Tareg Hamedi of Saudi Arabia was ahead on points by a score of 4-1 when he uncorked a fight-ending head kick against Iranian opponent Sajad Ganjzadeh. In just about any other combat sport, that highlight-reel finish would have landed him the victory.
Instead, he’ll settle for a silver medal.
That’s because Hamedi was disqualified for “excessive force” under Olympic rules, leading to a finish not unlike the recent controversy that awarded UFC bantamweight Aljamain Sterling the 135-pound title against Petr Yan back in March.
“The last thing I remember was that I was behind by scores and then that incident happened and I don’t remember much after that,” Ganjzadeh said. “What I remember was that in the medical room I woke up and I heard from the coach that I won the match. I’m very happy that I achieved this gold medal but I’m sad that it had to happen like this.”
Karate Combat has already offered to stage a full-contact rematch.
It won’t be for Ganjzadeh’s gold medal, but the Iranian can at least prove he deserved it by running it back under full-contact rules. It will also afford Hamedi the opportunity to score a six-figure contract and continue his career under Karate Combat.
“I think Hamedi was robbed of a gold medal and I don’t think that’s how Ganjzadeh wanted to win either. So we’re offering both fighters a rematch in Karate Combat under full-contact rules before the end of the year,” said Karate Combat president Adam Kovacs. “We’ve already got a contract signed with Ganjzadeh, now we’re reaching out to sign Hamedi and get this rematch made.”
VASILI ANTOKHII JUST SCORED THE FASTEST KO IN KARATE COMBAT HISTORY!! You are missing out if you don't have CBS Sports on right now. WOW! pic.twitter.com/iBtsRcOm2G— Karate Combat (@KarateCombat) August 6, 2021
“I love amateur karate, I was a world-level competitor myself, but you don’t find this rule in other amateur combat sports like boxing, wrestling or judo,” Kovacs continued. “I think it’s bad for our sport, which is part of what drove us to create a full-contact professional karate league.”
Karate Combat, which recently aired its sixth event of Season 3, is home to several Olympic medalists including Azerbaijan’s Rafael Agayev, who took silver in the -75kg (-165 lb.) category, one weight class below Hamedi and Ganjzadeh.