The 17th annual K-1 World Grand Prix is now officially in the books.
In front of the crowd of nearly 20,000, the monumental world class combat sport event delivered more than it promised.
The potential grudge matches and hostility among fighters turned up the heat to a boiling point in the pre-fight press conference. The ill will and hunger for victory exploded come fight time, as the sold-out crowd at Yokohama Arena witnessed a series of quick, explosive finishes.
As the HDNet commentator and international voice of K-1, Mike Schiavello said, no K-1 event in recent history had as many quick finishes as the K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 Final: Truly a remarkable way to cap off the year.
Let’s get right to the fight-by-fight commentary for the night of action after the jump.
K-1 World GP 2009 Tournament Reserve Bout 1: Peter Aerts vs. Gokhan Saki
Peter Aerts, the "Mr. K-1" squares off with Gokhan Saki to kick off the night of action.
Aerts pushes the pace and Saki counters with speedy punch-kick combos in the very even first round.
Aerts turns up his aggression a notch in the second round with the body kicks. Saki again counters with leg kicks and hard-hitting punch-kick combos. Aerts’ pace seems to relent toward the end of the round and the speedier Saki starts to assume the driver’s seat. With less than thirty seconds left, Aerts puts on an exclamation mark with a right straight down the center on Saki’s jaw: Saki barely rebounds and lets the clock run out.
Aerts is ready to finish the fight in the third round: He swarms Saki with punch combinations and complementary kicks to the midsection. Saki obliges in the exchange, going for broke with spinning back kick and fists. He remains aggressive with punches but unable to land a clean shot.
All three judges give the nod to Aerts as the "Dutch Lumberjack" holds out hope to get back in the Final Eight for the umpteenth time.
K-1 World GP 2009 Tournament Quarter-final: Badr Hari vs. Ruslan Karaev
Karaev comes out with aggressive punch combinations. He swarms Hari with a flurry of punches and Hari obliges with wild hooks of his own: A fierce slugfest ensues to kick off the opening frame. Hari knocks down Karaev with a hook to the temple.
Karaev stands up but Hari continues his machinegun onslaught of punches and clips Karaev with a right straight for a fight-ending knockdown. Hari is on fire and sends an emphatic reminder to the rest of the Final Eight finalists about whom they must face to clinch the tournament crown.
K-1 World GP 2009 Tournament Quarter-final: Ewerton Teixeira vs. Alistair Overeem
Texeira comes out ready to attack from the distance. Teixeira snaps a nice series of leg kicks, but Overeem has a plan of his own: In one fell swoop, Overeem’s devastating knee kick combos – first to the body and second flush on the jaw – from the clinch ends Teixeira’s night early. Overeem tops Hari’s quick KO with an even quicker finish: An imminent showdown between these completely unscathed arch rivals in the making!?
K-1 World GP 2009 Tournament Quarter-final: Semmy Schilt vs. Jerome LeBanner
LeBanner closes the distance and attacks with a left straight. The towering Schilt counters with jabs and low kicks and knocks down LeBanner with two consecutive body kicks for yet another quick KO victory of the night.
If this is indeed LeBanner’s last hurrah in K-1 World Grand Prix, the ending could not have been more anticlimactic and deflating. As for the Final eight tournament, the battle for the crown has only begun.
K-1 World GP 2009 Tournament Quarter-final: Remy Bonjasky vs. Errol Zimmerman
Zimmerman is unable to pull his trigger in the first round. The normally impetuous, brawling Zimmerman is tentative and none of his combinations lands clean. Bonjasky drops Zimmerman with a well-timed right straight as Zimmerman tries to close the distance with a flurry of punches.
Zimmerman picks up the slack in the second round in an attempt to force Bonjasky into a brawl. Both fighters land good combos and Zimmerman is relentless with his pressure. Bonjasky, however, remains unfazed and sticks to his cerebral way. Bonjasky frustrates Zimmerman with his superior defense and starts unloading with punches toward the end of the third round.
Bonjasky clinches the unanimous decision after three rounds: He has a tough going for the rest of the night, as all the other semi-finalists barely broke the sweat in the quarterfinals.
K-1 World GP 2009 Tournament Reserve Bout 2: Daniel Ghita vs. Sergei Kharitonov
From the first round, MMA standout and K-1 debutant, Sergei Kharitonov looked out of his element against the leg kick fiend, Daniel Ghita. Ghita put on a K-1 clinic in the first round, pulverizing Kharitonov’s legs with his trademark kicks and not allowing him to mount any offense besides pawing with jabs and half-hearted liver shots.
Despite gaining a spurt of momentum with one-two punch combos in the second round, Kharitonov has no answer for Ghita’s leg kicks. With his legs marked with imprint from Ghita’s kicks, Kharitonov perseveres until the end of the second round.
Finally, Kharitonov met his maker in the third round, as he collapsed to the mat: The first leg-kick KO victory of the night for Ghita.
K-1 World GP 2009 Tournament Semi-final 1: Alistair Overeem vs. Badr Hari
A grudge match we have all been waiting for!!
Overeem neutralizes Hari’s speedy attack with a clinch. Tension does not relent one bit as Overeem lands a knee from the clinch and Badr connects with a hard right. Overeem uses his brute strength to throw Hari to the mat but cannot counter Hari’s bruising combo of wild looping hooks and body shots. Hari floors Overeem with a big right. Hari refuses to relent after Overeem gets up, and staggers Overeem with a left high kick for a KO victory: An amazing revenge victory by Hari sends the crowd and the HDNet commentating team into rapture.
Another quick, explosive finish for Hari for a combined time of 2:52 in the quarter- and semi-final bouts!!
K-1 World GP 2009 Tournament Semi-final 2: Remy Bonjasky vs. Semmy Schilt
The reigning champ, Bonjasky drops the giant right away and stuns the entire Yokohama arena! Schilt quickly gets into his groove, cutting off the ring and pushing Bonjasky around. Consecutive high knee strikes from Schilt and Bonjasky drops to the mat! Looking hurt, Bonjasky pulls himself back up but Schilt punches his ticket to the tournament final with leg kicks that send the visibly injured Bonjasky to the mat.
Super Fight: Kyotaro vs. Tyrone Spong
The first round unfolds as a lengthy feeling-out process, as Kyotaro circles around and unleashes leg kicks and Spong patiently stalks. The pace remains unchanged in the second round, as Kyotaro uses the "stick-and-move" strategy and Spong starts finding his target with his knee strikes and punch combos.
Spong finally turns up the heat in the third round, landing with more frequency and forcing Kyotaro on the defensive. In the end, Spong clinches an important heavyweight victory after moving up from middle- and cruiserweight with a unanimous decision.
K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 Tournament Final: Badr Hari vs. Semmy Schilt
This is it: The culmination of the night and tournament!
Also, the record is on the line, as Hari could break Peter Aerts’ record for the fastest tournament win in K-1 history of 6:43.
Schilt looks to keep the distance while Hari swarms inside with punches. Schilt survives Hari’s mad rush and knocks Hari down with a left hand! As it turns out, the beginning of the end for Hari has begun, as Schilt sends him tumbling down to the mat for the second knock down. Clearly hurt, Hari nonetheless stands back up for more; however, Schilt extends no mercy and scores the third knock down with a left hand. It’s all over.
Schilt captures his fourth K-1 World Grand Prix crown to tie the K-1 legend, Ernesto Hoost for the milestone.
That’s it for a night of electrifying action to cap off the year. Stay tuned to MMAmania for more K-1 and MMA-related news as we await the annual Dynamite!! New Year’s Eve event.