With the recent announcement of Golden Glory's three tournaments this year, many were excited at the prospect of well known, top fighters at 70kg and Heavyweight fighting each other in a tournament format. What also has many fans excited and at the same time, uncertain is the addition of a tournament at 85kg, a largely "unexplored" weight class on the bigger stages of the sport.
The truth about the 85kg division is that it is largely unestablished and unrecognized to many. The well known fighters at this weight are few and far between. Sahak Parparyan, the It's Showtime World Champion at the weight is one of the most well known fighters at the weight, and even he is not known by many, specifically the casual audience thathas only watched K-1 for the most part. The most 85kg fighter by far is Melvin Manhoef - and he's not really even an 85kg fighter. Although he can make the weight, and has fought lower for MMA, Manhoef has only fought once at 85kg in kickboxing when he won the It's Showtime World Title against Denes Racz in August of 2009. Manhoef never defended the belt once and was stripped. The likelihood of Manhoef committing to 85kg is slim, especially being under It's Showtime management so the burden looks like it'll have to rest on Sahak for the time being. Click "Read More" to read a further breakdown of the 85kg division.
The rest of the division is a bit of a mess, particularly because most of the fighters are unknowns to anyone that isn't the hardest of hardcore when it comes to fandom. A large portion of the top fighters come from countries that aren't known as kickboxing powerhouses; Czech Republic and Slovakia. These two countries' best fighters are primarily at this weight class. The Czech Republic houses Jiri Zak, Filip Sykora and Jiri Bursa. Sykora probably has the brightest future out of those three, being only 24 years old. Zak is older but he's a solid fighter under K-1 rules and Bursa is quite a good fighter himself. Slovakia has Vladimir Idranyi, Miroslav Cingel, Tomas Senkyr and Marcel Jager. Idranyi, Senkyr and Jager are solid fighters who have just had trouble taking that next big step up. Cingel is a talented up and comer, with his downfall being that there's barely any video out on him.
Many other fighters at the weight are scattered around Europe in obscurity. Cesar Cordoba is a very good fighter from Spain, which doesn't help him secure better fights, who recently returned to fighting, alternating between boxing and kickboxing. The Stoica brothers, Bogdan and Andrei are both very young and have bright futures, but it's just a matter of them competing at this weight. Bogdan has fought as low as 81kg in 2011 and as high as 92, while Andrei fought at 85kg against another solid fighter in Redouan Cairo but fought as high as 94. Cairo also drastically moves around in weight. David Keclik was on a nice run until being stopped by Artem Levin. Keclik was also stopped by Dzenan Poturak, the brother of Dzevad who is another fighter that could fight at 85kg but has tried his hand at higher weights. Amir Zeyada came back as an 85kg fighter in 2011 and gave Sahak Parparyan a tough fight. Leonildo Evora and Stanislaw Zaniewski are both floating around Europe and looking to advance and establish themselves as "in the mix."
With all the money on the line ($300 000) for Glory's tournament, there has to be some fighters will to drop down or move up. This is particularly interesting if you take a look at the Light Heavyweight division, where some of our Top 10 fighters have dabbled around at 85kg. Sem Braan is the WAKO Pro World Champion at 85kg although mostly fighting around 80, he's shown that he's willing to fight at 85. Alexander Oleinik and Artem Vakhitov have both fought as high as 86kg in the amateurs and could definitely compete at the weight. Our #1 Light Heavyweight fighter, Artem Levin has only fought as high as 82.5kg and Dmitry Shakuta, Alexander Stetsurenko and Constantin Tutu haven't fought at 85kg either but who knows with this much money on the line. I have no doubt that most of our Light Heavyweight Top 10 would be competitive at 85kg.
It should be interesting what the Glory tournament does for the 85kg division and what fighters they will use for the tournament. There are a lot of options out there that just aren't well known. The prize money should have a lot of fighters vying for a spot, but this is kickboxing and things don't work out the way they should most of the time. There's a field of legitimate fighters and a big time tournament that has a bigger chance than ever to put the 85kg division on the map.