After twelve glorious events, we come to the culmination of Karate Combat's incredible 3rd Season.
This season featured our very first bantamweight battles, with the winningest and most durable fighters of that division meeting in the Championship Main Event at this very fight card.
But Event 12 kicked off with a two-lightweight-tornado, that made Robin Black remark:
"I have commentated or analyzed 10,000+ fights, but that is one of the greatest contests I've seen in any type of combat sport."
Vitalie Certan 🇵🇹 vs Deivis Ferreras 🇩🇴
Men's Lightweight Division (150lbs/68kg)
Deivis Ferreras in attack mode
Both Certan and Ferreras entered this fight following stoppage victories earlier this season. Each man met the other with a record of 2-2 against the world-class Karate Combat line up, and both were determined to earn their winning record.
Round 1 began with the Dominican fighter throwing a wide variety of kicking techniques. And though not all made contact, he made it clear that these would be dangerous if not avoided. A thudding calf-kick landed for Ferreras.
It seemed Certan had gained control of the match by trapping Ferreras near the corners of the Pit, but his geographic advantage did not yield the desired results. It was a clobbering counter-left hook (part of a right/left combination) for Ferreras instead!
Certan found himself paying extra attention to head-protection, and so Deivis Ferreras gave him multiple kicks to the body while he cleared his head. Creative combinations clearly won him the round.
Deivis Ferreras mostly evaded Vitalie Certan's offense in Round 1
Vitalie Certan began Round 2 with solid leg-kicks, hoping to slow down his agile foe, but ate a right straight in return. Good thing for his solid chin.
His durability meant he could keep attacking despite the counter-offense. Certan landed body-kicks galore, and you could see the momentum shift in his favor.
Then, he switched it up - HEAD-KICK lands for Certan!
Ferreras held onto Certan's foot as a make-shift clinch, and re-gathered himself, but the onslaught didn't end there. The Portuguese fighter began winging hooks to the head, but Deivis was able to avoid them and return fire.
And then there was madness.
Both men were "swinging for the fences." Certan edged it out and forced Ferreras onto his back against the Pit-wall... where he decided to vigorously wag his tongue at Certan, taunting him to engage. He did not oblige, and rather performed taunts of his own, wiggling his torso and head near the not-technically-downed fighter.
The fans had a laugh, but the karatekas were scolded by the ref.
One of many unique kicking techniques by Vitalie Certan
Round 3 saw Certan land a perfect, pounding spinning back-kick to the gut, his heel driving deep into the belly.
But Deivis took it like a tank.
They landed a series of kicks on each other, before Deivis mounted a six-punch-combination, with five shots making contact to the head (albeit blocked to some degree).
Certan faked some head movement to land a hard, deceptive body kick, but Ferreras caught him with a left hand on his return to his stance. Nevertheless, Vitalie mixed his strikes and their targets to wind up back in control of the geography.
Trapped once again, Ferreras ate two more spinning back-kicks. And though he may indeed be a tank, you can only take so much punishment in the eyes of the judges!
So what would they think?
SUDDEN VICTORY ROUND
Vitalie Certan pushing forward through intense counter-offense
It was too close to call!
In Karate Combat, fighters must always remain prepared for an extra round.
And when a "Sudden Victory" round occurs, it becomes immediately apparent to the fighters that the winner of this round is the winner of the fight.
Round 4, here we go!
It was high-intensity right away. Vitalie was pummelling Deivis's lead leg. But just when you think one of these men takes an advantage - Boom!
A straight-right to the chin blasted Certan back, countering his attempt at another leg kick with extreme emphasis.
It seemed then, that TWO TANKS were inside the Pit. Certan quickly recuperated and soon landed a heavy kick to the body.
And then another!
And suddenly, they are fighting in a phone booth! And yet still throwing kicks from that range!
Another Head-kick lands for Certan! But Deivis is unbelievably tough.
BUT THERE'S ANOTHER HEAD KICK!
AND DEIVIS GOES DOWN!
An Incredible Finish to an Incredible Fight
Two rounds to one, Vitalie Certan defeats Deivis Ferreras by KNOCKOUT in Sudden Victory!
Ilies Mardhi 🇫🇷 vs Eoghan Chelmiah 🇮🇪
Men's Bantamweight Division (135lbs/61kg) Championship
It was "I'm a showman" versus "There are no frills with me," as two very different martial artists set off to determine who would become the first Karate Combat Bantamweight Champion.
It was immediately apparent that both fighters had ultimate confidence.
Round 1 saw Eoghan (pronounced 'Owen') immediately bully forward to dominate the Pit grounds.
This did not rattle Mardhi, however, who seemed eager to engage with body-locks, grabs, and other momentum-disrupting techniques.
After a lot of fruitless effort forcing the impressively well-balanced Eoghan into awkward footing on the 45-degree angled Pit-wall, Mardhi finally scored the first sweep of the fight.
When they resumed standing, the English-speaking Chelmiah began trash-talking his opponent in French! (You'll find that inside the Pit, Chelmiah uses every possible tactic to disrupt the thinking of his opponents. Outside, he rather appears as the noble, courteous professional.)
Chelmiah took control of the real estate with forward pressure and kicks to Mardhi's lead leg, and pressed Mardhi's back against the Pit-wall a few times.
Coming to expect this, however, Mardhi wisely planned a powerful counter-right punch.
It was a talent for timing and grappling by the Frenchman that made an advantage of moving backward throughout the round.
Chelmiah stands between rounds & gets advice from Mom (His Head Coach)
Round 2 demanded change from Chelmiah.
He shelled up with a high guard to invite Mardhi in.
Mardhi gave him a combination in thanks for the invitation. But perhaps this caused a glitch in the routine of his thinking.
When Chelmiah resumed the forward pressure, Mardhi responded with a poorly timed spinning side-kick. And you cannot get away with sloppy timing against this Mauritian-Irishman.
A Dazzling Counter-Punch by Eoghan Chelmiah
Chelmiah slipped aside and countered with a dazzler of a right hand! And he followed with a left!
Mardhi crashed backward into the sharp corner of the Pit, where Chelmiah's fists followed. He slid to the floor, becoming grounded, and becoming ground-and-pounded.
Yet, his ultimate confidence did not fade.
He put Chelmiah back into another awkward grappling position on the cage, and afforded himself the time needed to fully recover. Both men would end up on the ground.
One of the many unusual predicaments Chelmiah and Mardhi found themselves in
Not to be outdone, Chelmiah used his defensive shell to sneakily approach Ilies Mardhi and secure a takedown of his own.
The final minute of the round saw a variety of successful head punches by Chelmiah unto Mardhi.
And it would clearly appear we were 1-1 moving into the third round.
Round 3 offered a more balanced start, and both fighters now seemed to correct their earliest tactical errors.
Mardhi regained his specialty for evasiveness and Chelmiah maintained the more unpredictable (yet constant) forward motion that granted victory in the second round.
Both men saw success at their respective gameplans; a thunderous body-kick for Chelmiah, a variety of head punches for Mardhi.
In the eyes of our commentating team, though, Chelmiah was perhaps a bit too gun-shy.
It Proved an evenly matched Championship Battle
Eoghan's mother (who doubles as his head coach) must have agreed, as the championship Round 4 saw yet more adaptation by the Irish fighter.
Rather than move forward for head-hunting, Chelmiah began doubling up on lead kicks.
With Mardhi forced to fight out of bad positions, Eoghan could engage in the sort of chaotic punching exchanges he loved, and get the better of it.
Then, Mardhi threw an abrupt offense!
And it caught Chelmiah by surprise!
A clobbering right hand to the temple was chased by a sweeping leg kick, the combination of which sent Chelmiah to the floor.
As per usual, once Chelmiah stood back up, he wasted zero time getting back to his own offense. A thudding leg kick, and then more of that patented forward-pressure.
If the first two rounds were clear as day, these latter two were densely opaque.
Chelmiah preferred when the fight was at close-range
Round 5 could help determine the winner.
Right away Chelmiah got in, landed strikes, and got out.
Mardhi was moving backward, but no longer landing the sharply accurate counterpunches. Instead, he was more often pressed onto the Pit-wall, smothered by Chelmiah's aggression.
Where he would have escaped or landed a strike, Mardhi was now forced to tie up and slow down the action. Chelmiah cut off every exit.
Attempting to explode off of the Pit-wall, Mardhi launched ahead into a front-kick. Miss!
The Irishman made him pay!
A left hook countered the entry and down went Mardhi, who took additional punches on the ground.
But he would survive, face bloodied by the damage.
Feeling he had done enough in the four rounds prior, he took to celebration at the closing bell.
But it would be a premature back-flip celebration for Ilies Mardhi
Another Sudden Victory Round!?
The Judges first came to a "Split Draw."
That means one judge awarded it to Mardhi, another to Chelmiah, and another scored it Even.
As we know from our previous fight, this very Finale, that means a Sudden Victory Round must take place.
Yet, despite his premature celebration, Mardhi had otherwise appeared to be unhappy.
Referee Marc Goddard was instructing the fighters to prepare for another round, when the Frenchman complained of a broken hand.
We look at a potential image where Mardhi's break may have occurred:
Chelmiah's chin survives. Mardhi's hand does not.
Mardhi was unwilling or unable to answer the bell, therefore after calling a doctor, Goddard waved the fight off and declared a TKO victory for Eoghan Chelmiah, who vigilantly awaited the resumption of battle.
Durability would Determine the New Bantamweight Champion
Your new Karate Combat Bantamweight Champion: Eoghan Chelmiah.
Above, Chelmiah bows to Karate Combat president Adam Kovacs, who strapped up his Karate Combat Championship Belt.
Then, Lyoto Machida presented Eoghan his golden karate belt.
Although Eoghan Chelmiah would voice his interest in a rematch, so that he could more definitively prove himself the champion with a finish or a one-sided victory, he nevertheless certainly earned this win on toughness and durability.
The Karate Combat team thanks all our viewers, fighters, readers, and hosts for an unbelievably satisfying third season. But the entertainment does not stop here.
Stay tuned for Post-Season awards, including the Punch & Kick of the Season, and more!
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