Tonight at K-1 Global's coming out party there was a lot of hype surrounding the return of Badr Hari to a K-1 ring. Badr Hari made his departure from Kickboxing in January against Gokhan Saki, so we thought, but then signed with K-1 as soon as things were in order for them and stepped into the ring against a surprisingly game Anderson "Braddock" Silva tonight. No one gave Braddock Silva much of a chance, as Braddock's career has been spotty to say the least, while Badr's career is that of a supernova that has burned incredibly brightly. Hari only has losses to some of the biggest and best names in the Kickboxing world, while Braddock holds a number of frustrating losses. Braddock was going into this fight looking for a win, coming off of a tough loss to the much smaller Catalin Morosanu in SuperKombat.
Everything was primed for Badr Hari to rip Braddock's head off, you could feel it in the air. The fans expected it, the media expected it, the fighters expected it, everyone was ready for Badr Hari to have an easy fight. In round one, Badr Hari was Badr Hari; aggressive, throwing power shots and fighting with emotion. There were differences, though. The super ripped physique from his 2011 bout with Tony Gregory and his fight in January against Gokhan Saki was nowhere to be seen. Instead, a lot of his muscle mass was simply not there and he looked a little soft around the mid section. That isn't to say that is a bad thing, as we've seen with fighters like Sem Schilt, physique doesn't mean much when you can fight like no one else can. The round saw Badr drop Braddock after a brutal flurry of hooks that saw a right connect to the side of Braddock's head and sent him crashing to the met. It felt like a forgone conclusion, even if Badr wasn't in perfect shape, he was Badr.
Then Braddock got up, and Badr started to go nuts on him, but Braddock was covering up. Braddock held out for the rest of the round, and Hari didn't look like he wanted to stop after the bell rang, but something clicked and he stopped himself from going crazy like we've seen him do before. Then round two happened, and Braddock seemed to be in control. Badr was gassing out, looking tired and like he had punched himself out. Braddock was actually controlling the action and landing some big shots, to the point where everyone felt comfortable after the second round to say that Anderson "Braddock" Silva, the sacrificial lamb was in control of the fight.
The third round is up for debate, but Badr was still slower and a lot less aggressive than we've seen him in years, while Braddock was connecting with some solid shots and weathering any storm from Badr Hari. Whether or not Badr Hari won the round and deserved the decision victory doesn't matter, I would have liked to see the fight go to an extension round and felt that Braddock might be able to win the fight. What is important is that Anderson "Braddock" Silva, a man that we usually write off, looked fantastic against top competition, while Badr Hari looked like he didn't belong in the ring.
Badr Hari walks away with the win, but there are a lot of questions surrounding him right now and where he is at, both mentally and physically, while Anderson Silva walked into a fight as a heavy underdog and walked away with lots of fans respecting him and wanting to see more of him.