Rico Verhoeven def. Peter Aerts by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
In what was billed as either Aerts's final fight, or his final fight in Japan depending on who you ask, the all-time kickboxing great showed that he still has something left in the tank. Aerts said he would make this an ugly fight, and that's exactly what he did, not allowing the younger Verhoeven to impose his technical game. But Verhoeven stayed with him, ultimately gaining the advantage with his impressive low kicks. This was a close fight, with some great exchanges. The split decision feels right, as it's both a good win for Rico, and a good stand for Aerts.
Nieky Holzken def. Joseph Valtellini by KO round 3
Incredible fight here between two technical masters. Both Holzken and Valtellini brought it in this fight, turning in very strong performances. At times, this felt like a classic Muay Thai fight, with minimal movement and both men just standing and trading shots. Consistently, it was Holzken who got the best of those exchanges, though Valtellini was always in it. In the 3rd round, Holzken landed his trademark liver shot, but incredibly Valtellini stayed on his feet. The end of the fight was a testament to both men. Valtelllini, knowing he was down on the cards, decided he had no hope to go for it and went for broke in the final seconds, attacking for the KO. Holzken not only survived the onslaught, he landed a perfect counterpunch to earn his own KO. Valtellini may have been KO'd, but he went down trying to win. What a fight.
Good lord what an assault. These two sluggers came out hard and heavy, with Ghita hurting Zimmerman mere seconds into the fight. Ghita just never let up here, bombing away with both hands and heavy body kicks, keeping the pressure on Zimmerman. He finally landed the big left hook, dropping Zimmerman hard in less than a minute. Zimmerman came down awkwardly on his leg a la Cro Cop vs. Gonzaga, and while he fought to regain his feet, his body clearly shut down on him. Daniel Ghita folks - that guy is good.
Makoto Uehara def. Dustin Jacoby by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
This always looked like the low point on the card, and that's how it played out. Jacoby is improving, but he remains so early in his career that he's just not polished. Improving for sure, but not quite there yet. Uehara did little of note, but pulled off the win. Not much to say about this one.
Joseph Valtellini def. Raymond Daniels by KO round 3
In a pre-show interview with Bloody Elbow, Bazooka Joe Valtellini talked about how he takes pride in his high KO ratio. He kept that ratio intact here with a 3rd round stoppage over Daniels. Daniels used his unorthodox point karate style successfully in round 1, landing shots and staying outside of Valtellini's range. But in round 2, the #2 ranked Valtellini began cutting off the ring and trapping Daniels in the corner. From there, he landed an accumulation of power shots, eventually stopping him with a big headkick KO in the corner.
Nieky Holzken def. Karapet Karapetyan by unanimous decision (30-25, 20-25, 29-26)
This semi-final was a dominant performance from #1 seed Holzken. Holzken had tight defense and precise offense, landing seemingly at will on Karapetyan. Holzken dropped him with a left hook in both the 1st and 2nd rounds, then seemed to take the last round a bit easier, likely to keep himself fresh heading into the finals. Glory's stats had Karapetyan landing one power shot all night, which says a lot.
All gifs courtesy of Zombie Prophet.