Event 8 marks the final stop in our time-warping visit to the 1980s Hollywood Hills.
Not to worry! Karate Combat continues next week with a visit to a new environment... the future.
But our "location finale" was not to be missed. It kicked off with two debuting fighters in the men's lightweight division, Tim Ha 🇨🇿 vs. Lazar Kukulicic 🇲🇪.
Lazar Kukulicic and Tim Ha both fought hard to earn a Karate Combat contract.
Both men appeared big for the division, with Ha looking something like a hulk and Kukulicic towering over him. The two spared no time in making their battle as action-packed and high-energy as possible.
Ha floored Kukulicic in the first round with an explosive punch, but Kukulicic recovered almost immediately.
Pit-side commentators Bas and Josh Palmer both noted that the two debutants seemed to be experiencing an adrenaline dump. What they lacked in accuracy (due to their nerves), they made up for aggression, and the willingness to get down to business. (The fight business.)
Toward the end of the round, Kukulicic began evening up the score with impactful left-leg body-kicks (from his south-paw stance), and closed the round with a nod to the division champion's signature technique: a successful rolling thunder front flip kick to the head!
All that in the very first round of the event!
The fight remained competitive through the third & final round, but the endurance of Lazar Kukulicic, a hospital nurse when he's not in The Pit or the dojo, paid off in the closing minutes. He won by Unanimous Decision, edging out a close fight.
Ana Villanueva competed (Believe it or NOT) at 39-years-old.
Ana Villanueva 🇩🇴 vs. Fabiola Esquivel 🇲🇽 followed, marking a highly anticipated debut for the Dominican karateka (and two-time Pan American Games gold-medalist) in Full-Contact fighting.
It also marked a chance at redemption for Karate Combat's first Mexican fighter, whose record wasn't reflecting her efforts at 0-2. (A decision loss, and an unfortunate doctor's stoppage due to a broken nose.)
Villanueva entered The Pit at 39-years-old - not that you could tell. She showed absolutely no signs of an age-disadvantage in her aggression, movement, or energy.
Fabiola Esquivel delivers a roundhouse kick to the head of Ana Villanueva
Notably, in the second-round, Villanueva chose a punch-heavy assault. Impressively, her success with the striking did not deter Esquivel from being the pressure-fighter, keeping Villanueva's back close to the Pit-wall.
In the third round, Esquivel continued to pressure her opponent back, and the strategy paid off!
Roundhouse kick knockout! Shin to the chin!
Esquivel wins by KO, and enters the winner's circle.
Kamariddin Hasanov wears his blood like war-paint versus Jesus Lopez
Expect the unexpected whenever Hasanov (literally) dances into The Pit.
Jesus Lopez 🇵🇪 vs. Kamariddin Hasanov 🇹🇯 at Bantamweight was next.
Both men landed huge shots on the other in the first round, but it was Lopez who delivered the nose-breaking blow. Don't expect Hasanov to cry about it! On the contrary!
Hasanov palmed his very bloody face before Round 2, and streaked it onto his chest like war-paint, screaming at Lopez during the process.
To his credit, the Peruvian fighter felt no intimidation, and never even seemed distracted by the very distracting antics and personality of Tajikistan's "Joker."
Never the less, it seemed that our Joker won the second round, bloody-face and all, even dropping Lopez with a punch (or at least knocking him off-balance).
In the third round, however, Hasanov found himself trapped in the corner, bloodier than ever.
The blood was all over his face, and the injured nose was in very rough shape.
Unfortunately, the referee decided to stop the bout due to the injury, granting Jesus Lopez a TKO win, even though Hasanov protested the stop.
The results from a kick-to-the-liver.
Our main event featured 5-2 Luiz Victor Rocha 🇧🇷 seeking to defend his right to stay near the top of Karate Combat's Lightweight division against a hungry 1-0 fighter Nikita Yanchuk 🇷🇺.
And defend his station he did, indeed!
"The Pitbull" delivered a liver-smashing power-left-kick to the body, in full view of the supreme master of the liver-kick, Pit-side commentator Bas Rutten.
A KO win for Luiz Victor Rocha.
Robin Black called the set-up for the kick, "Sublime," and Rocha called out the Lightweight Champion Edgars Skrivers in his post-fight interview.
Will a title shot be next for Rocha?
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See you on Karate.com next week for more "sublime" Karate Combat!