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Brutal KO kick leads to Olympics disqualification of would-be winner in karate gold medal match

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The Olympics play by different rules than UFC. 

What would have qualified for a KO victory in professional mixed martial arts instead resulted in the disqualification of the would-be winner in a karate gold medal match to close out the sport's Olympics debut on Saturday.

Iran’s Sajad Ganjzadeh faced off with Saudi Arabia's Tareg Hamedi in the men's 75-kilogram kumite final. Karate athletes competed in individual demonstrations called kata and one-on-one combat called kumite. 

Leading the match 4-1, Hamedi landed a violent kick to Ganjzadeh's head, leaving the Iranian unconscious on the mat. The fight was officially over after a 10-count. Hamedi celebrated, thinking he'd won gold.

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He had not. 

Ganjzadeh wins via hansoku

Judges conferred and disqualified Hamedi based on a serious violation of the rules called a hansoku, per the Associated Press. According to AP, competitors aren't permitted to fully follow through on their blows in Olympic competition, unlike professional fighting, which rewards violent knockouts. 

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Sajad Ganjzadeh (L) of Team Iran gets injured as he competes against Tareg Hamedi of Team Saudi Arabia during the Men's Karate Kumite +75kg Gold Medal Bout on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Nippon Budokan on August 7, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Wei Zheng/CHINASPORTS/VCG via Getty Images)
Tareg Hamedi thought he had won the gold medal. Sajad Ganjzadeh learned it was his after waking up in a medical room. (Wei Zheng/VCG via Getty Images)

Ganjzadeh, still suffering the immediate effects of the knockout blow, was named the gold medal winner. Hamedi won silver after the DQ loss. Per AP, Hamedi left the mat in tears. 

“If you ask me if I agree or not, I disagree, of course, because I love the gold medal,” Hamedi said through a translator. “But I am satisfied with the level of performance I gave, and I accept their decision. I don’t have any objection. I think I played well. That’s all I can say.”'

'I'm sad it had to happen like this'

The two fighters appeared at a post-fight news conference together. Ganjzadeh told reporters he learned about his gold medal after re-gaining consciousness in a medical room.

"The last thing I remember was that I was behind by scores, and then that incident happened and I don't remember much after that," Ganjzadeh said. "And what I remember was that in the medical room I woke up and I heard from the coach that I won the match. I'm very happy that I achieved this gold medal but I'm sad that it had to happen like this."

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