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K-1 Yokohama GP 2009: Remy Bonjasky Beats Alistair Overeem

The best kickboxer in the world survived a tough test from a rising star in mixed martial arts on Saturday, as Remy Bonjasky defeated Alistair Overeem by unanimous decision in the main event of the K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 in Yokohama.

K-1 officials portrayed the fight as an MMA vs. kickboxing grudge match. Bonjasky is the reigning K-1 World Grand Prix champion, and K-1 fans didn't want to see him lose a kickboxing fight to Overeem, a mixed martial artist with limited experience in pure kickboxing.

"It is K-1 defending its honor against MMA," K-1 announcer Michael Schiavello said before the fight. "Can Remy Bonjasky defend K-1's honor? ... This would be a major embarrassment, I feel, for the K-1 World Grand Prix champion to lose to a man who has really only had two K-1 fights."

As it turned out, Bonjasky defended K-1's honor, but the MMA fighter controlled much of the action. Overeem pretty much looked like a mixed martial artist fighting a kickboxer, which is to say he tried to outmuscle Bonjasky and throw him around in the clinch, while Bonjasky tried to use more precise striking.

In the second round Overeem appeared to floor Bonjasky with a vicious right hand, but the referee ruled it a slip, not a knockdown. That ruling was costly to Overeem, as it allowed Bonjasky to escape the round even on the judges' scorecards. Overeem appeared to be imposing his will in the third round until Bonjasky landed a combination and knocked Overeem to the canvas with less than a minute left, and it was that knockdown that gave Bonjasky the decision.

Overall, although Bonjasky earned the win, it was an impressive performance by Overeem in just the third K-1 kickboxing match of his career. Most of Overeem's MMA wins have come by submission, and he now has the stand-up skills to give a kickboxer like Bonjasky all he can handle. I look forward to seeing what both of these guys do next.