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Friday, July 12, 2024

Aghayev emerges as the clear winner: Dominates Daniels in the main event of Karate Combat 37.



Andres Madera (VEN) vs Maciej Tercjak (POL)
Lightweight Bout

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Aghayev, an Olympic medalist but undersung in the western world due to his lack of English, is an icon to his legions of devoted fans around the world. They stayed true to their man, making for something of a karate civil war as Daniels’ fans argued with Aghayev’s fans about how the fight would play out.Still, Perry’s spirit was apparently channeled by Ericsson, who threw thunderous bombs with both hands in the first round and was rewarded with two big back-to-back knockdowns which made a finish seem imminent. Perry, mere feet away, was screaming himself hoarse urging Ericsson to finish Khelfi off. Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.Jesus Lopez had tears of emotion rolling down his face as the Karate Combat World Bantamweight Championship was wrapped round his waist at the end of his bout with defending champion Eoghan Chelmiah in the Karate Combat 37 co-headline bout. A stunning Palatnikov right cross was the beginning of the end for Buxton in the second round of this middleweight bout. UFC veteran Palatnikov, making his Karate Combat debut here, scored a TKO win by dropping Buxton with a clean right hand before finishing him on the floor.Both fighters scored in the first round but Palatnikov – who also had to overcome a bad eye-poke in the middle of the round – was  ahead on all the judges cards by the time he finished the fight in the second frame.When the end finally came, it was almost a mercy. Azouz was being hopelessly outclassed by the two-time GLORY Kickboxing, one-time Bellator Kickboxing world champion and was being looked at closely by the referee. Before the fight, many people believed that Lopez would lose and predicted that Chelmiah would win easily. Despite having a record of 3-3 in Karate Combat, Lopez was not expected to win and there were rumors that Chelmiah could knock him out. However, Lopez has never been defeated in a fight before.“It was a brave move, stepping up to face me on two weeks’ notice,” said Gabriel Varga with considerable understatement when asked for his thoughts on tonight’s fight with French lightweight Tommy Azouz.Andres Madera surprised some pundits with a third-round stoppage win over tough Polish opponent Maciej Tercjak over three rounds, highlighting his continued evolution from amateur-circuit standout to full-contact professional fighter.Ericsson and Perry struck up an unlikely friendship on one of Ericsson’s recent trips to the US, with the two even engaging in widely-watched bare-knuckle sparring session. Perry had in fact been due to corner Ericsson in this bout but couldn’t get his cornerman’s license processed in time by the Florida State Athletic Commission.Samuel Ericsson def. Tarek Khelifi via TKO (Ankle Injury) at 1:25 of Round 3
Lightweight BoutMaximo Nunez (DOM) vs Gabriel Stankunas (BRA)
Bantamweight BoutRafael Aghayev def. Raymond Daniels via Unanimous Decision
Karate Combat Interim Welterweight Championship BoutThe fast-paced fight had barely any lulls as Nunez and Stankunas threw continuous fire at one another. After three rounds, Stankunas’ cleaner scoring had him ahead on the judges’ scorecards and earned him the unanimous decision victory.Frequently Lopez would score and evade, then score again as Chelmiah reactively surged after him looking for immediate revenge. With the Peruvian apparently ahead on the scorecards, it wasn’t a surprise when he was announced as having scored the upset and taken the title.Downed once more by Varga, Azouz was finished off by a relentless barrage of ground and pound from the Vancouver Island man, prompting the referee to step in and wave the fight off.Just hours later, those tears appeared in a whole new light: Lopez, briefly atop the sport’s bantamweight division, learned that his reign as champion came by way of a technical error by the ringside judges and would not even see the sunrise.Months of back and forth on social media led to heated staredowns in fight week and finally a war in The Pit as bantamweight rivals Nunez and Stankunas set out to destroy each other and stake their claims to bantamweight prospect status.“In the meantime, I think as an organization the best thing we can do is to give them an immediate rematch. I’ve spoken to both fighters and their teams and all sides are agreed on a rematch as soon as possible. Khelfi began visibly wincing every time Ericsson landed, until eventually it became clear that the leg was badly damaged and could not sustain more punishment. Two more kicks from Ericsson sent Khelfi to the canvas and though he tried to get up, his lower left leg could no longer support his weight, leading to a TKO win for an ecstatic Ericsson.The win also secured Aghayev the interim Karate Combat World Welterweight Championship, setting him up for a unified world title fight with champion Josh Quayhagen in the new year.Gabriel Varga (CAN) vs Tommy Azouz (FRA)Azouz had taken the bold step not only of coming in on short notice but also confidently predicting that he would retire the “aged’ Varga, 37, who he felt was not as sharp or as dangerous as he had been in his younger years.Ironically, most fans will feel that the erroneous decision was the correct one: fans following the fight on social media largely seemed to have Lopez as the winner and there was little controversy when he was announced (incorrectly) as the bout winner. BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Eoghan Chelmiah (IRE) vs Jesus Lopez (PER)The first fight of the evening set the tone for the whole event. Newcomers Samy Ennkhaili and Gabriel Diaz battled from the opening bell and had a spirited scrap which ended when Ennkhaili, who had been leading the scoring, suffered a separated shoulder after being thrown by Diaz.Aghayev displayed absolute mastery of space and distance as he denied Daniels room to set up his trademark shots, with the American soon finding himself going from frustrated to defensive as Aghayev took control of the fight.That proved incorrect, with tonight’s version of Gabriel Varga being perhaps the most dangerous version of the last decade. Varga’s face wore his usual impassive look but his output was aggressive to the point of being vindictive and Azouz simply could not weather the storm, folding early and often under the onslaught. Samuel Ericsson (SWE) vs Tarek Khelifi (ALG)
Lightweight BoutAndres Madera def. Maciej Tercjak via TKO (Punches) at 1:30 of Round 3
Bantamweight BoutAs of Sunday morning, both fighters were notified of the error and had agreed to an immediate rematch as early as practicable in 2023. The Algerian fighter gritted it out and made it to the second round though, the speed and extent of his recovery giving Ericsson pause for thought. Khelfi also came out with a much smarter plan for the second round, using his superior range and reach to score on Ericsson from a safe distance. And so the split-decision victory which was announced for Lopez was actually a split-decision win for Chelmiah.“The judges are appointed by the state athletic commission and Karate Combat itself has no control over judging or any judging processes. Chelmiah thinks he won what he concedes was a close fight but Lopez does not accept the decision at all and has indicated that he may lodge an appeal with the Florida State Boxing Commission.Gabo Diaz def. Samy Ennkhaili via TKO (Shoulder Injury) at 1:22 of Round 3
Lightweight BoutThe young Spaniard ended his night in an ambulance instead of the winner’s circle but made a good first impression regardless and will surely be invited back for a second outing, while Diaz scores a TKO win on his Karate Combat debut and will also surely return to The Pit in 2023.Going into the third and final round the two fighters had won a round apiece, albeit Ericsson was ahead on points because of the knockdowns he had scored. The judges would not be needed though, As Ericsson’s tactic of hammering kicks into Khalfi’s lead calf started to pay dividends.Samy Ennkhaili (ESP) vs. Gabriel Diaz (VEN)
Lightweight BoutGabriel Stankunas def. Maximo Nunez via Unanimous Decision (R3)
Bantamweight BoutKarate Combat 37: Full ResultsSasha Palatnikov def. Rob Buxton via TKO (Punches) at 2:39 of Round 1
Middleweight BoutLopez arrived in Orlando with other ideas though, and had not come merely to make up the numbers. He played a crafty game from the outset, taking advantage of Chelmiah’s fondness for throwing heavy leather while bulling forwards.There can be only one GOAT – and that question was settled in the Karate Combat 37 main event when Rafael Aghayev, Olympic karate stylist, met Raymond Daniels, Sport Karate legend, in a full-contact showdown to determine which of them really is the best karate competitor of all time. Daniels’ best moment of the entire fight came in the dying seconds of the fifth and final round when a tired Aghayev left himself open for a flying knee. The shot landed well and it was astonishing Aghayev survived it. The Azeri welterweight was felled but dragged Daniels down with him and managed to wrestle his way to his feet and finish the round.Palatnikov’s finish was the perfect ending to his impressive performance, showcasing his exceptional head movement and timing against his taller Canadian opponent.Gabriel Varga def. Tommy Azouz via TKO (Punches) at 2:03 of Round 3
Lightweight BoutAt the conclusion of five close-fought rounds, the judges – supplied by the Florida State Boxing Commission, which sanctions Karate Combat events in Florida – handed over their scores. At some point during the totaling, the fighter names were mixed up: Chelmiah’s scores were entered as Lopez’s and vice versa. Rob Buxton (CAN) vs Sasha Palatnikov (HKG)
Middleweight BoutPredictions of another highlight-reel Daniels knockout win could not have been further off the mark. As far as showcases go, Aghayev could not have asked for better; the bout, against an acknowledged master of the sport, proved beyond doubt that Aghayev is one of the striking world’s all-time great fighters and the pound-for-pound best karate fighter in history.Eoghan Chelmiah def. Jesus Lopez via Split Decision, R5
Karate Combat Bantamweight Championship BoutWith a substantial height and reach advantage plus a string of showstopping knockouts to his name, Daniels – who was a title contender in GLORY Kickboxing and a standout performer in Bellator prior to crossing over to Karate Combat – was the heavy favorite, with bookmakers having him as much as -600 to win the bout.“I still want some more time in there before I go for the title shot,” said Varga afterwards. “Maybe one more fight and then after that I’ll go for the belt.”It takes serious fighting to draw a reaction from bare-knuckle brawler ‘Platinum’ Mike Perry, so the spectacle of Perry next to The Pit and repeatedly losing his mind during Ericsson’s bout with Khelfi speaks for itself.

“This is an unprecedented situation for Karate Combat and obviously heartbreaking for Jesus Lopez, who put in a career-best performance and feels that he is the rightful new champion. Mistakes do happen but it’s extremely disappointing to have it happen in such an important high-profile fight,” said Karate Combat president Adam Kovacs.

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