Early on, Bouderbane found success countering Cera with right-hand punches. After a few of these, however, Cera began taking advantage of his greater reach.
Gabriele Cera evades the head-kick by Alexandre Bouderbane
The Italian karateka landed impactful body kicks that fans could hear loud and clear.
It was then up to Bouderbane to spend more energy and effort to close the gap between he and his foe, and so he began blitzing forward with combinations. But Cera remained elusive.
In Round 2, Cera continued his better strategy of remaining exclusively in kicking distance, often attacking the legs of Bouderbane, who winced badly upon several individual strikes.
It was the Frenchman who scored the most significant head-strike of the round, even knocking Cera off-balance.
Yet, when Cera returned to his feet, more punishing calf-kicks followed, prompting Bas Rutten & Lyoto Machida to agree that Bouderbane could only take ~"about 5 more" before the fight would be over by leg-kick TKO.
Gabriele Cera delivers a Furious Leg-kick
Round 3 opened with a commitment to strategy that Cera can be proud of: a whomping power leg-kick!
Bouderbane hobbled out of the orthodox stance into southpaw, to protect his clearly injured left leg.
Cera lands several powerful punches to the head of Bouderbane, whose foundation is faulty! He then throws him on his back and lands effective ground punches - BUT - lands a late strike after the Ref said his 5-seconds of ground-and-pound (per Karate Combat's rules) were up.
This gave Bouderbane extra time to recover from the ground-and-pound delivered unto him, but it's unlikely the rest helped heal his leg! In fact, he was falling to the floor while attempting clinches and kicks.
The leg damage made it clear to the judges.
Gabriele Cera poses with Robin Black as he breaks down his winning strategy
Gabriele Cera wins by Unanimous Decision.
The Middleweight Championship was next!
Marc Goddard refereed the MW title fight
All other Atamov fights, by the way? KO Victories.
With the pressure of an all-new Karate Combat ~84kg/185lbs world title on the line, both fighters began Round 1 tentatively. After referee Marc Goddard dished both men a warning for inactivity, they began Round 2 with a completely different attitude.
Reminiscent of our previous fight, Shahin Atamov made a gameplan of attacking the lead leg of Mina.
Thwack! One calf-kick spun Mina well off his balance.
Round 3 took a different flavor altogether.
Atamov took much greater initiative, attempting multiple spinning kicks within the first minute.
However, it was the counter-right hand that landed most significantly for Atamov, as his opponent (nicknamed "The Bullet") darted into close range. It was the taller fighter in this case who found the distance hardest to manage.
Shahin Atamov rains a right hand down on Franklin Mina
When Mina got too close, Shahin obliged him with a takedown. These takedowns opened up ground striking opportunities for Atamov across the third round and throughout the championship rounds.
In the final round, Atamov attempted a wild jumping, backward kick, but it was his calf-kicks and counter-punches that he could rely on most.
Consistency and patience won it for the Azerbaijani karateka.
New Karate Combat Middleweight Champion Shahin Atamov
Shahin Atamov avenges his only loss, winning his Golden Belt by Unanimous Decision.
Don't miss any Karate Combat action! There are more fights this season.
Subscribe to our Newsletter, now.
Also, did you know the Karate Combat Official STORE is open for business?