Voting is now open for the 2010 LiverKick.com Fight of the Year. Cast your vote in the Weekly Poles section in the left hand column. As a reminder, here are links to videos and write-ups on the 10 nominees:
First off, my apologies for not having this up last night. Site maintenance caused a delay in posting.
For the final entry in our Fight of the Year series, we look at something a bit different...
Pornsaneh v. Pakon (Lumpinee Stadium, May 3)
My original plan was to include just kickboxing rules fights here, but reader cacti45 reminded me of this Muay Thai contest which would be criminal to exclude. Google this fight and you'll see phrases like "the best Muay Thai fight I've seen in years" and "some of the wildest action ever". How can you leave that out? This is the consensus Muay Thai fight of the year for 2010, and rightly so. Here you have Pornsaneh in red v. Pakon in blue. Pornsaneh at the time was at 13 Coins Gym, but has since made the switch to Sitmonchai, while Pakon is at Sakyotin. This is a very atypical Muay Thai contest, as Pornsaneh in particular is an aggressive fighter. He oushes the pace here right from the start, and Pakon responds, creating an excellent fight. It all culminates in round 4 (which starts at 1:30 in the 2nd clip) - if you don't watch the whole fight, you at least owe it to yourself to watch that round, which is like the Frye/Takayama of Muay Thai.
Great stuff there. Pakon picks up the win in what also is a nice example of Muay Thai scooring techniques. If you were looking at this from a pure kickboxing standpoint, you might give the win to Pornsaneh, who lands more. But Pakon uses more kicks and knees, which score higher in Muay Thai, so he earns the decision. Hope you enjoyed this one.
Fight #9 is a late entry, but a strong contender...
Mosab Amrani v. Mohamed Khamal (It's Showtime at the Sand, December 18)
It's Showtime had an excellent year in 2010, but it wasn't until the final fight on the final show that they put on a true fight for the ages. Mosab Amrani v. Mohamed Khamal is a testament to the power of quality matchmaking. These are two young fighters, both eager to move up the ranks, and both coming in determined to win. They're also extremely evenly matched, which results in a tremendous back and forth bout. This one reminds me of Chahid v. Zambidis in a lot of ways, as both men throw at a very fast pace, but also use considerably more skill and technique then you see in many of these all action fights. Khamal is in blue, Amrani in red.
If you ask me, Khamal should have picked up the decision win after regulation, but I have no complaints the way things went down. Fun, fun fight here, and it's not terrible hyperbole when the announced says it may be the best fight It's Showtime has ever produced. Great way for the company to close out the year and springboard into what could be a blockbuster 2011.
The last K-1 fight on the list, and we may have saved the best for last...
Peter Aerts v. Semmy Schilt (K-1 World Grand Prix Finals, December 11)
There's been a lot of ink spent on this fight already, but it's the kind of fight that deserves all that attention and more. This was, in my opinion, the single greatest combat sports story of 2010, and the kind of story that makes you a sports fan. On one side - the 40 year old Peter Aerts. Aerts is the most beloved veteran of the sport, but after an unprecedented 17 year run at the top, he finally faltered last year, missing his first ever Grand Prix. Earlier in 2010, Aerts had talked about the end coming soon, and after his KO loss to Kyotaro, it felt like the writing was on the wall - this could be the end of the road for the great one. On the other side - the near 7 foot tall Semmy Schilt, the defending and 4 time K-1 Grand Prix champion. Schilt is as dominant a fighter as K-1 has ever seen, never once being knocked out of the Grand Prix, or any other tournament for that matter. All signs pointed to Schilt taking down the aged Aerts.
Now that is a moment.
Before moving on, let's take a look at exactly how Aerts pulled this off. So many men had failed to take Schilt down - how did Aerts succeed? One key to his victory is Aerts's ability to mix up his attack and constantly keep Schilt guessing. He knows when to wade in with punches, when to lock Schilt up because he is too far inside, and when to retreat from the big man's strikes. He reads Schilt masterfully, allowing him to always keep the pressure up and never let Schilt find his own rhythm. And with that pressure he is able to connect punch after punch accurately on Schilt's chin. They're not powerful KO shots, but they keep stunning Schilt. Most importantly, they prevent Schilt from establishing the methodical rhythm he has used to defeat so many opponents. It's a masterful plan, but one that takes intense concentration, confidence, and stamina to execute. And that's where Aerts seals the deal - he never lets up, ultimately winning the fight in the final minutes. When Schilt finally wilts under the Aerts attack, the 40 year old is still there to put the pressure on, claiming his victory with a definitive closing to the fight. Beautiful, beautiful work that, when combined with the story going in, makes for a truly exceptional fight.