Before Head Kick Legend, I was running a website called Unintelligent Defense. Seeing as there are plenty of new fans in MMA, my goal was to educate them on some great pioneering fighters. I wrote about Igor Vovchanchyn and Wallid Ismail and people really enjoyed them. Seeing as I am now at Head Kick Legend and my goal is to educate people on why we all love JMMA and Kickboxing, I will write about a great pioneering fighter every week and will post on Saturdays. The first profile will be on one of my personal favorite fighters Andy Hug.
Andy Hug is widely considered on of the greatest K-1 fighters of all time; however, many newer fans only know of him without knowing much about him. He didn't come from a Kickboxing background, instead he was a Kyokushin karateka who made the transition to Kazuyoshi Ishii's Seidokaikan style. Even at an extremely young age Andy excelled at karate winning his first title at 15, the Swiss "Oyama Cup". He would win karate championships across Europe before entering the World Championship at 19, making it to the final 16 before being eliminated.
Four years later Andy entered the Worlds again and after an upset victory over Akira Masuda to become the first non-Japanese competitor to make it to the finals in Kyokushin history. Unfortunately, the cinderella story ended in the finals, but not without controversy. Andy would face Shokei Matsui and lose by a point decision. There are many who feel Matsui won the decision because Andy was not Japanese, which is why there was controversy. Andy would compete in one more World Championship, losing to Francisco "God Hand" Filho by a controversial head kick which caused a knockdown landed after the bell; however, since the technique was thrown within the time limit, the point counted.
It was in 1993 that Hug made his transition from Kyokushin to Seidokaikan and joined the K-1 organization. Since K-1 was run by Kazuyoshi Ishii, Hug was able to compete in the events without a Kickboxing background including some accolades, a requirement of all competitors. Hug's first bout took place at the first K-1 Grand Prix against Nobuaki Kakuda in a full contact Karate rules bout. Hug was able to win the fight with a knee that caused a KO in the second round. Ishii saw so much promise in the Swiss fighter that he promoted an event in 1993 just to showcase Hug called "K-1 Andy's Glove". Andy headlined the event with a solid win under K-1 rules over Ryuji Murakami. There is a video available but I'm unable to embed it. Watch it and you will that the fight was extremely one sided. I'd go as far as to say that Murakami had no idea what he got himself into when he signed for the fight. Hug's Seidokaikan style was very crowd pleasing in Japan with axe kicks and crescent kicks thrown at different angles. Hug closed out 1993 with a win in a super fight at K-2 Grand Prix in '93. K-1 did a very careful job promoting Hug in the beginning with very winnable fights to showcase his talents. Below is his K-2 fight, you'll understand what I mean.
Hug completed his first year in K-1 undefeated with fights to build up his star for the future. K-1 took the training wheels off right away in 1994 booking Hug against defending K-1 Grand Prix champion Branko Cikatic. There are two differing schools of thought on this fight. The first is that it was a career defining moment for Hug that legitimized him in K-1 after his showcase fights over a champion. The other is that Cikatic was extremely old (39) for a fighter in a bout against a younger, more active Andy Hug. I see it as a great fight either way and one that would kick start Andy's K-1 star. Below is the fight in two parts. It's a great five round fight and one that was an immediate classic.
After this fight a star was born. He was legitimized with his win over Cikatic and big things were expected for the rest of 1994. However, no story about a fighter is perfect and his next fight put the first major blemish on Hug's record. If the Cikatic fight was an upset then there isn't a word in the english language for what happened in his first fight with Patrick Smith at the K-1 Grand Prix '94. Hug was the overall favorite to win the event and what happened in the quarter final fight against Smith shocked the Kickboxing world and all on hand for the event. Within 19 seconds, the uncrowned king was defeated by knockout. I'll touch more on the event on Wednesday in the second part of the History of K-1 but know this was a major upset at the time. Hug, being the golden boy of K-1 was given a chance to avenge the loss to Patrick Smith at the next K-1 event, aptly named K-1 Revenge. There are very few times a man can avenge his loss so brutally but that's exactly what happened. Within 56 seconds, Patrick Smith was defeated, unable to get up after a knee to head. Below is both fights in one video.
You dummies know the deal. I'm not giving the milk away for free this time. You gotta come to the site to check the rest out.