It is undeniable that between the return of Thor on commentary, and two eruptive matches, Karate Combat and Valhalla are proving to be the hottest place to be in the Universe.
The first match of the night was the 64 kilo ladies bout between newcomer Anna Laura Prezzoti from Brazil, and Omaira Molina from Venezuela. Molina, or La Guerra (The Warrior) already had one win under her belt, however, she was disappointed with her performance last time, as she felt that she wasn’t working up to her full potential. She vowed that she would be on her A-Game. A newcomer only to the pit, Prezzoti’s last competition was the Olympics. When asked how she felt her first match would go, the Debutante simply stated, that “her opponent is good, but she’s just better.” Not only are those words packed with confidence, but those are some serious fighting words.
From the jump, it seemed as if the tension was palpable between the two karate fighters. Josh Palmer noted that there seemed to be “some intention on their faces.” As Molina and the 18 year old Prezzoti entered the pit, it seemed as if Referee Kevin Sataki was going to be as much a partner in this fight as the two women. They connected immediately, and within seconds, he had to separate the two, as Prezzoti was warned not to grab Molina.
This seemed to be a running theme for the match: fists - and warnings– were flying as the two women faced off again and again. This is not to overshadow their technique, or their aggression – both are incredibly well qualified, and showed off incredible roundhouse kicks, strikes and showed no fear.
Sataki seemed perplexed as he had to keep warning Molina to stop grabbing Prezzoti’s shirt, perhaps this was a knee-jerk reaction, perhaps this was an answer to The Brazilian’s grab at Molina at the top of the 3rd round. At one point, he could be heard saying “Clean break! Clean break! Hey, listen ladies! Hey, keep it clean, ladies. Come on! We be ladies! Let's fight!”
Those words fell on deaf ears to Molina, as his warnings turned into subtraction of points, and by the end of the first round, we had to wonder: Was too much aggression going to hurt La Guerra? Or would her points deduction even matter at this point?
As Prezzoti would fire off a kick, Sataki would have to separate the two, as Josh pondered, “They really want to get stuck into dirty boxing, don’t’ they?”
At the start of the 2nd round, Prezzoti immediately began feinting out, Molina’s strikes came fast and furious, and Prezzoti took Molina to the ground with an impressive hook kick. No matter where they traveled, they clearly in each other’s dance space, as Bas noted that “They like to fight in the phone booth, right?” with Josh responding “Yeah, they're both exceptionally clinch.” Thor chimed in and agreed, by saying “They’re both very aggressive girls.” Of course, this is not a bad thing at Karate Combat, as fighters are awarded points for aggressiveness – and speaking of aggressiveness, Josh offered this advice, “Molina again with the ground and pound and she's going to get warned for a shot to the back of the head. She's going to be very careful here she doesn't get on the wrong side of our referee.”
Just as the fight ensued, Kevin Sataki had to once again warn Prezzoti about grabbing around Molina’s back and striking.
With seconds left in the 2nd round, Sataki, understandably losing patience, called the round and sent both fighters back to their corner to get a quick lesson on the Karate Combat rules.
Did it work?
Just as the third round began, Josh likened the two to “Rock Em Sock Em Robots” and Sataki had to yet again scold Molina on shirt grabbing.
Prezzoti opened up with a big right kick, and Molina came back at her with strikes. This was a fast and furious fight. Josh admitted to Thor that it was safe to say there was no love lost between these two. Just as this comment was made, Sataki had to stop the match again, and in a scolding manner, had to remind Molina and Prezzoti that he could see everything.
Break ups aside, it seemed clear that Molina was the aggressor here between the two, but could La Guerra actually walk away this fight victorious, or would those point deductions bite her in the end?
Both fighters were swinging a bit wider, and you could see the match had taken its toll on the two, and both looked quite unhappy with the other, which is understandable, given the nature of the fight.
Winner, by unanimous decision, went to Omaira Molina.
When interviewed by Layla Anna-Lee, Molina surprised us by stating “My Brazilian Opponent was a true warrior. I respect tough competition. It was a close match so I congratulate her.” She then added, “In spite the personal problems one may have, it’s important to keep adjusting and being humble, to keep focused on improving your skills.”
After this match, one may wonder, are those reflective words for her, or are those words of advice to Prezzoti? One may never know.
The second match of the night was Kudo Karate Fighter Nikita Yanchuk, The Destroyer, from Russia, in his debut match against Vitalie Certain from Portugal.
Right as the fighters were about to exit the portal, Thor excitedly said “You know what? This fight, I cannot wait for this fight. I saw Nikita earlier backstage and he looked a little bit crazy, I have to admit that.”
As the two came out, they held very similar expressions on their faces as the fighters before them, which made us wonder, would history repeat itself with two of the same type of matches in the same night?
Off the bat, Certan has the experience on his side, while Yanchuck had reach. If Certan was going to continue his winning streak, speed and agility would have to be on his side, which wouldn’t be too hard for the Parkour loving athlete. However, Yanchuk himself is a self-admitted adrenaline junkie, who according to Palmer, “is looking to pressure and destroy.”
With Sam Amidi refereeing this match, the match got underway with both in an Orthodox stance. Yanchuk fired off a couple of low calf kicks, and quickly waved off a kick from his opponent, then delivered an aggressive left kick of his own back to Certan, almost serving as a warning from Yanchuk.
Something to note, per Josh, is that “Certan is much more that Karate stylist than Yanchuk who has the blended background with Kudo.” Bas agreed, saying “Kudo will definitely help him with this fight, with the throws.” Kudo also seemed to help with the crowd, as a “Nikita!” chant quickly developed.
Yanchuk, feeding off both adrenaline and the approval of the audience, really began coming at Certan with a growly confidence, firing off at Certan’s leg once again. It reminded Bas of another Karate Combat fighter, “It's a little bit of movement like Edgars Skrivers, right? Our champion.”
Whether that was intentional or not, it’s natural to wonder if we would be able to eventually see the two face off against each other one day.
Certan seemed to turn the tables in his favor as he was able to kick and do a ferocious ground and pound on the newcomer. Usually that might take the wind out of someone, but it was clear that it only made Yanchuk angry. It reminded me of what Bruce Banner once said, before turning green with rage and tripling his size. “You’re making me angry, and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
As the first round came to a close, Josh revealed that Yanchuk said, pre match that “he had visualized a second round knockout.” Could it be possible that the young Russian not only had super powers, but was able to predict his wins?
The next round opened up with what Josh Palmer described as “a frantic pace” with a big feint from the Portuguese fighter, but it was answered with a big smile from Yanchuk, which is both intimidating and positively terrifying.
Thankfully, if Certan felt what any of us felt, he didn’t show it, because he immediately delivered a spinning back kick, unfortunately, he just grazed the smiling Russian.
With about 10 seconds left to the second round, Yanchuk earned a nice ground and pound, however, as the match came to a close, it became apparent that Yanchuk’s vision of a second round knockout was not going to come to fruition. Luckily, he was chosen for his fighting skills, and not his psychic abilities, so we’ll let this one go.
At the top of the third round, both fighters came back looking refreshed, and ready to go.
Certan delivered some incredible kicks, but while he was slowing down, he was still moving with force and determination. It was hard to believe they were only half-way through the third match, leaving us to wonder, would there be a fourth round?
Yanchuk steamrolled forward and took Certan down, Certain kicked and missed, kicked again, and got caught and taken down by Yanchuk again. And again. The Referee had to separate the two, and warn Yanchuk that you cannot commit both arms and legs at the same time.
In the final 20 seconds, Yanchuk delivered a front kick, Certan closed the distance, and Certan dominated Yanchuk, closing out the third round and the fight.
An incredible fight, a really tough job for the judges, but a decision was made, and by unanimous decision, The Destroyer, newcomer Nikita Yanchuk took the win.
With beautiful sportsmanship between the two fighters, he revealed to Layla Anna-Lee that he “dedicates this victory to my wife and to my child who will be born in February. This victory I made for him, he motivated me.”
We congratulate Nikita Yanchuk on his first win with Karate Combat, and congratulate he and his wife on their baby to be.