The last K-1 classic we covered was less than uplifting, so we’ll leave it to Mark Hunt and Ray Sefo to cleanse your kickboxing palette. The year is 2001 where “The Super Samoan” suffered a close unanimous decision loss to reigning champion Ernesto Hoost. However, Hunt was granted a wildcard spot in the tournament for the K-1 World GP 2001 Finals when Mirko Filipović had to pull out due to injury. He was drawn against Mr. Ray Sefo, a six time Muay Thai World Champion and the runner up in the K-1 GP in the previous year.
Right out of the gate at 6:55, Mark Hunt pushed the pace hard on Ray Sefo. Sefo was able to get a few hard counters in, but he was under full assault from Hunt. Hunt clinched hard, swung hard and did everything he could to overwhelm the Muay Thai specialist. Sefo may have been on his heels a bit, but used a hard counter punch opportunity at 7:40 and tried to turn the tide back in his favor. At 8:45, the pace slowed down a bit and Sefo took the upper hand with the ability to pick and choose long distance kicks and jabs. You can see in their body language that there was some hard smack talk going back and forth between the two kickboxers.
At the onset of round 2, it’s clear to both kickboxers that this is going to be anything but a quick scrap. Sefo was really able to set up really accurate punches to the head and body. After Hunt threw a kick to the head of Sefo at 12:20, something looks weird in the ring. The pair separated from a clinch and all of the sudden, Mark Hunt glared at Ray Sefo with his hands by his waist. Sefo took the opportunity for a quick 1-2 and a clinch to say a few kind words back to Mark Hunt in his ear. Soon after the action resumed and at 12:50, things get weird again. Hunt was in Sefo’s face before he hugged him and hit him with a few shots on the chin. Then, Hunt lets Sefo take a few back on his own head.
For a brief minute, all of the gamesmanship of the contest went out the window for a truly unique combat sports moment. With full capability to uncork on one another, Mark Hunt and Ray Sefo spontaneously sparked up a punching game in the middle of a kickboxing bout. Impromptu, the competitors allowed for a back and forth exchange of free shots in the middle of the most prestigious kickboxing tournament of the era. Just as quickly as it began, however, it ends. From 13:00-13:18 of the clip, the fight stopped for a moment of sheer fun (and frustration).
From there, the pace of the fight resumed. The rest of the fight was filled with a lot of clinch fighting and counters from both fighters. In the end, Ray Sefo would the judges’ unanimous decision victory, but Mark Hunt would win the war. After the fight, Sefo suffered an eye injury and was not able to continue in the tournament, allowing Hunt to proceed in his place. Hunt then TKO’d Adam Watt to earn his place in the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals at the Tokyo Dome. The opportunity would carry him all the way to competing against Brazilian Kyokushin karate champion Francisco Filho. In the final, Hunt defeated Filho by unanimous decision to become the K-1 World Grand Prix 2001 champion.