Swedish Open 2018 – Scandinavian dominance!

The 7th version of Swedish Open was held this weekend, 22nd September, and as always organized in a very professional matter. Swedish Open have a setting that many just think they would see in a European Championship or a tournament in that order.

This years edition brought us fighters from: France, Croatia, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia, USA, Denmark, Norway, and of course the host Sweden…

⇐ Pictures: Svein Olaf Bænnes, Shin Norway

Swedish fighters has,and will always a great impact in their own tournament. Many good fighters in all the categories. The topic before this years tournament was that double lightweight champion Milad Samizade had moved to the middleweight category – to challenge himself, and the same case was about Ali Hayder, who moved to the heavyweight +80, weighing in at 75 kg. A related issue was that reign champions from last edition, Marta Lubos and Marek Wolny both from Poland, this time did not attend, and of course the question would be: who would take the top spots when the heavy names was moved or not in the tournament.

Women’s division

In the men lightweight category under 70 kg, 6 fighters from four nations was ready to go. After a closer look, one could categorize the category in to two divisions. Three fighters stood out with more experience and had fought in similar tournaments from before: Alen Kifah – Sweden, Victor Gorn – Russia and Hans K. Havreberg – Norway. Good fighters, but with a little less in their baggage was the up and coming fighters: Robert Strandberg – Sweden, Gintaras and Gvidas Civilis – Lithuania. First out was two of the favorites, Gorn vs Kifah. This fight was a really good one, and both had their style and agenda to overcome their opponent. Gorn seemed very strong and compact in his style – but Kifah showed smart set ups and came around his opponents defense, that led to scoring and later victory.

In the second fight did Havreberg as expected, advance in tho next round by Ippon in the fight against Gintaras Civilis. The second Lithuanian fighter was next one out, and this was the second fight of Kifah – and also that one ended in the swedes favor, but it could have been the fastest k.o. of the tournament, first did Kifah attack with a good head-kick from start, but did get a even better one in return from Gintaras Civilis! Close but Sweden advance to the final. Havreberg on his side met the other Swedish fighter, and once again the experience and strength made the difference – that said, Strandberg giving a positive impression being a technical good fighter, but could not stand against Havreberg’s strength and finaly back-kick to the liver.

The final against Kifah and Havreberg became a relativity short affair, Being the first real challenge for Havreberg, Kifah receives a perfect timed back-kick to the liver, and the fight ends just passing a minute.

Inn the middleweight we saw a eight men line up, and fighters from France, Croatia, Hungary, Denmark, Lithuania and Sweden! Reign champion Bergström would be the favorite, but one could not leave out fighter from such strong nations mention above – not to forget his country fellowman Milad Samizade.

First pair out was Samizade vs Jetmir Gashi (Ashihara) Denmark. With Samizade in the middleweight, one can for sure say that the pace would be insanely high! And few knew anything about Gashi. The fight went the distance, 3 minutes and by the time Gashi had warnings in his baggage. Samizade did control the fight with flurry’s of Technics – as we are used to see him. But Gashi was strong, and had a good defense combined with a good eye to spot the “big bombs” But Samizade was the man i charge, and we do believe that the victory had been given – warnings or not. Good start from Samizade – and a good fight for Gashi.

Second fight for Samizade was against David Fabek – Croatia. Fabek had a win against Lithuanian fighter Edvinas Borovojus in their first fight. Borovojus like the Lithuanians in the lightweight, young just turned seniors, so we believe that they will come back stronger next time – the base are all ready there.

Samizade once again pressure the action, but Fabek have his own agenda and shows good speed and variation Keeping his left left very active he almost manage to outsmart Samizade after several kick low, and in the middle – one suddenly goes high, over the guard – but do not reach the head. Samizade comes in with good attacks, and one feel th at he is getting closer and closer. But when the scoring is a fact, it is a kick from Fabek that connects wrong, and a injured foot/shin as results. This is the beginning of the end for Fabek. To fight Samizade without injuries is a challenge, so trying to do it with shows strong spirit – but to scoring’s before 3 minutes, that’s Sweden to the final.

Bergström in his first fight vs Croatian fighter Fran Lukšić. Good pace from the start and there are know doubt that their technical capacity are good. Bergström are looking for the big kicks, but Lukšić spots them and moves away. The decision comes when Bergström comes inn with basic punches and kicks, and it’s the low-kicks that leas to scoring’s and the victory.

Second fight for Bergström vs Rétfalvi Tamás, Hungary. Rétfalvi Tamás on his side had a victory against french fighter Alexis Warth. In this fight Rétfalvi Tamás took the pressure attacking with punches and low-kicks, Warth on his side backing up, defending well and countered with strikes and strong inside low-kicks. But Rétfalvi Tamás keeps the pressure on and even raises the pace in the end.

Photo by Photographer Annika Peterson

Rétfalvi Tamás picking up what he did in his first fight, and closing the distance, pressuring forward. Bergström on his side taking the fight looks for the big kicks again. Several attempts misses, before one really connects. But it is more the work before that sets it all up. Previous attempts was spotted by Tamás, but when the inside low-kicks really began to hurt him his focus lured away. Bergström hits with the “death roll” and the hardest knock out of the tournament is a fact. Bergström to the final, Tamás to the the hospital for check (we hope all is all right)

Samizade vs Bergström. This is a really entertaining final, the pace are very high and the technical aspect are very good. The size question was for many the main focus, but a another thing did also count in. Bergström went for the basic techniques from the start, attacking with low-kicks with full power – and connecting.

Samizade on his side attacked also with punches and kicks, but he did also use several kicks with jumps, or rolls – that did not connect, and one more thing: one could see how the legs had been hurt. When you must stand up again on your feet you will give away some information in which condition your legs are. Samizade shows great spirit and capacity going into a higher division, and we believe that if he had been in the lightweight he had made it three times champion. Bergström on his side makes a good tournament, and even so that the final goes full ordinary round plus extension – this was the biggest test, and the most tactical fight – we believe. No doubt that it will be if possible even more interesting to follow these two fighters in the future!

In the heaviest category we had nine fighters, one drop out close to start. Fighters from Denmark, Norway, USA, Sweden and Hungary was to see in the line up. First fight out with some big guns, Simon Pålsson – Sweden vs Eivind Nærland – Norway. Norwegian victory after one extension. Nærland’s heavy low-kicks are making the difference, stalking down the Swedish fighter that seems a little pale than we are used to see him. But wordy to mention is the “Death-roll” attempt from Pålsson in the end of the ordinary round, because that was really close to end the fight.

Nærland into next round there he advances through walk over, and after that: Julian Bjerrekær – Denmark who showed good fighting in his first fight against Esmail Hosseini – Sweden. Nærland vs Bjerrekær, these two fighters was quite the opposite of each other. Nærland pressing forward with punches and looking for the big leg kick, Bjerrekær on his side working lighter and looks for technical solutions and variations. A little “battle of the styles” until Nærland get first one warning, then the genten warning for punches to the face. Bjerrekær do not try buy time, and keeps on fighting out the round also raises the pace in. Denmark ready for the final.

On opposite side of the draw, a another Danish fighter started off fresh – Fady Allan. In his first fight he was up against a good competitor from Hungary: Balint Ujvari. Allan is unpredictable with his kicking skills especial, and in this case with the reach advantage in his favor – Ujvari keeping his calm and working his punches – up to a certain point when Allan raises the pace and throwing knees and front kick to the midsection, before changing to a head kick – and Ujvari goes down. But tough enough to continue out the fight. Allan moves on into the semifinal where Ali Hayder waits.

Hayder out from walk over in the first, and a decision win over Bjørn Eirik Orstad – Norway in the next fight. The Norwegian made a convincing first round win over  Tomoaki Iishiba – (who came all the way from USA!) The fight between Hayder and Orstad was a very intense fight, with two even fighters that really was going into the fight. Hayder with punches, low-kicks and some high-kick attempts, Orstad with shorter punches and low-kicks as well. Follow each other in the fight and trying to get the upper hand. The ordinary round was over, and both was ready for extension. 4-1 to Ali Hayder who advanced in to the semifinal.

Faddy Allan vs Ali Hayder was a really exciting set up. Both great fighters with many tools to use in the order to reach their goal. Hayder into the fight, closing the gap and interesting to stay inside, avoid the reach and kicks of Allan. Allan, maybe prefer longer distance, but know how to work the short distance as well – heels and knees for example. So with only seconds left of the fight, unfortunately Allan connect with a high punch that sends Hayder down. The result was that no one advanced further in the tournament – of course, Hayder goes to the final but are not allowed to fight.

With no final fight was Julian Bjerrekær declared as the winner of Swedish Open 2018! Julian Bjerrekær was also the fighter that broke most boards, and was awarded the tameshiwari award as well.