LiverKick Rankings Updated on 12/15/2015
It has been too long (again), hasn't it? The LiverKick Podcast makes its return after two weeks of absence with all of the latest news from the Kickboxing world. This week we take a look at the It's Showtime, SuperKombat and Fight Code cards that went down this weekend, as well as a look forward for K-1 and the Glory World Series.. Rian Scalia (@rianscalia) and myself (@liverkickdotcom / @locuststar) give our thoughts on the cards, from the good to the bad to the downright ugly.
While not exactly on Badr Hari's "hit list," the next fight announced for the Golden Boy is none other than Romania's favorite dancing politician with heavy hands, Catalin Morosanu. Morosanu is one of Romania's toughest exports and is pretty much physically incapable of having a boring fight, which is a good thing for fans. Chances are when they step into the ring together that there will be a lot of leather thrown and that Morosanu will be fearless against Hari, something that not many fighters can say.
The fight was announced at the GFC event today and the implication is that the fight would go down in May. There is a SuperKombat event in May, which makes a lot of sense for such a big fight like this and would draw some eyes to SuperKombat. It looks like this might be pushed back to the Fall, though. Who really knows? It's Badr Hari and he doesn't really adhere to strict schedules.
According to Irimia it will happen in either Dubai or Bucharest.
|As of July 2012||As of July 2012||As of July 2012|
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.
Once again it is that time, where the LiverKick.com Rankings have been updated. So far in July there has only really been movement in Heavyweight, but as the month moves along we are sure there will be movement elsewhere. The It's Showtime event this weekend was not only historic, but helped to clear up some rankings issues as well. Sergei Laschenko and Rico Verhoeven move up a spot apiece due to sheer force of will. In Rico's case, his second win over Hesdy Gerges solidifies his spot in the top ten, but also puts Hesdy's spot in jeopardy. Peter Aerts dropped from his #6 spot and into #9 after a tough loss to Tyrone Spong, who also moves up two spots to #8.
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 Lightweight, for fighters under 63kg. 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.
|5.||Jamal Ben Saddik
Heavyweight - January 2013
There is a phrase when it comes to Heavyweight Kickboxing and that phrase is "Heavyweights gonna Heavyweight," and that is exactly what we have seen over the past few weeks. There has been a lot of movement in the Heavyweight rankings due in part to the SuperKombat World Grand Prix Finals and then of course the Glory World Series Grand Slam tournament.
#1 Semmy Schilt once again cemented his spot at the very top of the sport by defeating four men in one night to take home yet another tournament crown. As always, our rankings tend to favor the tournament format for rankings as that is the standard for which Heavyweight kickboxing is weighed. That is the easiest way to explain that #2 Daniel Ghita holds steady at the number two spot. Ghita worked through three opponents in one night and lost to Semmy Schilt in the finals in a disputed decision. Surely there are lots of fans of #3 Gokhan Saki upset that Saki is not in the second spot, but the reality is that he did not make it to the finals, but was very close indeed. Saki put up a very good fight against Semmy Schilt and is slated to fight Daniel Ghita in April.
#4 Rico Verhoeven earned his spot over the past year, where his inclusion on the rankings was always based on a win over Hesdy Gerges, who was ranked due to a DQ win over Badr Hari. Verhoeven has without a doubt proven his mettle and was only ousted by Schilt. #5 Jamal Ben Saddik is the guy who really threw a wrench in everyone's plans by making it to the semi-finals. There will be some dispute that he belongs above Rico, but the loss to Jafhar Wilnis does weight heavily on him right now. He still has shot onto the rankings in a heartbeat and should be here to stay.
#6 Tyrone Spong actually opted not to participate in the tournament for whatever reason, so he does not move, but he faces a still unranked Remy Bonjasky soon, which could change things. #7 Hesdy Gerges is in the same boat, except he is fighting for K-1 and no one is clear when his next high level fight will be. The big upset was for #8 Errol Zimmerman who went from being in the top 5 to slipping to the eighth spot after his loss to Jamal Ben Saddik. The next two are courtesy of the SuperKombat WGP where #9 Pavel Zhuravlev made sure that Benjamin Adegbuyi was knocked out of the rankings and secured himself a spot in the top. Then came #10 Freddy Kemayo who won a reserve fight over the formerly ranked Sergei Laschenko who continues his downward spiral.
I had never heard of Maurice Jackson, the 31-0-0 phenom of a fighter, until doing my research for GLORY 21.
When I look back at these notes all that he had a win in Bellator (which I'm still unable to find video of) and that he was big and most likely strong. The little footage that was available of him was old highlights, mostly from MMA or still images. That is usually a pretty bad sign. Even going into the last Denver card where the SuperFight Series was filled with fighters that had little name value or experience there was footage available of prior fights in kickboxing to line up with their rather modest records.
At this point I've gotten rather good at hunting down footage from lesser-known fighters, finding old interviews, promotional material or just going to their team for information. Maurice Jackson, at the time, was an afterthought. There wasn't much to find on him and realistically he was raw meat for Vigney, so who really cares, right? Myself and a few others laughed at the record for being clearly embellished, but life went on. Then the Vigney fight happened and he looked not only like an amateur, but a total amateur. How many professional fighters turtle and turn their back towards an opponent who is raining down blows at them? I've seen a few, but on average, fighters without much experience sparring tend to exhibit such behavior.
This guy couldn't even take a low kick.
I don't like to criticize fighters because fighting is difficult, it's not an easy job to do nor is it one that comes with a lot of gratitude and money. GLORY booked Jackson under the pretense of his record, his history with Bellator, most likely his size and the game that he spat. Hell, he was scheduled to be one of Jerome Le Banner's final opponents until he pulled out under mysterious circumstances at the last minute, forcing Karl Roberson in, who put up a valiant effort against Le Banner.
Maurice Jackson is not a fighter who is prepared to fight at this level and wherever that ludicrous record came from is exactly the problem with combat sports today. We've seen MMA leagues that help to inflate the records of younger fighters to help them get into the UFC. Go ahead and search for 'Xplode Fight Series' on Google and you'll be assailed with articles about corruption, lack of oversight, fighters fighting multiple times in one night and everything else a promotion could do that is wrong.
Kickboxing and muay thai can, at times, be much worse. I've heard claims that Jackson's record comes from "Full Contact" fights, which is a rule set of kickboxing that doesn't utilize low kicks. This is also a style of kickboxing that is mostly extinct these days when it comes to professional fights. Full Contact mostly exists in small pockets of Europe or as an amateur rule set to help acclimate fighters to being hit and getting comfortable in the ring. I'm not saying that it is a bogus subset of kickboxing, just that it does not exist as it once did in a world where muay thai and K-1 rules are all the rage. Low kicks are an essential part of MMA and MMA is the golden standard of combat sports these days. What I'm saying is that I am doubtful that Jackson has the record that he claims, and if he does, it is most likely an amateur record or from "gym fights."
Look at the records of some kickboxers and muay thai fighters and you'll see crazy records, spanning dozens and sometimes hundreds of fights in a short period of time. Trying to keep track of all of these fights is nearly impossible, making most records the responsibility of the fighter and their team, not anyone else. Vetting a fighter's record is something that rarely comes into play because of how difficult it is. So if a fighter like Jackson felt that he was ready to take on the bigger names, all he had to do was present a winning record and voila, he had a fight in a major kickboxing organization with more to follow. They perhaps went a bit overboard with that 31-0-0, though. Yet, GLORY gave him the benefit of the doubt and the final result was embarrassing.
That one fight, though, earned him future bookings. He was supposed to fight Jerome Le Banner! He got booked to fight Catalin Morosanu! Crazy the ripple effect that happens, isn't it? Did anyone bother to watch the fight with Vigney, or was the record and being able to put "fought in GLORY" enough?
I'm not sure if Jackson was selected because of a poor performance against Vigney and an impressive sounding resume, or if he was selected just on the merits of resume alone with no intent behind it. What happened in the ring, though, was insanity. Jackson immediately backed up to the corner, much like we saw against Vigney, with his hand outstretched to keep Morosanu at bay. Morosanu landed one looping shot that clipped him on the left side of the head (don't listen to the commentary, it was aimed at the right but Jackson turned his head). Jackson immediately crashed to the canvas, holding the left side of his head and his ear.
Now, it was entirely possible that Morosanu's shot landed on his ear, but what happened next was confusing and strange by any standard. The referee simply urged for Jackson to keep fighting. By the look of it Jackson was taking a dive, he was done, he wanted the fight to be over. He said that he wanted to keep fighting, so the ref took a point away and let the fight continue. Then the same thing happened. There was an official from the promotion right by his corner literally screaming at Jackson, Jackson having an exchange with him before he went back to selling his injury.
This fight somehow went on, Morosanu hit him, he turtled up and then Morosanu just chopped away at his exposed back before the ref called Morosanu off, Morosanu taking another shot that led to Jackson's corner grabbing his glove and telling him to stop, while that same SK official was shouting obscenities the whole time. Morosanu was then, somehow, announced the winner and Jackson was announced to be banned from SuperKombat for life.
There are a few possible explanations for this, the first would be that Jackson took a dive and just wanted to collect his money, get a trip to Italy and take off. The second would be that Jackson is an inexperienced fighter who has been in over his head this year, felt that one strong punch from Morosanu and realized he was trapped inside of a nightmare. Morosanu is a tough guy who has hung with some of the greats in the sport, he also hits like a truck and Jackson's trash talk upset him heading into this fight.
A big part of the problem is that Jackson, no matter what happened, did not belong in that ring with Morosanu. He's risking serious injury by stepping into the ring with actual, qualified professional fighters with a lifetime of experience. Promoters are hungry for talent to fill their cards and the allure of a heavyweight from the United States with a very good record and solid resume is too much for some to resist. In an already crowded and underfunded business fighters like this are taking money away from fighters who have earned their chance to fight in the ring while simultaneously being a danger to themselves and to everyone around them.
We need trainers and managers to not just look for dollar signs, but to be realistic and concerned with the health and well being of their fighters. Maurice Jackson is, intentional or not, a fraud on this level and his team has not only exposed him as such, but have made it difficult for themselves to be taken seriously again in the future. The job of a trainer is to ensure that their fighter is prepared for their fight and if things are going wrong to make sure that they don't get hurt. In the case of Maurice Jackson none of that has happened and that should be scary to everybody in combat sports.
SUPERKOMBAT is going to have a busy end of the month, as they will hold their SUPERKOMBAT Heroes event in Dracula's hometown on the 30th and then on the 31st will hold another, bigger event in Bucharest, Romania. The event, SUPERKOMBAT VIP Edition, will be headlined by a SUPERKOMBAT Middleweight World title bout between Mike Zambidis and Turkey's Harun Kina. This provides a bigger kick off for SK's WGP series that will be ongoing this fall.
Here is the line-up for SUPERKOMBAT VIP Edition.
SUPERKOMBAT® VIP Edition (Saturday, August 31, 2013) Main Card:
SUPERKOMBAT® Middleweight World Title -71kg
Mike Zambidis (Greece) vs. Harun Kina (Turkey)
Alexandru Popescu (Romania) vs. Cedric Manhoef (Suriname)
Bogdan Stanciu (Romania) vs. Kevin Heselink (Netherlands)
Miodrag Olar (Romania) vs. Alexandros Chatzichronoglou (Greece)
Florin Abrudan (Romania) vs. Cristian Spetcu (Romania)
We are, as they say, at a bit of an impasse in the sport of kickboxing right now. It’s difficult to avoid, difficult to make eye contact with and not look away. We’ve been at this place before, though, which is why it feels so awful this time around. Back in 2010 it looked like the sport of kickboxing was heading for imminent doom and destruction. FEG was a sinking ship and they were taking on water -- fast -- faster than they ever wanted to publicly admit.
Things were looking bleak for the sport of kickboxing at that time, but there was still hope. There were still people who were passionate about the sport, who wanted to do everything that they could for it. You had Simon Rutz and Bas Boon at each other’s throats, but both men were passionate and willing to do what it took to keep the sport afloat. You had Romanian promoter Eduard Irimia ready to expand beyond Romania. You had men with vision. Followed by the men with money to go with that passion.
As I stated before, we are at an impasse at the moment. The Japanese fight market has shrunk, shrunk to the point of almost being dead, but not quite. It doesn’t exist like it did what feels like a lifetime ago. What exists now is a facsimile of the grandeur that we knew before. Simulacra, a copy of a copy of a copy with adjustments made for degradation. Europe and America were always the wild west for kickboxing; that was clearly where the money was, but would it be able to reach the great heights that were achieved in Japan and Asia?
Enter GLORY. GLORY took a gamble, filtering millions of dollars into the sport that was on its knees after losing its king. Without a doubt the K-1 name held the prestige, it had done things that no one thought possible with the fringe sport of kickboxing. The rise of K-1 meant making the rest of the sport of kickboxing look silly in the process. The end result is that kickboxing rules aren’t kickboxing rules anymore, they are K-1 Rules. The name K-1 is intrinsically linked with the sport of kickboxing even to this day, for good or for bad.
So GLORY was set to fill the hole that was left by FEG’s bankruptcy with big promises, fireworks and a roster of capable production crew and the best fighters in the world. Sights were set on America, on taking on the leviathan market where the UFC rose from obscurity into a sport appearing regularly on Fox programming and had weaseled its way into becoming a household name. This was kickboxing’s white whale and, for a while, things were looking good.
Spike TV was hungry for the next big combat sport after they lost the UFC to Fox Sports, scooping up Bellator and then K-1. K-1 withdrew their name from the hat to restructure, leaving Spike TV ready to accept GLORY into the fold. Kickboxing had finally made it, it was on cable television in the United States. The first show happened and the ratings were in. They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad, either. There was promise.
Since then there have been the good times and the bad times, but what became increasingly clear was that there was no competition for GLORY anywhere out there. GLORY was doing things right, it was paying the fighters what they deserved to be paid, treating them with respect and doing everything right. Growing pains are real, though, especially when the anticipated growth doesn’t live up to the reality. Kickboxing was, for all intents and purposes, a new sport to many fans out there. It was a part of the whole that is Mixed Martial Arts, thus, it was fringe. There has been growth, but the growth is slow, it is costly and it is frustrating.
GLORY’s last event was GLORY 17/Last Man Standing on June 21st, which, as of the time that I write this, was two months ago. Since then there have been rumors, whispers and public decrees from fans; GLORY is dead. If you read forums or comment sections on websites you’ll hear all about it, you’ll hear that so-and-so’s trainer said that the company is bankrupt, you’ll hear that shows have been canceled, that members of the board are ready to depart, that payments have been filtering in late. For the kickboxing faithful these are all triggers, things that will bring back that long-forgotten PTSD that came with the dissolution of FEG’s K-1 back in 2010 and 2011.
Then there are those that like to watch the world burn, who are calling for the end. These are the fatalists. We’ve had private assurances from many within GLORY that right now is simply a time of restructuring, of regrouping, of changing strategies. Yesterday’s announcement of a new CEO was the first step. But, let’s give in to hysteria, to fatalism. Let’s say that GLORY has a few shows left and then, just as quickly as they emerged, they disappear into the ether of kickboxing history.
Who is there to pick up the pieces this time? Where are the Bas Boons looking to find anyone, to compromise his own visions and brands, to make things work? Where are the Simon Rutz’s running the #2 promotion and ready to take on the financial burden of being the de facto #1? Where are the Pierre Andurands, Ivan Farnetis, Scott Rudmanns and others who are willing to take a risk with their own personal money to invest in the sport? Where are your GLORY replacements where these now out-of-the-job fighters have to find work with?
The market right now is a mess. In a way, you can blame GLORY for the mess. GLORY was looking to be the alpha and omega in kickboxing, which meant exclusive contracts, which meant paying what others couldn’t pay, treating fighters unlike they were used to be treated. So you’ll tell me LEGEND Fight Show, the same promotion that put on three events thus far, only one in 2014 with nothing scheduled yet. So you’ll tell me GFC, the guys that are paying Badr Hari a mint to compete for them, because you were able to watch that last show from your couch, right? Because outside of Badr Hari they are stacking cards with expensive talent, right?
So you’ll say Enfusion, K-1 or SuperKombat. I’ll say that all three are great promotions in their own right, each one growing in their own way, with their own unique business plans and markets. How many of them see a broad market as their audience right now? K-1 is focused on Asia, Enfusion is focused on the UK and SuperKombat is focused on Romania. You might say that if GLORY simply disappears like Criss Angel in a stunt that they’ll be able to bolster their rosters with big names, but where does that money come from? The end of It’s Showtime came from overreaching and hiring top talents.
Right now nobody has what FEG’s K-1 had in a television partner that was willing to sink millions of their own money into each event and, realistically, we might never see that again. GLORY doesn’t even have that right now. Instead, GLORY has a good deal with Spike TV, but one that bears little fruit for either side right now and might take years to build up properly, to build an audience and really start making money.
The rise of GLORY was both beneficial and detrimental to the sport of kickboxing. If GLORY ceases to be, then the sport of kickboxing is set back even further than when FEG’s K-1 ceased to be. If you consider yourself a fan of kickboxing then at this moment the sport will require something of you. The sport will require your faith. If GLORY says that they aren’t done yet, then, well, they aren’t done yet. In the meantime we can only hope that Enfusion, K-1, SuperKombat and others continue to grow and find themselves in better positions to provide stability for both fans and fighters alike.
For now, let's save our eulogies and instead focus on the sport that we all love.
SUPERKOMBAT have a huge double-header coming up next weekend in Romania, kicking off on the 30th with SUPERKOMBAT New Heroes in Targoviste, followed the next night by SUPERKOMBAT VIP in Bucharest, Romania. We finally have the full card for SUPERKOMBAT New Heroes and there are definitely some worth additions to the card on here, including fights from Bogdan and Andrei Stoica!
Main card SUPERKOMBAT New Heroes Targoviste:
Super-fight – 91 kg
Marsan Yohan (France) vs Bogdan Stoica (Romania)
Super-fight – 95 kg
Zinedine Hameur-Lain (Algeria) vs Andrei Stoica (Romania)
Super-fight -65 kg
Kostas Papedelis (Greece) vs Ionut Atodiresei (Romania)
Super-fight -95 de kg
Kay Bult (Holland) vs Dănuţ Hurduc (Romania)
Super-fight -71 kg
Claudiu Badoi (Romania) vs Cristian Milea (Romania)
Super-fight -85 kg
Ibrahim El Bouni (Marocco) vs Ciprian Schiopu (Romania)
Super-fight -91 kg
Stefan Szomoru (Romania) vs Cristian Ristea (Romania)
Super-fight -81 kg
Daniel Lazar (Romania) vs Flavius Boiciuc (Romania)
Superfight +95 kg
Catalin Sacagiu (Romania) vs Florin Niculae (Romania)
As those of us who’ve been around for a while might say, when it comes to the sport of kickboxing, no news is typically bad news. We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about Glory in the past few months--from murky accounts of an organization on dire straits to assurances by some of our professional kickboxing journalist pals that they have the exclusive scoop on BIG NEWS which has simply been embargoed by Glory for the time being. The fact remains that we haven’t heard anything substantive from Glory since July. There was talk of more SpikeTV content and of an event to be held at the end of October--we’re still waiting for any of these things to materialize. This behavior is worrisome for those of us who followed the scene as recently as 2012, when K-1 made promise after promise of a big comeback that ultimately never took place. It would be sad to see Glory succumb to the same fate as its ambitious predecessors, with K-1 and It’s Showtime telling the tale of how unforgiving the fight business can be.
Kickboxing in particular is a very strange industry, one that appears very active at a glance but which tells a far more sobering story beneath the surface. If we judged the scene solely on the number of events held annually, we might think that things look pretty good, with organizations like LEGEND, Global FC, Top King, A-1, and SuperKombat making news on sites like this one with fight cards featuring big name talent. While the accessibility of this content is highly variable, from robust TV broadcasts to mislabeled camera phone footage posted on YouTube, there are nevertheless fights happening all over the world and subsequently news and results which we can report to you.
But the difference between offering you a survey of sundry action from around the globe and a developing narrative that you can follow and become engrossed in is the difference between Kickboxing as a mere curiosity and as a sport in its own right. There are plenty of Kickboxing and Muay Thai videos that show up on MMA sites, but as much as their readers might appreciate them, they will never get the same first person experience of being there when iconic and spectacular moments unfold--memories of being glued to your TV when Andy Hug landed that spinning back kick or when Joe Schilling knocked Simon Marcus out cold. These moments were real, and they made us believe in this sport and dream about the possibilities. Call it a pet peeve, but I find it a little heartbreaking when brilliant retrospectives of great kickboxing moments wind up on MMA sites under “look at what this might teach us about MMA technique!” headings.
No one in particular is to blame for how things have turned out for kickboxing. Ultimately the success of any venture depends on the convergence of talent, a solid product, proper promotion, and a receptive market at an opportune moment in time. Kickboxing had various combinations of these things at different points in time, but the times and circumstances changed. The downfall of K-1 had as much to do with its management as it did with evolving trends in the Japanese entertainment market. Many factors came into play, but unfortunately, things ended for K-1 in an ugly way, leaving fighters with substantial outstanding earnings which they may never be able to fully collect. However, let us not kid ourselves about what it takes to build a real professional sport league. We’ve seen plenty of flamboyant millionaire playboys from around the world blow their money to party with celebrities and to book their favorite kickboxers for an evening of entertainment. Some of these mysterious rich dudes will even slap a label on their “organization” and take lots of photos with kickboxing bigwigs to make things look legit, but we all know that trying to produce a sustainable sports entertainment venue for the masses takes a lot more vision and tenacity than that. No matter how flashy their shows get, the playboys are not going to save Kickboxing, and neither will the small promotions like Top King (although we’ll give it a chance, just like we always do--that’s the story of Kickboxing, right?) that seem to come and go every year.
We really hope that Glory will actually make it. It seems like the formula’s been there--Glory had enough money, the right talent, the right TV deal, and an ostensible understanding of the business startup process (God knows there are enough smart-sounding former hedge fund/venture capital people on board--how many of them does it take to screw in a light bulb?). Where do things stand now? We really don’t know. We do know that there have been no shows in three months, and if it is indeed true that Glory is coming to Oklahoma on November 7, then that will make four months since its last show. We really hope that the lights will stay on at Glory because as kickboxing fans, we’ve looked forward for a long time to not living in the dark of the sports world.