Karate Combat is primarily a Full Contact Karate League. However, on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, President Kovacs stated that the League would be open to some fighters with backgrounds outside of Karate.
Enter two examples: Gabo "Lee” Diaz, a Sanda based Kickboxer who made his debut at KC37, and his KC38 opponent in Miami, Florida on Saturday, April 1st, Shazaib Rindh, who is also a Sanda Practitioner.
And isn't Sanda a kind of Wushu?
What is Wushu?
Wushu is the term for Chinese Martial Arts in China. Sport Wushu is separated into two subcategories: Taolu (Forms) and Sanda (Sparring). This is very similar to Sport Karate which is often separated into Kata (Forms) and Kumite (Sparring). Unlike Karate, most Wushu schools tend to specialize in either Taolu or Sanda, not both.
KC is full-contact, so Wushu martial artists will be using techniques learned in Sanda. Many Sanda practitioners take the most practical aspects of Wushu styles and combine it with influences from Western Boxing. The sport itself is very similar to Kickboxing, and features no ground and pound. One of the most prestigious titles in the sport is the "King of Sanda."
Not Just Kung Fu Fighting Anymore
Gabo "Lee" Diaz
Gabo Lee is a 3x State Sanda Champion and 5x National Kickboxing Champion (Venezuela). Diaz also has Black Belts in Taekwondo and in a non-traditional style of Full Contact Karate. Today, he’s training under Sensei Mano Santana (Karate coach for the likes of KC Lightweight Champion Luiz Rocha, Henry Cejudo, and the Pitbull Bros) in Florida, to help with his transition to Karate Combat.
Gabo Lee takes a lot of inspiration from Bruce Lee, going as far as using his "Kiai!" at times. However, after a spinning hook kick immediately after touching gloves in his debut, many fans now see him as something of a Cobra Kai Villain.
This is a role that Gabo has embraced as a fan of the series (his dojo’s logo takes inspiration from it). We can be sure he will show “No Mercy” to Rindh in the Pit.
The Pride of Pakistan
Shazaib Rindh is a 6x National Wushu Champion under Sanda rules. He claims that when he stands in the Pit, he will carry the hopes of a nation as the first Pakistani National to compete on US Soil in a combat sports promotion.
To help prepare him for his Karate Combat debut is the most viral MMA Gym…The Goat Shed.
Rindh believes between his new camp, his talent, and his work ethic (all he does is focus on training and watch combat sports) that Gabo Lee is no match for him. He predicts he will KO Diaz in the very first round.