Kings and a Queen were crowned on Saturday night, as the eighth King of Kings event took place at the Foundry Bar in Christchurch. The night was a showcase of talent from all over New Zealand including a 4-man King in the Ring eliminator tournament. Kieran Cullimore became the New Zealand Middleweight Full Thai champion; David Watts became the New Zealand Super Middleweight K1 rules champion; Kaitlyn Tucker became the South Island Women's Lightweight Full Thai champion, and a stacked undercard delivered both spectacular knockouts and technical battles.
New Zealand Men's Middleweight Full Thai Rules Title
The main event saw the rematch between South Island Lee Gar's Kieran Cullimore and TMT Tihipuke Hamilton's Kristian Karaitiana-Moke in a full Thai rules battle for the vacant ISKA Men's New Zealand Middleweight (75kg) championship. In their first encounter, Cullimore stopped Karaitiana-Moke by spinning back kick in round 3 to take the WKBF 75kg NZ Full Thai belt.
In the rematch, Cullimore was the more active fighter early, catching the teep and working the body in return. In the second round, Cullimore began to throw elbows, one of which scythed through the guard of Karaitiana-Moke and opened a bloody gash on his forehead. In the third, another right elbow smashed Karaitiana-Moke to the canvas for an 8-count. On the restart, Karaitiana-Moke charged forward recklessly with insanity in his eyes, inviting the brawl. Cullimore obliged, unloading another brutal elbow which clobbered Karaitiana-Moke to the canvas unable to answer the referee's count. Kieran Cullimore now holds both the ISKA and WKBF Full Thai New Zealand 75kg belts after a stunning performance.
New Zealand Men's Super Middleweight K1 Rules Title
Hammerhead's David Watts once again proved his dominance as an elite New Zealand fighter as he took apart MTC's Matt Sutherland over 5 rounds of non-stop action to take the vacant ISKA Super Middleweight (78.1kg) New Zealand title. Both men hold ISKA South Island belts: Watts the Middleweight champion and Sutherland the Super Middleweight champion. In this fight, Sutherland started strong, countering Watts' aggression and attempting to time the knee on his entry. Quickly though, Watts began to impose his will with incredible hand speed and accuracy, landing the left hook repeatedly.
The instructions from the Hammerhead corner were constant, with Watts following his coach's direction, beginning to time the jab of Sutherland with an overhand right landing over the top, taking over the fight in the later rounds. This culminated at the end of the fifth round as Watts leapt like a ninja to deliver a devastating jumping spinning back kick which blasted Sutherland to the body, flooring him for the TKO victory as the final bell sounded. A spectacular finish to a dominant performance from Watts.
South Island Women's Lightweight Full Thai Rules Title
In their first meeting, Fight Science Queenstown's Fi Sim defeated Kaitlyn Tucker to win the ISKA Full Thai Rules Women's South Island Lightweight title. In the rematch on Saturday night, Tucker had a grudge to settle and came out possessed, putting a pace on Sim throwing vicious body kicks and using slick footwork to avoid damage.
Sim was dauntless, however, and advanced like a juggernaut, catching the teep to dump Tucker to the canvas early, once throwing her into the corner to follow up with a hard knee and narrowly missing the follow-up elbow. This was Sim's best moment, though, as Tucker threw thudding kicks on the outside, using the teep effectively to keep Sim at bay and repeatedly thrusting her right elbow through the guard to redden the face of her opponent. Tucker kept this relentless pace throughout 5 rounds to get her vengeance and take the title belt with an impressive unanimous decision win.
Toa Invercargill's Michael King put on one of the best perfomances of the night in his destruction of South Island Lee Gar / CFC veteran Levi Hallet.. Hallet came out hard and aggressive but was met by the accurate counterpunching of King, who forced Hallet back with combinations to land brutal uppercuts and a left knee which smashed the ribs of Hallet, buckling him to the canvas at the close of round 1. Round 2 saw Hallet take the centre, albeit briefly, as King again poured on the pressure, blasting him with a vicious combination culminating in a brutal right hand which again sent Hallet to the canvas. On the restart, King was relentless, pouring it on and pushing Hallet back into the corner with vicious combinations. The ref had seen enough and waved the match off. An amazing TKO victory for Michael King.
Joshua Gamblin put on a technical performance as he earned a unanimous decision victory over Cage Fight Academy's Trulin Toatoa at 100kg. Fighting out of Knight MMA Timaru, Gamblin moved like a lightweight, sliding just out of range or blocking the looping punches of the thicker Toatoa, before landing his own accurate combinations. The fight almost ended in the second round as Gamblin smashed a left high kick through the guard of Toatoa, who staggered backwards on wobbly legs. Gamblin smelled blood, pouring it on and forcing the ref to step in for an 8-count. Toatoa is tough, though, and lasted the fight out, but had no answer to the hand speed and footwork of Gamblin.
An absolute dogfight ensued as South Island Lee Gar's Jacob Prout met Sitnarong's Taylor Cook in a mod Thai bout at 66kg. From the outset it was Cook who advanced like a berserker, charging forth with a grim scowl throwing hard kicks leading into the clinch to fire knees. Despite a questionable suplex from Cook which landed him on his head, Prout was calm, firing accurate counterpunches which bloodied the nose of Cook, whose face was a crimson mask by the end of round 2. Cook tired as the fight progressed after burning his gas tank early, and Prout rallied late to take the third round in 2 judges' eyes with accurate punches, but he had no answer to Cook's clinch game, who took the unanimous decision victory.
With both men having opponent changes leading up to the fight, South Island Lee Gar veteran Mike Beavington faced Fight Science Queenstown's Yoshi Matsuda in a full thai (padded elbows) battle at 65kg. Despite giving up a significant experience deficit, Matsuda came to fight, giving Beavington all he could handle over 3 rounds of action. One of the highlights was Matsuda being floored by a teep to the face from Beavington, who kept up the pressure and spinning attacks and earned himself the unanimous decision.
A professional heavyweight clash under full Thai rules saw South Island Lee Gar's Riki Barclay take on the hulking figure of Moe Hussain from SMAC Featherston at 100+kg. Both men waded into the clinch, where the majority of this battle was fought, exchanging knees to each other's thighs. The fight was closely-contested, with all three judges giving round 2 to Barclay and rounds 1 and 3 to the winner Moe Hussain.
Rish Harris of Fight Science Queenstown took apart Kate O'Neill of Proactive Christchurch over 3 rounds of K1 action at 60kg. O'Neill fired low kicks and straight punches, while the thicker Harris used slick head movement to avoid damage while unloading her own more impactful offense, repeatedly finding a home for a devastating right cross which blasted back the head of O'Neill on her way to a dominant unanimous decision victory.
TMT Tihipuke's Adam Tanner put on a clinic as he took apart Vinnie Lucas of Dunedin Kickboxing at 73kg. Tanner played the matador as Lucas advanced like a bull to unleash his offense. Tanner was cool under pressure, avoiding most damaging strikes while unloading his own, reddening the body of Lucas with kicks and turning up the pressure as the fight progressed to take the unanimous decision win.
Jamie Henery of Toa Invercargill met Brandon Ng of TMT Tihipuke Hamilton in an K1 firefight at 58kg. Henery brought the heat, pushing forward slinging for the fences, while Ng was calm and collected, cutting angles and returning fire to land vicious knees to the head on his way to a unanimous decision victory.
To open the card, local favourite Joel Bell fighting out of EFC took on Alan Murray of Zhao Martial Arts at 81kg. It was Bell who was the aggressor, forcing Murray back with varied combinations, bloodying his nose by the end of the first round. Bell increased the pressure as the fight progressed, drawing the defence of Murray to unload vicious body punches en route to a convincing unanimous decision win.
Written by Harry Greenfield
Harry Greenfield is New Zealand Fighter’s Executive Editor. Residing in Christchurch, he has a passion for combat sports, especially MMA, and is our man on the scene down south.
Promoters wishing to contact Harry can reach him at: email@example.com
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