Style Bender continues to bend styles, collect crowns
Israel Adesanya? He bad. Michael Jackson bad.
That was the sentiment of many at the ASB Stadium as the ‘Style Bender’ ran roughshod, stopping all three opponents on his way to winning Elite Thai Kickboxing’s King in the Ring Trans-Tasman cruiserweight tournament and further cement his status as one of the best combat athletes our shores currently have in rotation.
A martial artist in every sense of the term, the Nigerian born New Zealand based fighter continues to turn back challengers with ease utilising his flashy technique, length and exciting power.
Adesanya won the inaugural King in the Ring cruiserweight title last August before turning his attentions to the sweet science, upsetting American Brian Minto in the final of the Super 8 cruiserweight tournament only two weeks ago.
The King in the Ring Trans-Tasman cruiserweight tournament featured 8 of the top 86kg kickboxers from New Zealand and Australia.
Adesanya hurt former WKA Australian Light Heavyweight and WKBF NSW Light Heavyweight champion Kim Loudon at will with right hands before stopping him in the third during the quarter finals before collecting fellow Aussie Mike Timms with a second round knee in the semis.
On the other side of the bracket, WBC NSW Champion Simon ‘Mayhem’ Maait outpointed crowd favourite IKBF Pro Light Heavyweight World Champion Zac ‘Fearless’ Fatamaka and IFMA Gold medalist Zane ‘Hybrid’ Hopman but sustained a fractured tibia and was eventually replaced by New Zealand WKBF Cruiserweight champion Pati ‘The Arsenal’ Afoa in the final.
The quarter final bout between Afoa and Timms was originally a declared a draw however Timms would have his hand raised following a deciding fourth round.
With the injury to Maait, among others in the field either too injured or unwilling to face off against Adesanya in the final, Afoa proved his mana by stepping up on short notice.
Unfortunately, he was pasted by a high kick early in the first round of the final before being stopped with right hands shy of one minute in.
Adesanya continues his assault of the upper echelon of fight sports when he travels stateside to assist Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson with his training camp before taking on UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones at UFC 187 next month.
Middleweight King in the Ring Mike ‘Blood Diamond’ Matata turned back Australia based Filipino Franz ‘Dirty’ Sanchez in the headlining superfight.
A New Zealand raised native Zamibian, ‘Blood Diamond’ had a difficult first round against the aggressive Sanchez, who started on the front foot focusing his assault on Matata’s legs and sweeping in close.
Matata landed a couple of knees together with a cracking head kick in the first however Sanchez appeared to soak them up.
Matata came out with more purpose in the second, sapping Sanchez’s resolve with knees to the body before sending him to the canvas with a knee upstairs.
Although able to rise, follow up knees and punches had Sanchez pinned forcing referee Jon Conway to call a halt to proceedings with just under a minute left in the second stanza.
Two time Lightweight King in the Ring Sone ‘Arch Angel’ Vannathy exacted revenge with a second round technical knockout against Pumipi ‘Caezar’ Ngaronoa in a rubber match.
Vannathy had the better of the first round, targeting the body and getting the attention of the Ngaronoa with a couple of right hands before the round ended.
A hard exchange during the opening moments of the second round was punctuated by a Vannathy right hook in close which dropped Ngaronoa hard.
With Ngaronoa trapped against the ropes taking fire, the referee stepped in to save him from further punishment from the jubilant Vannathy.
Heavyweights Nato ‘Hard Knox’ Laauli and Pane ‘The Punisher’ Haraki made for an entertaining three round affair.
Haraki appeared to have the better of proceedings early with his hand speed and movement.
Laauli began to find his range as the bout progressed which gave a home for his powerful left hand and whipping leg kicks.
Haraki continued to box well, firing crisp combinations however he was mostly on the back foot losing a unanimous judges nod in a bout that could’ve gone either way.
Opening proceedings, Chris ‘Cobra’ Eades won a hard fought unanimous decision over Jordan ‘Sniper’ Syme.
Eades came out aggressively, blasting Symes with knees and kicks to the body however Syme made a hard stand during the second and third rounds as he was able to lets his hands go inside.
King in the Ring Trans-Tasman Tournament - 11 April 2015
Israel Adesanya [CKB, Auckland] beat Pati Afoa [ETK] by knockout in round 1
Israel Adesanya [CKB, Auckland] beat Mark Timms [Bulldog Gym, Manly] by technical knockout in round 2
Simon Maait [Bulldog Gym, Castle Hill] beat Zane Hopman [Fortitude Thai Boxing] by unanimous decision
Mark Timms [Bulldog Gym, Manly] beat Pati Afoa [ETK, Auckland] by unanimous decision
Israel Adesanya [CKB, Auckland] beat Kim Loudon [Extreme Muay Thai, Sydney] technical knockout in round 3
Simon Maait [Bulldog Gym, Castle Hill] beat Zak Fatamaka [Grizzly Thai Boxing, Auckland] by unanimous decision
Zane Hopman [Fortitude Thai Boxing] beat Kurt Pegoraro [Corporate Boxing Gym, Brisbane] by unanimous decision
Mike Matata [City Kickboxing] beat Franz Sanchez [Full Force Gym] by technical knockout in round 2
Sone Vannathy [Arch Angel Muay Thai] beat Pumipi Ngaronoa [Dannevirke Bulldogs] by technical knockout in round 2
Nato Laauli [ETK] beat Pane Haraki [Hastings Fitness Centre] by unanimous decision
Chris Eades [ETK North Shore] beat Jordan Syme [Grizzly Thai Boxing] by unanimous decision