December 5, 2009 ? Yokohama, Japan ? Reminiscent of the K-1 MAX Grand Prix Final also held at the Yokohama Arena, it is a blustery wet day. Coincidentally, there are 2 former WGP Champions fighting in the tournament. The question that is on everyone’s mind is, like MAX, will there finally be a new champion crowned at the end of the night? Or, will Semmy Schilt or Remy Bonjasky equally “Mr. Perfect” Ernest Hoost’s 4-time record. A record many if not all thought impossible to ever even get close to.

The night began with an important fight for all long-time K-1 enthusiasts. There had never been a WGP without Peter Aerts in there fighting. In 2006, he earned that position by winning the reserve fight, and he found himself in the same position this very night. His opponent was the gamely young low kicker, Gohkan Saki. Both came out not to win, but to stop the other. Saki stuck to his lightening fast combinations that always end with a low kick. Slightly unexpectedly, Aerts went to work on Saki’s body. It paid off in the second round when Saki dropped his hands enough for Aerts to rocket through a right straight. Saki beat the count by mere milliseconds, and the bell signaling the end of the round saved him from further damage. In the final round Aerts did everything he could to finish off his wounded prey, however Saki demonstrated some incredible intestinal fortitude to hold it together and remain dangerous until the end. “Mr. K-1” just earned a spot in the WGP should someone be injured, and the anticipation of possibly seeing him fight again had the crowd more than a little excited.

Finally, the moment fans around the world had been awaiting. The 2009 World Grand Prix was about to officially commence. Which better fight to do so with that the most anticipated of the opening round fights? The feisty Russian, Ruslan Karaev took on fan-favorite Badr Hari. Both had promised an exciting aggressive fight, and as we have come to realize with these two, they don’t use empty words. As the bell rang to start the first round, Ruslan shot out of his corner firing on all 8 cylinders. His hands were a blur, and though one found its’ mark, the shot Hari landed was clean. Ruslan hit the canvas inside of 15 seconds, and though he beat the 8 count, he was left bloodied and in need of a doctor check. As it turned out, that check lasted longer than the entire fight. After being allowed back out to fight, Ruslan, knowing only 1 speed, jumped right back into the sharks’ jaws, and he was bitten hard. The Russian found himself on the floor after being hammered with a right hook, and his dream of winning the WGP belt ended there due to the two knock-down rule.

In the fight that no doubt had all MMA fans around the world tuning in, the “Monster” Teixeira stepped up to fight the monstrous K-1 intruder Alistair Overeem. The bout began with Teixeira picking off low kicks, that caused Overeem to switch back and fourth between orthodox and southpaw stances. He didn’t need to be overly concerned with the collective damage though, as he shot in on the Karate champion, clinched, and fired in two knees that caused the Brazilian to face-plant, out cold.

Next to make their way to the ring were the tallest competitor of the night, Semmy Schilt, and veteran battler, Jerome LeBanner. LeBanner came out looking pumped, and wasted no time in trying to introduce Semmy’s chin to the leather of his gloves. He actually managed to do so more than once, but a solid knee to the liver from his 128kg opponent took his base right out from under him. He beat the count, despite the obvious pain he was in. Semmy isn’t known as the sort to ride out a round that he has dominated though, and Semmy drove a front kick through the Frenchman’s’ liver to knock him down again, and yet another opening round fight ended within the first round.

Next up was the youngster, Errol Zimmermann facing the defending champion, Remy Bonjasky. Remy’s choice of entrance music may have put many in the crowd to sleep, but the fight lived up to the hype, and delivered more. From the opening bell, Errol was in Remy’s face. They were both throwing down, and the flying attacks were numerous. Showing just why he is has 3 championship belts already, Remy capitalized on Errol’s one mistake, and drove in a right to score a down. Oddly enough, he backed away for the remainder of the round, and Errol made him pay for that in the second. Despite his best efforts though, Errol couldn’t make up for the down in the first round, and a very weary and damaged Remy took the victory and made his way backstage to prepare to face the wall of pain that Semmy promised to bring.

To give the fighters a chance to rest before the second round, reserve fight number 2 was positioned here. Low kicking demon, Daniel Ghita faces off against K-1 debutant Sergei Kharitonov. In the first round Ghita showed his beautiful low kick, knee and punching techniques, while Sergei cooperatively displayed his ability to withstand pain. The second round was a repeat of the same, though this time Sergei managed to employ some of the MMA skills he has picked up with a takedown or two. The Rumanian finally put down the Russian in the opening seconds of the third round with yet another low kick.

The first of the two semi-final fights is a rematch, and one that has been discussed to death of fight forums globally. Last time Badr Hari and Alistair Overeem fought, Alistair shocked many by winning via knockout. At yesterdays’ press conference Hari promised to end Overeem’s run at the title inside of one round if they should meet tonight, and here they find themselves in the ring together. The round started with Badr throwing caution to the wind, and Overeem throwing him to the canvas in return. After the restart Badr used his speed to try and swamp Alistair, and it worked when a powerful right landed and dropped him. Overeem beat the count, however he was standing on wobbly legs. Badr was determined to keep that promise from yesterday though, and he threw everything he had. A combination of shots landed, punctuated by a clean high kick to the chin causing Overeem to fall into the corner using the ropes to stay standing. The referee jumped in and saved him from future damage as he wasn’t at all with it. The second down was called within the three minute mark, and Hari made his way backstage with Peter Aerts’ fastest ever WGP victory firmly in his sights.

The next fight we got to see 2 opponents that are both 3-time champions oppose each other. Remy once again faced his nemesis in K-1, Semmy Schilt. The bout began with a shock, as Remy burst from his corner and landed a left hook that caught everyone, including Semmy, off guard. The big man fell to the mat, took his 8 count like a dose of bad medicine, then turned on his ignition key. He threw everything he had at Remy, systematically breaking down the “Flying Gentleman.” In no time he had Remy crumpled in the corner taking his first count, and while Remy sucked it up and got to his feet, Semmy laid him out for the final time with a low kick just seconds later.

As the two winners prepared for the final showdown, we were trated to a bout between the current Heavyweight Champion, and current Hoost student, Tyrone Spong. These two were on opposite sides of the tournament in which Kyotaro won his title, so it was a bout the Japanese champion really felt he absolutely must win. The fight began rather evenly, with both landing nice low kicks, occasional knees and nice combinations. As the rounds progressed though Spong slowly took control of things. By the final minutes of the third round, it was clear that unless Kyotaro pulled out off one of his amazing counter knockouts, he was going to be defeated by Spong’s experienced style. And, that is exactly what happened. Tyrone actually broke down after the win with Ernest Hoost at his side, as he hadn’t had much success in K-1 until now, despite his fame abroad.

The Fields K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 Champion fight is finally upon us. Semmy Schilt makes his way to the ring in front of 17,626 fans to face the man that even trainers from rival gyms describe as the most naturally gifted fighter ever in K-1, Badr Hari. This is a match up never before seen in Japan. Both of these combatants have sliced through their fields stopping all opponents in the first round. Collectively, this tournament has already seen 5 of the top 8 kickboxers in the world stopped within a single round, and if either of these warriors can continue that trend, they may take Aerts WGP record of 6:43 along with the belt and prize money.

Both fighters left it all in the ring. As the opening bell rang, they made their way to the middle and touched gloves. Badr then went on the attack, and from the screams of the crowd, he had their support all the way. Semmy managed to deflect his punches, or at least take much of the power out of them. Hari was not easily dissuaded though, and he kept up the onslaught, until hit with the left jab that has ended so many other fights, and he fell to the mat. Clearly hurt, yet just as dangerous, Hari restarted exactly where he left off, though Semmy was a little more relaxed and he leaned back, hefted that tree truck-like leg up high, and planted it on Badr’s jaw to get his second down. Being the final match of the night, 3 downs are allowed, and Hari bravely climbed to his feet to try to land that golden punch once more. It was not to be though, and Schilt brought back that liver kick that stopped LeBanner to end the dreams of Hari by scoring his third and final knock down of the night. With this Semmy becomes the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion for the 4th time, equaling the record set by Hoost in 2002, and he also managed to shave 50 seconds off of Peter Aerts record set in 1998.

In other open-weight matches of the night Ichigeki up-and-comer Jan Soukup picked apart Tsutomu Takahagi to earn an easy unanimous decision, and Final 16 stand-out Singh Jaideep stopped Makoto Uehara after multiple downs in the second round.

If you weren’t lucky enough to have been witness to this event live, or caught one of the broadcasts already, make sure you check your local listings. The fighters delivered everything you could hope to see in a WGP event and more, so don’t miss it.
Source : A Clean Sweep as Bodies Fall : NEWS | K-1 OFFICIAL WEBSITE