We're in something of a lull between events at present so rather than go on about upcoming matches for the couple of weeks until UFC on Fox 5 I thought I'd revisit some old favourites. UFC on Fox 5 is a pretty stacked card by recent standards with Benson Henderson, Nate Diaz, Mauricio Rua, Alexander Gustafsson, Rory McDonald and B.J. Penn all present, so there's plenty to talk about but for now lets take a break from all the hype and look at another stellar knockout from K-1.
One of the reasons that I love writing about K-1 is that the standard of striking is generally much higher than in MMA (in terms of openings left and counters attempted, obviously the threat of the takedown makes MMA striking entirely different), but also because readers can watch the videos fairly easily on youtube. This means that readers can rewatch the exact moments that strategies become obvious over and over until they come to recognize it. Jack Dempsey spoke in Championship Fighting about the importance of learning to watch a fight analytically, and it's something that everyone can benefit from, particularly MMA judges.
While reviewing my old Finish of the Week pieces I realized that I have never actually spoken at lengths about the man many consider to be the finest kickboxer in the world (in between arrests), Badr Hari. Hari is known for his lanky build, huge power, fragile chin and overwhelming style. Something which is continually under-rated, however, is Hari's intelligence. I invite you to watch his lopsided destruction of K-1 great, Peter Aerts with me and we'll examine how Hari takes advantage of the technically superb veteran.
Something that many people will have noticed about this fight is that Badr's trademark aggression is in check from the start of this bout - and Hari spends the opening moments backing up and inviting Aerts in. Aerts has always had some of the finest kicks in K-1, but the fact that we know he also has a remarkable chin says something about his defense when he is kicking. Stefan Leko exposed this hole in Aerts' game in 2003.
From the opening bell Hari gave Aerts the centre of the ring and allowed the Dutchman enough space to feel as though he could establish his punishing low kicks. As soon as Aerts obliged Hari by kicking he was met with a hard right straight. Aerts backed off for a second and Hari threw out a jab and a low kick before backing up again then nailing Aerts with another hard right straight as Aerts gave chase.
1. Hari lands a right straight as Aerts throws a right kick.
2. Hari lands a right straight as Aerts chases him.
Once Hari had Aerts stunned he swarmed all over the Dutch Lumberjack in an attempt to finish the fight but Aerts' grit, experience and savvy was simply too much when he was purely on the defensive.
Badr Hari backed Aerts onto the ropes and attempted one big combination before going back on the defensive. Badr led with a right hand which connected on Aerts' guard, then moved to his right with a left hook, taking an angle before attempting a left high kick. The combination was sublime but Aerts' guard was sound.
1. Hari approaches a defensive Peter Aerts.
2. Hari leads with a right straight.
3. Hari follows with a left uppercut / hook hybrid as he steps out to his right.
4. Hari throws a left high kick from his new angle but Aerts' hands are ready.
As the second round commenced it was more of the same - Hari backed up and let Aerts kick, then stepped in with counters while Aerts was on one leg with his guard down.
Aerts managed to stay out of the way of most of Hari's big punches for the opening moments of the round, before Hari took a chance with one of his flashy techniques, the spinning back roundhouse kick. Michael Schiavello refers to this as "The Leko Buster" because Hari memorably knocked out Stefan Leko with this kick (which is definitely worth a look at another time because it was wonderfully set up with jabs).
Following this connection on Aerts, Hari immediately ran in and connected a glancing jumping front kick. The complex barrage might cause some to believe Hari was being cocky or trying to humiliate Aerts, but in truth he seemed to bring these techniques out precisely because they stifled the K-1 great. Peter Aerts has seen nearly every combination of basic punches and kicks that you can think of, but not many people have thrown the "crane kick" at him.
1. Hari prepares to spin.
2. Hari connects with his heel to Aerts' jaw.
3. Hari leaps into the air faking a right kick/
4. Hari connects a left kick with the ball of his foot.
From then on it was simply Badr swarming to finish as he has done against pretty much every opponent he has ever hurt. Pouring on right straights, left hooks and right uppercuts, occasionally losing his footing before the referee eventually called a stop to the bout as Aerts was simply getting beaten up. The commentary booth exclaimed that the stoppage seemed early but in truth Aerts had not landed a single good punch in the second round and was simply getting hurt because he was too tough to stay down.
As I pointed out earlier, there's a while before the next major UFC event so if there is a finish you'd like broken down please leave it in the comments box and share this article with your mates. Don't forget to bookmark my SBNation blog page to see when my new pieces go up or you might miss something you requested!