Fabiola Esquivel entered the Karate Combat pit on Thursday night looking for a knockout, and she got one.
Four more fights were featured for the ongoing season of Karate Combat and Esquivel was set to meet a newcomer in Ana Villanueva, who is a two-time Pan American Games gold medalist in karate. Esquivel was on a two-fight losing streak to names like Sarah Ait Ibrahim and Christina Kavakopoulou, but believed this was her opportunity to earn her first finish in the pit against a very game Villanueva.
Esquivel pressed forward and was aggressive throughout the first round of the fight, but Villanueva remained calm and picked her shots wisely. The debutante was able to connect with some body kicks on Esquivel, who appeared to be unperturbed by them and continued to walk her opponent down. Esquivel started to find a home for the right hand, which she landed often as Villanueva opted to goad her way into counters. Esquivel goes for a head kick near the end of the round, but misses as Villanueva slips out of the way.
Villanueva switches up her strategy in the beginning of the second round and explodes against Esquivel with a flurry of punches. It was tense couple of seconds, but soon both women are back to what their respective initial plans of attack were. It was much of the same in the third round, but the difference maker was one of those high kicks Esquivel had been throwing. With just a few seconds left, Esquivel unleashes a high kick that lands flush to the side of Villanueva’s head and drops her to the canvas. Esquivel hits her with a follow-up punch before the referee dives in to stop the fight.
You can watch the highlight-reel knockout, courtesy of the Karate Combat Twitter account.
Esquivel said that throwing the high kick was second nature to her as she realized how Villanueva left herself exposed whenever she circled away from the wall, which she obviously capitalized on.
“What happened was crazy,” said Esquivel in her post-fight interview. “I don’t remember too much about the fight. It was a great fight and she is a strong girl and fast. I thought that I was going to finish [her] in the first or second round but Ana is a very good fighter. I finished this one with thirty seconds left to finish in the third round and I just saw the opportunity to kick her and I just did it.”
Esquivel earns her first stoppage in the Karate Combat pit, while Villanueva comes up short in her debut.