Sergii Kuliaba is the 2018 KLF 66 kg World Champion. The Ukrainian fighter defeated three Chinese opponents to earn the championship belt at Saturday’s Kunlun Fight 79: Taiyuan Gold Rush event in Taiyuan, China.
Kuliaba, a 2010 European Muay Thai champion, defeated Jia Aoqi in the quarterfinals in a close bout. In his second bout, he was too sharp for Sun Zhixiang, the 22-year-old Chinese prospect. Sun advanced to face Kuliaba with an impressive decision win over former Krush champion Kenta Yamada.
In the finals, Kuliaba faced Chinese southpaw Gu Hui. Gu had taken some damage in his quarterfinal win over Nafi Bilalovski. He was cut over the left eye, and the wound had to be attended to before his semifinal decision win over Enfusion 63 kg champion Soufiane Kaddouri.
Kuliaba dominated Gu, showing a complete arsenal. He landed some hard low kicks, good punches,and also knees to the body. Kuliaba hurt Gu on a couple of occasions, and knocked the Chinese fighter down with a spinning back fist in round three. Gu showed guts, trying to win even though he was having problems with the cut, which was reopened by Kuliaba during the bout. Official scores were 30-26 on all five scorecards.
Kuliaba takes the championship gold back to his hometown of Odessa, Ukraine.
“Thank you very much. All people go in tournament. Thank you China. Thank you Kunlun,” Kuliaba said through his trainer.
“We want a rematch,” Gu said, with the ring announcer translating.
-KLF 66 kg World Championship quarterfinals 1: Sun Zhixiang (CHN) def. Kenta Yamada (JPN)-Unanimous Decision
-KLF 66 kg World Championship quarterfinals 2: Sergii Kuliaba (UKR) def. Jia Aoqi (CHN)-Split Decision
-KLF 66 kg World Championship quarterfinals 3: Gu Hui (CHN) def. Nafi Bilalovski (BEL)-Unanimous Decision
-KLF 66 kg World Championship quarterfinals 4: Soufiane Kaddouri (MAR) def. Wei Ninghui (CHN)-Extra Round Decision
-KLF 66 kg World Championship Reserve Fight: Lu Ruilei (CHN) def. Lu Jianbo (CHN)-KO Round 1 (Body Shot)
-58 kg (MMA): Banmaduoji (CHN) def. Anatpong Bunrad (BEL)-Round 3 Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
-KLF 66 kg World Championship Semifinal 1: Sergii Kuliaba (UKR) def. Sun Zhixiang (CHN)-Unanimous Decision
-KLF 66 kg World Championship Semifinal 2:) Gu Hui (CHN) def. Soufiane Kaddouri (MAR-Unanimous Decision
-67 kg: Zhang Chunyu (CHN) def. Pong Thong (THA)-Split Decision
-70kg Super Fight: Song Shaoqiu (CHN) def. Kong Lingfeng (CHN)-Unanimous Decision
-61.5kg Super Fight: Wang Wenfeng (CHN) def. Feng Lian (CHN)-Decision
-KLF 66 kg World Championship Final
Sergii Kuliaba (UKR) def. Gu Hui (CHN)-Unanimous Decision (Kuliaba 2018 KLF 66 kg World Champion)