Ernesto Hoost (99-21, 62 KO’s) and Jérôme Le Banner (79-22, 64 KO’s) faced off 5 times under the K-1 Banner. Le Banner’s unrelenting pace and power against Hoost’s precise counterstriking made for an exciting rivalry to watch. Every one of their 5 fights in the organization ended by TKO. We review what made their K-1 rivalry so much fun to watch and how both fighters changed their game to win.
1996- Le Banner Sets the Hook
Hoost met Le Banner for the first time in K-1 in 1996. Le Banner must have done his homework when it came to Hoost’s leg kick game. When Hoost wants to set up a right kick to the body, Le Banner was two steps ahead of him with the jab (4:39), scoring multiple knockdowns with this counter. Hoost has strong counterstriking combinations to answer the southpaw (4:15), but Le Banner’s constant pace is dominant. At 4:45, Le Banner really proves his power with a right hook that drops Hoost for the second time in the fight.
Round two saw much of the same techniques proven effective for Le Banner. He can quickly eliminate the power of Hoost’s kick by reacting with a lightning quick jab that reaches far in front for the southpaw (7:19). Hoost gets knocked down at 7:55, but he finally gets the chance to land his signature kick three times in succession to bring his opponent to the canvas. However, Le Banner reacts with right hooks that knock down Hoost. At 8:40, Hoost can barely stand, but the referee gives him the ill-advised go ahead. Le Banner could have knocked Hoost down with a sneeze, but he opts for another right hook on the button. The corner called the fight with the towel, but you have to hope the referee wasn’t going to let it go on without the forfeit.
1997- Patient “Mr. Perfect”
Hoost tried his favorite kicking technique again in the rematch, but Le Banner had the same answer with the jab. Anticipating a replay of their last fight, Le Banner pulls out all the stops and moves in for the kill At 1:50. Hoost was able to shell up in defense and move out of most of the trouble. While most of Le Banner’s punches fell on the protection Hoosts’ forearms, Hoost was able to sneak in some left and right hooks on Le Banner. Hoost’s counterpunching ability saves him after a minute of assault until his hooks really begin to connect on Le Banner. At 2:25, the tables turn on the Frenchman and Hoost is able to hit the button relentlessly for the knockout. Just like that, Hoost flipped the chessboard and put on a nice dance at the end.
1999- Patient “Mr. Perfect” Pt. II
Le Banner goes back to the drawing board against “Mr. Perfect,” and this opening fight looks very familiar again. Le Banner knocks down Hoost right out of the gate with a jab as an answer to his kick. Hoost goes into counterpunching mode, putting him in the corner. But at 00:45, Le Banner snaps a jab that puts Hoost on the canvas again in the first round. It proved time and time again to be Le Banner’s go-to equalizer. What looks different in the opening round for Le Banner was the variation in his combinations. Rather than just slug his hooks, he throws in kicks to the body, leg and head to mix it up. Hoost had some strong counters after Le Banner’s punches at 1:55, but the first round definitely went his way.
Fast forward to the second and it looked like a different fighter showed up and took Hoost’s place. After catching a jab and a cross on Le Banner in the opening, he turned on the punches full blast. Le Banner tried to stay aggressive and come forward in the mix, but Hoost lands hook after hook while Le Banner was cornered. Hoost took the TKO and a second opportunity to cut a rug.
2000- Precision over Pace
If the last 3 fights taught fans anything, it’s that Le Banner can rumble and Hoost is always deadly. The first bell rings and all of the sudden…Le Banner isn’t brawling. Instead, he’s the one chipping the leg kicks. Hoost, of course, responds in kind with his own. When Le Banner reacted to Hoost’s spinning back kick before he threw it, you knew this would be a very different kind of fight. Le Banner took his time against Hoost to set up his shots really well, taking a calculated set ups for his combinations and most importanly, tossing in plenty of leg kicks. Upon the corner and doctor examination at the end of the first, Hoost is TKO’d by injury. Le Banner won by not falling for the same momentum trap set by Hoost.
2002- Return of the Jitterbug
Le Banner’s movement and aggression in the 5th and final chapter was aggressive, but matched well by Hoost. Le Banner kept the jab handy as always, but he had to rely on his counterstriking much more than ever against Hoost’s pace. When Hoost would cover up, Le Banner did not relentlessly pursue as he did in the second and third fights. In the second, Le Banner’s combinations proved effective once again, but both fighters traded equally in clinching up. Looking fatigued, the strikes start to go nowhere and the referee warns them both with a card.
Adjusting to Le Banner’s less aggressive pace, Hoost could work with long range kicks and do what he does best. At 9:35, we finally get to see why Le Banner constantly pushed to close the distance against Hoost. Hoost snaps a kick that’s blocked by Le Banner’s arm, but sends him reeling in pain to the corner. The referee didn’t know exactly what was happening, so he gave the count to Le Banner. Gearing back into the mix, Hoost snaps another one on the arm and it’s clear that it has been broken by his kick. He gives it one more go after a second count, but Hoost puts the final nail in the coffin on the broken arm. Hoost jitterbugs his way to victory for the 5th and final chapter of this K-1 rivalry.