|3.||Hicham El Gaoui|
Welcome back to the LiverKick.com rankings. These rankings are an attempt to break down the top 10 fighters in three different weight classes - Heavyweight, for fighters above the 85kg limit, Middleweight, for fighters at the 70-72.5kg limit, and Light Heavyweight, for fighters at the 77-84kg limit. Our rankings are based on in-ring accomplishments and recent wins and loses. We hope they reflect where these fighters currently stand, although we recognize that all rankings are inherently subjective. Rankings are compiled by Rian Scalia and Dave Walsh.
We've completely revamped the Light Heavyweight rankings, due to a number of fighters dropping back down to 70 and 72.5kg. This time, we have 10 solid fighters that all are legit, solid Light Heavyweights and have been at the weight for a while.
Light Heavyweight is probably the most under-the-rader division in all of kickfighting, spanning from 77kg to 84kg. Unlike most other divisions, top fighters are consistently fighting each other, which actually makes for a much more solid ranking system. The top 10 is quite competitive, but one fighter that stands out and has been atop the field for some time now is Artem Levin. Levin's strength of record stems mostly from 2009 and 2010, where he defeated top fighters such as Dmitry Shakuta, Alexander Stetsurenko, Artem Vakhitov and L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni. In 2011, Levin stayed active but didn't face any top 10 competition, although he stopped two pretty decent fighters in David Keclik and Murthel Groenhart.
Right below Artem Levin at #2 is Alexander Oleinik, who had somewhat of a coming out party starting at the end of 2010 and continued through 2011 where he won the 2011 Tatneft Cup. Oleinik is probably the best challenge for Artem Levin and he's proved it with wins over four top 10 fighters in Sem Braan, Constantin Tutu, Alexander Stetsurenko and Dmitry Shakuta. Filling in at #3 is Hicham El Gaoui, who we highlighted not too long ago. Hicham rose to prominence this year with a win over L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni in October and then fought at the 2011 Tatneft Cup finale, taking a decision over Alexander Stetsurenko.
Dmitry Shakuta is close behind at #4, being around the top for years now. After a rather inactive 2010, Shakuta came back in 2011 with notable top wins over Alexander Stetsurenko and a fringe top 10 fighter in Yordan Yankov. At #5 is Sem Braan, another fighter like Shakuta has been around the top for a long time. Sem hasn't had a top win in a while, but he's racked up a bunch of good wins, most recently over Miran Fabjan. Alexander Stetsurenko comes in at #6, although he went on a three fight losing skid in 2011. He lost to Alexander Oleinik, Dmitry Shakuta and Hicham el Gaoui consecutively but he rebounded two weeks after, winning three fights in one night. Stetsurenko has remained one of the most active fighters in kickboxing, having fought 12 times this year.
At #7 is L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni, who had a really bad 2011, losing both of his fights this year. In 2010 he beat Sem Braan and Nieky Holzken and was hailed as one of the top fighters at the weight before losing to Artem Levin. "Aussie" has some work to do to get back on track in 2012. #8 is the Moldovan fighter Constantin Tutu, who has very quietly put together a nice resume. Tutu was fighting as low as 70kg in early 2010 but by the end, he was all the way up to Light Heavyweight where he has only lost to Alexander Oleinik in his third fight of the night. He recently ran through three fights in one night on October 1st, stopping some pretty decent fighters.
Simon Marcus fills the #9 spot, after his win over Artem Vakhitov at the MPL's inaugural show in September. Skillwise, I think Marcus would beat a lot of guys in the top 10, but he doesn't have the wins to be any higher. The man Marcus beat, Artem Vakhitov takes the #10 spot. He beat Jiri Zak at the MPL's third event and took a decent win over Vando Cabral in December. Vakhitov also has a win over Yordan Yankov from 2010.