Last night, Karate Combat 35 went down at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. There, Adam Kovacs and company put on a pretty good night of fights and, despite some rescheduling for fights before the card, went down quite smooth. Today, we’re going to look at the main event and a few more tidbits that stood out on this day’s Aftermath column.
The most exciting thing on the card for me going in was, of course, Raymond Daniels. If you’re not excited about Daniels, you just aren’t initiated yet. His Wikipedia page has him listed as a kenpoist, karateka, taekwondo-in, kickboxer, and mixed martial artist. The only thing missing was Muay Thai. Daniels is the complete package.
His Karate Combat signing was applauded by many and it truly was a great move. The fight against Franklin Mina, however, was a bit of a letdown to me. Daniels fought a weight class up and looked slow and not as acrobatic as I expected. Perhaps that’s on me, but I just didn’t enjoy Daniels like I hoped to. But to be fair in my critique, the fight was on short notice and he fought a weight up.
We saw some cool things from Daniels: his fencing-like footwork, the Showtime kick attempts. He really did control the entire pit. Mina didn’t have a chance against the iconic karateka and he fought very conservatively. This didn’t give Daniels much to work with. But in the end, Raymond Daniels got the win and it was decently entertaining. We saw Gabriel Varga do some great things in his Karate Combat debut and Daniels is sure to do the same. His next, he says, will be even more exciting.
Karate Combat 35: The Super Fight
The main event of Karate Combat 35 was the super fight between welterweight champion Joshua Quayhagen and lightweight champion Luiz Rocha. The brains at Karate Combat had a great idea. Instead of tying up two divisions with a double champ, let’s have two champions fight at a catchweight. Let’s have them meet in the middle. It was a brilliant idea and I believe it paid off.
Joshua Quayhagen is from my neck of the woods in Louisiana and I was pulling for him hard. But he showed a lot of respect for Luiz Rocha who packs a punch, even a weight class (or half of one) up. Quayhagen showed great care to stay out of the way for Rocha and it really cost him the fight. After the score cards were read, Quayhagen simply hadn’t done enough despite dominating the last two rounds.
Quayhagen didn’t come forward and keep Rocha on his back foot until later in the fight and Rocha melted under the pressure. After having fought three rounds, Rocha really struggled when Quayhagen started letting his hands go and started ripping the body. The knees, which Karate Combat started to allow this event, and lead hook to Rocha’s body really did him in and had the Brazilian almost finished at the end of rounds four and five. Quayhagen had him on the ropes (er, pit wall?) but couldn’t quite put him away. The lack of action in the first three rounds cost him the fight. The first three were close rounds and one good exchange from Quayhagen could have stole a round from the judges there.
Luiz Rocha: Survive
Karate Combat 35 didn’t show the best of Luiz Rocha. The man hits like a truck and it shows when his opponents fight. He isn’t the most technical but he fights with heart and that brought him over the top in this fight. Perhaps the weight added didn’t do Rocha any favors but at the end of the fight, the body shots were melting him either way. Rocha kept eating them and eventually would go down.
Regardless of how good or bad Rocha fought at Karate Combat 35, he got the win. He did that by putting pressure on Quayhagen in the first three rounds before the Louisianian came on strong at the end of the fight. I feel that his next opponent, whoever it may be, will try to go to the body foolishly and will pay the price for it. Just because Joshua Quayhagen went to the body with success doesn’t mean that’s Luiz Rocha’s weakness. With the added weight and the length of time fighting, it was a roux (Louisiana reference for my boy Quayhagen) of things that really put it on Rocha.
I’m not here saying Luiz Rocha is a bad fighter. But this matchup was tough for him from the jump. He’s fighting a bigger man and that gives the bigger man the cardio advantage from the start of things. His next fight will showcase a prime Luiz Rocha and his opponent will have to deal with that.
I, for one, cannot wait until the next Karate Combat event. Until then, Cobra Kai season 5 will have to hold me over!
In addition to covering Karate Combat for My MMA News, Blaine Henry, the author, also analyzes fights from all combat sports across the globe.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it.