King of Kings 6: Retribution
King of Kings 6: Retribution took place on Saturday 7th April at the Foundry in Christchurch, and was an incredibly stacked card of fifteen action-packed K1 and mod Thai fights.
In the main event, two elite 60kg warriors took to the ring to contest for the vacant ISKA Men's Lightweight title - South Island Lee Gar's Nikora Lee-Kingi and CKB Auckland's David "Sanchai" Aung. They fought like a couple of cats in a sack, both with swift footwork carrying them to all corners of the ring. It was Aung who mostly pressed forward, forcing Lee-Kingi to fight on the back foot, where he thrived, refusing to give an inch without blasting rapid-fire punches upstairs, crashing into and through the defence of the stoic Aung. Both men had an insanely high work rate, and Aung continued to push a breakneck pace over 5 rounds, but it was like walking into a woodchipper, as Lee-Kingi unleashed blistering punch combinations to take a unanimous decision victory in a close fight.
Also being contested was the ISKA Men's South Island Middleweight title. Reigning champion David "Wolverine" Watts of Hammerhead MMA looked to defend his title against rising contender Mitchell Stephens of Proactive Templeton at 75kg. Watts looked fast with pinpoint accuracy as he held the centre early, using a hook-chop combination to good effect. Stephens took shots but walked through them like a zombie to unload his own chin-rattling offence. Both men's faces were smeared with blood by the third round of what was a chaotic firefight, and it was Stephens who controlled the centre in the fourth and fifth, showing great hand speed and calm under fire. Ultimately it was the technical boxing and timing of Watts which saw him keep his belt via unanimous decision, in doing so earning his spot on the upcoming 75kg King in the Ring 8-man tournament.
Photos by Juana Kino
In an absolute war, David Bendall of Muay Thai Christchurch took on the Lion Pit's Sam Gourley in a K1 fight at 92kg; 10kg above Gourley's usual fight weight. Gourley did not look physically outmatched, though, as he took the centre and had early success, catching the body kicks of Bendall and kicking out his support leg, sending the big man crashing to the canvas several times. As the fight progressed though, Bendall began to impose his will, and the left flank of Gourley resembled a rare steak, tenderised by Bendall's bludgeoning right shin. Gourley looked repeatedly for the overhand right, but Bendall countered with heavy hands, regularly finding a home for a crisp left hook, outworking Gourley late to earn himself the unanimous decision.
Two seasoned veterans faced off at 68kg: South Island Lee Gar's Ethan Oakes towered over the staunch figure of Rob "El Hurto" Horrocks from Fight Science Queenstown. Oakes used his range well in round 1, keeping Horrocks on the end of his straight punches, setting up leg kicks and throwing knees which came frighteningly close to his opponent's chin. In round 2, Horrocks came out possessed, and tore into Oakes from the outset, dropping him twice with stone fists and a vicious knee to the head. Oakes rallied late and swept Horrocks to the canvas off a caught kick to close the round. In the final round, Horrocks justified his nickname, bringing the pain to Oakes and drawing his defence with brutal body punches to set up a devastating right uppercut which cracked Oakes and led to an impressive TKO.
Universal Vale Tudo's Daniel "the Reaper" Reveley returned in fine form, against Nikau Williams from Lucky 9 Gym at 80kg. In a back and forth war, both had their moments of success, with Reveley using slick boxing and Williams utilising a strong clinch game and hard leg kicks to take the first round. From there, though, Reveley turned up the pace, landing thudding body shots and closing round 2 with a ferocious series of punches which rocked back the head of Williams in succession like a speed ball. Round 3 was razor close, with both men keeping up the high offensive output, but Reveley ended strong to get the nod from the judges via unanimous decision.
Chaos erupted as usual in one of Wayne Vaega's trademark tag-team battles at 50kg. The first team comprised South Island Lee Gar's Donna Robson and Maui Tu Moana's Louise Fuller, and the other Proactive Christchurch's Tammi Stoddart and Jenny Kim. The Proactive team brought the ruckus from the outset, and Fuller appeared overmatched after injuring her foot early. Robson picked up the slack, however, and crashed forth like a raging bull, forcing both opponents back with blistering straight punches setting up body kicks. Stoddart folded Fuller in the second round with a vicious body kick, sending her grimacing to the canvas, and ultimately it was the Proactive team who took the unanimous decision with their more consistent success and ring control.
The undercard was replete with fireworks, including a spectacular battle between Maui Tu Moana's Alex Tzinavos and South Island Lee Gar's Travis Ball at a catchweight of 69kg, after Ball's original opponent at 66kg withdrew. Tzinavos looked impressive as a striker, being better known for his grappling. Aggressive is a tame word for the furious violent expression of Ball, who looked like he wanted nothing more than to put the Tzinavos in a coffin, advancing recklessly and swinging for the fences. After enduring a nasty groin strike early in the fight, Tzinavos was calm amidst the storm, firing back with accurate punches off the back foot, and taking advantage of Ball's aggression to blast the left shin across his skull, bloodying his face and dropping him a pair of times, leaving his eye swollen. A hard push kick from Tzinavos swept Ball off his feet at the close of round 2, after which the the fight was stopped, with Tzinavos being awarded the TKO victory.
Another fight which failed to go the distance saw South Island Lee Gar's Alex Richings face off against Maui Tu Moana's Andrew "TNT" Irvine at 75kg. Irvine fought gamely and landed punches early, but it was Richings who began to win the exchanges, following up his kicks with a savage knuckle game, leaving Irvine's forehead bloodied at the close of round 1. In round 2 Richings smelled blood, and stalked Irvine like a shark in the water, with relentless pressure which stymied the offence of Irvine and saw him shell up before getting clobbered by a head kick at the end of the round. Irvine's corner had seen enough, and they threw in the towel between rounds, which gave Richings the TKO victory.
In a closely-contested firefight, Queenstown Muay Thai's Yoshi Matsuda looked like a straight killer head-to-toe in tattoos, as he took on South Island Lee Gar's Cody Sione at 62kg. The frenzied pace was consistent from the outset, with both fighters testing the other's conditioning. Sione firing heavy hands upstairs, with the left shin of the taller Matsuda finding a home to the ribs in return. The slapping thud of leather hitting flesh was audible as Sione ripped to the body, with a clashing shin-to-shin check and a hard right counterpunch. Both men had success in their own right, and it was Sione who was awarded the split decision victory.
Facing Universal Vale Tudo's James "Goldy" McBride, Hammerhead MMA's Benjamin McCarthy had success early, matching his pace and using crisp technique and a reach advantage to curb retaliation. McBride used the left calf kick extensively to close distance and set up his punches. As the fight wore on, McBride began to take over, landing a hard left knee to the body to close round 2. In the third, McBride smashed the body of McCarthy with a hard kick, and caught the return kick, yanking it high and slamming his opponent violently to the canvas. McBride turned the pace up relentlessly, and backed McCarthy into the ropes, unleashing a furious barrage of punches to floor him, on his way to a unanimous decision victory.
Another action-filled battle took place at 70kg between Academy of Combat's Cam Snell and Fight Science Queenstown's Rory Fennell. Both were intense in the staredown, with Fennell the taller man. Snell was aggressive early, coming hard for Fennell, clashing shins and landing crushing leg kicks. Fennell found his range, though, landing the long right cross as well as jumping knees, eventually bloodying the nose of Snell leading to the fight being stopped 1 minute into the third round.
A highlight was the fight between two southpaws: Universal Vale Tudo's Zac "Alpha" Basharati and Fight Science Queenstown's Dylan Dickson at 61kg. Basharati was a whirlwind of destruction, pressing forward from the opening bell with violent intent. Dickson countered well with hard punches which slowed Basharati initially, but as the fight wore on, Basharati's pressure began to take its toll. Both fighters were eager to test the other's chin and sling hooks from the hip with scant regard to defence. Basharati scored a pair of knockdowns in the third round, and after landing a brutal knee to the head in the clinch, the ref had seen enough, awarding him the TKO victory.
South Island Lee Gar's Kieran Cullimore took on Muay Thai Christchurch's Matt Sutherland at 78kg. Sutherland walked through most of the tricky offence of Cullimore, bullying him in the clinch and blasting him with hard punches. Cullimore pulled out all the stops, using question mark kicks, stance switching, and evasive head movement to setup his punches. Later the spinning elbows came out for both men, but it was Sutherland who outworked Cullimore to earn the unanimous decision victory.
Megan Pettigrew of Academy of Combat faced Asher Slocombe at 59kg. Slocombe started well, with lightning-fast straight punches cracking her opponent's head back. However, the strength advantage seemingly went to Pettigrew, who pressured forward and dragged Slocombe into deep water, bloodying her face with combination punches on her way to a unanimous decision victory.
Anne Wilson of Hammerhead MMA defeated Sara Hatton of South Island Lee Gar at 59kg with accurate combination punching which led to a unanimous decision victory. Hatton threw hard counters on the outside and used good movement, but the non-stop ferocity of Wilson's offense saw Hatton in trouble at the end of round 2, ending the fight with a swollen left eye.
This event was action from top to bottom, and the next one can't come soon enough.