Virtual Fight Tour Bristol
Photo Courtesy: Sean Veira via Facebook

Jessie Wray's Virtual Fight Tour was back in action for a truly one-of-a-kind event on Saturday. Fourteen athletes from North America made the trip across the pond with the VFT production crew to host a massive team fighting event live on pay-per-view from the Bristol Open in the United Kingdom. The first showdown was a seven-round team fight featuring seven female fighters for Team Europe against just four opponents from Team America. This format meant that three Americans would have to fight twice, putting the visiting team at a significant disadvantage.

Despite the uphill battle, the Americans represented themselves well and kept the fights close throughout. Team America sent out their ace first with Ki'Tana Everett stepping up to face Elena Pantaleo, but Pantaleo gave her team the lead by defeating the two-time Diamond Ring winner 3-2. Francesca Ceci came to the mat next for Team Europe to take on Katarina Herman and the WAKO world champion was able to work around the long legs of Herman to expand the European lead by two points. The Europeans would win their third consecutive matchup as Jodie Browne beat Brianna Nurse by a score of 5-4, but the win streak only resulted in a four-point overall lead.

With the Americans in need of a momentum swing, Peyton Fender delivered. She was able to get the best of Keshia Kuschnir by two points. The fifth and six rounds both ended in a draw as the long-range kicking of Katarina Herman and Tina Baloh canceled each other out, then Brianna Nurse and Grace Chandler proved to be evenly matched as well. It would all come down to the final round, when Ki'Tana Everett returned to the ring to challenge Evelyn Neyens. Everett had the Americans in position to pull off the comeback with a tied score and only seconds remaining. However, as Everett escaped a clash and attempted to reposition, Neyens was hot in pursuit and scored a hustle point to give Europe the win by an overall score of 23-22 in a thriller.

The men's team fight featured 10 athletes on either side and was extremely competitive for the duration. Andres Espinoza was the leadoff man for the Americans against sweep specialist Borislav Radulov of Team Europe. Espinoza was able to manage the savviness of Radulov well and the first round drew to a close with the score knotted at 5. The next two rounds featured Team Europe putting their remarkable length on display as they sent out Zajc Tilen of Slovenia and Conor McGlinchey of Ireland to take on Oscar Garcia and Brandon Ballou respectively. Garcia and Ballou each used the perimeter to move around and find scoring opportunities, but the Europeans neutralized this strategy well with the athleticism of their taller fighters. The fourth round was an interesting stylistic matchup between Anatoli Kuschnir and Tyreeke Saint. Kuschnir was aggressive early in the round, exploding off the line to get the better of Saint. However, Saint started to come alive after the first few clashes and used his incredible speed to go on a run that made the overall score close as the round ended with Europe only leading by one point (16-15).

In the fifth, Devon Hopper would complete the Americans' comeback effort with some aggressive fighting against Riccardo Albanese and give his squad a 20-18 advantage. Brayan Rodriguez fought Timmy Sarantoudis and caught him off guard with that sneaky lead-leg round kick that landed to the head early in the sixth, ultimately expanding the American lead to 23-19. The turning point came for the Europeans when Sandro Peters, a substitute filling in for Dominik Meyer, got the better of Darren Payne by three points to pull Europe within striking distance down 26-25.

Team America coach Troy Binns responded to the comeback by sending out his ace in the eighth round, as Bailey Murphy entered the ring to take on Chris Aston, another ridiculously tall fighter for Europe. Their matchup had a lot of back-and-forth action at a time when the Americans needed to try to pull away, and Team Europe was happy to see the scored tied at 32 going into the ninth round. The penultimate fighter for Europe was Richie Veres, a Hungarian known for his ability to maintain leads in the team fighting format. Veres matched up with the formidable Kevin Walker, and the All Star used effective offense to give Team America a two-point lead. This set the stage for a final showdown featuring Tyson Wray and Elijah Everill.

Team Europe had to feel pretty comfortable, as arguably the best fighter in the world only had a two-point deficit to overcome. On the other hand, the Americans may have been comfortable as well since Wray defeated Everill at the Ocean State Grand Nationals back in April. Either way, Everill took full advantage of the opportunity to show the world why he is considered to be one of the best. His blitz was as automatic as ever and he swiftly started to pull away. As time expired, Everill lifted his arms in victory as his teammates rushed the mat to celebrate a momentous win on home turf.

Point Fighting Nicknames
Photo Courtesy: Kick24 and Karate Combat

I am a firm believer in the power of nicknames. They increase the entertainment value of any sport, give the fans an idea of who that athlete is, and allow the audience to connect with fighters in a different way. For sport karate, nicknames could play a small part in helping the sport grow in popularity because of those benefits. Fortunately, looking back through recent and distant point fighting history we already have quite a few great nicknames, so I decided to rank the top five. This list does not include some of the current best nicknames such as Bailey "B-Reel" Murphy or Darren "Dee Stacks" Payne. I also had to make some tough decisions for iconic nicknames like Hakim "The Machine" Alston, Gerald "Awesome" Dawson, and Ross "Turbo" Levine to barely miss the list. Ultimately, I had to choose in favor of names that directly reflected something about that fighter's game, something that few others could lay claim to. I also need to throw out the biggest honorable mention of them all, which is the wide variety of nicknames that the late, great Kevin Thompson had. His iconic pseudonyms include "Little KA" named after his instructor Karriem Abdallah, "The Total Package" for his ability to win every division available, and even "The Eighth Wonder of the World". Now, let's get to the top five.

5. Jerry "Fast Feet" Fontanez and Justin "Hot Foot" Ortiz

Jerry Fontanez and Justin Ortiz

Photo Courtesy: Jerry Fontanez and Justin Ortiz via Facebook

These two fighters are probably pointing at me in the picture, because they know that I'm cheating by using two nicknames in the number five spot. HOWEVER, how could anyone pick between two fantastic foot-related nicknames? The history of such nicknames dates back to legendary kickboxer Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, who undoubtedly inspired both of these point fighters. Jerry "Fast Feet" Fontanez was renowned for his lightning-fast kicks that helped him earn 8 world championships during his career. He was active as recently as November 2022, when he appeared in the Virtual Fight Tour to defeat Brian Crumb in a hybrid point fighting/continuous fighting match. Justin "Hot Foot" Ortiz was widely considered the best lightweight point fighter in the world at his peak and won the lightweight diamond ring championship at the Diamond Nationals in 2015. He added some style to his nickname by wearing a signature red sparring boot on his right foot that he consistently planted on his opponent's helmet for 2 points. In a sport that is dependent upon skilled footwork and kicking, these two nicknames had to make the list.

4. Jack "The Iceman" Felton

Jack Felton

Photo Courtesy: SportMartialArts.com

When MMA fans hear Iceman, they think Chuck Liddell, but when sport karate fans hear Iceman, everyone knows you're talking about Jack Felton. He earned this nickname from the calm, cool-as-ice demeanor that he fights with. Never too excited when he is up, and certainly never too frustrated when he is down, he is always steady and level-headed. This mentality helped him craft a career as one of the best lightweight point fighters to ever do it. He has NBL, NASKA, and WAKO world championships under his belt, with remarkable longevity. You can find highlights of his back in the days of the World Combat League fighting for the Los Angeles Stars, and most recently winning the overall grand championship at the Compete Internationals in February. Another nickname worthy of mentioning is "Captain Jack", which Raymond Daniels commonly calls him as the veteran leader of Team All Stars.

3. Pedro "The Axeman" Xavier

Pedro Xavier

Photo Courtesy: Kick24

A number of sport karate nicknames were either created or popularized by the WMAC Masters television series. My personal favorite of these has to be The Axeman for Pedro Xavier. This one is pretty self-explanatory, as Pedro Xavier had the gnarliest axe kick the point fighting game has ever see. The way that he could come off a kicking combo, hold that leg what seemed like 15 feet in the air, and slam it down on some of the best fighters in the world was simply insane. The Team Paul Mitchell legend won the WAKO lightweight world championship three times in 1991, 1993, and 1995, among many other prestigious titles throughout his career.

2. Raymond "The Real Deal" Daniels

Raymond Daniels

Photo Courtesy: Orange County Register

You probably saw this one coming. It doesn't get much better than the man most people consider to be the greatest point fighter of all time being referred to as The Real Deal. This isn't just a great nickname because it shares the "RD" initials with his actual name, or just because it is original. I love this nickname so much because it truly describes Raymond Daniels. If you watched Ray fight for the first time, you would see him dance around the ring, talk to the crowd, and do his signature pre-fight ritual complete with prayer and fanfare. You'd probably be thinking "man, this guy sure acts like he's something, I wonder if he can really fight". The next thing you would see is him nailing somebody with three straight blitzes before backing off so that he can blast them with a signature two-touch spinning back kick. He literally proves that he's The Real Deal. This also applies to the common keyboard-warriors' criticism of point fighting as a light contact sport, suggesting these guys can't really fight. If that was the case, then Raymond Daniels wouldn't have been able to make a successful transition to full-contact including a Bellator Kickboxing World Championship, a knockout-of-the-century highlight with a 720 punch during a Bellator MMA bout, and now being signed to Karate Combat.

1. Steve "Nasty" Anderson

Nasty Anderson

Photo Courtesy: Black Belt Magazine

How can a nickname not be the best ever when it literally becomes that person's first name? I don't think I have ever heard anyone refer to Steve Anderson as "Steve Anderson", it is ALWAYS Nasty. This dude was bigger than everybody, stronger than everybody, and beat up just about everybody during his point fighting career. If an opponent went down after a clash, he would go down with them just so they would feel his weight and have to expend even more energy to get back up. Not only was he tough, but he had all the skills to back it up. His lethal blitz helped him win a ridiculous 92 consecutive tournaments... AS A BROWN BELT. He was inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame in 1982 as the Competitor of the Year. His nickname didn't just apply to his Nasty skills and Nasty toughness, it applied to his mind games as well. Richard Plowden once told me on The Jackson Rudolph Podcast that he would call opponents at 3:00 AM the night before a tournament just to get in their head. You'll have to listen to the whole episode to know exactly what he would tell them, as it isn't necessarily PG-13. We also have to give a shoutout to the mother of his instructor, Orned "Chicken" Gabriel (a great nickname in its own right), who gave Nasty his legendary nickname. All these factors combined, with the fact that he is one of the all-time greats who many argue should even be considered the GOAT, Nasty is the only right answer to come in at number one on this countdown.

I know I probably missed some great nicknames during this discussion, and I haven't even covered the forms and weapons competitors yet! I encourage you to share this article on social media and let me know what other great point fighter nicknames are out there. If there's enough support, a countdown of the top forms and weapons competitor nicknames may be on the way!

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