It was a battle between Turkey and the Netherlands on February 17, 2018, as Ismael Benali faced off against Engin Kutuk. The latter, an experienced kickboxer, battled a relatively-young Benali at Enfusion’s 5th Anniversary.
How would a clash between electric stars go? On the latest Throwback Throwdown, FIGHT SPORTS opens the vault and reviews Kutuk’s fight against Benali.
Kutuk was on a three-fight win streak and 6-1 in his last seven fights. Benali won three impressive fights in a row before this one. The anniversary of Enfusion saw Tayfun Ozcan face Andy Souwer in the main event and had 14 fights on the card. In the middle were these two fighters, both ready to make an impact as the bell rang.
The (Literal) Hook
The fight started hot right away, with Benali just striking away at Kutuk by the ropes. A strong left hook would land, and he would try and keep Kutuk off balance. A front kick pushed Kutuk back and Benali just shot him down to the floor. Things would get interesting as front kicks became a prominent factor in the fight. Kutuk would try to avoid shots but would get hit by several rights.
The fight took a turn when Benali would hit a few more front kicks while hitting the face of Kutuk from the inside. He would then hit combination shots, including a vicious right which went through the defense of Kutuk. That was just the appetizer, as Benali would hit an equalizer that just pushed Kutuk back. He ended up hanging by the ropes as the referee quickly moved Benali away. By the time a dazed Kutuk recovered the fight was all over.
The Post-Match Breakdown
“Fought yesterday … and took the win through a KO in the first round. Would like to thank my trainers Karim Choukoud, Mousid Akhamrane, Jack Sackman. Want to thank my family. Want to thank my sponsors who are always behind me. # Eethuismarakkech010, #Boosterstore, #Kadinskylounge, #Infimasystems And of course don’t forget all my loyal supporters One big Love for me fans: heart.”
The 27-year-old Benali would end up fighting four more times after this bout, going 3-1. He beat Paul Jansen, Sabri Ben Henia and Soufian El Hammouchi, the latter in April 2019. Kutok would end up coming back from the loss and win three in a row. His last fight was in November 2019.
In a night to celebrate the anniversary of Enfusion, Benali created a moment that will make the Netherlands proud. He proved his value to the sport in just one round. While Kutuk recovered, the loss ended a three-fight win streak and would force him to lose some momentum. A rematch between the two would certainly create some buzz, if it was ever brought to the table.