K-1 USA Semi Finals
Brian Schwartz vs. Shannon Ritch:
Super Middleweight, Full-Contact Rules
This was a severe contrast of striking expertise (Schwartz) vs. MMA-transistion-striking (Ritch). Schwartz, a former TKD champion, remained in a sideways stance for the entire match, using a lead sidekick as a long-range weapon to knock Ritch off balance. This was intermittently combined with a lead kick fake, followed by hand combinations. After Schwartz drops Ritch by both hands and a sidekick to the body, the referees stops the fight in R2, extending Schwartz`s undefeated record.
Schwartz KO by ref. stoppage (sidekick to punches), R2
Eddie Millis vs. David Denisen:
Light Heavyweight, Muay Thai Rules
Denisen was overwhelmed by the superior conditioning of Millis from R1, suffering a 1-2-lowkick combination every 20 seconds. Perhaps in retaliation, Denisen throws a thunderous knee to the balls in R2, and Millis is down for 5-7 minutes.
Millis wins by referee stoppage (groin-shot) and scorecard in R2
Kit Cope vs. Heath Harris:
Light Heavyweight, Muay Thai Rules
Brutal. Kit Cope, in traditional Thai stance, uses his footjab throughout the first round to set-up a hook-lowkick combination. The impact of the lowkick was similar to that of a slap on the back, but it could be heard throughout the entire Bellagio arena. At the end of R1, Kit Cope runs in with a wide outside lowkick that drops Harris in the corner, who then balls into the fetal position and begins screaming. On the replay, you can see Harris` knee snap inwards from the outside impact.
Cope Wins, KO by lowkick R1
Duke Roufus vs. Marvin Eastman
This was one of the largest upsets of the night (but definitely not the biggest). Eastman, primarily known for his MMA exploits, was clearly controlled by the 4x world champion, Roufus, for the first 2 rounds of this fight, although he did score a knockdown by catching the champions outside lowkick and throwing a straight right in R2. After the bell for R3, East immediately throws a flying rear knee the body. Roufus winces and he throws another flying knee to the ribs. Roufus is down for the count with what appear to be broken ribsâ€”he makes no attempt to stand.
Eastman wins, KO by flying knee in R3
George Tsutsui vs. Melchor Menor
Cancelled for undisclosed medical reasons
Michael McDonald (USA) vs. Ricardo Duenas (Spain):
K-1 World GP 2002 USA Elimination Champion vs. K-1 World GP 2002 Spain Elimination Champion
Maybe the flight from Spain was too long, but Duenas was not ready for his first entry to K-1. The first strike is a high-kick by McDonald that connects with Duenas` neck and sends him falling into the ropes. 2nd strike: another highkick by McDonald to the neck, which drops Duenas. 10 seconds after Duenas stands, McDonald lands a straight punch to the liver that drops him for the count (after a 10 seconds delay, interestingly enough).
McDonald, KO win by straight to the body, R1
Tony Gregory (France) vs. Petr Vondrachek (Czech)
K-1 World GP 2002 France Elimination Champion vs. K-1 World GP 2002 Italy Elimination Champion
Both fighters stood at 6`5", and Vondrachek began the power exchange by running Gregory into the blue corner and knocking him down with a huge lead hook. Amazingly, he continued, as Gregory sat against the ropes, to throw 5 punches to Gregory`s head. After a well-deserved point deductionâ€”he should have been DQdâ€”Vondrachek seemed cautious for a moment and was met by immediate punches from Gregory. Gregory would jab, switch stance, straight punch from the same hand, finally landing 3 large hooks to Vondrachek`s head that ended the contest by KO in R3.
Gregory, KO win by hooks, R3
Adam Watt (Australia) vs. Pavel Majer (Czech)
K-1 World GP 2002 Oceania Elimination Champion vs. K-1 World GP 2002 Czech Elimination Champion
This was David vs. Goliath. Coming off of an incredibly KO win over Mike Bernardo, Adam Watt was a crowd favorite, partially because he tipped the scales at only 209 lbs. to Majer`s 273. Majer was HUGE. Not fat at all, but rather a larger version of Jerome Le Banner, completed by a rather odd looking rat-tail of a braided ponytail (he has no other hair on his head). Although Watt`s technique was much cleaner, and he used footjabs, lowkicks, and overhands to distance himself from Majer, the Czech was simply too large. Majer`s approach: run in with wide hooks, land one or two punches, ram Watt into the ropes like a Mack truck into a bicyclist, and then thrown looping overhands that (even if they only wrapped around his head) bent Watt over at the waist by 90 degrees.
Majer, unanimous decision, R3
Andrew Thompson (South Africa) vs. Errol Parris (Holland)
K-1 World GP 2002 Africa Elimination Champion vs. K-1 World GP 2002 Holland
Parris, while carrying more bodyfat than most Dutch fighters of his caliber, downs the overmatched Thompson with a hook within 20 seconds of the first bell. After this down, Thompson has no head movement and receives a flurry of punches, knees to the legs, and 3 consecutive hooks to the head that end the fight at 2:59 in R1 (one second to the close of the round!).
Parris, KO by hooks, R1
Ernesto "Mr. Perfect" Hoost (Holland) vs. Johannes "The Giant" Nortje (Holland)
At 6`11" and 316lbs., Nortje certainly fit his name; unlike Majer, however, he was very fat, hairy, and slow. Not to disappoint, Hoost, the K-1 GP 1997 and 1999 Champion used excellent head cover to setup both low-kicks and punching combinations. Although Nortje beckoned with taunts to Hoost in R3, Hoost threw enough lowkicks to break any giant, and ended the fight by KO in R3 by damage to Nortje`s lead leg. Journalists judgment: the fight would have ended by KO with punches, but Hoost knows Nortje and didn`t want to impart the permanent damage.
Hoost, KO by lowkick, R3
Michael McDonald (USA) vs. Tony Gregory (France)
McDonald leads with to highkicks towards the neck, which are blocked. McDonald then hooks to a low-kick, which connects to Gregory`s groin and sends a collective "OOOHHHHH!!!!" through the entire arena. In the replay, you see an obvious "F*ck!" coming out of McDonald`s mouth after the unintentional foul. Gregory is down for 2 minutes. After he stands, the crowd gets some entertainment and laughs for the 30 seconds spent by Gregory`s cornerman in fondling his balls. In R2, McDonald leads with his straight and uses his lowkick as the primary weapon for the round. After lowkick-hook, hook-lowkick combinations in R3, McDonald wins a unanimous decision.
McDonald, unanimous decision, R3
Remy Bonjasky (Holland) vs. Stefan Leko (Germany)
W.P.K.A. World Champion vs. K-1 Semi-finals GP 2001 Champion
Bonjasky, hailed as the next Ernesto Hoost, made this bout an exhibition of flying knees. Much of the fight (all 3R) was spent with Bonjasky sending flying knees through Leko`s guard, who would then counter with uppercuts to the head. Perhaps the most technical of all fights at this K-1 event, it was a joy to watch. Leko smiled as he landed a plethora of lesser-seen spinning backfists, flying knees, and spinning heel kicks to the head.
Leko, unanimous decision, R3
Pavel Majer (Czech) vs. Errol Parris (Holland)
Majer, in his style that would represent the entire night, succeeded in spite of himself. Unable to harness his complete power, he still overwhelmed the more technical Parris. Majer would rush in with a 1-2 combination, only to smother his own punches by closing the distance too quickly. That said, the power of the punches that landed did the necessary damage, and Majer wins by decision after a spectacular leaping lowkick that sends Parris completely horizontal in R3.
Majer, unanimous decision, R3
Gary "Big Daddy" Goodridge vs. Mike Bernardo
IVC/Pride vs. K-1 (K-1 Rules)
This is the only fight I would have lost money on. Having seen Bernardo`s hand speed, everyone thoughtâ€”no, KNEWâ€”he would win without difficulty. Bernardo`s comment before the fight: "He`s stepping into my house, and I`m 100% confident I will beat Gary Goodridge." How wrong he was. Goodridge charges from the bell and begins to throw hooks to the head. He drops Bernardo and then leaps on top of him, raining punches onto his head. This isn`t Pride!!!! After the point deduction and after the fighters are both back on their feet, Bernardo is clearly on unstable legs, and there is an expression of fear on his face that I have never seen before. Goodridge charges in again and lands a thunderously brutal hook to the face that sends Bernardo straight down for the count, asleep. He stands at 9, but it is over. Wow. There are rumors that Goodridge may have an option to be in the K-1 Finals.
Goodridge, KO by hook, R1
K-1 TOURNAMENT FINALS:
Mike McDonald (USA) vs. Pavel Majer (Czech)
McDonald fought smart. From the bell, he attacked Majer`s lead leg, which had suffered tremendous damage in his first two fights. McDonald relied primarily on his very effective hook-lowkick and lowkick-hook combinations, also using looping knees to the thigh from the clinch. The only time McDonald was hit hard was with a counter knee to the head from Majer when he attempted to throw a highkick at the giant. In R2, Majer, in usual style, charges McDonald with a 1-2 combination, who then bounces off the ropes with a high frontkick to the neck. To everyone`s amazement, Majer turns around and tells the referee he`s done. McDonald drop to the mat in joy and puts his head to the ground as tears well in his eyes: he has become the first American in history to make it to the final 8 in Tokyo at the K-1 Grand Prix Finals.
McDonald, TKO win, R2