April 5th, 1995
Almost 14,000 people crammed into the Yoyogi stadium in Tokyo tonight, the biggest crowd yet, for the third K-1 World Grand Prix finals. Eight fighters again started the tournament after coming through qualifying fights in March.
The first quarter final saw the first of two hometown favourites, Masaaki Satake, take on Jerome Le Banner. The Frenchman looked considerably bigger than the local fighter and wasted no time in landing with a hard left body kick.
Satake managed to get through with a hard overhand right, but Le Banner looked comfortable in the early stages, using a sharp push kick and some good boxing to control the pace and keeping Satake at the end of his jab.
Le Banner showed good movement in the second round as he opened up with some sharp kicks and punches. Satake landed a hard, sharp one two combination and the French fighter came back at him with a hard right hook and low kick.
In the final round Le Banner came out looking sharp, moving well and attacking with punches and kicks. He started to put more power in his shots catching Satake with a heavy uppercut.
Satake tried to rally back, catching Le Banner with some strong rights, but was caught by a heavy body kick from the French fighter and a follow in kick that looked like it hurt.
Le Banner opened up with a heavy overhand left and there was a delayed reaction from the Japanese fighter who eventually dropped to the canvas unable to beat the count.
Next up was South African kickboxer Mike Bernardo, who earned his place in the finals with a TKO victory over Andy Hug last month. He faced Australia’s Stan ‘The Man’ Longinidis.
Bernardo looked the bigger of the two. But Longinidis started positively, attacking Bernardo with some sharp boxing and catching the South African several times with a hard left hook.
Bernardo looked to use the ring and opened up with some low kicks and sharp jabs. Bernardo attacked Longinidis with a spinning back kick at the start of round two, but just fell short of the target.
Longinidis came back with a hard low kick and a salvo of punches and seemed to shake Bernardo with another heavy left hook. Bernardo opened up with some hard punches, but struggled to find the target and Longinidis started to showboat a little and landed with some sharp counters.
Longinidis was landing the better shots as the round drew to a close, but it only takes one shot to turn a fight around and Bernardo connected with a fast high kick that dropped Longinidis for an eight count. He followed up with a couple of hard punches, looking to finish the job, but the bell sounded to save the Australian.
Bernardo stalked forward at the start of the final round, looking to land with big shots. Longinidis landed some sharp counters including another hard left hook, but midway through the round Bernardo unleashed another fast high kick and Longinidis was down again, this time unable to beat the count.
Next was an all Dutch encounter as Ernesto Hoost faced John Kleijn, a karateka who is relatively unknown in the kickboxing world. In the opening round the latter started off by attacking with a fast spinning back hook kick, but it just glanced off his compatriot’s gloves.
Hoost looked to control the action with some sharp kicks and punches as Kleijn tried another spinning hook kick which didn’t connect. He tried to catch the kickboxer with punches but Hoost was too slick defensively.
Hoost landed with a couple of sharp high kicks and more fast punches, ending the round looking in total control. Kleijn came out in the second looking to land with kicks but Hoost again looked sound defensively.
A short way into the round Kleijn fired in a left hook but Hoost countered with a perfectly timed straight right that dropped Kleijn like a stone and Hoost moved through to the semi finals.
The final quarter final match saw K-1 World Grand Prix 1994 winner Peter Aerts face Toshiyuki Atokawa. The Japanese fighter was brought into the finals after Australia’s Sam Greco had to pull out due to an injury.
Aerts looked the bigger and stronger and attacked Atokawa from the off, unloading with hard punches and knees. The Japanese fighter looked tentative but tried to attack Aerts with some low kicks.
But a minute into the opening round got caught by a heavy uppercut from Aerts that sent him down for the count and saw the Dutchman progress to the semi final stage for the second year in a row.
The first semi final saw Jerome Le Banner face Mike Bernardo. The action was a little slow to get going in the opening round, with the referee having to gee both fighters up.
Bernardo started to look to land with heavy punches, but Le Banner did a good job of tying him up and landed with some solid knees. Bernardo kept swinging wildly with his hands, but Le Banner showed good movement to make him miss.
Near the end of the round Bernardo tried to land a spinning back kick, but got tied up again by Le Banner, who landed with more strong knees.
In round two Le Banner started to come forward, opening up with hard punches and low kicks and firing in some hard body kicks. Bernardo came in with some hard punches and started to get some success in the clinch, almost catching Le Banner in the face with some hard knees.
Le Banner landed a hard right and some strong low kicks and Bernardo showed signs they were hurting. Blood was streaming from the nose of Le Banner now, but he landed another hard low kick that took Bernardo off his feet and the referee stepped in to count Bernardo out.
Peter Aerts and Ernesto Hoost met next. It was the third encounter between them with Hoost winning both previous fights by decision. Aerts started aggressively, with Hoost looking solid defensively, keeping a tight guard and showing good movement.
Hoost attacked Aerts with a power combination, following in with a hard kick. Aerts kept stalking forward, but got caught with a fast right punch and follow up high kick from Hoost.
Both started to trade hard punches and Aerts landed with some strong knees. Aerts tried to land with some heavy punches, but Hoost’s defense was again sound, as he made Aerts miss and landed with some slick counters.
Aerts came out in round two looking for more power punches. Hoost kept moving and firing in fast kicks. A short way into the round Hoost seemed to stagger Aerts a little with a fast high kick and follow in punch.
A big right landed from Hoost, but it just seemed to spur on Aerts, who landed a heavy combination to the body and low kick. Hoost tried to land a sneaky, fast left high kick and finished the round looking the sharper of the two.
In the final round Hoost tried to land with some fast high kicks which his opponent managed to avoid. Aerts started to land with some hard punches now and looked to punish the legs of Hoost with solid low kicks.
The defending champion started to look dominant, as he landed with strong knees in the clinch. Hoost looked like he was just fighting defensively at this stage.
Towards the end of the round Hoost was taken to see the ringside doctor after picking up a cut, but the action was allowed to continue. At the end of three rounds the judges couldn’t chose between them with one scoring for Hoost, one for Aerts and the third judge a draw so an extra round was needed.
Aerts stalked forward in the deciding round, looking to cut off the ring and attacking Hoost with power punches. His opponent looked to try and keep him off with kicks but appeared to have lost a lot of his power and sharpness.
Aerts kept up the pressure for the full round, attacking the head and body with solid punch combinations and firing in hard low kicks. Hoost looked tired and tried his best to keep off Aerts with push kicks.
Hoost managed to see out the round, but this time all three judges scored the fight in Aerts favour and he moved into the final.
Le Banner looked to use movement and counters to avoid Aerts power shots in the opening round of the final. The defending champion loaded up again on his punches, before catching the French fighter with a high kick and following in with knees.
Halfway through the round Aerts fired in a hard straight right to the body, catching Le Banner on the solar plexus. There was a delayed reaction from the French fighter but he eventually crumpled to the canvas in agony.
The referee called off the fight, raising Aerts’ hand. He becomes the first man to win back to back K-1 World Grand Prix titles and takes home $150,000 USD in prize money.
This is part of our retrospective series looking at some classic shows and fights.