Rocha, Daniels Win at Karate Combat
Souza finally mounted a little offense in the third but his strikes lacked commitment. Rocha scored the only telling blows though they were few and far between. The pair picked it up a bit in the final round as Rocha landed the blow he'd been waiting for, dropping Souza with a left hook. Souza got back up but it was enough to seal a unanimous decision win for Rocha.
The co-main event saw 43-year-old Black Belt Hall of Fame karateka Raymond Daniels turn back the clock defeating Sasha Palatnikov by decision. Daniels looked sharp dancing around and unleashing the wide array of dazzling kicks that have always been his trademark, at one point landing a spinning back kick to the body that sent Palatnikov flying into the angled wall of the pit and tumbling to the mat.
Irish Open champion and overall decorated point fighter and kickboxer Elijah Everill of England has signed with Karate Combat. He will join his mentor Raymond Daniels and teammate Robbie Lavoie as All Stars to enter the Karate Combat pit. Everill has garnered a reputation in the sport martial arts world as a rare talent who can dominate at WAKO tournaments in Europe and win NASKA titles on American soil, using a well-rounded game centered around his patented blitz that is arguably the fastest in the world. His unique combination of length and explosive speed helps him manage distance and close gaps quickly, likely to be an advantage when he drops into the pit on May 20th for his debut at KC39. His opponent is Rahul Bhowmick, a solid opponent with a World Karate Federation background and impressive history outside the martial arts including a doctorate in pharmacy.
Everill had the following to say about the opportunity: I’ve always dreamed of being a professional fighter, now the dream has come true. I look forward to a great challenge, mixing it with some of best strikers in the world. I feel that Karate Combat is the perfect platform for me and I think my style of fighting will work very well in the pit. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me in preparation for this fight and also the people who have supported all these years in pursuing this dream, we’re here now, but we’re just getting started.
Raymond Daniels joins Everill as another sport martial arts star on the card, taking on former UFC fighter Sasha Palatnikov in a middleweight bout for the co-main event. The main event will feature lightweight champion Luiz Victor Rocha as he attempts to defend his belt against Bruno Souza. Fight fans everywhere can tune in for free on Karate.com or Karate Combat’s YouTube channel.
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Karate Combat, one of the most innovative full-contact martial arts leagues in the world, has now seen a wide variety of point fighting specialists display their skills. The newest point fighter to enter the Karate Combat pit is Elijah Everill, one of the best point fighters in the world today who also happens to be a disciple of the great Raymond Daniels. This dynamic duo brought out two impressive performances at Karate Combat's 39th promotion on Saturday night.
Everill was up first for his bout during the preliminaries against Rahul Bhowmick, who comes from a WKF kumite background. I wish that I had more to write about this fight, but Everill imposed his will early and ended the fight with a knockout just 49 seconds into the first round. It was a beautiful flurry of punches that set up a massive left leg round kick to the head and sent Bhowmick to the ground for good. Just a few ground-and-pound shots later, and Everill would have his hand raised following a remarkable win. The sub-one minute knockout in dominant fashion should earn him a spot on the main card in his next Karate Combat appearance. In his post-fight interview, Everill showed some love to his sport karate community by saying "shout out to all the point fighters because I feel like they don't get enough respect". He concluded the interview with a heartfelt tribute to his late mother, who passed away last August.
Fast-forwarding to the co-main event, Raymond Daniels entered the pit for a third time to take on former UFC fighter Sasha Palatnikov. "The Real Deal" was kind enough to give us a longer fight than Everill as it went the distance, but you could argue that it was just as dominant of a showing. The first round's pacing was a bit muddied by an inadvertent knee to the groin that forced Palatnikov to use the majority of his allocated five minutes to recover from the accidental strike. Otherwise, the story of the opening frame was the effectiveness of Daniels' power left leg round kick to the body. His trademark movement and expert fakes set up opportunities for him to land the kick consistently. He continued to chop away at the body of Palatnikov in the second round, and provided the most memorable moment of the night. As Palatnikov retreated along the side of the pit, Daniels blasted him with a vintage spinning back kick that sport karate fans have seen him crush opponents with time and time again. The strike sent Palatnikov flying to the ground and Daniels was completely in control. In the final round, Daniels brought out his jab and landed it seemingly at will. Every time Palatnikov would make a desperate attempt to attack and change the tide, Daniels used his reach and timing to stuff the jab in the face of his opponent.
With regard to the implications of these victories, Daniels made a respectful callout to welterweight champion Josh Quayhagen and indicated that he wants to be in the picture as Quayhagen approaches a title unification bout with interim champion Rafael Aghayev either as a replacement fighter in the event of injury or as the next contender for the winner. Despite the fact that his win over Palatnikov was listed in the middleweight division, this makes it clear that his sights are set on becoming king of the welterweights. Interestingly, Everill's bout was listed in the welterweight division. It is possible that Daniels and Everill envision an All Stars takeover of the entire division with them sitting among the elite. We are several bouts away from this being possible, but there is a chance that both of these point fighting powerhouses will eventually meet in a student-versus-teacher clash of titans.
As for the main event of the evening, lightweight champion Luiz Victor Rocha defeated challenger Bruno Souza by unanimous decision after five rounds. The volume of techniques thrown in the bout was a bit underwhelming, but the champion did what was necessary and landed the more significant strikes to retain his belt. Rocha also mentioned the upcoming welterweight title unification bout, throwing his name into the mix to act as a substitute fighter and potentially have a shot at becoming Karate Combat's first-ever two-division champion.
FULL EVENT: Luiz Rocha vs Bruno Souza | KC39
Germany was lead by its powerful women's kumite squad, who captured the team fighting title along with three individual championships as Shara Hubrich took the 50 kg class, Reem Khamis the 61 kg class and Johanna Kneer earned the 68+ kg division. Ukraine won the men's team kumite title lead by 75 kg champion Andrii Zaplitnyi.
Though men's team kata was won by Turkey and women's team kata by Italy, host country Spain continued to dominate in solo kata. Damian Quintero earned his seventh men's individual kata gold performing the "ohan dai" form. Meanwhile, despite the retirement of Olympic gold medalist and seven-time European women's kata champion Sandra Sanchez, Paola Garcia stepped in for Spain to win the title this year with her "chatanyara kushanku" kata.
The tournament wasn't without controversy though, as karateka from Kosovo withdrew after being prevented from competing under their flag. Kosovo experienced similar problems earlier this year at a junior championship in Cyprus. Spain and Cyprus are two of the five European nations that don't recognize Kosovo's independence.
The World Karate Federation seemed to lay the blame for the withdrawals on Kosovo's government. Despite the International Olympic Committee's and the WKF's recognition of Kosovo, the WKF continues to hold championship events in countries that won't allow Kosovo's flag.