The Bestfighter tournament is a WAKO rated event that is one of the WAKO World Cup events – meaning one of the largest and most prestigious. The 2014 event, held June 4-6, 2014 in Lignano, Italy boasted higher attendance and some intense competition on all levels. The event included full contact, low kick, continuous and point sparring competition all set in the beautiful beachfront resort town of Lignano, located just north of Venice, Italy. Promoter Gianfranco Rizzi went all out on the awards for the event with huge, beautiful cups for first place along with special trophies for team fight winners and most supportive teams.

Friday night started with team sparring for cadets, juniors and senior (adult) fighters. European fighters really step up to the plate when it comes to continuous and full contact and the European skill in point fighting is reaching new levels. In addition, the enthusiasm for fighting is electric at the events. Fighters are there for one reason – to compete. With the United States and Europe basically dominating in the point sparring world, it was exciting to see a new international player jump into the point fighting game – Russia. The Russians brought teams for junior and adult sparring competition and the fighters were incredibly strong.

In the cadet fighting, it was Slovenia’s kids who took the top honor over the little HMD fighters from Italy. The HMD kids put on a great show, defeating their much larger opponents from Bulgaria (another group of awesome fighters). The four male, one female team groupings meant that strategy was the game for all the teams. In the juniors, the Russians took the title in the lower belt category. In a crazy match up, Team Bestfighter of Italy won the advanced junior team fighting on the great kicks of Davide Colla with Team BMA Babies of Ireland coming in second.

In the adult divisions, ten teams were lined up and ready to battle. The fights started with drama with Team Aikya of Italy going into double overtime against Team Icarus of Greece with Aikya advancing. Team Bestfighter of Italy went down to the wire with the Slovakian adults showing that the adult competition could be anyone’s game. Bestfighter was ultimately eliminated in a match against Austria as top Austrian fighter Roman Brundl led his team to a 15-11 victory.

In the other bracket, Team Kiraly of Hungary was steadily winning on its way to the senior team fighting finals. Kiraly has been dominating in Europe and Bestfighter was no exception. Kiraly first defeated Team BMA of Ireland and then advanced in a hard-fought match against Aikya of Italy. The final fight would be Team Austria against Kiraly for the championships. Kiraly left nothing to chance, gaining a 13-2 lead before the final fight between Brundl and Kiraly’s Richard Veres. Brundl’s long limbs could not track down the speedy Veres and it was Kiraly with the win and Bestfighter Senior Team Fighting title.

Saturday competition was all about individual weight divisions for point fighting, semi-finals in full contact and musical forms. Sunday was reserved for the open weight competition, finals in full contact, musical weapons and the low kick and continuous competition.

In musical forms, it was all about the Russian competitors who dominated in nearly every division. Veronika Dambrovskaya and Ivan Baev of Russia dominated in the adult divisions. Aleksander Iushkov and Ivan Archipov were stand outs in the cadet and junior competition. Bernardo Saccardin was the Italian stand out in both weapons and forms. Jack Griffiths of the United Kingdom held his own in his divisions but found his niche in the tricks battle.

Desmond Leonard of Ireland embodied the competitive nature of WAKO fighting. The rules allow a fighter to participate in his or her own weight category and also to fight up one weight class, if desired. Leonard competed in both -69kg and -74kg point fighting divisions. In the end, he found himself fighting for first place in both divisions at approximately the same time. Leonard couldn’t defeat Carvin Burke of the Netherlands in the -69kg division but he was successful in the -74kg category with a win over Tilen Zajc of Slovenia.

Zajc did not go home empty handed, he was the winner of the -79kg division. Italy had some wins with Paolo Niceforo taking the title in two weight classes. Richard Veres brought home a win for the Hungarians after defeating Davide Colla in the -63kg finals. Ireland had a another win as Rob Hurley defeated the UK’s Fletch Thomas for the -57kg division. Austria’s favorite Roman Brundl was the winner in the -84kg division.

Sinead Beasley of Ireland found herself face-to-face with Evita Viltanioti of Greece in the finals of her weight class and Beasley was able to come up with a well-earned win. The Russian’s felt victory behind the long legs of Maria Semenova as Semenova defeated Sofia Minda of Norway in the women’s +65kg division. Henrietta Nagy of Hungary overcame Germany’s Sonja Oicwald for the -65kg category while the Irish Open champion Luisa Gullotti of Italy defeated Adrienn Kadas of Hungary in her division.

The Open Weight competition was the event for the money with prize money to the female and male winners. The fights were fast and furious throughout Sunday morning and in the end, it came down to Luisa Gullotti and Evita Viltanioti of Greece for the women’s finals. The match was close but Gullotti could not get anything started. In the end, it was Viltanioti with the big win and the money. For the men, Team Kiraly found itself with three fighters in the final four for the division – Zsolt Moradi, Richard Veres and Laszlo Gombos. The non-Hungarian was Robbie McMenamy of Ireland. McMenamy and Gombos fought in a close match with Gombos coming out the victor. In the end, Moradi and Gombos fought for the title with Moradi ending the champion.

While the Open Weight competition was happening, continuous fighting and low kick was beginning along with the full contact finals. Great performances by Georgian Chempian and Desmond Leonard (who entered another 2 continuous weight divisions as well as Open Weight) highlighted the Sunday competition.

Following the competition, it was off to the amazing Bestfighter after-party at a local Lignano club located on the beach. Great competition, great location and a great country all combined to make the 2014 Bestfighter an event to remember!