Rafael Aghayev versus Zsolt Habda was announced at the Karate Combat Season 4 Kick-off Press Conference. There, Zsolt admitted to fans and press that he long idolized his next opponent and still holds him in the highest regard.
When Layla Anna-Lee asked if it were true that Habda literally had a poster of Aghayev up on his wall when he was younger, he said, "Yes, of course."
[Aghayev] doesn't need to be introduced. He accomplished almost everything in our sport. He did so much and I respect him so much, and it will be an honor to share The Pit with him.
Rafael Aghayev is considered by many to be the greatest sport karate fighter of all time. So, it's no wonder a young Zsolt looked up to him. The Azerbaijani has won 11 European Championships and 5 World Championships. (There's another 7 top three finishes.)
Aghayev has been consistently great up until the present day since about 2004.
Obviously, his ambitions did not stop short of full-contact fighting. Aghayev defeated Dionicio Gustavo in the very first KC event: Karate Combat: Genesis. Since then, he became focused on preparing for and competing in the Olympics. (Gustavo is presently ranked just behind the Welterweight Champion, after losing a competitive title challenge in Season 3.)
Now, Aghayev is back, taking on a prime fighter approximately seven years his junior. But don't let that convince you he is some 'old dog' ready to give way to a hungry young wolf. At 36-years-old, karate experts agree that Aghayev is still in his fighting prime, and his shiny new Olympic silver medal is at least proof that his reaction time and striking speed remain world class.
The Karate Combat roster certainly regards Aghayev as a major threat in the division, as evidenced by the fact that several fighters turned down the opportunity to face him. Zsolt had the following to say about it:
I know that there were a few guys who actually turned him down... That's not the karate spirit. [That's not] the way of Bushido. We never back off from a challenge. So that's why I'm here.
Still, full-contact karate is indeed a different world from sport karate. And Hungarian karateka Zsolt Habda, aside from being the apparently larger man, is fresh off a recent stoppage victory in Season 3 of Karate Combat.
All this to say...
It's a match-up that combat sports fans around the world should be very eager to see.
Don't miss this epic Main Event! Stay tuned for Karate Combat Season 4.