LAS VEGAS, August 12, 2006 -- It was revealed today that American fighting star Brock Lesnar has reached an agreement to compete in the FEG-produced Hero's mixed martial arts series. Lesnar attended the University of Minnesota on a wrestling scholarship and took the 2000 National Collegiate Athletic Association title before making the move to the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where he captured the World Championship Belt.
Masato Extends World Max Win Streak
TOKYO, April 7, 2004 -- Defending K-1 World Max Champion Masato defeated Serkan Yilmaz in the main event of the K-1 World Max 2004 World Tournament at Yoyogi Stadium in central Tokyo. It was Masato's eighth consecutive win since late 2002, and capped off an event featuring 16 fighters from 12 countries battling in K-1's under-70 kg World Max class.In the card's first matchup, Greek-Australian Mike Zambidis took on Hayato of Japan. A kickboxer with a hard punch, Zambidis only just lost a narrow decision against Masato in July of last year.
In the first round, Hayato used his 13cm height advantage to rain high kicks down on Zambidis, and worked the knees when the distance closed. But Zambidis was very effective with his blocking, and launched rib crunching one-two body blows on the counter. In the second, the focused Zambidis got inside with some right hooks, uppercuts and a flying knee, and Hayato looked increasingly frustrated. In the third, Zambidis continued to pick his spots, and at the clapper got a right hook over and in to score a down. A comfortable unanimous decision for Zambidis, who has staked his place among contenders for the World Max Championship this year.
At the World Max in Tokyo tournament this February, Japanese kickboxer Takayuki Kohiruimaki dispatched Hayato, Kozo Takeda and then Serkan Yilmaz to take the title. In the second match here, Kohiruimaki faced Paulo Balicha of Switzerland, who was making his K-1 debut.
Both fighters were tentative in the early going, snapping in low kicks but unwilling to mix it up much. Balicha was more aggressive as the fight progressed, throwing a number of lunging right hooks and two smart spinning back kicks which rattled his opponent, before finishing the second with a good flying knee. In the third, Balicha was able to get past Kohiruimaki's guard with hooks, but late in the round Kohiruimaki rallied to effect. With the crowd cheering him on and his mother watching from the stands, the popular fighter charged toward Balicha, his knees pumping. When Balicha ended up in the corner absorbing a flurry of knees to the midsection, the referee moved in to call a standing count, which ended at the bell. That was what it took, as judges gave the win to Kohiruimaki by unanimous decision.
The next bout featured a couple of Muay Thai fighters, Shamil Gaidarbekov of Russia in his K-1 debut, and Brazilian Marfio "The Warrior Tiger" Canoletti.
This was a fairly even contest, both men getting hard low kicks in from the start, Canoletti trying, mostly in vain, to connect with his right straight punch. In the second, Gaidarbekov got through with some hard rights of his own, and although he was unable to sustain the attack, he did take the initiative here. The two traded strikes through the third, Gaidarbekov getting the best of it with a nice right straight punch. Although Gaidarbekov was assessed a yellow card for holding, judges saw him as the more aggressive fighter, and rewarded him with a narrow majority victory.
K-1 World Max 2002 USA Champion Duane Ludwig has become a formidable force on the World Max circuit, winning four of six since his debut. The All-American fighter's only losses have come against 2002 World Max Champion Albert Kraus and 2003 Champ Masato. Tonight he took on K-1 newcomer John Wayne Parr of Australia, who walked into the ring in army pants, a six shooter on his hip, and pulled off a major upset.
Both fighters came out swinging, and midway through the first Parr got a right straight through to score a down. The tough Ludwig stood his ground for the remainder of the first, but early in the second Parr put his opponent on the ropes and came in with a left-right combo to score another down. Ludwig frequently left himself open throughout this fight, and at the end of the second Parr once again got the right in for a down.
His left eye bloodied, Ludwig looked both frustrated and angry with himself as he tried to rally in the third, his arms flailing and his chin up and out. But here, again, Parr's counters were better than Ludwig's attacks.
Full credit is due Parr for his smarts in the ring, and it's a safe bet we'll be seeing more good stuff from this talented fighter. It was a lack of discipline that cost Ludwig here -- his only solace may lie in the thought that, for an American, there is no disgrace in being trounce by someone with the name 'John Wayne'.
Buakaw Por Pramuk of Thailand stepped in against Jordan Tai in the next contest. Tai, who trains at the prestigious Sefo Fight Academy in his native New Zealand, wanted to box here, but Pramuk had other ideas.
By midway through the first Pramuk was controlling the fight with his low kicks and knees from the clinch. In the second Tai again came in with big hooks, but a cool Pramuk was able to dodge these and continued to answer with punishing kicks and knees.
It was more of the same in the third, Tai sticking with the game plan in the hope that he could end it all with one good right hook. But Pramuk's defense was sound, and he threw some good high kicks to boot. Although Tai got a nice right high kick up to Pramuk's head at the clapper, it was too little too late, and the Thai fighter took a well-deserved unanimous win.
There was a single K-1 MMA rules fight on the card, which featured sometime-wrestler Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto and Tony Valente. Yamamoto's ruining of tough little Takehiro Murahama this February was one of the most impressive World Max debuts ever. Valente, meanwhile, is a colorful Las Vegas-based Kung Fu fighter. He sashayed into the ring to cool 70s soul beat, his flowing black velvet cape perfectly complementing a bulbous Afro.
Alas, after all the buildup, the fight was over in seconds. Before you could say "Go Kid Go," Yamamoto had throttled his opponent from behind for the takedown. He then squeezed his right arm around the neck to submit Valente with a sleeper.
Albert Kraus of the Netherlands captured the first World Max crown in 2002, and lost in the final to Masato in his repeat bid last year. In the penultimate bout here, he went up against Mongolian pro-wrestler and karate fighter Jadamba Narantungalag.
This was a thrilling battle, one of the best on the card. Both fighters had nifty moves from the start, Kraus his tight punch combinations, Narantungalag more flashy with ax and spinning kicks and the strike of the night -- a terrific forward flip that landed a heel dead center on the top of Kraus' head at the bell to end the first. Narantungalag got a left hook through early in the second to score a down, and Kraus looked in trouble as he only just beat the count. Narantungalag's spinning back kicks were good again, but late in the round Kraus got the Mongolian running with a punching attack that turned the tide.
Down on points, Kraus came out strong in the third, dancing light on his feet to stay out of harm's way, deftly working his right straight. With Kraus again chasing him round the ring, Narantungalag resorted to holding, and for this the ref issued him a yellow card. At the bell, one judge reckoned that Kraus had more than overcome the down, and put the Dutch fighter up by a point. The other two judges scored the fight a draw, sending it to an extra round.
Here Kraus was again the more aggressive fighter. Although Narantungalag threw some high kicks and punches, Kraus did not appear at all bothered by them. Narantungalag was increasingly fatigued, and when, at the clapper, he bounced lazily forward off the ropes, Kraus caught him square in the face with a solid right. It wasn't a down, but it did tip the scales and helped earn Kraus the win by unanimous decision.
Defending World Max Champion Masato is a celebrity in Japan, mobbed by fans when he appears in public. To thunderous applause, he entered the ring decked out in what can only be described as a marching band meets pop star outfit (in red with gold trim), to face the acrobatic Turk Serkan Yilmaz in the main event.
But Yilmaz had some flash of his own, and was spectacular with a spinning back kick early in the first, connecting with Masato's midsection and propelling the Japanese fighter into the corner. Yilmaz quickly came in with high kicks, but was unable to put Masato down. After the referee stepped in to break, Masato recomposed sufficiently to begin throwing hard low kicks. The agile Yilmaz launched a riot of trick kicks as the fight progressed, while Masato stayed meat-and-potatoes his low kick attack.
The more right low kicks Masato fired at Yilmaz's left leg, the more the Turk appeared to be smarting. With Yilmaz slowing down somewhat as the fight wore on, Masato had fewer flashy maneuvers to duck, and was able to focus on punishing his opponent's leg. As had happened in his February bout with Kohiruimaki, Yilmaz's lax blocking resulted in a bruised left leg and decreased mobility by the end of the bout. But Yilmaz did get a late rally going -- when Masato missed with a low kick he came back with a high kick that caught the Champion in the head for one of the best strikes of the third. At the final bell, both fighters pumped their arms in the air in anticipation of victory.
Although he was far from overwhelming here, the judges decided that Masato had inflicted more damage on his opponent, and so gave him the win by unanimous decision. (Many in the press room had expected the bout to go to an extra round.)
"I am not satisfied with my performance tonight," said a cheerless Masato in his post-bout interview. "I could see Serkan's spinning kicks coming, but I was not focused enough to block them. Also, yesterday I promised I would knock him out, but I didn't, so I want to apologize to my fans."
For all the flash in the ring, Yilmaz was demure in his interview. Commenting after the bout on Masato's KO promise: "I am a gentleman, so I don't come out and say I'll KO my opponent before a fight. I want to congratulate Masato, he is a very good technical fighter, and I would love to meet him again."
In undercard bouts, American fighter 'David' showed some spunk to floor Kang En of China three times in the second round and win by KO; while Frenchman Jean Scarbowsky emerged victorious after dueling through five rounds with Fuji Chalmsak of Thailand.
Special thanks to Monte Dipietro and K-1 for this write-up.
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