K-1 returned with a massive 26-fight card. The spotlight for this event was on the inaugural Bantamweight (53 kg) World Grand Prix, which as in previous iterations put four Japanese fighters against four international fighters in the quarter-finals.
The event culminated in the showdown between Toma Kuroda and Issei Ishii, the two tournament favorites. Kuroda won the quarter-finals against tough Thai challenger Yodsila, and beat Kazuki Miburo in the semi-finals. Ishii made his way into the finals with a stoppage over Oscar Bohorquez and a decision win against Koji Ikeda.
As so often with K-1, several champions were back in action in non-title bouts.
Women's Flyweight champion Kana was pitted against former Enfusion Women's Strawweight champion Aurore Dos Santos. The French fighter looked good initially, using her reach advantage well but Kana was closing in quickly, throwing heavy hooks to the body and head. At the end of round one, Dos Santos was pressured against the ropes, eating a huge left hook, prompting the referee to give her a standing eight count. Not able to recover in time, the fight was stopped.
K-1 Super Bantamweight champion Akihiro Kaneko took on his first Thai challenger - Kiriluang Chor.Hapayak.
Kiriluang looked great in the opening round, landing middle kicks into teeps at will and moving well off the ropes whenever the K-1 champion tried to pressure.
As the fight went on, Kaneko started to find his rhythm, dodging the more predicable becoming kicks and firing back with heavy shots on his own.
The pressure eventually became too much for Kiriluang, as Kaneko landed a flush left hook that send the Thai down to the canvas.
In the upset of the night, Stefan Latescu finished Mahmoud Sattari, snapping his undefeated 20-fight win streak.
Sattari, who made his name in K-1's Cruiserweight (90 kg) division, has looked unstoppable so far against, admittedly overmatched Japanese opponents. The Iranian fighter had a lot of hype going into this fight, making it the first big test of his career. K-1 was hoping to build more international competitors inside their ranks, with Sattari leading the bunch. Latescu, however, wasn't having any of it.
Sattari came out moving well, working his jab, and scoring while dodging Latescu's incoming attacks.
In round two, Latescu landed a huge left hook. that send Sattari flying backwards. The K-1 fan-favorite wasn't able to recover, and was quickly finished after.
Yuki Yoza, who bursted into the spotlight this year, continued his great run with a win over Aikpikart Mor.Krungthepthonburi.
The former Karateka, who earlier this year won against K-1 Lightweight Taio Asahisa - in a non-title fight, has looked unstoppable since. He recently joined the famous K-1 gym KREST, and has undoubtedly incorporated some of K-1 veteran Masaaki Noiri's style into his own.
Asahisa is currently out, nursing an injury, but a title fight against Yoza should be one of K-1's priorities in the near future.
K-1 World GRAND PRIX OSAKA RESULTS
Toma Kuroda def. Issei Ishii via Extra Round Split Decision - Bantamweight World GP Final
Taito Gunji vs Wang Junguang via Majority Decision
Sina Karimian def. Carlos Budiao via Disqualification
Kana Morimoto def. Aurore Dos Santos via KO at 2:55 of R1
Akihiro Kaneko def. Kiriluang Chor.Hapayak via KO at 2:38 of R3
Masashi Kumura def. Ismail Al Kadhi via KO at 1:40 of R2
Ștefan Lătescu def. Mahmoud Sattari via KO at 1:37 of R2
Yuki Egawa def. Kotaro Shimano via TKO at 1:58 of R1
Kenta Hayashi def. Fukashi Mizutani via Uninimous Decision
Toma Kuroda def. Kazuki Miburo via Majority Decision
Issei Ishii def. Koji Ikeda via Uninimous Decision
Jomthong Chuwattana def. Naoki Morita via KO at 0:22 of R2
Yuki Yoza def. Aikpikart via Uninimous Decision
Yuto Shinohara def. Hiroki via Uninimous Decision
Akira Junior def. Hisaki Kato via TKO at 1:40 of R2
Toma Tanabe def. Shuhei Kumura via Uninimous Decision
Shoki Kaneda def. Tatsuya Tsubakihara via Uninimous Decision
Takahito Niimi def. Yuta Kunieda via Majority Decision
Kazuki Miburo def. Samvel Babayan via Uninimous Decision
Toma Kuroda def. Yodsila via Extra Round Uninimous Decision
Issei Ishii def. Oscar Bohorquez via TKO at 2:47 of R2
Koji Ikeda def. Ambi Nsue Avomo via KO at 1:15 of R2
Aoi Noda def. Daiki Mine via TKO at 1:30 of R1
Ryota Ishida def. Satoshi Tanaka via KO at 1:08 of R3
Shota Yamaguchi def. Isami Sano via KO at 1:48 of R1
Yuya Miyake def. Arata via KO at 1:38 of R1