It was a huge win for Maeda and for the Japanese fans, who sounded more stunned than elated to see their countryman win the K-1 heavyweight championship belt. Maeda advanced to the final by winning a semifinal fight in which he barely broke a sweat, needing only a couple minutes to knock out the heavily favored Melvin Manhoef, a muscular Dutchman who has had success in both kickboxing and MMA. Manhoef showed off a glass chin against Maeda, who KTFO'd him with a straight punch that didn't look like it had much on it.
The final was a tremendous fight, with Maeda and Saki trading blows for nine minutes before the judges declared it a draw. In the first extra round, Maeda was the more active fighter, and two of the three judges gave him the majority decision win. (The third judge declared the extra round a draw.)
In other K-1 World GP action, Semmy Schilt won a dominant unanimous decision over Hesdy Gerges, Ewerton Teixeira beat Jerome LeBanner in a split decision that went two extra rounds, Glaube Feitosa battered Junichi Sawayashiki for two rounds before Sawayashiki's corner threw in the towel, and the 38-year-old Peter Aerts beat the 22-year-old Errol Zimmerman by unanimous decision after four rounds.
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