The Alpha Fight Series returned to the Springers Leisure Centre in Melbourne’s South-East on Saturday night as Sydney fighter Rhyse Saliba took out the promotion’s 70kg 4-Man K1 tournament and a cash prize of $10,000.
The final of the tournament was an all-Sydney affair after both Saliba and his Thai opponent (Sydney-based) Singpayak both won their semi-final bouts. Having not taken much damage in their first encounters, both fighters were looking to press the pace from the opening bell and it was quite evident early that Singpayak’s tactic would be to attack the legs to try and slow down his opponent. Saliba had a similar idea and was looking to work-over Singpayak’s torso with clean body shots, landing a few but not slowing down the Thai’s advance.
The end to the bout came much quicker than those in attendance were expecting as Singpayak loaded up a strong roundhouse kick to the lead leg of Saliba, who raised it slightly to defend, the kick landing flush on the outside of Saliba’s knee cap causing Singpayak to fall to the canvas. The referee called the fight off two minutes and 23 seconds into the first round as Singpayak was unable to recover. A great result and a well-deserving payday for Saliba, but disappointing from a fans perspective as the fight had all the indications of an absolute war before the early-injury.
On his way to the title, Saliba overcame his New Zealand opponent Mike ‘Blood Diamond’ Tambo with an impressive performance in their semi-final bout. Tambo adopted an unorthodox style in the bout that didn’t seem to give him much in the way of an advantage as Saliba went out with a high work rate from the opening bell. Tambo was never able to assert any kind of dominance over Saliba who controlled the majority of the fight and was awarded the unanimous points decision before moving onto the final.
Before his injury stoppage later in the night, Singpayak was able to overcome the incredibly tough Harley Love in their semi-final bout, but not before a fourth round was needed to split the pair. Love pushed the pace early on, adapting well to the K1 rules, while Singpayak was content with lining up the big powerful roundhouse kicks landing with a brutal thud that echoed throughout the venue. Love had the higher work rate of the two, while Singpayak landed the more effective and damaging blows.
It was then not a surprise (at least to some in attendance), that the judges couldn’t split the two under K1 rules and an extension round was needed to set the fighters apart. Singpayak seemed to take the need for an extension round quite personally and came out in the fourth with a renewed drive, landing more combinations and powerful shots that Love was unable to answer. Singpayak moved onto the final with a split points decision.
In the night’s semi-main event local favourite Ramesh Habib won a clear decision over New Zealand’s Joey Baylon in what was a rematch of their 2015 bout which Habib also won. With both fighters often fighting under muay thai rules, it was a slow start to the bout with each sizing up their opponents and looking for a difference in approach from their last encounter.
For much of the fight, Habib was able to assert his dominance by using his considerable height and reach advantage over Baylon, who for the most part really was not able to negate this advantage (but not through a lack of trying). Baylon continually pushed forward looking for an opening, but Habib was able to press him back most times with precision push kicks. On two separate occasions, Habib was able to land a clean and powerful left hook on the chin of Baylon, but the tough Kiwi fighter shrugged it off and went searching for some big over-hand right shots as the bout came to an end. With a solid defence and great use of his long legs, Habib was able to get the unanimous points decision win over the visitor.
In one of the night’s main supporting bouts Michael Howard proved too strong for Anthony Kwok in their fight with a clinical kickboxing performance that earned him the win and the vacant International Kickboxing Federation Victorian title.