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K-1 Champ Semmy Schilt Holds on for Tough Decision Over Hesdy Gerges

Semmy Schilt battles Hesdy Gerges at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Final 16.The reigning king of kickboxing held on to his crown after a much closer fight than expected, with Semmy Schilt winning a hard-fought decision after nine minutes of fighting a game Hesdy Gerges at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Final 16 in Seoul.

"I think it was a very tough fight," Schilt said afterward. "It was probably the toughest K-1 fight for me recently."

The enormous Schilt threw jab after jab after jab in the first round, and although Gerges blocked a lot of Schilt's punches, enough of them got through that Gerges had a welt on his forehead by the end of the first round. Schilt was mixing in body kicks with his jabs, while Gerges was accomplishing almost nothing offensively.

But at the start of the second round Gerges got more aggressive, backing Schilt up with punches, creating a welt on Schilt's left thigh with repeated kicks, and doing a much better job offensively. Schilt continued to use his size and strength to bully Gerges, but it was a much better round for Gerges than the first round had been, and a rare round in which Schilt struggled.

In the third Gerges really started to pour it on, and Schilt was in trouble. Schilt had to abandon his cautious, defensive game plan and throw harder power punches because Schilt's big jabs were no longer backing Gerges up. At one point Schilt caught a Gerges kick and threw him down, MMA style, perhaps showing some frustration with the way Gerges had been hurting him.

In the end the judges scored the bout for Schilt, but it was a closer fight than expected, and Gerges can walk away proud of giving the best in the world a battle.

"I'm very glad I won and that I'm back in the finals again," Schilt said. "He gave his all again and it was a nice fight."

Schilt now advances to the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Final 8 in December, where he'll be favored to win. If he does, it will be his unprecedented fifth World Grand Prix title, giving him a strong claim for the title of greatest kickboxer ever.

(MMA Fighting's Daniel Herbertson contributed to this report from Seoul.)

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