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Buakaw Banchamek Walks Out, Enriko Kehl Claims K-1 World MAX Championship

Truly fascinating night in Thailand tonight as K-1 held the K-1 World MAX Finals to crown the K-1 MAX Champion. That champion will hold the K-1 MAX/70kg Championship and go on to defend it against all comers. Many believed that Buakaw Banchamek couldn't lose against Enriko Kehl, especially after the showing last year that saw Buakaw dismantle Kehl and pick up a decision. What happened in the fight was much stranger than fiction, that is for sure.

Enriko Kehl came into the fight focused and was landing clean combinations and shots on Banchamek. Buakaw spent most of the fight catching Kehl's kicks or clinching him then dumping him to the mat. That led to Buakaw being in control in the ring, but not landing anything significant. Many believed that this would assure Buakaw an easy victory against Kehl, but in what is typical K-1 fashion when a fight is close, it was ruled a draw. Before anyone goes into conspiracy theory mode, those trips, dumps and clinches don't score points in K-1 rules. The official K-1 rules are that a clinch must be immediately broken or that a single knee can be thrown from a one-handed clinch. That is just the rules. 

The fight was to go to an extension round, the only problem was that Buakaw was nowhere to be seen. Buakaw, along with his trainers and manager Yim, left the ringside area when they found out that there would be an extension round. Buakaw, who has fought in extension rounds in K-1 numerous times now, knows how it works, so there really was no reason for him to storm out. If you were paying attention to Banchamek's social media and to the news leading into the fight, this behavior won't seem that odd to you, as Banchamek had gone to the press numerous times in the lead-up to this event with some interesting stories. Those stories include doubts as to K-1's legitimacy, him wondering if he'd be paid the money that he'd get from fighting in the event and even claiming that K-1 was involved in illegal gambling on the event. 

Curiously it was all done in front of a Top King banner, with Top King being the latest Thai promotion that Buakaw has signed with after falling out with Yokkao, Thai Fight and MAX Muay Thai over the years. Buakaw was nowhere to be seen and the fight was ruled in favor of Enriko Kehl due to disqualification via forfeit. All of the credit in the world goes to Enriko Kehl who very clearly learned from their first encounter and made improvements and adjustments to meet the Thai legend on Thai soil in a fight that no one thought that he could win. 

Regardless of anyone's opinion on if the extra round was deserved or not, this was unprofessional behavior from Banchamek and not the first time that he had done something similar in K-1 (see the Zhou Zhi Peng fight in December 2013 in China).

UPDATE: If you watch the video above it is clear that Buakaw and his team left before the decision was even rendered. We received confirmation that Buakaw and his team left immediately after round three ended and jumped into a car without a word to anyone else. 

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Dave Walsh

Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.

His second novel, Terminus Cycle, is available now via Kindle and Paperback.

Dave (a) LiverKick dot com | @dvewlsh

Website: www.dvewlsh.com
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