Last year on New Year’s Eve three MMA stars carried the sport’s flag into K-1 matches and came out on top. Tatsuya Kawajiri, Alistair Overeem, and Gegard Mousasi all won their matches by knock out. Many thought that this was a sign that the level of striking in MMA had grown tremendously.
After Monday’s K-1 World Max Tournament card that presumption seems to have been a tad premature. This time the MMA representatives did not even appear to be in the fights.
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto continued his slide, as he was highlight reel KO’d by relatively unknown South Korean Muay Thai fighter Jae Hee Cheon in 1:20 of the first round. This was Kid’s second loss since returning from his long lay off. He dropped a decision to Joe Warren in DREAM his last time out.
Kid’s protégé and teammate Atsushi Yamamoto took on former Japanese featherweight boxing champion Kazuhisa Watanabe. Yamamoto was continually dropped an even had to resort to MMA style takedowns to avoid excessive shots from his opponent. Eventually the referee was forced to stop the bout 2:40 into the first round.
It was a fight that the fans wanted to see. Tatsuya Kawajiri, the leading vote getter in the pole used to make the bout, was technically out classed by K-1 legend Masato. The referee stopped the fight 1:43 into round 2.
Despite their success on New Year’s Eve, MMA fighters should probably stick to MMA. Kawajiri appears to be leading this charge as he said during the post fight press conference, “I never want to do K-1 ever again.”