NEW YORK – Karate Combat recently announced the full card for "Karate Combat Season 4: Event 1" which will air worldwide on Saturday, May 14 at 9 p.m. ET.
American standout Ross "Turbo" Levine throws down with Spanish rival Igor de Castaneda in the headline bout, with the winner earning a shot at the Karate Combat world middleweight championship later this year.
Levine and de Castaneda have been on collision course since Levine entered the Karate Combat ranks. Their rivalry, which began with an exchange of loaded comments on social media, has grown into an intense antagonism which will now be settled in this high-stakes encounter.
With a world middleweight title shot on the line and both fighters being proven fight-finishers with a string of stoppages to their credit, their main event showdown has all the ingredients to be short-lived and explosive.
"Ross Levine and Igor de Castaneda are at the top of the middleweight division, and they've developed a real rivalry which they want to settle in The Pit," Karate Combat president Adam Kovacs said. "Now we're making it happen, and the stakes couldn't be higher, because the winner of this contender eliminator fight will go forward to face Shahin Atamov for the Karate Combat world middleweight championship."
"(Igor) sent me a message saying I wasn't showing respect and that (Karate Combat) isn't the cage, isn't the street," Levine said. "What does he know about either of those things? We're here to compete and we will see what happens when we step in The Pit. I think it's the perfect time for this fight, and I am looking forward to it.
"He made some Instagram post tagging all the Karate Combat middleweights and asking 'Who's next for Turbo?'" de Castaneda said. "Well, it's me. I'm next, and I'm coming to win by knockout. He's been talking about being a matador for 'The Iberian Bull.' Well, Ross, your nickname is Turbo, not matador. You'd better run fast or the bull will catch you."
Two young lightweight prospects face off in the chief support slot when qualified cancer nurse Lazar Kukulicic steps out of his scrubs and into his gi to do battle with tough British battler Mitchell Thorpe.
Kukulicic, an oncologist in his native Montenegro, and Thorpe, who has stated an intention to be "the Michael Bisping of Karate Combat," both made successful debuts for the organization in last year's "Karate Combat: Season 3."
Having impressed with their performances and marked themselves out as future contender material, the pair will now face off to determine which of them takes a step forward towards lightweight title contention.
Pitbull Brothers protege Sthefanie Oliveira enters The Pit, Karate Combat's trademark fighting platform, to make her promotional debut against Mexican veteran Fabiola "La Parkita" Esquivel, whose spectacular head-kick finish of Ana Villanueva went viral and was shortlisted for an award in 2021's Karate Combat Fan Awards.
A one-time ballet dancer turned full-contact martial artist, Oliveira – who trains under MMA champions Patricky and Patricio Fereire at the Pitbull Brothers gym in Natal, Brazil – earned her nickname "The Shamaness" due to her intense interest in spirituality and participation in ayahuasca ceremonies.
Opening the four-fight card will be a lightweight bout between Tommy Azouz and Artur Gasanov. Tommy – a former French national team member whose brother Kevin also fights for Karate Combat – is coming off a win in "Karate Combat: Season 3," while Gasanov – who often trains in Dagestan with Karate Combat's Myrza-Bek Tebuev – is making his debut for the organization.
Featuring Georges St-Pierre and Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson in sensei roles, "Karate Combat: Season 4" features four events airing at two-week intervals, beginning with Levine vs. de Castaneda on Saturday, May 14 and culminating in a live finale airing from a world famous location outside Orlando, Fla.