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K-1 max 2007 final elimination

by Jason Nowe (Photos by S. Martinez) (jnowe@sherdog.com)

TOKYO, June 28 -- The road to the "Elite Eight" of kickboxing ran right through the Nippon Budokan tonight as K-1 held its 154-pound MAX series, with the winners of the seven tournament elimination bouts (plus one elected fighter) earning the right to duke it out in the finals to be held later this year.

Three former champions, Albert Krauss, Masato, Andy Souwer, as well as current champion Buakaw Por.Pramuk, were all in action.

The main event saw kickboxing and MMA worlds collide as 2003 K-1 MAX champion Masato went up against 2006 K-1 HERO'S lightweight champion Gesias "JZ" Calvancanti in the Brazilian's first venture into the K-1 MAX ring.

Both of these guys are no strangers when it comes to putting the lights out on their opponents -- Masato knocked out two fighters in the same night (Sakeddaw Kiatputon and Albert Krauss) on his way to the 2003 MAX title, while Calvancanti most recently put a beating on Nam Phan at K-1's "Dynamite!! USA."

Throughout this bout, Masato showed that he was by far the more polished kickboxer, landing multi-punch combinations and tagging his opponent with vicious low kicks. Calvancanti seemed to still have an MMA mentality, charging forward looking to land the one big punch. This may work when you're able to go for a takedown or clinch if you miss, but in the world of K-1 kickboxing this is not an option and you're left wide open.

Masato often got out of the way of the big right-hand haymaker and countered with combinations to the head and the body. At the end of the second round the Japanese kickboxer let loose with his hands against the ropes, while in the third he continued with the well timed counters and low kicks.

To his credit, Calvancanti did manage to rock Masato several times, hanging in there with one of the most dangerous kickboxers in the division, but in the end the Japanese fighter's combinations and kicks were too much for him. The fight went the distance and Masato took the well-deserved victory.

Thai wrecking machine Buakaw Por.Pramuk again showed why he's the most dominant fighter in K-1 MAX during his bout against Golden Glory's Nieky Holtzken.

The 2004 and 2006 MAX champion was calm and relaxed throughout, seemingly playing with his opponent in the first two rounds. The Thai fighter had a great defensive game, slipping punches and answering back with lightning fast kicks when the opportunity presented itself.

Buakaw continued to pick away in the third. At no time throughout the course of the fight did the champion's head get knocked back with punches, nor was he ever in any danger. The fight went to the judges and Buakaw took the unanimous decision.

2002 MAX Champion Albert Krauss was in desperate need of a win coming into tonight, suffering three losses in his last four starts. This time around the Dutch fighter squared off against IBF light middleweight champion Virgil Kalakoda.

Kalakoda, a boxer by trade, has really developed as a kickboxer since the last time he faced Krauss back in May of 2005. At that time, Krauss punished the South African fighter's legs with low kicks, but this time around Kalakoda nullified most of the kicks that Krauss threw at him.

Both of these guys did a tremendous job putting together devastating combos on both the inside and outside. Kalakoda scored stiff jabs from a distance and landed some well-timed left hooks to the head, while Krauss did a great job of linking his hands and feet together. Just as it seemed like one guy was starting to pull ahead, the other guy would rally back and turn the tables on the fight.

This fight was pretty even all the way until about the halfway point of the third, at which point Krauss really got the momentum going his way, slipping his opponent's punches and landing some big counters. In the last 10 seconds Krauss looked like the Teflon man, sliding past Kalakoda's punches to pin him in the corner. The fight went the distance and Krauss took the victory.

2005 MAX Champion Andy Souwer is typically a slow starter in his bouts, usually hanging back for the first round before coming alive and turning everything around in the second and third. Indeed it looked like this was to be the modus operandi in the opening moments of his bout against Ole Laursen, but then, seemingly out of nowhere, the Dutch fighter connected with a hellacious right hand in the corner, sending Laursen down to the mat for good at the 1:07 mark of the first.

Laursen was on the mat for quite a while and looked to be motioning to his leg once he came around. The Danish fighter had to be taken from the ring by a stretcher.

K-1 MAX 2006 and 2007 Japan tournament champion Yoshihiro Sato really used his reach advantage in his bout against Denis Schneidmiller, tagging his opponent with punches and kicks from the outside.

Schneidmiller was fast throughout and really came at Sato, but had trouble getting past the Japanese fighter's legs. Whenever he did make it to the inside, there were always Sato's sharp knees waiting for him. The fight went the distance and Sato took the unanimous victory.

K-1 MAX bad guy Mike Zambidis probably delivers the best body shot out of anybody on the promotion's roster at any weight. Not only are they powerful and accurate, the Greek fighter can link them into devastating combinations.

In his bout against Drago, Zambidis basically put on a body shot clinic, getting to the inside, especially in the later rounds, and unleashing thudding combinations to his opponent's midsection.

After three rounds, the fight was ruled a draw and an extra round was called for. Both fighters went non-stop for the final three minutes, throwing down a tremendous number of punches. Zambidis pushed forward and connected with tight punches, but paid a price for it as he suffered a cut over his left eye and swelling under the right.

By the end of the round it was Zambidis who landed the better shots. The fight went to the judges and Zambidis walk away with the victory.

Ukrainian fighter Artur Kyshenko was pretty much all over Korean Su Hwan Lee, connecting with hard combinations and low kicks. Kyshenko scored a standing eight-count off a big combo in the third, then finished his staggered opponent with a crushing left hook for the knockout victory.

With their victories, Masato, Buakaw, Krauss, Souwer, Sato, Zambidis and Kyshenko will move on to the finals. The last competitor in the eight-man tournament will be decided by K-1.

In separate contests, K-1 MAX 2004 and 2005 Japan tournament champion Takayuki Kohiruimaki basically destroyed Tsogto "Shinobu" Amara's legs with low kicks, taking the unanimous victory. Tatsuji dominated Andy Ologon with crisp boxing on his way to a decision victory. 

Information from Sherdog


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