by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
To say that Holland has dominated K-1’s history would be an understatement. Over the 12-year history of the company, Dutch fighters have taken home all but two World Grand Prix Championships since the tournament’s inception in 2003.
Among those Champions are former four-time GP winner Ernesto “Mr. Perfect” Hoost and current 2005 World GP Champion Semmy “Hightower” Schilt. At K-1’s Premium Dynamite 2005 show on New Year’s Eve these two champions will meet in one of the most anticipated K-1 rules bout of the year.
Standing 6’2″ and weighing in around 240lbs, Hoost is the perfect example of what a K-1 fighter should be. His strength, intelligence, and resilience are the foundations to his success. While there may be bigger or faster fighters in the sport, but few are as purely skilled and as adaptable as Hoost is
“Mr. Perfect” couldn’t be a more befitting nickname for Ernesto. From 1997-2002 Hoost dominated K-1, taking four World GP Championships, becoming the most decorated fighter ever in the country’s history. Hoost missed the 2003 GP due a skin condition before returning, undefeated, until running into Remy Bojansky in the first round of this year’s GP.
While unable to capture the 2005 crown, during his career fellow superstars such as Peter Aerts, Jerome LeBanner, Mark Hunt, Mirko Cro Cop, Ray Sefo, and Bob Sapp have all fallen to defeat at the hands of Hoost. Simply put there is almost no major fighter in sport he hasn’t beaten, except his opponent at Premium Dynamite 2005, Semmy Schilt.
Most fans of combat sports know Schilt from his days in MMA. Starting his career in that sport for Pancrase in 1996, Schilt went on to capture the 9th Open Weight King of Pancrase Championship before leaving the company in 2000. From there he went to the UFC where most people associate him with his bloodbath war against Josh Barnett at UFC 32.
Schilt would go on to Pride FC where he most recently competed in Pride’s 2004 Heavyweight GP, reaching the second round before losing to Sergei Kharitonov. After that Schilt would go back to K-1, a company he had competed for on and off between MMA bouts the years previous.
And return he did, Schilt dominated this past year, taking his first four bouts, taking the Paris GP Championship, qualifying himself for the World GP in the process. During his four-fight run in the World GP, no one could come close to stopping Semmy as he took unanimous decisions from Glaube Feitosa and Ray Sefo before knocking out 2004 GP Champ Bojansky and Feitosa in the finals to claim the 2005 crown.
At Premium Dynamite 2005 Hoost and Schilt will rematch from their Dynamite/Shockwave 2002 bout in which the outcome was a draw. At the time Schilt’s relative inexperience in K-1 prevented him from taking advantage of his huge 6’11” 280lb frame, conversely Hoost couldn’t get past Schilt’s reach to apply his game.
Don’t expect things to be the same this time around. Hoost, now 40-years-old is in the twilight of his career. While not as slick as he once was, he’s still a veteran fighter that knows all the tricks, and he’ll need to use them all against Schilt.
Semmy, now fully focused on K-1, has become the fighter he always had the potential of becoming. Using his long reach he’s able to keep fighters at bay and now not having to worry about being taken down like he was in MMA, his striking and strength have become the most formidable weapons in K-1.
This fight very much represents the old guard versus the current generation. If Hoost can pull off a win he’ll have defeated nearly every major fighter in the sport and can begin his farewell tour knowing he will one day retire the greatest fighter in K-1’s history.
For Schilt this is an opportunity to further prove he’s the best K-1 fighter in the world today. Some people were a bit surprised he won this year’s GP and with a win over Hoost he can prove to everyone that was not a fluke, but instead the beginning of his era of rule.
Either way, this fight is a very important one for K-1 and in the battle for TV ratings in Japan, it is essential to maintain the company’s New Year’s Eve ratings stranglehold over Pride. For fans this is a chance to see Hoost once again attempt to defy the odds and come out on top, or see Schilt go from being the literal “Next Big Thing” to simply becoming “The Man” in K-1.