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Saturday, July 30, 2005



K-1 WORLD GRAND PRIX

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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hilo's B.J. Penn, right, went after Renzo Gracie during the first round of last night's main event at Aloha Stadium.


Hilo’s Penn
decisions Gracie

The three other fighters from
Hawaii don't fare as well at a
K-1 World Grand Prix event

It might have come a day late, but B.J. Penn proved that he is indeed a "Gracie killer."

Though the final bout started at 12:25 a.m., a crowd of around 12,000 watched as Penn, of Hilo, defeated a second Gracie family member in a year, beating Renzo Gracie by unanimous decision in the main event of last night's K-1 World Grand Prix event at Aloha Stadium.

Both fighters struggled to connect with any clean, hard shots throughout the fight. Gracie controlled all of round one on the ground, but Penn dominated the final two rounds, both standing and on the mat, to improve his record to 10-2-1. It was the sixth loss in seven fights for Gracie, who fell to 10-6-1.

It was a tough night for the three other local fighters, as all were dealt knockout defeats. Akebono, who struggled to get within punching distance of 7-foot-2 Hong-Man Choi, was constantly peppered with jabs throughout the fight before it ended by TKO with 7 seconds left in the first round.

"I just feel so bad for the fans that I couldn't give them more," Akebono said. "He's improved a lot since our fight in March. Hopefully down the road we will meet again."

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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Musashi drilled Rickard Nordstrand during their bout during last night's K-1 World Grand Prix event at Aloha Stadium.


After the fight, Choi motioned to Mike Tyson, who was sitting ringside, and seemed to call out the former boxing heavyweight champion. Tyson has been rumored to be on the verge of signing a deal with K-1.

"The crowd was too loud, so I didn't hear what he said," Choi said after calling Tyson out in the ring. "Since he came all the way to Hawaii for K-1, I thought if I have a chance to fight him I'd be happy."

In his second attempt at qualifying for the 2005 World Grand Prix in September, Gary "Big Daddy" Goodridge became the inaugural K-1 Grand Prix Hawaii champion, knocking down Yusuke Fujimoto five times before Fujimoto's corner threw in the towel at 1:19 in the last round. Goodridge advances to September's GP Final Elimination show in Osaka, Japan.

"He was hard to hit -- he was a lot tougher than I thought," Goodridge said. "I love it in Hawaii, and now I'm the champ and would love to come back."

His path to victory included a win over Wesley "Cabbage" Correira of Hilo in the first round and Carter Williams in the semifinals. Williams defeated last-minute replacement Nobuki Hayashi in the first round by unanimous decision.

Fujimoto's road to the finals included a victory over Kailua's Scott Junk in the first round and a knockout of Marcus Royster in the semifinals. Royster, who lost a unanimous decision to Butterbean in his first fight, fought Fujimoto after both Butterbean and Mike Malone could not continue due to injuries.

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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hong-man Choi delivered a blow to Akebono last night at Aloha Stadium.


"I felt so bad, I wanted people to see me fight again," Butterbean said. "But I know if Fujimoto kicked me in the leg one time, I would have went down."

Despite not being able to continue, Butterbean was a curious onlooker for the Akebono fight, and thought he would be able to help the former sumo yokozuna in future K-1 fights.

"If I worked with him for one month, he could beat (Choi) badly," Butterbean said.

The first super fight of the night saw Musashi win for the eighth time in his last nine fights, as he defeated Rickard Nordstrand by majority decision.

It was a tough transition for both Junk and Cabbage to the K-1 style of fighting, as they were both knocked out in the first round of the heavyweight tournament. Correira was on the vicious end of multiple kicks to the shin from Goodridge before the referee stopped the fight 17 seconds into the second round.

"The whole time I was training, I never knew he threw leg kicks," Correira said. "I was ready for the kicks, just not from him."

Junk also showed signs of struggling with the K-1 rules, earning a red card after illegally body-slamming Fujimoto to the mat. Fujimoto would take an extra 3 minutes to recover before catching Junk with a right hand to the temple at 1:20 of the third round.

"I messed up and felt really bad," Junk said of the illegal slam. "It messed up my head a little knowing I lost points, so I got more urgent and tried to do too much."



K-1 World Grand Prix (English site)
www.so-net.ne.jp/feg/k-1gp/



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