History of K-1 - Golden Age (1994-1999) - 1998

1998

The 98 K-1 season began with the K-1 Kings event which was headlined by newly crowned WGP champion Ernesto Hoost taking on two time champion Peter Aerts. In another hard fought battle between the two K-1 legends, Aerts was able to score the win after knocking Hoost down in the first round and getting the unanimous decision.

The K-1 Braves event was headlined by the two most recognizable Japanese K-1 fighters; the veteran Masaaki Satake and the newcomer MUSASHI. After five hard fought rounds none of the judges saw a clear victor and thus the battle between the two Japanese greats ended in a rare K-1 draw.

In the annual K-1 Fight Night held in Switzerland, hometown hero Andy Hug squared off against Peter Aerts in an entertaining five round brawl. This would be the third fight between the two K-1 greats with each one having a win a piece. In the end after five rounds, Hug was given the win. On the undercard of the event Stefan Leko won the K-1 Europe GP earning a spot in the 16 man WGP qualifier.

The K-1 Dream card was truly a dream for K-1 fans. Since its inception, the goal of K-1 was to see what style was the better one between traditional stand up Karate and kickboxing. Over the years many top Karate champions have joined the ranks of K-1 and fought with some of the best kickboxers in the world. Now in K-1 Dream, the theme was a seven on seven, Karate team vs Kickboxing team, to prove which style was superior. In the opening bout debuting Kyokushin Karateka Nicholas Pettas fought against the young Croatian/German Stefan Leko. Leko did not go easy on Pettas and welcomed him to the K-1 with a second round TKO. Another debuting Kyokushin Karateka, Glaube Feitosa did not fare any better as he was knocked out by Mike Bernardo, giving Team Kickboxing a commanding lead. British kickboxer Kirkwood Walker and Dutch karateka Xhavit Bajrami went to a draw. Japanese Karateka Masaaki Satake was crushed by another British kickboxer in Matt Skeleton, while fellow Japanese fighter MUSASHI was put down by Ernesto Hoost, giving Team Kickboxing the dominant win. During Sam Greco and Jerome Le Banner's fight, it looked like Team Karate would have a chance to at least gain one win when Greco knocked down LeBanner twice in the first round. BUt miraculously in the second, LeBanner threw a right cross that crumbled Greco to the canvas. In the main event the young Brazilian Francisco Filiho squared off with two time WGP champion Peter Aerts. During the first round Aerts hurt his leg and the fight had to be stopped awarding Filiho the tainted win, and at least prevent Team Karate from being shut out in the series.

1998 saw the first United States qualifier, which took place in Las Vegas. In K-1's debut show American Kickboxer, Rick Roufus won the US GP and earned a shot at the 16 man WGP qualifier. Headlining the show was a rematch from the very first WGP where Hoost took down Maurice Smith. This time Smith lasted the full three rounds but still lost the decision.

Back in Japan they were having their own GP qualifier that saw K-1 original Masaaki Satake win the GP and earn one last shot at a possible WGP victory.

In the 1998 WGP qualifier last year's final 8 (Francisco Filiho, Sam Greco, 2 time WGP champion Peter Aerts, Mike Bernardo, former WGP champion Andy Hug, Masaaki Satake and defending WGP champion Ernesto Hoost) minus Jerome Le Banner who was injured, were set up against a brand new batch of would be K-1 fighters to see who would go onto the finals. All of last year's fighters made it past the qualifying round and were joined by New Zealian Ray Sefo who out muscled Stefan Leko in the qualifiers.

The 1998 WGP is the shortest WGP to date with only one of the fights going to a decision. In the quarterfinals heavy favorite to make the finals Francisco Filiho was shockingly manhandled by Mike Bernardo in the third round, while it took Peter Aerts only one round to take down the Japanese Satake. In his crusade to return to the WGP finals, Andy Hug made short work of Ray Sefo while a cut forced this year's WGP defending champion Ernesto Hoost to quit sending opponent, Sam Greco to the semi finals. In the semis' the eternal rivalry continued as Aerts and Bernardo met once again. This would be the sixth time these two K-1 stars have collided and Bernardo was ahead 2-3. This time Aerts was able to tie it up by knocking out the big South African with seconds left in the first round. On the other side of the Semi finals, it took Andy Hug all three rounds to out muscle Sam Greco. In the finals Aerts became the first three time WGP champion by KOing Hug with a quick kick to the head inside of one minute in the first round. Not only did Aerts become a 3-time champion he also won this WGP in the quickest time ever 6 minutes 43 seconds. A record that stood until it was broken recently in 2009 by Semmy Schilt.

Read more about this topic:  History Of K-1, Golden Age (1994-1999)

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