Michael “The Machine” Isaac, training out of Hamilton-based House of Pain, located at Core MMA, emerged victorious in a bout for the history books at the King in the Ring 8-Man Series welterweight tournament at Eventfinda Stadium on Saturday night.

Isaac defeated iconic West Auckland gym Strikeforce’s southpaw Daniel Ruwanga in a thrilling match that had the stadium roaring, resulting in a controversial extra round.

The fight was a display of sheer determination for Isaac, who overcame a first-minute knockdown to battle back throughout the three regulation rounds.

While many in the audience believed Ruwanga secured the victory, the judges declared a draw, leading to Isaac’s win being based on the predetermined championship criteria in the fourth extra round.

“I had to dig deep and rely on that training to come back from an early knockdown and fight my way to the championship. It wasn’t just a physical battle but a mental one, and I’m grateful for the lessons that prepared me for this moment,” Isaac said.

“Overcoming severe adversity and pushing through the pain is what guts and glory are all about. Everything my coach, Ethan Shepp, teaches is about resilience and determination. Now I am one of the best.”

With fans frothing, this outcome has set the stage for a potential rematch or even a super-fight between the two incredibly skilled and exciting fighters.

Isaac’s path to the finals was arguably less challenging than Ruwanga’s, as the latter faced a series of gruelling battles to reach the final.

Despite Isaac’s initial struggle against City Kickboxing’s Talor Wetere in the first fight, he bounced back with a dominant stoppage victory in the semifinals against Kane Baigent.

“Michael’s performance epitomised the essence of what we strive for in our training,” Isaac’s coach - House of Pain’s Shepp - said.

“We focus on building not just physical strength, but mental resilience. Pushing through pain and adversity is what defines a true champion. Michael showed incredible heart and determination, living up to everything we’ve worked towards.”

King in the Ring proved to be an evening of exciting fights and unexpected twists. With the outcome leaving room for a rematch or a super-fight, fans can eagerly anticipate the next chapter in this captivating rivalry.

“This is exactly what we want on our show,” former six-time kickboxing world champion and King in the Ring promoter Jason Suttie said.

“Warriors like Michael Isaac and Daniel Ruwanga putting everything on the line for the crown and the fans - that’s what makes these events unforgettable. The bout was a perfect display of heart, skill and sheer determination. The energy in the arena was electric, and it’s moments like these that keep the spirit of competition alive.”

2024-06-13T01:49:19Z dg43tfdfdgfd