Wednesday, 24 October 2007

K-1 World Grand Prix Final 2005 - Retro Review


Seeing as how Eurosport is failing to feed my appetite for new K-1 shows, I’ve decided to delve into my personal archive, so for this edition we’re looking back at Eurosport’s coverage of the 2005 K-1 World Grand Prix Final from the Tokyo Dome. Our commentator for the evening is Will Vanders, which means there’ll be plenty of comparisons between Pepsi and holy wine, as well as countless other “Vanderisms”. But that’s just something I’m going to have to put up with.
The first tournament quarter final sees the giant Hong-Man Choi of South Korea facing Dutchman Remy Bonjasky, winner of the two previous tournaments, and one of the sport’s most prominent fighters. This was one of those David v Goliath battles where you knew that David would come out on top. Choi got off some good combinations, but looked rather ungainly in doing so, as Bonjasky kept the distance well by snapping off numerous kicks to Choi’s left leg. The Dutchman’s tactics proved spot on. With the fight going the three round distance, the judge’s awarded him the unanimous decision, a well earned victory for his superior tactics.
The it’s on to another Dutchman, Semmy Schilt, as he goes up against Ray Sefo of New Zealand. Schilt is another giant of a man, standing just a shade under seven foot tall, while Sefo is one of those tough as nails fighters you can’t help but like. Sefo went into this one suffering from a flu bug, and with a near one foot height disadvantage. Sefo looked completely out of sorts here, but then again Schilt was totally dominant throughout, using a perfect combination of speed and power against the veteran. In the end, Schilt got the decision, but given his display there was really only one outcome.
The third quarter final is something of a dream match, as the Dutch lumberjack Peter Aerts went up against Frenchman Jerome Le Banner, star of the film Scorpion. Aerts, a three time former champion, and the only man who had been in each and every finals tournament since K-1’s inception, went into this one planning to centre his attack on Le Banner’s injured left arm. This fight looked just as good in real life as it did on paper. Both fighters looked awesome, with Aerts in particular on top of his game plan, really turning things up towards the end of the third round as he bloodied the Frenchman’s nose and sent his gum shield flying with a hard right. The fight was so close that the judges couldn’t separate them after the mandatory three rounds, so an extra round was called for. Le Banner looked totally shattered, as did Aerts, but the Dutchman looked to have the advantage as he kept on working throughout, and it was enough to give him the decision in what was an awesome display.
The final quarter final sees the only Japanese fighter in the tournament, Musashi against Russia’s Ruslan Karaev, a young fighter who seemed to come from out of nowhere with a series of impressive showings. An accidental clash of heads saw Musashi on the canvas early on, but both fighters put in good accounts for themselves as time went on. Karaev looked tremendous in the second round, while Musashi upped things quite a bit in the following round. The fight became a slugfest as the final bell sounded, we got another tie-breaker as once again the judges couldn’t separate them score wise. It was pretty much the same in this round, although a second clash of heads did slow things down a little towards the end, with Karaev getting a warning, but not a point deduction, from the referee. In the end Musashi got the decision, and one couldn’t help but feel disappointed for Karaev. It made me wonder if the decision would have gone the Russian’s way if it hadn’t been in Japan.
With the semi-final brackets decided, it’s time for the reserve fight as Brazil’s Glaube Feitosa takes on Canada’s Gary Goodridge. Those of you who have read my recent K-1 Hero’s reviews will know that I find Goodridge to be something of an enigma, mainly because I keep hearing how good he is, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him win a fight. Big Daddy looked totally out of sorts in this one. Although he managed to put together a few good combinations, Feitosa controlled the fight from the first to the closing bell with an excellent display of kickboxing, even knocking out Goodridge’s gum shield and one of his front teeth with a kick to the face. In the end Feitosa got the unanimous decision, which really wasn’t a surprise. So will I ever see Gary Goodridge get his hand raised in victory?
On to the first semi-final, and the battle of Holland as Semmy Schilt faces off against Remy Bonjasky. Schilt was on top from the beginning, so much so that there was little that Bonjasky could do against the constant barrage of punches, kicks and knees. Having already been knocked down once, it was a Schilt knee to the head that secured the win, with the referee stopping the fight. Another impressive showing from Schilt here, looking totally unstoppable.
With Peter Aerts having withdrawn from the tournament with a rib injury, Musashi now faced Glaube Feitosa. Feitosa carried on from where he’d left off against Goodridge, controlling the fight from the outset. A right cross sent Musashi crashing to the mat in the first round, and a flying knee strike knocked him out in the second, meaning that the reserve was now in the final against Schilt.
Then it was on to the final - Schilt v Feitosa. Sadly, Feitosa’s Cinderella-like dream didn’t continue. Schilt dominated from the beginning, and in the first minute a left knee from Schilt knocked him down and sent him sprawling over the ropes. Schilt had won the tournament with an awesome display in three matches. A well deserved triumph.
In conclusion - the K-1 World Grand Prix shows are awesome events. The atmosphere is electric, and the fighting top notch. These are some of the greatest martial artists in the world, and is a pleasure to watch them, even though I have to put up with Will Vanders’ awful commentary.
I think it’s a great shame that fans in Britain no longer get to see these events on Eurosport anymore, and as it looks unlikely that K-1 will return to Eurosport’s schedules anytime soon, I guess I’ll just have to make do with the shows I taped, or try to find a new supplier.