Gokhan Saki is a fighter I wrote about a while ago because he impressed me a lot. At the time, his leg kick is what stood out the most but I’m happy to see his evolution as a fighter is coming along nicely. He just fought Melvin Manhoef, who is one tough customer. I was really please to see how Saki handled it: he stayed calm and confident before, during and after the fight.
Here’s the startedown before the fight:
Saki takes the mental pressure from Manhoef and gives as good as he gets. Many young fighters crumble under such pressure so it’s a sign of his maturity that he handles it well.
This is the fight:
Gokhan used his reach advantage very effectively and didn’t rely on the speed of his legs as much as he did in the past. This is a good thing because as he moves up in the ranks, speed will no longer be enough. He put together some really good combinations and also diversified them enough to keep Manhoef guessing. It’s also good to see Saki lost a little bit of the bodyfat he had a few years ago and is slowly replacing it with muscle.Even better, he shows a lot of respect this his defeated opponent after the fight.
When you look at the whole picture, I think he’ll prove to be one of the dominant fighters in the K1 game for some time to come.
The crucial mistake I think Manhoef made was blocking the high kick with only his right arm (even though he tried to use the left arm too, it flailed off-line.) Saki kicks way too hard for that; you need both arms to block those blows. I’ve noticed this type of double-hand blocking is becoming less popular in the ring and many fighters seem to prefer using one arm only to counter-punch more easily. Fine by me but you can see how a well placed high kick does damage through a block. Especially if you angle it inward like Saki did. And if you don’t believe that, ask Frank Shamrock about Cung Le’s high kicks…
Anyway, a good fight. I look forward to seeing many more awesome performances from Saki.