Lyoto Machida’s protege returns! 5 reasons to watch Karate Combat 39

All the information you need for this week's Karate Combat fight card in Miami, Fl. Including the main event between Bruno Souza and Luiz Rocha.

By: Eddie Mercado | 2 weeks ago
Lyoto Machida’s protege returns! 5 reasons to watch Karate Combat 39
Luiz Rocha vs. Bruno Souza headlined Karate Combat 39 | Karate Combat

Karate Combat 39 is going down this Saturday night (May 20th) from Miami, Florida and will showcase full contact Karate between some of the very best Karatekas on the planet. We are talking high flyers like Raymond Daniels, undefeated champs like Luiz Rocha, and one of the largest hearts in all of combat sports in Bruno Souza. To sweeten the deal, UFC legend Georges St. Pierre and MMA pioneer Bas Rutten will be commentating the event. I feel like Bas and GSP alone is enough for me to tune in, but let’s go look at five other reasons to tune in to KC 39.

5 reasons to watch Karate Combat 39

Full contact Karate

Knockouts! With the meteoric rise of MMA, the sport of full contact fighting is as huge as it’s ever been, but several traditional martial arts such as Karate have been absent on that front. That has changed with the birth of the Karate Combat league. Now, Karate is no longer just a point-fighting style.

World class Karatekas now have the opportunity to showcase their talents without having to pull their punches… or kicks. In point-fighting, if you knockout your opponent with a strike, then YOU LOSE! Errrrr what? Yeah, full contact Karate fixes that major flaw. Now are the days where brutal Karate knockouts are not only celebrated, but they’re encouraged. Can I get a hallelujah?!

The Pit

The ring has long been the standard platform for combat sports, and has gained household status over the years through the growth of boxing and professional wrestling. However, once MMA debuted on the scene, it was the hexagonal, octagonal, and circular cages that rose to fame. In fact, the UFC Octagon is so recognized that it’s actually trademarked.

With Karate Combat venturing into uncharted territory, they elected to think outside of the box to come up with their own unique fighting arena known as the Pit. Now who could forget YAMMA Pit Fighting? That was quite the spectacle, but this is totally different. The KC pit has a square base with 45-degree embankments on each side.

This does obstruct the view for sea level observers, however Pit-side seats don’t exist. Instead, the promotion has a standing only VIP section surrounding it where they often showcase some of the biggest name in the martial arts world. The regular audience in attendance is raised up on bleachers, allowing the crowd to look down upon the action.

What about utilizing the embankments? Oh yessir! Combatants are allowed to utilize the embankments however they see fit, which creates a whole new vein of martial arts previously unfathomed. Some guys run up the ramp to stay elusive, while others spring off of it to perform acrobatic strikes. Go check out Raymond Daniels vs. Franklin Mina from Karate Combat 35 to see how wild it can get.

It also creates unusual scenarios never seen before. For example, ‘Turbo’ Ross Levine had his opponent Igor de Castaneda hurt and leaned up against the embankment. While standing, Levine unloading a wicked wheel kick that landed clean on his slumped opponent to realize the finish. Sure, there have been plenty of instances where a dazed fighter has gotten hung up on the ropes and then brutally dispatched (Ray Mercer vs. Tommy Morrison), but this is a whole other level of awesomeness that we haven’t seen before. The pit is damn cool is what I’m saying.


Fans will be hard pressed to find a promotion that offers a higher quality of production value than Karate Combat. The cinematography is buttery smooth, and far surpasses the industry standard for combat sports… or sports in general for that matter.

You know how the UFC uses a higher caliber of camera for their fighter intros on the bigger cards? When Bruce Buffer is announcing say Israel Adesanya, the video quality on screen is so much better than the rest of the card’s production that it looks like a video game cut scene. That lack of continuity can be rather off-putting. Well, Karate Combat shoots their entire event like that, so start to finish you have movie-level quality that’s extremely easy on the eyes.

Luiz Rocha vs. Bruno Souza

Following a MMA decision win at Bellator 188 in 2017, Luiz Rocha transitioned over to Karate Combat where he rose to the ranks of lightweight champion. Currently 4-0 in MMA and 3-0 in KC, Rocha has proven to be quite the force. His opponent just so happens to be the protege of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida.

Bruno Souza’s most recent bout was last month at Karate Combat 38, where we saw a wild battle of the Brunos. It was Bruno Assis who got out to an early lead, but ‘The Tiger’ is going to do what ‘The Tiger’ is going to do… and that’s rally back. By the end of the third round, the electrified audience broke in a ‘one-more-round’ chant, prompting a fourth bonus frame. After Souza came out on top, Rocha entered the pit for an impromptu face off which spawned the matchup we have going down this Saturday. That’s the thing about Souza, he walks that fine line of friend and foe with his opposition, and that just adds to the excitement.

Raymond Daniels vs. Sasha Palatnikov

This should be a banger! Both of these guys are well-known outside of the Karate world, having competed on some of the largest martial arts stages in the world. These UFC, Bellator, and GLORY Kickboxing vets are trying to get back into the win column, which adds a layer of danger to the equation.

What can you say about Raymond Daniels that hasn’t already been said? His flashy striking style has produced several viral highlight moments over the years that looked like they were scripted right out of a Hollywood movie. Except he does it in real life. As for Sasha Palatnikov, his UFC days are far behind him as he seems focused on blossoming in full contact Karate. After a successful Karate Combat debut at KC 37, Palatnikov suffered a split decision loss to Adrian Hadribeaj on the very next card to move to 1-1 with the promotion. Only one man will be returning to their winning ways.

Karate Combat 39 fight card

  • Luiz Rocha vs. Bruno Souza: Lightweight Title
  • Raymond Daniels vs. Sasha Palatnikov: Middleweight
  • Shahzaib Rindh vs. Tommy Azouz: Lightweight
  • Cody Jerabek vs. Antonio Arroyo: Heavyweight
  • Alberto Ramirez vs. Maciej Tercjak: Lightweight
  • Elijah Everill vs. Rahul Bhowmick: Lightweight
  • Ana Luiza Da Silva vs. Nathalia Dinis: (W) Flyweight
  • Adam Rosa Ramos vs. Zakaria BenBouchta: Heavyweight
  • Gabriel Stankunas vs. Ignacio Capllonch: Welterweight
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About the author
Eddie Mercado
Eddie Mercado

Eddie Mercado is a writer and content creator for Bloody Elbow, and has covered combat sports since 2015. Eddie covers everything from betting odds and live events, to fighter interviews and co-hosting the 6th Round post-fight show and the 6th Round Retro. He retired at 1-0 in professional MMA, competed in one Muay Thai match in Thailand, and is currently a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu under the great Diego Bispo.

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