Ebadi takes the crown at KITR
Tactics and just a bit of luck played their part in a fabulous win for young Arshia Ebadi as the 18 year old star in the making was crowned 68KG KITR champion at King In The Ring last night. Ebadi fought his way to the final of the 8-man elimination event with an early KO in the quarters and a hard fought victory in the semi to face off against former finalist Josh Marsters in the final.
Marsters himself had arguably found a harder road to the final, facing off against a dangerous Gene Elbourne in the quarters and having to go an extra tie-breaking round against crowd favourite Ale Taumololo in the semi, he walked into the final looking to finally lay his hands on the belt. But for all the experience of the older Marsters he couldn’t quite go better than his previous second place finish, as Ebadi used his superior length to keep him at bay and take home the title of King In The Ring.
NZ Fighters’s Jamie Patterson was ringside to bring you the breakdown from all of the fights.
Pre-Broadcast - Junior Tupufia vs Iain Clegg
Iain Clegg started strong in the first round of the curtain raiser, landing heavy blows before attempting a spinning back kick that didn’t quite come off. Clegg continued to be the aggressor for much of the round but a quick right hand from Tupufia saw him down to the mat; it looked more like a trip than a knockdown.
Tupufia attempted a body kick that didn’t quite come off at the start of the second and opened himself up to more heavy overhands from Clegg, but a minute in Tupufia was starting to take control with a quick left then right combination that rocked the older fighter. Clegg found himself covering up against the ropes and managed to survive the round.
Round 3 found Clegg back in the aggressor position, controlling Tupufia to the corner and landing a spinning backfist hard on his opponents jaw that sent him stumbling backwards. As the round progressed Clegg looked to be struggling for energy as he continued to throw heavy blows hoping for a stoppage. Tupufia looked set to disappoint him in the final seconds landing a strong right to the jaw of Clegg; he looks hurt and Tupufia smells blood. The bell sounds and Clegg is safe for now, but the judges go the other way handing a split decision to Tupufia.
Split Decision for Tupufia.
Shem Murdock vs Arsha Ebadi
Round 1: Ebadi controls the centre early, Shem manages to turn the action and come forward but Ebadi uses his longer legs and reach to keep the shorter fighter at bay. Shem comes forward but Ebadi lands a series of front kicks to the chest of his opponent. Ebadi quickly takes control a minute in and starts to land accurate blows moving quickly from punches to kicks. 1 minute 33 seconds in and Ebadi leaps forward with a left scissor knee that sends Shem crashing to the canvas; he tries to recover but he can’t return to his feet. It’s all over, KO for Ebadi.
KO for Ebadi. 1min 33.
Thomas “The Tornado“ Maguren vs Jordan Syme
Round 1: Maguren starts well, controlling Some to the corner and landing shots to the body before Syme escapes. The two engage in a close quarter battle before Some retreats attempting to land kicks at a distance. Thirty seconds later and Syme again finds himself cornered on the opposite end of the ring but again manages to escape before taking the Tornado’s wind with some strong kicks to the body. Maguren comes forward again and Jordan lands punches at a distance to end a closely fought round.
Round 2: Maguren again takes Syme to the corner before landing a strong spinning back fist and following with kicks to the head and chest. Syme works his way backwards into the centre and attempts a spinning back fist of his own but fails to land. Halfway through the second and Syme is struggling to land and breathing heavily, a kick to the body is caught by the Tornado and countered well. Syme seems to be regaining his composure before Maguren throws him to the ground. Syme recovers and again looks to have found a second (third?) wind before again finding his body kicks too easily caught and again being thrown to the mat. The two exchange blows but neither can end it this round. Round three awaits.
Round 3: Jordan again finds his body kicks held up and early in the round Maguren throws him against the ropes. Syme’s blows lack power now as he struggles to find that extra bit left in the tank. I can hear Israel Adesanya sitting right behind me say Jordan looks like he’s struggling. The Tornado is landing almost at will, with front kicks repeatedly finding Syme’s head and a brutal rip to the ribs before the bell finally rings to end the punishment.
The judges have it and… a Majority Decision for Syme? I guess they watched a different fight to me.
Ale Taumololo vs Yass Yassin
Round 1: A last minute addition and looking to prove he belongs, Yass starts as the aggressor early in the first. Taumololo seems to be feeling out his distance as a push from Yass sends him to the ground. The two fighters both exchange blows from distance but as the round continues to progress Yass looks hurt. A body kick from Taumololo sends him to the ground; an 8-count and he’s up. Yass finds the canvas twice more in the first but both look to be trips.
Round 2: Taumololo fakes with the teep before throwing a left hook that lands cleanly. Yass wears it well and controls Taumololo to the corner but the more experienced fighter escapes the assassin’s advances and looks to land a flying knee, it’s close but Yass just avoids the dance and keeps his head attached to his body. The crowd chants for Taumololo as his opponent seems to have found the energy he was searching for and finally starts to land some blows on Taumololo. The two exchange well for the rest of the round.
Round 3: Early in the third Yass finds his body kick caught but lands the strong right hand before his foot is free again. Taumololo’s extra preparation seems to be coming into play and he seems to have more energy in this round. Yass attempts a spinning back fist which fails to land and the intensity picks up as both fighters land kicks to the body. A strong body kick sends Yass to his knees clutching his ribs for the 8-count before the round is called closed.
A hard fought fight finds a UD for Ale Taumololo.
Gene Elbourne vs Josh Marsters
Round 1: The last quarter final is underway and early in the round the larger frame of Josh “The Method Man“ Marsters is on display. Both fighters are well known in the scene with Marsters being a former finalist already and Gene Elbourne rather infamously remembered for the unfortunate clinch manoeuvre that tragically left Ra Redden paralysed from the neck down. Elbourne retreats throughout the round and looks to try and land at distance, knowing Marsters is dangerous when they square up. Both fighters look to conserve energy with the only moment of true excitement coming when Marsters lands a straight shot to Elbourne’s jaw sending him to the canvas. Elbourne springs straight back up like something out of a Jet Li movie and the round is soon over.
Round 2: The action kicks off with Elbourne looking to lift the intensity, coming forward and landing strong blows to the head and chest. Marsters looks to land strong rips to the body but they’re sharply avoided by the Wellington fighter. Two minutes in and Gene is caught again, he sees the canvas for the second time in the fight and Marsters inflicts some damage of his own, before catching a blow from Elbourne and taking his turn on the floor. Right before the bell Elbourne wears a huge kick to the body and is taken to his knees for the 8-count; fighters aren’t saved by the bell under these rules and he’s lucky to recover make his way to the corner.
Round 3: The final round starts with Elbourne on the ropes early, ducking and weaving to avoid the heavy hands of the former finalist. Defense is on display more than attack in this round but halfway through Gene eats a heavy right hook… and then another. He wears it well and continues to exchange for the rest of the round.
The judges have it and Josh Marsters is moving on to the semis.
Arshia Ebadi vs Thomas “The Tornado“ Maguren
Round 1: Justice may have come to EventFinda stadium as Syme is unable to continue and Thomas Maguren advances in his place. But the Tornado might soon lament his place in the semis after he finds himself on the wrong end of yet another controversial fight. Early in the first and Arshia lands a left hook to the body of Maguren to open the damage but shortly after Maguren is down in pain; from a brutal knee to the groin from Arshia Ebadi. He takes a good 20 or 30 seconds to recover and find his feet. Arshia comes forward repeating his strategy of using push kicks to create distance but as the Tornado gets inside he again finds Ebadi’s knee firmly planted in his happy place. He’s back up but Arshia looks to end it here, grabbing the Tornado by his head and looking for the knee but it fails to land and Maguren hobbles to the corner after the bell.
Round 2: Arshia opens the second with knees to the body before yet another knee almost finds its way to Maguren’s groin; what is going on here? Maguren risks any future opportunity for children as he manages to get inside once again and lands solid body rips on Arshia. The Tornado manages to control the ring well but Arshia loses his mouthguard and time is called. Time on and the Tornado is right back in with another body rip and a spinning back kick, a tough round draws to an end as the fighters shake gloves out of respect.
Round 3: Maguren corners Arshia early and lands a flurry of blows and soon after a push kick sends Arshia to the canvas. Maguren continues to attack and now Arshia loses his mouthguard again… did he spit it out that time? Time on and Maguren has Arshia on the ropes, the series of brutal exchanges between the two fighters should be the the story of the round, but again we see Arshia’s guard on the floor. That time he definitely spat it out; from where I sit I can see him moving his guard to the front of the mouth. Israel Adesanya is still sitting behind me and I can hear him say the same: “It’s tactics”. The round finally ends and Ebadi is declared the winner, the crowd erupts into a mixture of cheers and boos for the tactical victory.
MD Arshia Ebadi.
Ale Taumololo vs Josh Marsters
Round 1: The crowd favourite vs the perennial semi finalist;for fans of close fights this was the one to watch. The first round opened with quick teeps from both fighters finding their range. A quick left-right combination opens the exchange with Ale looking to kick for Marsters mid section and Marsters continuing to throw punch combinations. A strong left hook lands for Ale in the final minute and Marsters is briefly stunned but finishes the round well.
Round 2: The second round opens with exchanges from both fighters but Marsters seems to come off the better. Throughout the round Marsters now looks to add devastating knees to the body to those brutal hand combinations he used in the first. Taumololo looks stunned as Marsters starts to land the overhand right and controls the rest of the round.
Round 3: Taumololo opens the third strong having clearly enjoyed the break between rounds. He lands a series of big blows but a heavy left to the body from Marsters sends him to the canvas. Ale recovers well to land some good shots, Marsters comes forward and Ale looks for the counter in a close round. Marsters has shifted to body combinations with one, two, three, four rights to the body landing before a strong straight snaps back Ale’s head. He wants a stoppage but he’s not going to get it. The judges call it after the bell; it’s a draw! We’re going to a fourth round.
Round 4: The extra round begins and Taumololo already looks hurt. The crowd cheers for him to continue chanting “Ale, Ale, Ale”, but he’s got nothing left in the tank, the first three rounds were tightly fought but this round Marsters has an obvious upper hand. Josh sets in and starts to swing for the fences, he doesn’t want to leave it with the judges. A minute to go and both fighters dig deep but both look gassed, whoever takes Ebadi in the final is going to feel this extra round. The bell sounds and it’s over, this time there can only be one winner.
UD Josh Marsters.
GRAND FINAL: ARSHIA EBADI VS JOSH MARSTERS
Round 1: Just before the final I caught up with Dan Hennessy in the break. I think Marsters can finally lay his hands on the crown but Hennessy having seen Marsters at the end of the semifinal knows the toll that extra round took and thinks Ebadi will take the fight. Back to our seats and the bell sounds on the first round, Israel Adesanya is still sitting behind me giving colour commentary to the entourage of City Kickboxing fighters alongside him, the atmosphere is electric and having the UFC Middleweight Champion (not to mention two-time king in this very event) in my ear is adding to the spectacle.
Marsters comes forward early landing those heavy hands of his to Ebadi’s head. Ebadi tries to find the early knee to the head but Marsters isn’t quite tired enough to open himself to that just yet. Arshia tries to find his range and land kicks from a distance but Marsters defends well. Marsters lands the right and left hand before trying a flying knee that grazes Ebadi before the bell.
Round 2: Marsters looks for the overhand but can’t find Ebadi’s head and now Arshia lands a solid left but Josh recovers well. Josh looks gassed from that second round; as Arshia lands a flying head kick and starts to take control the two fighters exchange and Marsters looks the better, but he’s struggling for energy before the bell.
Round 3: The final round begins with a left jab and then a right landing for Ebadi as Marsters looks to create distance with kicks. The fighters square off and somehow they both trip and go tumbling to the mat. These are the moments that make King in the Ring such an exciting event to watch, the pain and fatigue of earlier fights starts to creep in and fighters make mistakes. Marsters resets and looks to dig deep, coming in close and looking to land those combinations that saw him through Taumololo, but Ebadi is nothing if not tactical and repeatedly finds the clinch to slow the action. Josh lands heavy hands to Arshia’s head and rocks him; again Ebadi clinches, he’s hanging on for dear life. He knows he could win this, but he needs to survive. A battle royale unfolds in front of us as both fighters try to land heavy shots with the last ounces of energy they can conjure before the bell sounds. The judges have it and… Ebadi Wins! By majority decision, 18 year old Arshia Ebadi is the new 68 KG King in the Ring.