For most MMA fans, the weekend's non-stop MMA marathon of UFC 104 and DREAM 12 was already quite a feast.
For the dedicated followers of MMA and K-1, the weekend festivity ended with DREAM 12 but the marathon continued into a new week with K-1 MAX 2009 Tournament Final on Monday, Sept. 26. The event aired in North America on HDNet starting at 5 a.m. ET (perfect excuse to skip work on Monday).
At Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan, four finalists of the 2009 K-1 MAX Tournament vied for the crown and possible bid to challenge the retiring K-1 MAX icon, Masato, at Dynamite! MMA/K-1 hybrid event on New Year's Eve.
The tournament favorite, Giorgio Petrosyan, made a quick work of Yuya Yamamoto in the semi-final round. From the opening bell, Petrosyan picked Yamamoto apart from the inside and outside with superior technical striking. Yamamoto was clocked with a massive left hook early in the first round. Though he managed to get back to his feet and continue, Petrosyan swarmed him with a flurry of punches and scored a decisive KO at 2:09 of Rd. 1, proceeding to the final fresh and dangerous.
In the second tournament semi-final bout, the two-time K-1 MAX champions, Andy Souwer and Buakaw Por Pramuk, engaged in a furious war in hope of a triple crown at the end of the night. After three rounds, the bout was ruled a draw. In the extra rounds, Souwer eked out a split decision.
The tournament reserve bout pitted the 2006 and 2007 K-1 MAX Japan champion, Yoshihiro Sato, against the 2008 champion, Yasuhiro Kido. Sato landed a series of low kicks in the first round while Kido scored with jabs. Both fighters switched to a higher gear in the second round, picking up one knockdown each. Then they took the center of the ring for a fierce exchange: Sato emerged the winner with a right cross that shut off Kido's light.
Petrosyan and Souwer passed the medical inspection and met in the ring for the much-anticipated tournament final. Petrosyan, clearly the fresher of the two, aggressively pursued the battle-worn slow starter. Souwer started the second round with urgency but Petrosyan utilized his sound defense to avoid damage and dropped Souwer with a punishing combination. The combo also opened a cut that Souwer sustained earlier in the night against Pramuk. Petrosyan cruised to victory and earned his first K-1 MAX crown.
Upon the crowning of 2009 K-1 MAX Champion, the question regarding who Masato will face at Dynamite! was quickly resolved. Masato stated earlier in the night that he rooted for Souwer to win the tournament for the grudge match -- Souwer has defeated him twice in as many encounters -- to materialize; however, he did not hesitate to step into the ring and ask Petrosyan for the fight. The young Italian eagerly accepted, confirming the main event of the NYE card.
Also on the card, K-1 veteran, Kozo Takeda faced the inaugural K-1 MAX champion, Albert Kraus, for his farewell bout. The 37 year-old Takeda has enthralled K-1 fans over the year with his fighting spirit. After a relative inactivity during the last few years, he finally stepped into the ring for one last time.
Once again, he lived up to his warrior reputation by displaying his kill-or-be-killed fighting style. He countered Kraus' punches and landed his trademark low kicks in the first round. Even after absorbing a devastating low kick from Kraus, Takeda proceeded to the second round. Despite being picked apart at will, he fought courageously until the doctor forced a stop to the fight later in the round after checking the gash on his face.
K-1 MAX 2009 tournament final results:
#1 - K-1 Koshien Final 8 - 3R x 2 min.
Masaaki Noiri def. Keisuke Miyamoto via unanimous decision (3-0)
#2 - K-1 Koshien Final 8 - 3R x 2 min.
Shota Shimada def. Hiroki Akimoto via unanimous decision (3-0)
#3 - K-1 Koshien Final 8 - 3R x 2 min.
Katsuki Ishida def. Tsukasa Fuji via unanimous decision (3-0)
#4 - K-1 Koshien Final 8 - 3R x 2 min.
HIROYA def. Ryuya Kusakabe via split decision (2-1)
#1 - Super Fight - 3R x 3 min. (Ext. 1R)
Xu Yan def. Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima via KO (left hook) at 1:04 of round one
#2 - K-1 MAX Final 4 - 3R x 3 min (Ext. 1R)
Giorgio Petrosyan def. Yuya Yamamoto via KO (right hook) at 2:09 of round one
#3 - K-1 MAX Final 4 - 3R x 3 min (Ext. 1R)
Andy Souwer def. Buakaw Por.Pramuk via split decision (2-1) in extension round
#4 - Reserve Fitght - 3R x 3 min (Ext. 1R)
Yoshihiro Sato def. Yasuhiro Kido via KO (right hook) at 2:23 of round two
#5 - 62kg Super Fight - 3R x 3 min (Ext. 1R)
Jae Hee Cheon def. Kazuhisa Watanabe via split decision (2-1) in round three
#6 - Super Fight - 3R x 3 min (Ext. 1R)
Albert Kraus def. Kozo Takeda via TKO at 2:19 of round two
#7 - Super Fight - 3R x 3 min. (Ext. 1R)
Gago Drago def. Taishin Kohiruimaki via unanimous decision (3-0) in round three
#8 - Super Fight - 3R x 3 min (Ext. 1R)
Artur Kyshenko def. Toofan "Storm" Salafzoon via KO (right straight) at 1:50 of round three
#9 - Super Fight - 3R x 3 min (Ext. 1R)
HINATA def. Mike Zambidis via unanimous decision (3-0) in round three
#10 - K-1 World MAX 2009 Tournament Final - 3R x 3 min. (Ext. 2R)
Giorgio Petrosyan def. Andy Souwer via unanimous decision (3-0) in round three