Now that 2016 is in the books, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best that the sport of kickboxing had to offer. Over the next few weeks, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the ring to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
The competition for the “Knockout of the Year” was stiff in 2016. As you can see from the list below, the number of exciting, fight-ending techniques executed this year came from every corner of the earth. The list below features 19 of the more than 100 knockouts that highlighted just how good this year in kickboxing was to fans. The candidates range from Guto Inocente’s monstrous spinning-wheel kick at GLORY 27, a hailmary, comeback spinning back fist from Gong Yanli with no time remaining in a bout she was losing against top pound-for-pound female kickboxer Jemyma Betrian, an absolutely perfectly placed flying knee from Taiga on his path to the K-1 60-kilogram Japan tournament crown, and a destructive left hook from Wu Xuesong that shook the canvas and the world when Tayfun Ozcan crashed face first to the mat.
The 2016 Combat Press Kickboxing “Knockout of the Year” wasn’t decided until the final month of the year. Japanese kickboxing and combat-sports promotion No Kick No Life transformed into an upstart Muay Thai promotion called KNOCK OUT. The name would prove true during the promotion’s inaugural event, which featured five knockouts on the six-fight card.
In the bout that produced the best knockout of the year, rising Japanese kickboxer Tenshin “Teppei” Nasukawa faced current Lumpinee stadium titleholder Wanchalong PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym. The 18-year-old Japanese prospect was undefeated in his young career at a perfect 17 wins and no losses heading into the bout with the 200-plus fight veteran and multiple-time stadium champion. It was set to be Nasukawa’s toughest fight to date against the best fighter he had ever fought. Nasukawa was on the brink of stardom prior to the fight, and his rise to prominence was one big victory away. Heading into the bout, it would be absolutely absurd for a high-level Muay Thai champion to lose to someone of Nasukawa’s stature in the sport. Despite holding a tremendous amateur record of 99 wins, five losses and one draw, Nasukawa’s experience level was dwarfed by the nearly 300-fight career of the Lumpinee champion. That didn’t matter when the two entered the ring, however.
Wanchalong shunned Nasukawa’s respectful glove touch and instead slammed his right shin into the lead leg of his foreign foe. In a round typically meant to gauge an opponent’s attacks and timing, the southpaws met in the center of the ring almost immediately. Wanchalong was amped for the start of the round, but Nasukawa forced him back to reality with his high-volume output and aggression the first 30 seconds of action.
Wanchalong acted as though he was confident against such an inexperienced opponent, but he found himself fighting off his back foot for most of the contest. He called Nasukawa on following a brief exchange in the clinch, but the Japanese youngster was more than happy to oblige with a stiff jab and strong left straight to the body. They settled down a bit before Wanchalong launched a quick head kick that Nasukawa was able to avoid with an expert lean back. The 18-year-old phenom was just one and a half minutes into the fight, but he was already proving his worth against one of the top Muay Thai fighters in the sport. Nasukawa’s boxing looked sharp in each and every exchange.
Wanchalong was waiting on Nasukawa to throw his counters as the round went on. That would be the formula to his undoing. Wanchalong looked for a right-hook counter as Nasukawa spun, but he made one fatal mistake. He loaded up on his punch as he moved forward, telegraphing what would become an opening for a shocking upset. Nasukawa spun to his left with a perfectly placed spinning back kick to the chin of the Thai champ. Nasukawa actually left his feet as the strike plowed through the right side of Wanchalong’s face. Nasukawa’s hype was realized with a single, flawless blow in the biggest fight of his life.
The “Knockout of the Year” wasn’t enough for Teppei. He finished the year by making a successful MMA debut at Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2016: Second Round. He survived an armbar attempt from Nikita Sapun and finished him late in the same round. Nasukawa took to the microphone and asked Rizin matchmaker Nobuhiko Takada to give him another fight just two days after his debut. The organization granted Nasukawa’s wish. Rizin gave him another opponent, which Nasukawa disposed of in under two rounds with a submission.
Other finalists: Said Magomedov over Alin Clipman (Tatneft Cup Selection 1/8 Final), Meletis Kakoubavas over Samo Petje (FFC 22), Fawad Seddiqi over Wais Aijz (World of Kickboxing), Guto Inocente over Demoreo Dennis (GLORY 27), Hideaki Yamazaki over Yuta Kubo (K-1 World GP 65kg Japan Tournament), Superbon Banchamek over Chen Cheng (Kunlun Fight 40), Chris Ngimbi over Sergey Kulyaba (Kunlun Fight 40), Taiga over Masahiro Yamamoto (K-1 World GP 60kg Japan Tournament), Wu Xuesong over Tayfun Ozcan (Kunlun Fight 41), Marat Grigorian over Coulibaly Djime (GLORY 30), Yohan Lidon over Karapet Karapetyan (Dark Fights 4), Regian Eersel over Jo Nattawut (Lion Fight 29), Chingiz Allazov over Enriko Kehl (Monte Carlo Fighting Masters), Hisaki Kato over Joe Schilling (Bellator Kickboxing 2), Fernando Nonato over Diego Sebastiao (WGP Kickboxing 31), Zinedine Hamuer-Lain over Warren Thompson (GLORY 32), Gong Yanli over Jemyma Betrain (Glory of Heroes 4), Ryuji Horio over Masafumi Kruasaki (Krush.68), and Emerson Falcao over Oscar Vera (WGP Kickboxing 35)
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2016 Kickboxing Award winners.