For this K-1 classic, we take a look at Remy Bonjasky and Badr Hari’s two bouts in K-1, featuring 2 of the greatest talents to come out of Dutch kickboxing. Their first matchup was a Muay Thai fan’s dream as the two experts fought with extremely technical precision and brutality. Unfortunately, their rematch goes down as one of the greatest blunders in the history of combat sports.
K-1 World Grand Prix-2007
Badr Hari and Remy Bonjasky first met in K-1 in the 2007 Grand Prix. Hari didn’t let Bonjasky back out of range the whole 3 rounds without sending him a head kick to keep him on his toes. The amount of leg kicks thrown on both sides was ear deafening. Bonjasky kept his gloves pinned to his forehead, hardly giving Hari an inch of striking room the whole bout. On Remy Bonjasky’s defense, we get yet another perfect Michael Schiavello analagy:
“The only thing harder to get into is Fort Knox”- Michael Schiavello
Many of the commentators thought that the only way to get a clear cut decision was to let the fight go the extra round. It was hard fought on both sides, but Bonjasky surprisingly got the majority decision win. This was definitely a tough pill to swallow for Badr Hari and his camp. The following year, the two would meet again to settle the score in the Grand Prix Final.
K-1 Grand Prix 2008 Final
Badr Hari isn’t exactly known for his poker face, seeing red in the staredown. Bonjasky tagged Hari in the 1st at 2:25 of the clip, dropping him with a looping left to the jaw. Bonjasky nearly follow up with a jumping roundhouse kick that looked like an absolute death blow. At the close of the opener, Hari looked absolutely livid throwing a late left hook.
At 5:00 Hari pulled out all the stops and went hell for broke on Bonjasky, forcing him into the corner and doing his best to make up for the first round. The trade from Bonjasky was competitive and the exchange looked equal but at 5:18, everything goes wrong. Hari pursued Bonjasky and reached down for a leg pull takedown. While the referee intercedes, Hari punched and stomped Bonjasky before being toppled by the referee.
At this moment, nobody really wins this fight. Remy Bonjasky is in the worst damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario in the stakes of a championship final. If Bonjasky does everything he can to get back into the fight, he has to press forward suffering the concussive trauma of two illegal shots. If you’re anything less than sharp against the expert striking of Hari, you’re going to be in serious trouble. If Bonjasky is unable to continue, everyone assumes he’s cowering out to milk it and capitalize on the hard fouls.
Badr Hari was deducted a point initially and after the doctors examine Bonjasky, he wins the match by disqualification. To speak to both scenarios of choosing whether or not Bonjasky should have continued in this fight, focus on Bonjasky’s body language and demeanor for the rest of the closing ceremony. If Remy was grinning ear to ear and jumping up and down as the winner of yet another K-1 Grand Prix, the “milking it for the win” argument would seem to carry more weight. But if you cut out all of the footage of Remy holding a trophy on the pedestal, you would think someone had just told him the worst news of his life.
In a way, it is the worst news you could hear as a competitive athlete. Nothing could have more appeal to K-1 kickboxers than the eruption of the crowd at a walk off KO victory for the Grand Prix Title. The kickboxers of the promotion trained tirelessly their entire lives for even the opportunity to make it to the final round. More than anything, they want to prove to themselves that they did everything to deserve that honor of champion.
Instead, Bonjasky was forced to both cry and celebrate at the height of his sport’s achievement. He is bestowed the highest honor of champion with all the pageantry of a trophy, check, belt and medallion, but it came as a result of a brutal violation of the rules. Debating whether or not Bonjasky could have continued fighting began at the commentary table and remains to this day. In the end, the outcome stands as an extremely rare championship victory by disqualification. The rematch outcome is a black eye on the face of combat sports as a simultaneous celebration and funeral for Remy Bonjasky in the K-1 championship final.