On December 7, 2002 the K1 Grand Prix Final event went down inside of Japan’s Tokyo Dome, in front of a sizable crowd of 74,500, to find out who was the world’s very best kickboxer. As a point of reference, the UFC’s current attendance gate record is a mere 57,766 from UFC 193 Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm card, so needless to say, the conclusion of K1’s super heavyweight tournament was a spectacle of epic proportions. The night was filled with crazy entrances and even crazier fights, including the legendary war that was Ernesto Hoost vs. Bob Sapp 2. The 2002 K1 GP was chalked full of several kickboxing greats like Peter Aerts, Ray Sefo, Jerome Le Banner, and even the UFC’s current #5 heavyweight, Mark Hunt.
Along with uniqueness of tournaments come the possibility of madness, and that’s exactly what we saw in the form of Ernesto Hoost’s miraculous run. After losing his first two bouts of the GP, both by TKO to Bob Sapp, Hoost somehow found himself in the semi finals against fellow legend Ray Sefo, and managed to win in under two minutes by checking a kick a la Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman 2. In the tournament finals, the injury bug was forced upon Jerome Le Banner thanks to the debilitating kicks of Hoost, and despite a gutsy performance from a one-armed Le Banner, it was Hoost who walked away as K1’s 2002 Grand Prix champion, at the age of 37 no less.
- Ray Sefo def. Peter Aerts by split decision (30-28, 30-29, 29-30)
- Bob Sapp def. Ernesto Hoost by TKO at 2:53 of round 2
**Sapp forced to withdraw (Hand Injury) so Hoost advanced
- Mark Hunt def. Stefan Leko by KO at 1:16 of round 3
- Jerome Le Banner def. Musashi by TKO (Corner Stoppage) at :51 of round 2
- Ernesto Hoost def. Ray Sefo by TKO (Shin Injury) at 1:49 of round 1
- Jerome Le Banner def. Mark Hunt by unanimous decision (29-26 x3)
- Ernesto Hoost def. Jerome Le Banner by KO (Arm Injury)