Both men met in the middle of the Circle and traded toe-to-toe, but it was the Georgian slugger who came out on top with a first-round finish in their kickboxing battle on Friday, 15 October.
Kehl was the aggressor at the start of the opening frame. The German star walked Kiria down, unloaded with flurries of punches, and slammed in hard low kicks to punctuate his combinations.
Kiria didn’t shy away from the onslaught, however. The 33-year-old Tiblisi resident stayed in the pocket with his rival and threw hard punches and knees back at him.
“The Hurricane” had the edge in the exchanges, connecting with painful punches to the head and body while battering his rival’s legs. But soon, Kiria’s power changed the game entirely.
The Georgian rocked Kehl with a hard overhand right and then poured on the pressure with more looping rights until his opponent fell to the mat.
When “The Hurricane” got back to his feet, the Tiblisi resident sent him down again with a left hook. Kehl found his feet once more, but one last flurry made him stumble to the canvas for the third and final time at 2:50 of round one.
Kiria pushed his record to 40-18 with the first-round TKO win, and he advances to the semifinals as one of the tournament’s dark horses.
In his post-bout interview with Mitch Chilson, Kiria was happy that he got the result, and that the battle was entertaining.
“I’m very emotional because I won today, and my day is made. I promised to bring one of the best fights, and I think I brought it,” he said.