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.
Heavyweight - January 2012
Heavyweight actually saw a lot of movement this time around, which after a rather static year in 2011 was refreshing to see. While it does feel a bit odd to still include Semmy Schilt as #1 in the division due to A) not winning the 2010 World Grand Prix and B) he did not fight in 2011 at all, he is still the measuring stick for success within the division. It is safe to say that as long as Alistair Overeem, the 2010 World Grand Prix winner, is under a contract to the UFC, he will not be kickboxing anytime soon. Schilt still plans on being active in 2012 and will without a doubt be involved in whatever FIKA organizes. Badr Hari holds strong at #2 for his achievements in past years, for fighting in 2011 and having a high profile fight scheduled for this month. Peter Aerts holds strong at #3 after an amazing performance in the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix and remaining somewhat active in 2011 having at least one fight against a lesser opponent. Aerts has remained in fighting shape and has decided it is still not time to retire. While it is rough that he lost all of 2011, 2012 will be a different year.
Gokhan Saki had a pretty good 2011, winning the Glory World Series with two wins, one over Wendell Roche and another over Brice Guidon. Not top competition within the division, but tough fighters. Rumors of him leaving Kickboxing seem to not be true as there are rumors of him fighting in June for It's Showtime, and of course, he fights #2 Badr Hari in a few weeks. From here is where the big shifting goes on. Daniel Ghita shifts up one position not out of defeating someone above him, but more because of the fall of Hesdy Gerges to Rico Verhoeven. Rico makes his apprehensive debut in the top ten at #6, with the question of will he be able to get another big win or will he fall back into obscurity? Hesdy, on the other hand, will rematch against Daniel Ghita with Ghita getting a chance at redemption. Tyrone Spong stays at #7 and looks to not be "retiring" from Kickboxing, either.
Errol Zimmerman makes his heroic return to the top ten after having a redemption year of redemption years in 2011. Zimmerman went 6-0 for the year, demolishing some lesser competition while moving back up the ladder before running through the SuperKombat: Fight Club one night tournament at the end of the year to cement his spot at the top. Another product of a SuperKombat tournament moving up in the world is Sergei Laschenko, making his debut in the LiverKick Top 10. He had a very strong 2011 in SuperKombat before winning their World Grand Prix, putting fringe-top ten fighter Ismael Londt to sleep in the first round to secure his spot in the sun.
With every rise must come a fall, and the retirement and Boxing debut of Kyotaro has forced our hand to remove him. Many other fighters had talked about leaving Kickboxing behind, but Kyotaro vacated his K-1 Heavyweight Championship and severed his ties with FEG, which in Japan is not a great idea if you want to continue moving forward. Seeing as though no one outside of FEG has booked Kyotaro for a fight in ages, it is fair to say he might be done. Ewerton Teixeira is in a similar situation, to where K-1 was using him to add international flavor. With FEG out of the K-1 picture, potentially, and him being incredibly inactive, it is safe to say that Teixeira is done for the time being. Jerome Le Banner has fallen off of the top ten as his Le Banner Tour is seemingly him against smaller men, not actual Heavyweights, who are unranked. This, as well as his commitments to Antonio Inoki's IGF professional wrestling means for the time being, until he faces another top 10 fighters, JLB is out of the picture.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, is available now via Kindle and Paperback.
Dave (a) LiverKick dot com.Website: www.dvewlsh.com