The Fukuoka convention center played host to the latest K-1 World Grand Prix event on Saturday night. In the main event lightweight champion Gonnapar Weerasakreck faced Taio Asahisa with the Japanese fighter prevailing by the narrowest of margins.

Taio came rushing out at the opening bell, attacking Gonnapar with sharp low kicks at the Thai looked to soak up the early pressure. Halfway through the round the champion started to stand his ground more, as both fighters traded hard punches and low kicks.

Gonnapar took Taio off his feet with a well timed low kick and started to find the target more in the last minute of the round, catching the challenger with some hard right hooks and low kicks but he ate a solid right hand just before the bell.

Fast start

In the second round Taio started fast again, but Gonnapar was soon landing with fast body kicks and hard punches and low kicks. The first half of the round saw the Thai backing his opponent up up with punches and kicks.

Taio started to come back in the second half of the round, landing with some hard punches and low kicks and connected with another hard right just before the bell. The third saw Gonnapar start the faster of the two and both fighters started to land hard hooks and low kicks in some electrifying exchanges.

Just over a minute into the round Taio connected with a hard knee, that saw Gonnapar stiffen up briefly and turn his back. The Japanese fighter opened up with a barrage of punches but midway through the round the champion had regained his composure and came back with some hard punches and kicks.

Sharp shots

Taio still came back with some sharp shots and opened up with a fast barrage of punches as the timekeeper signaled the last ten seconds of the round, hoping to catch the judges eyes with a big finish to the round. At the end of three rounds the judges scored the fight a majority draw so an extension round was needed.

In the fourth round both fighters looked a little more reserved. The action still swung back and forth, but the intensity had dropped from the action packed third round.

Taio was forcing the pace but Gonnapar always looked to come back with counter shots whenever his opponent landed with anything solid. The challenger managed to connect with a couple of hard rights just before the bell and it was enough to secure a split decision win and become the new K-1 lightweight champion.

Best of the rest

The co main event was a thrilling battle between the former K-1 Cruiserweight champion K-Jee and Ryo Aitaka. This was the former’s first fight back after losing his title to Sina Karimian in a wild back and forth brawl at K-1 World Grand Prix 2020.

This fight was just as exciting. In the opening round it looked like K-Jee would suffer his second stoppage loss in a row after getting dropped for an eight count by a punch just a minute into the fight.

He then get dropped for another count 30 seconds later but K-Jee somehow managed to weather a storm of shots from Aitaka, stunned his opponent with a spinning back fist and then dropped him with a hard punch at the very end of an action packed round.

In the second stanza K-Jee dropped Aitaka again with a hard low kick and follow up punch, before finishing him off with two hard low kicks a minute into the round.

Former K-1 Super-lightweight champion Rukiya Anpo made a successful debut at Welterweight, dropping Koki twice with punches and finishing him off with a hard low kick inside the first minute of the opening round.

K-1 World Grand Prix 2021, Fukuoka, July 17th
Taio Asahisa def. Gonnapar Weerasakreck (c) via Extra Round Decision (Split)
K-Jee def. Ryo Aitaka via KO (Low kick)at 1:04 of R2
Koya Urabe def. Fumiya Osawa via Decision (Unanimous)
Rukiya Anpo def. Koki via KO (Punches)at 0:53 of R1
Hiromi Wajima def. Abiral Ghimire via KO (Low kicks) at 2:23 of R3
Kosuke Jitsukata def. Naoto Maruyama via KO (Kick)
Yuma Saikyo def. Tatsuki via Decision (Unanimous)
Naoki Yamamoto def. Satoru Nariai via Decision (Unanimous)
Takanashi Miho def. Mari via Decision (Unnanimous)
Mako Yamada def. Nozomi via Decision (Unanimous)
Takumi Terada def. Naoki Takahashi via Decision (Unanimous)
Fukashi def. Yosuke Tamura via KO (3 Knockdowns/Punches) at 1:53 of R1
Tsubasa Yamawaki def. Shohei Nishibayashi via Decision (Majority)
Lyra def. Shion via TKO (3 Knockdowns) at 2:40 of R1
Kosei Kawakita def. Yudai via KO (Right Cross) at 1:15 of R2