Saturday, 13 June 2009

K-1 World GP 2007 in Seoul: The Final 16 - DVD Review

With Eurosport continually failing to supply my regular fix of K-1 kickboxing action, I’ve once again decided to turn to a DVD release, courtesy of MMA Universe. So in this review we’ll be going back in time to 2007, and the K-1 World GP 2007 in Seoul: The Final 16, with sixteen men, among the likes of “Sugarfoot” Ray Sefo, “The Dutch Lumberjack” Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt and the giant Hong Man Choi looking to move on to the final eight in Tokyo.
After the always impressive opening ceremony, it’s on to the first fight, with the giant Kim Young Hyun facing former pro wrestler Ryushi Yanagisawa. Hyun, standing over seven feet tall, had a massive height and weight advantage over his opponent. This was an impressive debut from Hyun here. He showed great kick boxing skills throughout, particularly with his outside leg kicks, and whenever Yanagisawa went on the offence, his shots didn’t phased Hyun at all, and as the fight went on it looked like Yanagisawa would have more luck attacking a brick wall. Hyun knocked Yanagisawa twice, one which wasn’t scored, and it was his overall performance that won him the unanimous judges decision. A very enjoyable fight.

Then it was on to the elimination fights, with the winners going on to the finals in Tokyo, beginning with Badr Hari, taking on Doug Viney. Once again the man from Holland via Morocco showed what a great fighter he is. With the first round looking pretty even, Hari upped his game from the off in the second round, with a hard right landing on Viney’s jaw that sent him crashing to the mat and failing to beat the ten count. Hari had the victory and a place in the final eight in another good fight. One couldn’t help but feel sorry for Viney though, having shocked everyone by winning the Las Vegas GP that year as an alternate.

Next up was Semmy Schilt, going up against Paul Slowinski. This one began well for both men, with Slowinski in particular looking impressive. But these fights can turn in a split second, and a high knee from the tall Dutchman, straight into Slowinski’s face sent the Australia down, and although he beat the ten count, the referee saw enough to call the fight off, with Schilt earning his spot in Tokyo, and Slowinski getting a broken nose for his efforts. Another great performance from Schilt, who’s impressed me more in kickboxing than he ever has in MMA.

The third Dutch fighter in a row followed, with Remy Bonjasky taking on Stefan “Blitz” Leko. These two had quite a bit of history between them, so it was no surprise that this was billed as a grudge match. These two went at it from the first bell, with Leko earning an early warning for an inadvertent low kick. The fight soon continued in the same vein, with a jumping knee knocking Leko down. The German managed to bear the count, but then, to everyone’s amazement, the referee called the fight off. Leko immediately began to argue with the referee, and it was hard not to feel sympathy for him, given that he looked okay.

The Dutchmen took a rest with the next one, as Glaube Feitosa went in with Chalid Die Faust. This was a tremendous fight. Feitosa had Chalid down twice in the first round, first with a knee to the jaw, and the second with a stinging jab. But Chalid soon fought his way back, and this was the way throughout the rest of the fight. Whenever Feitosa got the upper hand, Chalid would soon fight his way back. It really was a back and forth affair. So with the fight going the three round distance, it was down to the judges, who gave their unanimous decision to Feitosa. If Chalid hadn’t been knocked down twice in the first, he may just have nicked it.

France’s favourite fighter was up next as Jerome Le Banner, who recently made his return to professional boxing after a ten year absence, facing Yong Soo Park. This was a blink and you’ll miss it affair. Both men came out swinging, but it wasn’t long before Le Banner’s big right sent Park crashing to the canvas, unable to answer the count. Another impressive performance from the Frenchman here.

It’s an all Japanese battle next, with Yusuke Fujimoto and Junichi Sawayashiki. This certainly was a very interesting fight. The first round saw Fujimoto bloody Sawayashiki’s nose, which resulted in two trips to see the ringside doctor. Fujimoto kept the upper hand for the remainder of the round and into the second. But then Sawayashiki came back into the fight big time, opening a cut above Fujimoto’s right eye, and putting him down on the canvas twice in quick succession. The third round brought much of the same, with Fujimoto going down three times, and with K-1 using the three knockdowns and you’re out rule, that was the end of the fight, with Sawayashiki earning the win with a tremendous comeback.

Then it was on to the fight I was really looking forward to, as “The Dutch Lumberjack” Peter Aerts took on Ray “Sugarfoot” Sefo. Sefo came into this one having not trained for the two previous weeks because of illness, and it showed in his performance here. Sefo went down three times thanks to Aerts’ trademark kicks, although only one knockdown was counted. But at the end of the first round Sefo went back to his corner and went down on his knees, almost throwing up, and when the bell for the second round sounded, Sefo’s corner threw in the towel. Although this was a good performance by Aerts, one couldn’t help but feel a great deal of sympathy for Sefo.

The final fight saw the Korean giant Hong-Man Choi face Mighty Mo. This was the re-match that everyone was waiting for, as Mo had become the first man to knockout Choi in their first encounter. The one definitely lived up to the hype. With the first round looking pretty even, Choi caught Mo with an inadvertent low kick in the second. However, for some unknown reason the referee administered a count to Mo. This spurred Mo on, as he caught Choi with a few good shots, despite getting caught with another groin shot. The final round saw Mo constantly looking for the overhand right, and in some instances connecting, but every time Mo came forward Choi was able to defend and get in some clean shots of his own. So with the fight going the distance, it was down to the judges again, with Choi getting the split decision, ending the show with a very exciting fight.

DVD extras come in the form of two bonus fights, Kim Min Soo v Randy Kim & Kyoutaro Ranger v Kim Suk Kyoung, as well as numerous trailers for other Beatdown DVD releases.

In conclusion - the commentators described this as the best K-1 show of 2007, and they’re right. Nine fights on the main show, and none of them disappointed, and while there were some questionable refereeing decision, there were also many great performances here, with Jerome Le Banner’s demolition of Yong Soo Park the highlight of the show for me.

So if, like me, you’re fed up with Eurosport only putting K-1 shows on it’s high definition channel and on it’s internet service, which you have to pay a monthly fee for, then start getting these shows on DVD. Besides, one other advantage is that you won’t have to put up with Will Vanders shockingly poor commentary any more!

K-1 World GP 2007 in Seoul is available to buy via www.mmauniverse.com.