Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight knockout artists Gokhan Saki and Henrique da Silva threw down last night (Sept. 22, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 117 inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Already a legendary kickboxer, Saki made a second attempt — his first in a decade — to transition into MMA. Against a game but beatable opponent, Saki looked to show off an unmatched level of kickboxing in the cage.
Da Silva did not walk into the cage with the intent of rolling over. The Brazilian “Frankenstein” had lost three straight since his promising start, putting him in a dire position where the win was a must to keep his UFC career going.
The Brazilian pressured heavily and ate some heavy left kicks and clubbing punches. After a cross from the kickboxer dropped him to the mat, da Silva switched his approach with a double leg takedown.
“The Rebel’s” takedown defense held.
Back at range, Saki found his target over and over with his left hand. At one point, the fight seemed to be over, as Saki ripped combinations directly to his foe’s chin while da SIlva covered up along the fence. “Frankenstein” hung tough and eventually went back to his pressure.
As da Silva pursued, he ate a lot of counter punches. However, his pressure was wearing Saki down, causing him to drop his hands and eat some shots. The tide seemed to be turning with a minute left, as da Silva found the clinch repeatedly and landed hard knees. When da Silva began to flurry on his foe in front of the fence, everything seemed to be on his side, but he was too comfortable standing in front of the veteran striker.
Saki remained composed and fired a pair of hooks at full blast. The second connected perfectly and da Silva fell flat to his back with just seconds remaining in the round. The fight was over.
Saki brought his particularly brand of violence into the Octagon beautifully. I don’t care if he loses every other fight of his UFC career, this war and knockout alone was worth it entirely.
On the feet, Saki ripped combinations and selected his punches brilliantly. His left hand was ridiculously on point, switching his target and angle constantly to confound his opponent. His takedown defense also looked very solid, enough to shuck off some reasonably deep takedowns.
As Saki admitted in the post-fight interview, he does need to make some adjustments. Conditioning is definitely different once wrestling is involved; it’s a completely different type of muscle fatigue. Similarly, Saki did struggle when in the double-collar tie, a position that is not currently legal in K-1 kickboxing.
Nevertheless, it was a very promising debut.
As for da Silva, he put on a hell of a show. When the takedown didn’t materialize and the punches started landing from his opponent, a lot of fighters would have folded. Instead, da Silva hunkered down and kept attacking until his shots began to land. He really did appear to be in the midst of a comeback, but Saki’s composure and experience proved too much.
Despite the losses, it would be nice to see “Frankenstein” given another chance. He’s reasonably young, and it’s not like the light heavyweight division has too many members.
Last night, Gokhan Saki eliminated his opponent in the final seconds of a brawl. Who should the kickboxing champion face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 117 “Saint Preux vs. Okami” results and play-by-play, click HERE!