Thursday, 1 May 2008

K-1 World GP Final 2006 - DVD Review

With Eurosport still failing to satisfy the needs of it’s K-1 and MMA fans, I’ve decided to take another look back at a past K-1 show. However, this time I won’t be reviewing a show I recorded off the television, this time I’ll be reviewing a DVD, the release of the K-1 World GP Final 2006, featuring the final eight man tournament to find the World GP Champion. The commentators for this one are Michael Schiavello and Mike Bernardo, so at least I won’t be getting constant comparisons between Pepsi and holy wine.

As usual with Japanese events, we begin with the parade of fighters, which gives us a look at the tremendous production values these shows have. The Japanese promotions do these things really well.
Then it’s onto the action, and we begin with the reserve fight featuring Musashi against Peter Aerts. I’ve become a big fan of the Dutch lumberjack over the past couple of years, so I think you can tell how much I’m looking forward to this one. It’s a slow start to the first round, before Aerts ups things a little, knocking Musashi down twice, with the referee stopping the fight after the second knockdown. An explosive start to the show, and another good performance from Aerts, making him the reserve fighter for the tournament.
Then it’s on to the tournament proper, and the quarter finals, with Jerome Le Banner facing the previous year’s winner, Semmy Schilt. Those of you who read my recent Hero’s reviews will know that I think Schilt is a much better at stand-up than he is at MMA. With the first round looking even, Schilt scored with a knockdown in the second with a high kick to the back of the head, but the Frenchman came back immediately when he scored with a hard left that visibly rocked Schilt. The third saw Schilt take full control of the round. Le Banner was able to get off the odd good shot, but didn’t follow up on his good work. All three judges gave the fight to Schilt, and rightfully so, as it was a top notch performance from the Dutchman here.
Next, Chalid “Die Faust” taking on the legendary fighter in his final tournament, Ernesto Hoost, in a battle of youth against experience. Hoost suffered a couple of scary moments in the first round, looking like he’d been knocked down when the referee ruled that he’d slipped. The old man asserted control in the second round, and although Chalid had his moments, Hoost was clearly the superior fighter with everything he did outshining the German, and it was the same in the third round as Hoost showed everyone just how it should be done. Again, Chalid had his moments, and it was enough to earn himself a draw, which saw the fight go into the fourth round, which Hoost again dominated. Then, the judges finally saw the fight that everyone else had been watching, as Hoost won the unanimous decision to set up a semi-final with Schilt.
Then it was on to Ruslan Karaev against Glaube Feitosa. This one looked like it would be a cracker on paper, and it didn’t last long. After Feitosa connected with an accidental low blow, the Brazilian connected with a left kick to the head before continuing with a combination that included several blows to the head and a knee to the rib cage. As Karaev slumped against the ropes the referee gave him a standing eight count, but it was obvious that the Russian just couldn’t continue, with the referee stopping the fight and awarding it to Feitosa. A blazing performance from the 2005 finalist here.
The final quarter final sees another Dutchman, Remy Bonjasky, facing the tough German, Stefan “Blitz” Leko. This one started quickly, but came to an abrupt halt as Leko caught Bonjasky with a low blow which doubled him up on the canvas. An extensive period of treatment followed, and it was soon revealed that Bonjasky couldn’t continue, and as both fighters left the ring, it looked as if they’d be given another shot to get this fight going later in the show.
Because of Bonjasky’s injury, the second reserve fight is brought forward, and it’s between Melvin Manhoef and Ray Sefo. Sefo’s original opponent was the giant Korean, Hong Man Choi, but he had to withdraw because of injury. It didn’t even last thirty seconds. A couple of combinations from both men before Sefo connected with a hard right that send Manhoef falling to the canvas and failing to beat the ten count. Explosive stuff from old Sugar foot here.
Then it’s back to the fourth quarter final between Leko and Bonjasky, although the Dutchman still looked in great pain at the beginning. So the fight began again, and Bonjasky looked good as he tried to get things going, but once again Leko connected with another low blow, this time a spinning back kick that doubled him over. This second low blow earned Leko a one point deduction. Again, Bonjasky took the three minute rest period, and continued with the fight, still in obvious pain. What was left of the first round saw Leko go all out, connecting with some good shots and kicks, with Bonjasky getting in a few good shots of his own. The second round looked to be all Leko, as he went all out with numerous combinations, while Bonjasky tried to counter with his kicks, and a good flurry as the bell sounded. Bonjasky upped his game in the final round, dropping Leko with a right to the jaw halfway through, earning the German a standing eight count, and the knockdown affected Leko to the extent that his performance just didn’t look as crisp in the final minute or so of the fight. Bonjasky did enough to get the unanimous judge’s decision, and he still looked in pain as he left the ring.
On to the semi finals, with Ernesto Hoost facing Semmy Schilt in an all Dutch affair. This was a veritable David v Goliath battle. No matter what Hoost tried, the nine inch height and sixty pound weight advantage that Schilt had proved too much for him as the giant seemed in control of the four time champion from bell to bell, and it was never more evident in the third and final round, as Schilt was able to do anything he wanted against the sentimental favourite. So with the fight going the distance, the judge’s decision was unanimous in Schilt’s favour, meaning that the legend that is Ernesto Hoost had fought his final match, and you couldn’t help but feel for him as the gathered thousands paid their respects to K-1’s greatest fighter with a standing ovation. A good performance from Schilt, and an emotional farewell for Hoost.
Before the start of the second semi-final, it was announced that Remy Bonjasky was unable to take his place in the fight because of injury. Normally, under K-1 rules, the man he beat, Stefan Leko, would have taken his place, but with Leko having sustained an injury himself, it was announced that the winner of the first reserve fight would be taking their place in the semi-final, with Glaube Feitosa now facing the Dutch lumberjack himself, Peter Aerts, much to the delight of the thousands in attendance. Feitosa rocked Aerts early on with a high kick to the head, but Aerts was able to recover quickly as both me had their moments in a good first round. Aerts really went to work at the start of the second, coming out like a house on fire with a barrage that Feitosa had no answer for and which saw him knocked down to the mat with a right hand/left uppercut combination, and even though Feitosa was able to make it to his feet, the referee called a stop to the contest, ruling that he was in no condition to continue. A great showing from Aerts in something of a fairy tale moment.
On to the super fight, with Paul Slowinski facing Badr Hari. A pretty even first round saw both men do their stuff, with Slowinski controlling the early parts of the round, before Hari took control with several good shots. Hari looked far better in the second, able to roll off the combinations at will, with Slowinski offering very little in reply. Hari’s tactics continued to work extremely well in the final round, with a straight kick sending the Pole back halfway across the ring, although that one was ruled as a slip rather than a knockdown. Hari was literally running rings around his opponent, with the judges awarding his near perfect performance with a unanimous decision.
On to the final, the second all Dutch affair of the evening, with Semmy Schilt facing Peter Aerts, with the winner becoming the World Grand Prix Champion. Aerts was clearly the sentimental favourite going into this one, as many hoped that he’d be able to pull of the fairytale victory. Aerts began this one in the same way that he began the last round he fought, almost jumping on Aerts as soon as the bell rang. He seemed to have the big man’s number until Schilt regained control moments later. The second round was just as explosive as the first, with Aerts again looking good and staggering Schilt, until the giant connected with his high knee which knocked Aerts down and earned him a standing eight count. Although stunned, Aerts came back well, although Schilt was able to counter everything the lumberjack threw at him, but towards the end of the round Aerts staggered the big man again. The third round followed type. Once again Aerts connected with punches and kicks that hurt the giant, but again Schilt was able to get in enough good shots and kicks of his own. So after three tremendous rounds of action, it went down to the judge’s decision, and despite putting up a great fight, Schilt was even greater as he was awarded the unanimous decision, winning the title for the second year in a row in what is possibly the best K-1 fight I’ve ever seen.
Only two DVD extras on this release, including the usual Beatdown DVD trailers, and the Countdown to Dynamite USA preview show.
In conclusion - watching this DVD has made me even more annoyed by Eurosport’s K-1 coverage. Let me explain.
The release for me is as near perfect as you can get for this sort of DVD. The production values, both in the arena and on the broadcast side of things are perfect. Commentators Schiavello and Bernardo do a tremendous job of calling the action. Okay, there are quite a few clich�s bandied about, but they make Will Wanders look a rank amateur. Watching this made me realise just how much Eurosport have butchered the footage they’ve broadcast before, with fights often shown out of sequence, and very little information being given on the fighters.
This DVD has opened my eyes. I’ve now seen what a K-1 show should be like. I’ve seen it in it’s full glory, and I’m now more of a fan than I was before.
As to the fights, not a bad one on here, and the moment where Peter Aerts was inserted into the tournament because of the injuries to Remy Bonjasky and Stefan Leko made for great drama.
So if you’re a K-1 fan whose only exposure to the sport has come from watching the Eurosport shows, forget them and start getting these DVDs instead. Trust me, it will feel like the mist has suddenly cleared.
To order a copy of this release, visit the MMA Universe site at www.mmauniverse.com.