K-1 WORLD GP 2003 FINAL ELIMINATION
Super Fight: Bjorn Bregy vs. Michael McDonald 1R 2:50. One of the tallest in K-1 vs. one of their shortest accomplished fighters. McDonald is a notorious slow starter, but what bothered me is his strategy. He had to get inside to make up for the huge reach disadvantage, but once he got there he stood right in front of Bregy doing very little. This worked once or twice, but all Bregy's offense is predicated on his knees or the threat of them. McDonald staying right in front of Bregy mainly allowed Bregy to beat him up from the clinch or just lift the knee into McDonald's chin without even having to clinch. Bregy put McDonald down almost immediately, and two more times in the first round for the 3 knockdown win.
K-1 WORLD GP 2003 Semifinals:
Carter Williams vs. Ray Sefo 2R. Pretty much what you get from K-1 right now are good fights while they last. As this was the typical slugfest, there were some big bombs by both guys but then one guy got injured and that was it. Williams has come on in a big way this year, and passed the test of the big arena and name opponent with no problem. He is very quick, but unlike too many guys in K-1 right now that are just sluggers, he throws impressive combinations and mixes his strikes up well. Sefo was one strike at a time outside of the one time he hurt Williams.
The problem with Williams is he got out of control. He kneed Sefo low twice and elbowed him in the face another time. Williams had legitimately swollen Sefo's eye more than 1/2 shut, but this elbow did the rest, which meant they went to the cards when Sefo couldn't continue (they could also have DQ'd Williams). I thought Williams had won both rounds, but his illegal tactics must have cost him because Sefo got a majority decision.
Peter Graham vs. Sam Greco 2R 0:30. The first round was pretty calm. Greco would throw a punch then tie Graham up. Greco must have had a preexisting injury because he was mysteriously injured kicking Graham early in the second and couldn't continue.
Alexey Ignashov vs. Mike Bernardo 2R 2:21. A battle of attrition for Ignashov. He wanted to kick low and defend high because there's no threat coming from headhunter Bernardo's feet. Bernardo won round 1, but Ignashov was slowing taking his legs out with the sweeps. Bernardo is going to knock you out if he's going to win, but by protecting himself and taking the safe but damaging kicks Bernardo was leaving open, Alexey was able to take Bernardo out in the 2nd. Bernardo seemed to give up after Ignashov knocked him down the first time. He probably knew he was just going to take more leg kicks and lose, but it looked really bad because he started selling after deciding he wasn't going to get up.
Peter Aerts vs. Jerrel Venetiaan 3R. Aerts has been riddled by injuries, but the single match format helps the aging legend greatly. He took a small step toward recovery here. Though he didn't look like peak Aerts, he still knows how to win. Obviously it helped that Venetiaan didn't look ready for the top opposition yet, but Aerts did what he had to do to win the rounds and get the unanimous decision.
Stefan Leko vs. Francisco Filho 3R. The basic problem with recent K-1 is they've moved away from any sort of technique and just want big bombers. No league wants too much defense, but it's like they want a league of Goodridge's with talent, and if not they'll settle for Goodrige or any big guy that has a name somewhere in the fighting world with toughman contests and American Gladiators perhaps even been good enough. The style they've switched to with guys like Hunt & Sapp replacing Hug is distressing. It's a lot of charging forward and throwing bombs or just exchanging bombs, all power and little skill. These matches can be more exciting, but too many matches of the same style is very dull, especially when the style is just about brute force.
Filho is one of the only traditional stylists left. He got off to a good start picking away at the charging Leko. The fight totally changed 1:20 into the round when Leko, with practically his first strike, low blowed Filho. Leko had been charging in as always, but after this he was charging in with his usual punch barrages for the rest of the fight. Filho showed some of his really impressive techniques, with his spinning hook kick being the highlight of the night for me because that's so difficult to pull off. However, Filho generally was not able to find any answer to Leko's dogged attack. Leko is very one dimensional, but since Filho couldn't take him out of that dimension or find any kind of counter for it, Leko was able to throw most of the blows, and subsequently also land most of the blows. Filho was gassed in round 3, which made things that much easier for Leko, who never slows down unless you slow him down. Leko won a unanimous decision.
Cyril Abidi vs. Francois Botha 1R. Botha was a late replacement, and possibly since he had no chance he just got disqualified right off the bat. He clocked Abidi when he was down from losing his balance, which caused some quick swelling. Botha should never be invited back, but they'll probably send the wrong message again. At least the fans chanted Abidi after it happened, but it was distressing that everyone close to the isle was trying to touch Botha or slap his hand after that underhanded disgrace.
Remy Bonjasky vs. Bob Sapp 2R. Our roid rage hero tried to push Bonjasky over the top rope to the floor literally 2 seconds into the match. This maniac may suck as a fighter, but some day he'll really hurt someone one way or another. And sadly, that'll probably somehow make him even "cooler" as it did with Riki Choshu.
When Bob Juice wasn’t busy breaking the rules, Bonjasky was exposing just how badly he sucks. It was sort of a kickboxing version of the classic Maurice Smith vs. Mark Coleman from UFC 14, except Coleman at least lost with dignity and class. Bonjasky covered up early and kept moving away to tire Sapp out. Sapp is slow with no footwork, attacking with big wide loopy punches he doesn't mix up, so Bonjasky, who is quick and has the best block in the sport, wasn’t getting hit often. Sapp doesn't have the stamina to charge consistently the way a Stefan Leko does, so Bonjasky had many opportunities to deliver his own offense. Basically if Sapp wasn't right on him, Bonjasky could kick Sapp.
Bonjasky's kicks quickly slowed the easy target. Not even 1 1/2 minutes into the first round, Sapp was gasping for air. Bonjasky connected with a major high kick at the end of the first round. Maybe Sapp doesn't go down as easily because of his enhanced size, but when the small guys get back up they are usually able to still move and do something. Even after the minute break between rounds, Sapp had not recovered.
The big spot was in the second when Bonjasky high kicked Sapp across the face, cutting his nose and perhaps toeing him in the eye. Sapp just turned away a little and bent over, perhaps because he couldn't see, allowing Bonjasky to put him down with a punch. After the 8 count, Bonjasky ran in with his second flying knee of the match. Sapp was about to lose, so the great role model pushed Bonjasky down and threw his hardest punch, a rabbit punch at that to make it doubly illegal. Forget that it ruined the match, Bonjasky is lucky Sapp's famed punching power is overrated because this was the kind of cheap shot you'd see in all those 80's martial arts movies that takes out the friend of the hero permanently and forces the hero out of retirement (or to learn how to fight if it's Kickboxer) to take care of the evil menace. What's even sicker than this gutless display is that Sapp, after he had a long rest, actually had the nerve to confront Bonjasky and basically say he'd continue if he was a real man but instead he was taking a cheap win that he wasn't good enough to earn. Those weren't his exact words, and since Sapp is such a cartoon character we can’t be sure this wasn’t another of his promotional gimmicks to build up a rematch. Even if Sapp was in character though, he pulled this stunt during the portion of the post match part where the fighters are supposed to congradulate each other, to show some respect and win or lose with grace and dignity. Even though Bonjasky had every reason to be furious, he wasn't badmouthing Sapp or trying to attack him, it was Sapp that initiated and Bonjasky trying to sooth Sapp's bruised ego. I don’t know what else to say beyond Bob Juice goes against everything martial arts is supposed to stand for.