April 30th, 1994

The 11,000 capacity Yoyogi National stadium in Tokyo  was packed tonight for the second ever K-I World Grand Prix. The tournament featured eight, elite level heavyweight kickboxers from around the world.

The first quarter final match was an all Dutch affair, as Peter Aerts faced Rob Van Esdonk. The former lost at the same stage at last years inaugural K-1 Grand Prix, dropping a decision to compatriot Ernesto Hoost.

Aerts attacked the legs of Esdonk early on with sharp low kicks, Esdonk countered back with a sharp left hook. From the start Aerts looked to have the edge in the power department and attacked the body and head of Esdonk with hard punches.

Esdonk looked to pick off Aerts with counters, but didn’t look like he had the power to hurt him. A big barrage of punches from Aerts saw Esdonk go into a shell.

The best moment in the round for Esdonk came as he landed a hard spinning back fist, that seemed to stun Aerts. Esdonk gained confidence and opened up with a barrage of punches, dropping Aerts for an eight count, but Aerts dug deep and came back with a barrage of his own shots, that had Esdonk holding on.

In round two Aerts connected with a heavy right hand at the start. Both started to open up with knees and trade punches, before some big hooks from Aerts sent Esdonk staggering back across the ring.

Aerts fired in more hard punches and chopped the legs from under Esdonk with a hard low kick. Esdonk looked like he was struggling to stay in the fight now, but tried to rally and went close with another back fist.

With just under a minute to go Esdonk landed with a big uppercut, taking Aerts off his feet, but the referee ruled it a slip. Aerts came in with some big punches and knees as Esdonk was looking more and more exhausted.

In the final round Aerts kept pressuring the ragged looking Esdonk. Just over a minute into the round Aerts landed with a hard right and followed in with a fast right high kick that sent Esdonk crashing out of the fight.

Karate legend

The second quarter final saw Swiss Karate legend Andy Hug face Patrick Smith. Hug was considered by many to be the favourite for the tournament, after a successful start to his kickboxing career which included a decision win over K-1 World Grand Prix 1993 winner Branko Cikatic last month.

Smith, a kickboxer and mixed martial artist came into the fight on the back of a TKO loss to Royce Gracie in the final of UFC 2 last month. The fight proved to be short lived with the American dropping Hug with almost the first shot of the fight and then following in to finish him with a right uppercut and cross just 19 seconds into the opening round.

Hometown hero

Nest up saw the sole hometown fighter in the tournament Masaaki Satake, who was stopped in the semi final in last years tournament by eventual winner Branko Cikatic.

Satake faced England’s Michael Thompson who entered the tournament after stopping fellow Englishman Gary Sandland in the K-1 Challenge show in Tokyo last month.

Thompson is another experienced karateka, having three wins and two losses against Andy Hug during his karate career. Thompson started fast, attacking Satake with explosive punches.

Satake looked more composed and started to work the legs of Thompson, attacking with sharp low kicks. Thompson attempted a flashy, spinning hook kick, but it bounced harmlessly off of Satake’s gloves.

In the second half of the round Satake started to push the pace more, stalking forward and attacking with hard punches and low kicks and near the end of the round, caught Thompson with a solid left hook.

In round two Satake upped the pressure on Thompson, pushing forward and attacking with hard kicks and punches, at one point looking like he winded Thompson with a left body shot.

Thompson was fighting almost entirely on the back foot now, but still managed to open up with some sharp punches and knees. Towards the end of the round the pressure of Satake looked like it was having an effect on the Englishman who was looking more and more ragged as the round went on.

Satake came out fast in the final round opening up with more heavy punches. Thompson tried to slow him down with a spinning back kick, but it had little effect.

A short way into the round Thompson got caught with his head low and Satake landed with a knee to the face. This opened a nasty cut on the right eye of Thompson and the ringside doctor stopped the fight.

Reigning champion

The final quarter final bout featured the reigning champion Branko Cikatic face the third contender from the Netherlands, Andre Manaart. The Dutchman earned his place with a win over Toshiyuki Atokawa, on the K-1 Challenge card in Tokyo last month.

Cikatic and Manaart had met in the ring three years before with Cikatic taking a 12 round points win for the WKA World title in Germany. The Croatian started with his trademark power punches and some sharp spinning kick attempts.

Manaart looked a little wary of Cikatic’s power and looked to clinch and knee when close and tried to use the ring as much as he could. Both came out with solid low kicks at the start of the second round.

Manaart looked like he wanted to open up and punch more, but quickly walked onto a heavy overhand right from Cikatic and dropped to the canvas, where he was counted out.

Final four

The first semi final saw Aerts face Smith, who came out looking to cause another fast upset, attacking Aerts with some heavy looking punches. A hard right from Aerts slowed him up, but Smith kept on coming in wildly.

Aerts looked composed and made Smith miss and picked him off with sharp counters. A short way into the round Aerts landed with a hard knee and followed in with a strong right punch, sending Smith down for the count.

It was a replay of the 1993 semi final next between Satake and Cikatic. In the opening round Cikatic wasted no time in opening up with heavy punches, attacking Satake with hard uppercuts and straight rights.

Satake started by attacking the legs of Cikatic. A little way into the round Cikatic fired in a fast high kick and went close with a heavy left hook, that drew a nod from Satake.

Cikatic landed with a heavy hook to the body and followed in with a hard right. Cikatic landed with another hard right, but got hit with a hard counter from Satake, who smiled and nodded his head again.

In round two Satake came out looking sharp, picking off Cikatic and countering everything thrown at him. Satake landed with a fast spinning back fist, before Cikatic tried a dramatic looking jumping, spinning back kick.

Satake read it well though and kicked him off balance just before it landed. Cikatic kept searching for the big KO shot, but Satake did a great job in avoiding a lot of the punches and countering back.

Cikatic landed with a hard hook towards the end of the round that sent Satake staggering back and followed in with more hard shots but the Japanese fighter managed to avoid most of them.

In the final round the pace slowed a little as both looked to feel their way in more. Cikatic fired in a fast hook kick, but Satake caught it and threw him to the canvas.

The action had slowed right down by now. Cikatic tried a few more spinning kicks and side kicks and Satake came in with a few hard punches and low kicks, but neither landed anything too hard. At the final bell Satake was awarded the fight by majority decision.

The final

Aerts set the pace early in the final, landing with a fast high kick and following in with some big punches. Satake kept looking for the counter shot but got caught by a hard left hook from Aerts.

Aerts landed with a hard one two and clearly had the edge in power. Aerts finishes the opening round looking in control. In round two Aerts used his jab well coming from behind it with some hard low kicks. Satake looked a little slow to get off with his shots again.

Aerts again looked in control with Satake possibly feeling the effects of a hard semi final while his opponent had finishes his penultimate fight fast. The Dutchman kept control throughout the round and landed with a solid spinning back kick just before the end of the round.

In the final round Satake came out looking like he knew he needed a huge three minutes and opened up with some solid shots but not many landed clean. Aerts soon started to unload again with powerful punches and knees, the Japanese fighter tried a fast high kick but it just bounced off the shoulder.

Satake still showed plenty of heart but just didn’t have the firepower to trouble Aerts. Towards the end of the round the Dutchman got through with some solid knees to soar ahead on the scorecards.

At the final bell the judges award him the unanimous points win. Aerts becomes only the second man to win a K-1 World Grand Prix.

K-1 World Grand Prix 1994, Tokyo, April 30th
Peter Aerts def. Masaaki Satake by Decision (K-1 Grand Prix Final)
Ivan Hippolyte def. Hiromu Yoshitaka by Decision
Masaaki Satake def. Branko Cikatic by Decision (K-1 Grand Prix 1/2 Final)
Peter Aerts def. Patrick Smith by KO in R1 (K-1 Grand Prix 1/2 Final)
Lucia Rijker def. Sandra Moore by Decision
Branko Cikatic def. Andre Mannaart by KO in R2 (K-1 Grand Prix 1/4 Final)
Masaaki Satake def. Michael Thompson by TKO in R3 (K-1 Grand Prix 1/4 Final)
Patrick Smith def. Andy Hug by KO in R1 (K-1 Grand Prix 1/4 Final)
Peter Aerts def. Rob Van Esdonk by KO in R3 (K-1 Grand Prix 1/4 Final)

This is part of our retrospective series looking at some classic shows and fights.