There were a lot of really, really good knockouts in 2017. Usually there are a few real big standouts, but in 2017 there was a pretty dense selection of knockouts to choose from as the knockout of the year that it became difficult to narrow down the field to just one, defining moment. So, in a way, this year’s LiverKick Knockout of the Year is one that is overflowing with symbolism on top of the brutality.
Because, at the core of it, that’s what knockouts are: brutality. Two fighters enter the ring and our job, as spectators, is to wish for one to get really, really hurt. I’m not here to talk about the morality of fighting, but it’s hard to ignore. So yeah, there’s some brutality at play in picking the best knockout of the year, but there’s also technique as well. There’s something really satisfying about an unconventional knockout, stuff like Kevin VanNostrand’s knee to the liver, Anvar Boynazarov’s starching of Pinca or Bestovac’s head kick on Hesdy.
Like I said earlier, we’re going a bit deeper into this one. Don’t think that I wasn’t tempted by anything that Tenshin Nasukawa did, because he was such an easy pick for this, but yet, deeper. In 1993 at the first K-1 World Grand Prix Croatian fighter Branko Cikatic ran through three men on his way to being crowned the very first K-1 World Grand Prix Champion. He did so with three brutal knockouts.
It would be impossible to not find it fitting that one of his students entered into the 2017 K-1 Japan Heavyweight Grand Prix and tore his way through the competition with a set of brutal knockouts and in the final fight to brutalize his opponent to the point where the decision was a foregone conclusion. Antonio Plazibat burst onto the scene just like that, in the blink of an eye.
No, the field in the tournament wasn’t the same as the ’93 World Grand Prix, but it was a beginning, a new beginning at that, which delivered with excitement and promise in a year when kakutougi in Japan found itself on the rebound, finally looking towards the future instead of being stuck in the past. Antonio Plazibat is that future that kickboxing needs, standing at 6’5″ and only 24-years-old. With K-1 returning to the Saitama Super Arena this March with K’FESTA.1 they finally have a heavyweight champion and this guy is a wrecking machine.
So here it is, Antonio Plazibat’s absolutely beautiful, brutal flying knee against Makoto Uehara from the K-1 World Grand Prix 2017.
The 2017 LiverKick Awards:
Fighter of the Year: Rico Verhoeven