October 3, 2010 - Seoul, South Korea - Hot off the heels of the K-1 Final 16, part 2 of the Double Impact Final 16 takes place. At -63kg and -70kg these athletes might not have the size of those in the preceding night, but they more than make up for it with speed, technique and heart. Similarly, the crowd might not have been as big, but they were far more appreciative of the passion with which these warriors fought, and were amazingly even more vocal.
The event kicked off with the entertaining Fire Harada taking on a game little 17-year old in Tae Hwan Kim. Don’t let the age fool you though, as Kim had some serious kicking skills and he put them on display for the crowd. In fact, Fire had already eaten a good number of low kicks before he managed to get his own distancing down. It was not long after the halfway point in the opening round that Fire hit the mat. He got to his feet in clear pain, and the back of his right leg was already various shades of purple. After 2 or 3 more well-placed lows he went down again, and for a third time just as the bell rang ending the round. Unfortunately for Fire, that was it as 3 knock downs within a single round becomes a TKO loss.
The second bout of the card put -63kg finalist Saiga Kizaemon against Sung Hyun Lee. As the round opened Lee quickly used his deceptive reach to catch the Japanese fighter when he probably felt that he was out of striking distance. The whole time he peppered Saiga’s front leg, and dropped his left to the body every chance he got. Saiga came back strongly in the latter half of the round, but Lee left the stronger impression. In the second round Lee came out on fire. His work rate was through the roof, and the body punch found its mark. Just before the midpoint, Saiga went down to a liver shot and the look on face told the story. He beat the count but remained standing only long enough for a hook to find his jaw at the end of a lengthy combination. Again, the Japanese fighter made it to his feet before the count concluded, but only to then be on the receiving end of yet more flurries until the bell rang. In the final round Saiga threw a hundred knees at Lee, but none had the power there to do enough damage. He knew he needed a knockout to win, but despite drawing Lee into a brawl he couldn’t get the upper hand, let alone the KO. As the bell rang is became clear to all that the second Korean teenager in a row had beaten his Japanese opponent.
Keeping up the Korea vs. Japan Superfight theme, Hideaki Kikkawa took on Korean’s most famous MAX fighter, Chi Bin Lim. This fight took place at a special 67kg weight. Soon into the round the experience Lim has in the ring started to shine, and his boxing combinations was just a thing of beauty to watch. In the second, the Japanese K-1 debutant seemed to have settled in a little more, and was performing better. He was making good used of his knees and managing to land the inside low kick to the back leg. To keep him on his toes though, Lim decided to mix things up by constantly changing from orthodox to southpaw stance. Doing this helped him to land even more of his hands. Honestly, at this stage of the fight he has never looked so good in K-1. Kikkawa was not about to lay down though. He spent all 3 minutes of the last round moving forward and trying to get the knockout. He brought it to Lim, but the Korean had an answer for everything. The final 20 seconds saw the Japanese draw Lim into a slugfest, and rather than play it safe, Lim obliged him right up until the final bell rang. The crowd were on their feet screaming. The winner was the local boy, but they appreciated the heart shown by the guest fighter too.
The next 2 fighters were both having their first fight in K-1. Korean Woo young Choi was taking on Thai fighter, Pajonsuk Super Pro Samui. In comparison to the prior three bouts, the pace was brought way down as Pajonsuk closed down most of Choi’s offense, while throwing single strikes at 200% power. The Thai picked up the pace slightly in the second round, and powered that leg through Choi’s legs and midsection. Choi managed to land a few glancing shots when trying to rush through Pajonsuk’s kicking range, but nothing as big or as powerful as he was being hit with at the same time. In fact, one of those shots, a left, dropped him to the canvas for an 8 count. In the third round we finally saw the pace that we are used to in MAX, and it was all Pajonsuk. He just picked the Korean apart with a smile on his face like a torturer that took great pleasure in his chosen field of work. Finally, the bell mercifully put Choi out of his misery, and gave Pajonsuk the right to return to Thailand.
In the one Dream rules fight on the card, Jun Hee Moon took on the Kyokushin MMA fighter, Andrews Nakahara. As the fight began, it was clear that Moon didn’t want to stand with the striker. Having aid that, he couldn’t get him down. He decided to pull guard, and Andrews pushed him into the ropes to take off some of the bodyweight. In a scramble it hit the mat and Andrews placed him in a front choke, and proceeded to knee the Korean in the head. Moon got to his feet, but only long enough to have 2 tackles foiled before being slammed to the mat ad pounded on. He eventually managed to grab Andrews’ heel, yet the karateka defended the submission with ease. The rolled for a short time before Andrews took it back to the feet and kept it there hurting his opponent until the round ended. In the second round the Korean managed to get the fight down, and again went for the leg. He tried to extend Andrews’ achilles, but had no luck at all. He went for shoot after shoot, and while he managed to look good while setting up submissions, Andrews had no problems defending them. In fact, the better submission attempts may have actually come from the stand up fighter. The butt-scouting at the end of the bout may well have been the final nail in Moon’s coffin, as even Andrews seemed to roll his eyes. The judges all agreed that the Korean didn’t come close in this one, and Andrew Nakahara won the bout.
Mike Zambidis and Chahid almost started their Final 16 bout during the stare-down. The referee pulled them apart, but only until the bell rang to start the fight. They went at each other, hard. At the end of the first round both had bright red stomachs and purple coloring down the sides of their heads. The power each threw with in the first round alone must have been enough to power a middle sized city. In the second it appeared as though Mike’s body shots were taking their toll, as he used them to score 2 knock down over Chalid. The Moroccan didn’t make his way all the way to Korea only to give up though, and he came back hard, threading a left hook through Mike’s guard to score a knock down of his own. In the final round the 2 of them stood near the center of the ring and basically beat the stuffing out of each other. I’m not sure if Chahid’s liver area was changing color faster than the inside of Mike’s left thigh or not, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be either of them tomorrow. The fight ended and it went to the cards. The crowd was going wild, and that reached the next level when the judges called for an extra round. Chahid came out with his guns blazing. Mike was a little more patient, and it paid off. A nicely placed shot had caused Chalid to face-plant hard. No one could ever accuse him of having a lack of heart though, as he stood up and immediately told the ref he was right to go. He fought back hard but was just on the verge of being finished off when the bell, rather than Mike, ended the fight. This time it was clear who the winner was and Mike Zambidis will make his way to the Final 8. Without doubt this was the MAX fight of the night, if not the year.
Artur Kyshenko came out next looking to cement his place in the Final 8. Mohamed Khamal was here to try and stop him though, and in the first round he showed to everyone that he just might be able to do so. Though he is the shorter fighter, he seemed to have a longer reach, and was far faster than Artur in the opener. The judges all agreed awarding him with an unusual 10-9 round. That might have woken Artur up, as in the second round the Ukrainian finally began to fight as we have come to expect from him. His boxing and knees seemed to come easier, but Mohamed stayed in the pocket the whole time, and right in Artur’s face. They went into the final round with Artur needing a knockout to win. Sadly for him, stamina is always one of his weaker points and try as he may, he couldn’t match the pace of Mohamad and didn’t really come close to stopping him. To add insult to injury he got cut under the left eye late in the round. The judges announced who we knew was the winner, Mohamad Khamal.
The second Thai fighter on the card, Sagadpet, made his way out next to try to qualify for his first MAX Final 8. He face Polish fighter, Michal Glogowski. Sagadpet came out from the start with very nasty intentions, and his work rate was high. Michal was more than accommodating and they went to town with their hands. An accidental head butt split Michal’s right eyebrow open, and it was deep. The doctors checked it and said it was fine to continue. They restarted and Sagadpet intelligently went straight for the cut. He might have focused on it just a little too much though, as he left himself open for a counter and got dropped on his butt by a left hook.. As with most Thai fighters though, he came back significantly harder in the second round, and he was a beast. Knees, kicks at every target and surprisingly dangerous hands flew, and the combination put Michal on Queer Street. A standing 8 count was called, and after beating it Michal managed to use his jab long enough to keep distance and recover. Going into the final round they were sitting on 18-18 and it was anyone’s fight to win. The will to win from both of these fighters was impressive. Neither backed down at all, and when the round ended the crowd screamed with hopes of seeing an extra round. That is exactly how the judges saw things too, and the cheering got even louder. Oddly enough the pace dropped off significantly in this round. Both were more cautious of losing now they had made it this far I assume. There were less combinations, and more single shots, right up until the last 50 seconds or so. Michal took a chance and went for it. He moved in aggressively firing his hands at the Thai. It wasn’t exactly beautiful, and he was getting countered some of the time, but he kept it up until the end of the round. The judges were split. 1 of them thought Sagadpet had done enough, while the other 2 put Michal Glogowski through to the Final 8.
The reigning World MAX Champion was finally in the ring again. Giorgio Petrosyan was here to face the 15cm-taller Vitaly Hurukou. Vitaly tried using his height and reach to his advantage, but as Giorgio’s illusiveness began to get to him he repeatedly, and repeatedly clinched. He really turned it into a messy bout, and was warned in the first 2 rounds for that clinching. Giorgo didn’t let it get to him though. The “Doctor” delivered his brand of medicine before clinches and scraps, and the damage slowly started to build up. The Italian’s punches began finding their target midway through the second, and did so with more frequency in the third. Given the style of his opponent, it was an impressive showing of patience and accuracy from Giorgio, and the judges all agreed even without the point deduction Vitaly incurred for the excessive clinching.
The headliner of the night was between hometown hopeful, Su Hwan Lee, and the Armenian dancer, DRAGO. Lee started with a good pace, and he had DRAGO keeping his guard high in the opening minutes. DRAGO was peeking between his gloves though, and biding his time. When the opening was there, he went for it and drove in some nice body shots. He kept these up until Lee’s own guard began to falter, and then introduced his gloves to the Korean’s chin. Lee hit the ground, and got back to his feet on very shaky legs. He told the referee he was fine to continue, but luckily for him the bell signaling the end of the round. The second round commenced much as the first did, though DRAGO was a little less cautious, and was more vicious with those rips to Lee’s body. They got the same reaction, and DRAGO drilled him. The sheer determination from Lee not to go down was impressive, but it may have caused him more damage in the end. DRAGO, not being able to drop him with his hands, hefted up a nice roundhouse that damn near knocked the Korean’s head off. Su Hwan Lee dropped hard, and made no signs of even trying to get back to his feet. The referee didn’t wait for the 10 count thankfully. The fight was called, and medical assistance was quickly called.
What an event. One of the most action-packed fighters in MAX history between Chahid and Zambidis; some awesome rookies in Pajonsuk, Mohamed, Michal and again Chahid; and, the return to form of DRAGO and Chi Bin Lim. Yoshiro Sato, Albert Kraus, Yuichiro Nagashima, Mike Zambidis, Mohamed Khamal, Michal Glogowski, Giorgio Petrosyan and DRAGO have all finally qualified for the Final 8. Considering the excitement of the 2 qualifying events, the upcoming 1-day tournament promises to give even the most exciting earlier GP’s a run for their money.
Damn. Really surprised Kyschenko didn't manage to go to the Final 8.