Victorian promotion Hex Fight Series returned to a packed Melbourne Pavilion for show number seven on Friday night. The final show of 2016 for the promotion was beamed live across the globe on the Hex Fight Series Facebook page, with the event was also available live on Melbourne free to air network Channel 31 and nationally on Aurora TV.
A featherweight title match was on the cards in the main event, with Melbourne based Frenchmen Raphael Berthet taking on Sydneysider Joshua Culibao.
In the initial stages of the first round, Berthet seemed to be the aggressor as he moved forward narrowly missing with a spinning heel kick and then a leg kick. Culibao thew a jab cross combination momentarily staggering Berthet back, but Berthet quickly reciprocated with strikes of his own. During a somewhat tentative feeling out process, Culibao aimed for the cleaner straight punches, while Berthet aimed for the more powerful strikes. Culibao connected to the body of Berthet. Berthet then rushed forward with a flurry of strikes. Both combatants looked to be light on their feet and moved well. A heavy cross thrown by Culibao connected on Berthet’s chin and then a left hook followed. Culibao looked to be very elusive in the stand up, but Berthet was patient in chasing his opponent. Berthet attacked to the body with a kick. Berthet was briefly stunned by a punch from Culibao, but then followed with a flurry of strikes of his own. The round ended with both fighters trading shots.
There was much of the same in round two, but the pace of the fight was faster. Berthet rushed forward early on an attempted takedown, Culibao defended well. Berthet attacked with a leg kick, Culibao fought back with counter strikes as Berthet came in. Berthet attacked with a spinning elbow then a knee to the body on Culibao. Culibao continued to do a good job countering Berthet. A back and forth in the striking ensued, and into the clinch they went. Culibao attempted for a takedown, while Berthet defended well. Berthet received a heavy punch as Culibao pushed away. Berthet was again stunned by a double jab by Culibao. An aggressive Berthet moved forward with strikes and spinning attacks, Culibao, however, avoided most of the damage. The battle continued on by foot as the round ended.
Berthet threw a high kick early on in round three, then Berthet attacked with elbows as he pushed forward. A jab cross combination from Culibao connected, Berthet fought back with strikes of his own. Culibao proved to be a hard target as he continued to avoid major blows with good head movement. The two momentarily clinched, Bethet then threw a knee. A striking exchange then ensued. A flurry of strikes from Berthet pushed Culibao against the fence forcing the pair to clinch, Culibao tried to push away, but Berthet aimed for the takedown which was successful. Culibao worked his way to his feet, Berthet jumped on his back and began to aim for a rear-naked choke. In Berthet’s attempts for a submission he slipped off his opponent. Culibao then pounced onto Berthet with elbows. Berthet managed to get to his feet, but Culibao attacked for a takedown. The grapple continued briefly while Berthet attacked with short sharp elbows, until Culibao decided to push away and finish the round striking.
Berthet started round four strongly, connecting with a spinning elbow and then landing with a clean blow onto Culibao’s chin. Berthet then threw a leg kick and began to attack with a wild array of punches. Berthet went in for a takedown although Culibao defended well. Berthert then threw a spinning elbow and pushed off from the takedown. Culibao landed to the body cleanly with a punch, Berthet replied with a high kick and another spinning elbow. Berthet again made for a takedown attempt, the two were tied up shortly. Berthet went for a double leg takedown which pushed Culibao back against the fence, Culibao began to reign down elbows until the round ended.
The final round began with Berthet connecting with a leg kick, Culibao attacked with a body punch. Berthert continued with leg kicks. Culibao kept busy with strikes to the body and head. Berthet then attacked with a superman punch which was followed by strikes. Culibao once again went to the body with a heavy punch that dropped Berthet onto the canvas, Culibao pounced with body kicks putting an end to the match at 1:35 of round five.
With the win, Culibao is awarded with the Hex FS featherweight title and also continues to add to an unblemished record of 4-0 with all four of those fights coming in 2016. Berthet, who last beat South Australian standout Myles Simpson at Hex 6, drops to 6-3 with the result.
In the co-headliner of the night, promotional favourite and Bendigo native Jim Crute continued his winning ways with a first round TKO stoppage over Queenslander Matt Eland. Crute was dominant from the get go, taking his opponent down to the mat and working himself into full mount. Crute attempted multiple submissions from there then began to rain down heavy ground and pound until the referee was forced to put a halt to the bout at 2:55 of round one. As a result of the win, Crute remains undefeated with a 3-0 record.
Also on the card, Kitt Campbell took out fellow Victorian Kael Coster via a first round TKO stoppage in a welterweight battle. In an international bout, Tasmanian Stuart Dare defeated former TUF Veteran Ryan Bigler of Guam via a late first round submission.
At the end of the night, 10 of the 11 matchups ended in a stoppage including Aidan Aguilera’s impressive first round head kick knockout of Raphael Scott.
Hex Fight Series 7 comes to you live from the Melbourne Pavilion
Posted by Hex Fight Series on Friday, December 2, 2016
David Lewellin is a Melbourne based contributor for Fight News Australia.