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Dave Walsh

Dave Walsh

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 | @dvewlsh

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The Official Rankings

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LiverKick Rankings Updated on 12/29/2016

Heavyweight (Per 12/16)

1 Rico Verhoeven
2 Benjamin Adegbuyi
3 Roman Kryklia *
4 Jamal Ben Saddik ^
5 Ismael Londt v
6 Mladen Brestovac *
7 Jahfarr Wilnis v
8 Fabio Kwasi v
9 Guto Inocent v
10 Anderson "Braddock" Silva v


Heavyweight (Per 12/16)

1 Artem Vakhitov
2 Saulo Cavalari
3 Zack Mwekassa 
4 Mourad Bouzidi 
5 Michael Duut *
6 Danyo Ilunga v
7 Roman Kryklia *
8 Fabio Kwasi *
9 Mladen Kujundzic v
10 Jorge Loren v
Middleweight (Per 12/16)

1 Jason Wilnis 
2 Simon Marcus 
3 Artem Levin 
4 Israel Adesenya 
5 Filip Verlinden ^
6 Alex Pereira ^
7 Joe Schilling ^
8 Dustin Jacoby ^
9 Cedric Doumbe ^
10 Fang Bian *
Welterweight (Per 12/16)

1 Cedric Doumbe ^
2 Nieky Holzken v
3 Artur Kyshenko v
4 Murthel Groenhart
5 Alexander Stetsurenko
6 Dmitry Valent *
7 Hicham El Gaoui v
8 Raymond Daniels v
9 Yoann Kongolo v
10 Zoltan Laszak v
Lightweight (Per 12/16)

1 Superbon Banchamek
2 Sitthichai
3 Robin van Roosmalen 
4 Giorgio Petrosyan
5 Marat Grigorian 
6 Cedric Manhoef *
7 Wu Xuesong v
8 Tayfun Ozcan v
9 Dylan Salvador *
10 Anatoly Moiseev v
Featherweight (Per 12/16)

1 Kaew Weerasakreck
2 Qiu Jianliang *
3 Ilias Bulaid v
4 Hidaeki Yamazaki v
5 Masaaki Noiri v
6 Minoru Kimura v
7 WEi Ninghui v
8 Abdellah Ezbiri v
9 Kim Minsoo v
10 Robin van Roosmalen *


* - New Addition

^ - Moved Up

v - Moved Down


The rankings are living rankings that have existed in one form or another since 2009. After the initial rankings were tabulated, they moved on from there. If one fighter beats a fighter ranked above them, they take their place. If a new fighter is introduced, that means that said fighter is ranked above whomever he beat, moving everyone else down. 

Fighters can drop or move up in the rankings without losing or winning, depending on the division in general. After 12 months of inactivity, or if a retirement is announced, fighters can be removed from the rankings. These rankings are also at our discretion.

Alistair Overeem And The Weight Of The World

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Like Atlas, I believe Alistair Overeem is holding the weight of the world on his shoulders. At least, the combat sports world.

Though he isn't Greek and may not be a Titan (mythologically speaking), Alistair Overeem does have much significance for the three organizations he is currently champion of: Strikeforce, K-1, and DREAM. Here is why.

Strikeforce: On June 26th of 2010, the heavyweight landscape in MMA, changed forever. Fedor Emelianenko suffered his first legitimate loss. Pundits were amazed, bloggers were being pulled off the ledge and even Fabricio Werdum, the man who just dethroned The Last Russian Emperor, had to take a second and make sure it was all real. For Scott Coker, founder and CEO of Strikeforce, victory could not be more bittersweet. On one hand, a fighter just made history and it was during your event. On the other, he completely gutted the future of your marquis division. Everyone expected Fedor to win and go on to meet Overeem in his next fight. Alistair, fresh off a first-round drubbing of Brett Rogers, even made the flight to sit cage-side and challenge Fedor when he won. He should have saved the frequent flyer miles.

I believe this can work in the favor of Alistair and Strikeforce. The Reem is the most marketable heavyweight that Strikeforce has access to. He speaks great english, is endearing to the fans, has a herculean physique, and holds two other championship belts. You can put Alistair on ESPN for an interview without having an interpreter butcher the translation. Certainly not the case with Fedor, as we've all seen.

With Alistair leading the charge, I believe that Strikeforce can enjoy success with their heavyweights. They need to bring in quality opponents that can give credence to the division which validates their opportunity to face the champ. Also, Strikeforce must learn to market and publicize their star fighters like Alistair. All the talent and media acumen in the world is of no good if the fans never see it.

The possibility for a match with Fedor Emelianenko is there and though it may not carry the importance it once did, it would still be a blockbuster fight.

K-1: Raise your hand if you're a Semmy Schilt fan. Anyone? That's what I figured. The four-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion is arguably the least-liked champion in the sports history. He's viewed as a boring fighter by many and generally not an amicable person. With Semmy holding strong as the champ and Badr Hari mired in legal trouble, it seemed as if Hightower would reign over the K-1 heavyweight ranks as long as he chose to much to the chagrin of fans that were growing tired of seeing Semmy as champion.

It's always darkest before the dawn, is how the saying goes and that proved to be true as Peter Aerts made history and became the first man to ever defeat Semmy in the K-1 World Grand Prix. That accomplishment, now among so many others by the legendary Aerts, opened the door for Alistair to eventually meet Peter in the finals. Overeem went on to defeat Mr. K-1 and become the most exciting WGP champion the sport has seen in its recent history. The timing could not have been better as Alistair is on top of the combat world and soon, the entertainment world in Japan. He recently signed with Yoshimoto Creative Agency to have them handle his affairs that lie outside of the fight game. With clients such as Kousuke Fukudome, YCA has the ability and resources to make Alistair a huge star in Japan. Combine that with the fact that Fuji TV, broadcast partner with FEG, is very happy with Alistair and you have a recipe for longterm success.

DREAM: While K-1's TV future seems to be in good hands, DREAM is another story entirely. It's been well documented that Dynamite!! 2010 didn't do so well on TBS.

There is hope, though, as Alistair Overeem is set to become the next Bob Sapp in the eyes of Japanese fans. Bob has always been a big draw in Japan as he's all over the media.  What Alistair has that Bob certainly doesn't is the credentials to go along with his place in the Japanese media. He has all the talent, and now exposure, to help DREAM recapture the indigenous fans along with broadcast companies, and prove they're still a player that's relevant in the fight game.

That's a lot of responsibility for one man. But just as Atlas bore the weight of the heavens as his punishment, Alistair bears the weight of his own success. A weight that I'm sure he's proud to carry.

K-1 Striking vs. MMA Striking: The Tired, Worthless Debate

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Kyotaro vs. MousasiI've finally had a chance to sit down and watch Dynamite!! and there is a lot to say reflecting upon the events from that show. There has been a bit of an ongoing debate over the "level" of K-1 strikers and how they compare to MMA strikers. The general fallout from the internet seems to be that the disparity between K-1 kickboxers and MMA fighters is slim, with K-1 fighters being overrated by fans and the talent pool being shallow at this point in time.

Of course, it didn't help that at Dynamite!! we saw Gegard Mousasi take K-1 Heavyweight Champion Kyotaro to the distance and win the fight via decision. Mousasi even scored a few knockdowns, and this comes off the heels of his 2008 victory over Musashi.

The year 2010 was also the year that saw Alistair Overeem, a fighter primarily known for competing in Mixed Martial Arts take home kickboxing's most coveted prize; the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship. Overeem has long been an interesting topic for debate; is he good? Is he just alright? Do his poor Light Heavyweight performances from a few years ago reflect upon him now? What lengths has he gone to improve his performance? If he isn't that good of a striker, what does it say about K-1 competition?

The truth is, kickboxers are being beaten at their own game. Overeem holds wins over Badr Hari, Peter Aerts (twice), Ewerton Teixeira, Dzevad Poturak, Tyrone Spong and Gokhan Saki. That list is impressive and contains some of K-1's best fighters. Mousasi only holds two K-1 victories, over an aging and ready to retire Musashi and a sluggish if not exhausted from competing weeks before Kyotaro, but is still being used as an example of a MMA fighter making K-1 look bad.

It seems foolish and unfair to label these fighters as either this or that. What really makes a fighter? Alistair Overeem has been training kickboxing since he was a teenager, making his pro debut at age 17 before switching over to MMA. Gegard Mousasi began his career as a boxer and kickboxer, transitioning to MMA and using his judo background combined with his striking prowess to be successful.

As we saw at Dynamite in Satoshi Ishii vs. Jerome Le Banner and Hideo Tokoro vs. Kazuhisa Watanabe, a striker moving into MMA put in grappling situations can be easily lost and frustrated, while a MMA fighter put in a pure striking situation can appear to be competent.

To use Gegard Mouasasi and Alistair Overeem as examples of Mixed Martial Artists "clowning" K-1 kickboxers is crass and an exercise in semantics at best. As I posed before, what really makes a fighter? Do the fact that both fighters' records in MMA are more prolific mean that they are Mixed MArtial Artists, or does the fact that they began as strikers mean that they are strikers that adapted a grappling game for Mixed Martial Arts, found success in MMA and stuck with it?

Both men train at kickboxing gyms with some of the best kickboxers in the world (Mousasi trains with Golden Glory when preparing for fights). The Golden Glory gym is primarily a kickboxing gym, while they train MMA fighters, they will always be known (rightfully so) as one of the best kickboxing gyms in the world. To me, Alistair Overeem's affiliation with Golden Glory just speaks of how serious he is about his striking.

Kickboxing and Muay Thai are arts in and of themselves and are incorporated, at least partially, into Mixed Martial Arts. If someone wants to make this argument maybe the survey field needs to grow; take a fighter who grapples as their primary art, toss them into a ring with Kyotaro or an injured Gokhan Saki or Peter Aerts and see how they fare. Rinse, repeat, because we all know a survey from a shallow test field does not yield exact results.

K-1 Dynamite's Sad Ratings and FEG's 2011 Future

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I've returned from my mini-pilgrimage (read: girlfriend and myself) to the Pacific Northwest to rock out and have been catching up on the overload of fight news from the past few days, and let me tell you, a lot happened. Thankfully, you've been reading and your needs are fulfilled for SRC and FEG stuff. So, much to my dismay, before I've even had a chance to watch Dynamite!! from the comfort of my DVR, the word seems to be that while the show was incredible as always, the Japanese press were not so happy with it. As always, the Japanese care about things that not many else do when it comes to their national programming.

Japanese headlines coming out of Dynamite!!? They are scary. Essentially, the headlines all revolve around Satoshi Ishii and his poor performance. Ishii was booed at Dynamite!! The hype around Dynamite!!? Gone. SportsNavi, a popular news outlet run by Yahoo! has headlines about UFC 125, with the feature story about Clay Guida choking out Takanori Gomi and how Nagashima's KO of Aoki made him MVP. NikkanSports is similar. All of the more fight-oriented websites were obeying the unwritten rules of don't trash in public, the mainstream media? No such luck. Headlines about the boos that Ishii received were deafening. Ishii the ace of Japan is all-but-dead. The goofy interviews, the terrible performance, the inability to make press conferences and so forth have done him no favors. He needed a dominant win and a solid post-fight interview, ala Sakuraba and Minowaman. Of course, he did not deliver.

The Japanese ratings were out a few days ago, and TBS pulled in an average of 8.8% (9.8 and 7.8 for each hour). Last year had a peak of 16.7% and an average of 13%, over 3 points higher overall. The help of Ishii and Inoki were simply not enough for the fledgling Dynamite!!. It is just proof that Japan needs new star power. Zach Arnold takes his usual, exhaustive look at the implications of it all. If you care about Japanese MMA and kickboxing, I feel like Zach is a must-read when he writes about it. The point Zach makes is a strong argument as to why Ishii is a giant failure, basically, and he breaks down FEG's situation.

FEG announced that by the end of January they would announce their future plans for the year, which includes restructuring the company from the inside out (much-needed) and to incorporate funding from Chinese and American investors. For those expecting gloom and doom, expect this funding to last for a while. From all that I've heard and discussed with insiders, FEG will be healthy for at least 2011. Their television deals are possibly in limbo again, though. With the poor ratings on TBS, TBS might cut loose the FEG shows they carry (K-1 MAX, DREAM and Dynamite!!). Understand that these shows are the brainchild of TBS to assault other strong network programming, and don't think they like losing. It has nothing to do with fighting, MMA, kickboxing, etc., everything to do with star power and roping in fans. Sapp's fight being barred from TV didn't help matters, as he is a yearly staple and ratings draw, nor did the younger Ologun brother only fighting. Ishii's aura is gone and no Masato means TBS cannot be happy right now. For those concerned, K-1's heavyweight shows are affiliated with Fuji TV, who is happy with K-1's programming.

What this means for DREAM, though, is unsure. Fuji TV has a strong relationship with Kazuyoshi Ishii (K-1 founder and tax evader), so don't be shocked if FEG's relationship with Fuji TV increases over the next year. I also expect a really strong push internationally, as K-1 has always built strong foreign stars and Alistair Overeem is a huge, hot prospect right now and could help propel DREAM and K-1 into the stratosphere in the USA over the next year.

Shinya Aoki vs Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima 2010 NYE

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Aoki vs Jienotsu was a strange fight to begin with. The fighters come from different disciples, Aoki an MMA champion, and Jienotsu a K-1 MAX Japan champion. Putting them into the ring together was "gimmick fight," as a commentator notes. Both fighters would likely run in the round with their opponent's ruleset, as the rules dictated an automatic draw in the event of a decision. This... was half correct.

Nagashim vs Aoki

Alistair Overeem vs Todd Duffee 2010 NYE

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Alistair OvereemMatchmaking for this Alistair Overeem, on this year's New Year's Eve DYNAMITE!! show, was far from certain going into the last few weeks before the event. There were reports of yea and nay on the possibility of Overeem facing Todd Duffee. It was a chaotic process, to say the least, with Duffee being finalized as the opponent on December 24th, a mere week before DYNAMITE!! Names like Bobby Lashley, Andrei Arlovski, and Semmy Schilt were thrown around beforehand as possible opponents.

Todd Duffee took the fight on short notice when it seemed uncertain whether Overeem would even fight. Most fans didn't give Duffee a chance going into the fight, seeing as Overeem was fresh off a huge tournament victory in the 2010 K-1 WGP and Duffee had just been cut from the UFC, but Duffee was a relatively sound opponent compared to names like Kazuyuki Fujita and James Thompson whom Overeem had just faced in MMA. More importantly, he was game during a shortage of opponents for The Reem.

Here is their bout from the New Year's Eve show in Saitama, Japan:


Yamato and Wicky Draw at Dynamite

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The final K-1 fight at Dynamite!! 2010 featured K-1's 63kg Grand Prix champion Tetsuya Yamato facing Dream fighter Akiyo "Wicky" Nishiura.  It wasn't a fight that received a lot of hype heading into the show, but turned out to be a very entertaining affair.

Through the first two rounds, the fighters were mostly even, with Wicky perhaps edging out a slight advantage by using his speed and unorthodox style to keep tagging Yamato.  Open scoring was on, and all judges gave the first two rounds 10-10.  With no extension rounds at Dynamite!!, the fight came down to the 3rd.

Both men really stepped up their game in that 3rd round, turning in a fun final stanza.  Nishiura reverted to some of his MMA habits, making things a bit sloppy at times, but both men kept the speed up, working hard to take the win.  In the closing minute, Yamato finally started to land, rocking Wicky and stumbling him.  Great ending to the fight there and some of the best action of the night so far. 

I thought that final exchange earned Yamato the round and the win, but only one judge saw it that way.  The other two again went 10-10, resulting in a majority draw.  That's not a great result for Yamato, who sould have been able to defeat the MMA fighter, but it was the kind of fight that will earn both men new fans regardless of the outcome.

Sakuraba Injured at Dynamite

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I'm sure I'm not the only one here who holds Kazushi Sakuraba in high esteem.  One of my absolute favorite MMA fighters of all time, Saku is rightly hailed as the God of Japanese MMA.  But tonight was yet another hard to watch loss for the legend.

Facing Dream champion Marius Zaromskis, Sakuraba suffered an early ear injury that brought the fight to a close before it could get going.  The owner of one of the worst cauliflowered ears in all of MMA (and that covers a lot of ground), Sakuraba took a quick shot that popped the ear, causing it to bleed.  A few minutes later, he took another blow and immediately recoiled, holding his hand to his ear.  Doctors stepped in, and it looked like Sakuraba's ear had been partially torn away from his skull, resulting in a much needed stoppage. The stoppage was reminiscent of Kimbo Slice v. James Thompson on CBS, but unlike the Kimbo fight, we thankfully did not get any graphic footage of Sakuraba's ear.

Overall, it was a fight that didn't say much about Zarmoskis, and once again demonstarted that Sakuraba's time is done.  He's had a lot of loses recently, and sadly has looked old in those loses.  The lasting image of him here, with his hand covering his bloody ear, is not the way anyone wants to keep seeing this legend. 

Ishii Grinds Out Le Banner

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A year ago, the much hyped Satoshi Ishii made a dissapointing MMA debut, failing to impress at Dynamite!! 2009.  Tonight, the decorated Olympian showed off his vast improvement in the last year, defeating Jerome Le Banner in a very good fight.

For much of the fight, Ishii was able to outwrestle and control the stand-up fighter Le Banner.  But JLB is a far more skilled MMA combatant than many other kickboxers, and was frequently able to reverse Ishii and take advantage.  In the 3rd round, Ishii took clear control of the fight, locking on a tight kimura that looked to end it.  JLB gutted it out and miraculously survived, but the strong sub attempt made it clear who had won. 

Ishii took the justified unanimous decision, and interestingly, the result was booed.  I think that stems more from Japanese loyalty to JLB than displeasure with the decision, but it's pretty shocking to see a Japanese sports hero booed like that in Japan.  It was a good reminder that, although Ishii has improved, he definitely has not caught fire with the Japanese crowd as many hoped he would.

Overeem Destroys in 19 Seconds

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You knew it was a hard road for Todd Duffee.  Facing the rampaging Alistair Overeem, on short notice, under MMA rules where The Reem can use his killer knee?  That's a tall order, and unfortunately for the ex- UFC fighter, he wasn't up to it.

In just 19 seconds, Overeem landed a series of blows, including that murderous knee, to knock Duffee down and out.  Duffee's chin has been a question mark since his UFC loss to Mike Russow, but those blows would have put almost anyone away.  Such is the power of the K-1 champion.

With that win, Overeem claims the Interim Dream Heavyweight title, making him the current Dream, Strikeforce, and K-1 champion.  I know he has his detractors, but that's an impressive accomplishment.

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