expected, fought his way to his feet to beat the count. The fight was restarted with just seconds left on the clock, and Kyotaro went for it. The bell rang, and Aerts dropped to the mat, hurt once again. After having a minute to recover between rounds, Aerts was once again very dangerous. Kyotaro was more dangerous tonight. The Japanese champion was aggressive in the second round, and as Aerts extended himself Kyotaro snaked in a solid right that caused Aerts to fall face first into the mat. He was clearly not all there and after a brief check, the referee called a halt to the bout. Kyotaro remained the somewhat unexpected Heavyweight champion, and he did so in style. He jumped from the ring in tears to grab a photograph of his recently passed away Grandmother, and carried it back into the ring before completely falling apart in mixed emotions.

In back to back title fights, the 4-time WGP and Super Heavyweight Champion, Semmy Schilt was set to fight fellow Golden Glory member, the Bone-crusher, Errol Zimmermann. If there was any doubt that these teammates would really go for it, they were laid to rest in the opening seconds. Semmy immediately started looking for Zimmermann's liver with front kicks, while Errol was throwing jumping punches trying to get over Semmy's guard. He landed one combination that Semmy shrugged off, before landing that wicked left jab and almost dropping Zimmermann. Semmy's jab and front kick pretty much controlled the pace of this battle, and intelligently he didn't even fall for Zimmermann's rope-a-dope. The Bone-crusher valiantly did everything he could, but Semmy showed us once again why it is he in the most decorated champion in K-1. Once the bout had ended, the judges were unanimous in their decision that Hightower had successfully defended his title.

The headlining fight of this event was between infamous bad boy, Badr Hari and the return of the Red Scorpion, Alexey Ignoshov. The outcome of this fight was near impossible to predict, and the tension around the arena electric. Badr was the first to attack, and his hands were a blur as a combination flew through the air. Alexey managed to bob, weave and slip the punches. Badr was piling on the pressure for the entire match, and the defense shown by both fighters was amazing to watch. However, in the second round Badr threw a flurry in which Ignashov lost balance and was fed a left through his guard. He slipped to a knee and was called down. He was a far from out though, and he got to his feet and continued to look for Badr's body with his mid kick. Badr is a tall order for anyone to beat though, and for your first fight in Japan in almost 5 years, it is perhaps as tall as orders can get. Despite Badr's best intentions and Alexey's hopes, the fight went through to the judges, and they decided the clear winner was of course Badr Hari.

In other fights on the night, Tsutomu Takahagi finally earned another win, and Prince Ali managed to get the nod from the judges.

If you didn't watch this event live, make sure to check your local listings to find out when it is going to be replayed in you area. The title fights alone would usually be worth the effort, but fighters on this entire card from top to bottom really delivered.




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Alexey Ignashov

Alistair Overeem

Badr Hari

Dzevad Poturak

Errol Zimmerman

Gokhan Saki

Jerome Le Banner

Keijiro Maeda / KYOTARO

Peter Aerts

Semmy Schilt

Sergei Lashchenko

Singh Heart Jaideep

Takumi Sato

Tyrone Spong

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