Auckland Crowd Served Martial Arts Treat At Xplosion Debut
Expectations were as mixed as the large crowd that gathered outside the ASB Stadium for the debut of fight show franchise Xplosion. Families waited beside groups of tatooed men, who stood behind well-dressed, beautiful women, all expecting an entertaining show and some high energy, seat-gripping fights, but unsure how exactly it would be served up. They were not disappointed, as the close to capacity crowd was quickly
introduced to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) & MuayThai Xplosion-style, complete with large screen visuals, smoke-machine ushered entrances by the fighters and an energetic performance by the Tamashi Taiko Japanese drumming team during an intermission.
Beginning the night with a women's novice bout between Amanda "The Panda" Emerson and Lian Whitefield, it was all action from the first bell. Whitefield won the fight by unanimous decision and was followed by the WKBF NZ Muay Thai Title fight that matched Joey 'The Filipino Kid' Baylon (ETK) against Chris Wells (SMAC) in a bout that set the crowd alight and saw the diminutive 'Filipino Kid' bouncing with joy after a well-earned TKO win in round three.
Karthikan Mohandas (ETK) then took on Ranui Johnathon (Ngakanui) in a full Thai rules match that Johnathan won by TKO in round four after receiving a couple of accidental low blows that fired him up, and left Mohandes with a cut face that stopped the fight.
With the first drops of the claret still drying, and the masses filled with fight fever, Doug 'Dynamite' Higgins (SMAC) went up against Ricky Campbell (Strike Force) in a frustrating grabbing match that went Higgins' way, dividing the crowd and securing the fighter a flight to Japan next week to throw hands in Tsuwamono (Japanese extreme fighting tournament).
The appearance of the Taiko drumming group after the Higgins-Campbell fight had the intended effect: working the crowd up as the big, martial-sounding bass drums were pounded with rhythmic, stylized blows. Traditionally-dressed men and women whirled and wheeled around the drum grouping, attacking the heavy drum skins in a rolling crescendo that paved the way for one of the highlight fights of the evening - Joe Hopkins (City Lee Gar) vs Steve 'Actionman' Anderson (ETK) in full Thai rules WMC NZ title fight (75 Kg). Wild spinning elbows, ambitious axe kicks and a number of push kicks ended the fight for the 'Actionman'; the reach, skill and youth of Hopkins putting the title holder on a plane with Higgins to the Japanese tournament.
After the grace and speed of the previous fight, it was a vocal crowd that called the big boys of the night to suit up for the ring. First out was Jay 'Hardman' Hepi (ETK) facing off against Terry Tuteru (South Auckland Lee Gar) in a K1 rules Super Heavyweight (100+ Kg) fight that was won by the oddly graceful, yet gargantuan, Tuteru in a split decision. Continuing the trend towards the massive, the first NZ-Japanese fight was between Jacob 'The Hulk' Strickland (City Kickboxing) and Masaki 'Tokyo Terror' Fujii (ETK) in another K1 rules Super Heavyweight 100+ Kg fight. Living up to his name, the wall of flesh that was 'The Hulk' filled the ring with his lumbering bulk, and would have hit like a truck if he had managed to catch the lighter, fleeter 'Tokyo terror'. Unfortunately for the New Zealander, Fujii just wasn't going to be caught and he won the bout in a unanimous career first decision.
With two more bouts to go before the main event, it seemed like the best had been saved until last. Richie Hardcore (Rebel Lee Gar-NZ) came out and punished Atsushi 'The Samurai Ninja' Hamada (Japan) (K1 rules, 75 Kg) with a round two TKO, including three counts in a single round, then worked the spectators into a frenzy with his showmanship and good humour. Stepping into a ring surrounded by a wildly appreciative crowd at their peak, Roger 'Wild' Earp (ETK-NZ) and Jeffrey Lanes (Current Australian Champion) put on a spectacular display of X rules (66 Kg) fighting, going three rounds in three different styles and giving NZ an historic win in the first X rules fight in the country.
Arriving with all the appropriate pomp and ceremony, Super Heavyweight fighter Tafa 'Thumper' Misipati (ETK-NZ) then lost to Satoshi Ishii (Japan) by arm bar submission in a somewhat anti-climactic MMA main event that only went one round. There was no disappointment though, as awe-struck people file out of the stadium snippets of conversation float up towards the spot lights: "Just amazing," "Best show I've seen," "When's the next fight." An excited and satisfied crowd move out into the remainder of Saturday's evening.
Lian Whitefield [City Kickboxing-AKL] WON VS Amanda 'panda' Emerson [Roundhouse Kickboxing]
Joey 'The Filipino Kid' Baylon [ETK] WON TKO-R3 VS Chris Wells [SMAC]
FULL THAI RULES Title (90 Kg)
Ranui Johnathon [Ngakanui] WON TKO-R4 VS Karthikan Mohandas [ETK]
FULL THAI RULES Title (66Kg)
Doug 'Dynamite' Higgings [SMAC] WON Split decision VS Ricky Campbell [Strike Force]
FULL THAI RULES Title (75 Kg)
Joe Hopkins [City Lee Gar] WON Unanimous VS Steve 'Actionman' Anderson [ETK]
K1 RULES Super Heavyweight
Terry Tuteru [Sth-Akl Lee Gar] WON Split dec VS Jay 'Hardman' Hepi [ETK]
K1 RULES Super Heavyweight
Masaki Fujii [ETK] WON Unanimous VS Jacob 'The Hulk' Strickland [City Kickboxing]
K1 RULES (75Kg)
Richie Hardcore (Rebel Lee Gar-NZ) WON R2 TKO VS Atsushi Hamada (Japan)
X RULES (66Kg)
Roger 'Wild' Earp (ETK-NZ) WON Unanimous VS Jeffrey Lanes (AUS)
*** MMA *** Super Heavyweight
Satoshi Ishii (Japan) WON R1 - Arm bar submission VS Tafa 'Thumper' Misipati (ETK-NZ)