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LiverKick.com Middleweight Rankings: Feb. 2010

Middleweight
1. Giorgio Petrosyan
2. Buakaw Por. Pramuk
3. Yoshihiro Sato
4. Andy Souwer
5. Albert Kraus
6. Nieky Holzken
7. Artur Kyshenko
8. Murat Dirkeci
9. Gago Drago
10. Pajonsuk
11. Mike Zambidis
12. Hinata
13. Saiyok Pumpanmuang
14. Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee
15. Yuichiro Nagashima
16. Chris Ngimbi
17. Mohamed Khamal
18. Yuya Yamamoto
19. Khem Sitsongpeenong
20. Hiroki Nakajima
21. John Wayne Parr
22. Chahid Oulad El Hadj
23. Leroy Kaestner
24. Marcus Oberg
25. Armen Petrosyan

Welcome back to the LiverKick.com rankings. These rankings are an attempt to break down the top 25 fighters in two different weight classes - Heavyweight, for fighters above the 77kg limit, and Middleweight, for fighters at the 70-72.5kg 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.

February 2011

The Middleweight rankings are, in a word, a mess.

The one thing we know for certain is #1.  Giorgio Petrosyan is starting his 2nd year ruling over the division with an iron fist.  He's clearly the #1 Middleweight, the #1 pound for pound kickboxer out there, and is entering that territory of best fighter period.  The trouble is, when a division has such a dominant #1, it often means the rest of the rankings begin to falter a bit.  And that's what we're seeing now.

The race for #2 is a tough one between a lot of fighters who have real reasons not to be considered #2.  By virtue of his legendary career, S-Cup win, and six fight win streak, Buakaw Por. Pramuk retains the #2 spot, but it gets harder to keep him there.  He started showing signs of slipping back in 2008, and hasn't defeated a ranked opponent in over a year and a half.

Meanwhile, Andy Souwer, a constant factor at the very top of the ranks, just recorded his 2nd loss to an unranked opponent in the past few months, losing a decision to Abraham Roqueni.  He drops to #4, while Yoshihiro Sato moves up to #3 - more by virtue of Souwer's loss then his own victories, although he has put together a good string of wins since his very rough late 2008-early 2009 run.

Overall, the MW ranks seem to be waiting for some of their newer fighters to really stake their claim at the top.  And there are definitely some good names out there ready to move up: #10 Pajonsuk, #12 Hinata, #14 Sudsakorn, #15 Yuichiro Nagashima, #16 Chris Ngimbi, and #17 Mohamed Khamal have all made big moves lately and are poised to move even higher.  Of those names, the two that had particularly noteworthy months are Sudsakorn and Nagashima.  Sudsakorn's win over now #19 Khem Sitsongpeenong in Thailand was the biggest fight yet this year from a rankings standpoint, while Nagashima defended K-1's honor with his stunning New Year's Eve knockout of Dream champion Shinya Aoki.

As we saw in the Heavyweight division, this next month will remain somewhat of a holding pattern for the Middleweights, with nothing big scheduled in February.  But that changes in March with a host of major fights.

First up, the March 6 It's Showtime show, which features #4 Andy Souwer trying to get back in the win column against L'houcine Ouzgni; a great fight between #7 Artur Kyshenko and #9 Gago Drago; #22 Chahid Oulad El Hadj vs. Robin van Roosmalen; and #23 Leroy Kaestner vs. Ramzi Tamaditi.

Giorgio PetrosyanMarch 12 is the Oktagon show from Italy with #1 Giorgio Petrosyan defending his status against the excellent Cosmo Alexandre, plus #3 Yoshihiro Sato vs. #25 Armen Petrosyan.  If Giorgio loses there I don't know what will become of the top 25.

But the big action to watch for is the July 3 It's Showtime show in Russia with #7 Artur Kyshenko vs. L'houcine Ouzgni, plus an 8 man tournament that could be the premiere Middleweight tournament of the year including #1 Giorgio Petrosyan, #4 Andy Souwer, #3 Yoshihiro Sato, #8 Murat Direkci, #9 Gago Drago, and #16 Chris Ngimbi.

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LiverKick.com Heavyweight Rankings

Heavyweight

1. Alistair Overeem
2. Peter Aerts
3. Semmy Schilt
4. Badr Hari
5. Gokhan Saki
6. Ewerton Teixeira
7. Kyotaro
8. Daniel Ghita
9. Hesdy Gerges
10. Tyrone Spong
11. Jerome Le Banner
12. Nathan Corbett
13. Errol Zimmerman
14. Ashwin Balrak
15. Ruslan Karaev
16. Zabit Samedov
17. Brice Guidon
18. Melvin Manhoef
19. Pavel Zhuravlev
20. Mourad Bouzidi
21. Anderson Silva
22. Rico Verhoeven
23. Mighty Mo
24. Raul Catinas
25. Alexey Ignashov

Welcome back to the LiverKick.com rankings. These rankings are an attempt to break down the top 25 fighters in two different weight classes - Heavyweight, for fighters above the 77kg limit, and Middleweight, for fighters at the 70-72.5kg 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.

February 2011

Since the January rankings, there has been very little movement in the heavyweight division.  The biggest HW fights were set to take place at the January 30 Ultimate Glory show, but once that was moved back to March, the HW division was essentially put on deep freeze for the time being.

There were, however, three points worth mentioning:

First, our last rankings were just before New Year's Eve, and so did not include Kyotaro's upset loss at the hands of Gegard Mousasi.  With that loss, Kyotaro drops one spot, being passed by Ewerton Teixeira (who holds a 2008 win over Kyotaro).

Second, Alexey Ignashov was in action, defeating Roman Kleibl, another fighter just outside the top 25.  While his performance wasn't great, recent wins over Kleibl and Freddy Kemayo are enough to sneak Ignashov in to the rankings at #25.  Ignashov will have his next big opportunity on July 23 when he challenges #9 Hesdy Gerges for the It's Showtime Heavyeight title.

Finally, the biggest news actually concerns out of the ring events.  While it pains me to do it, I've removed the formerly #4 ranked Remy Bonjasky from the rankings.  It's been well over a year since he last fought, and in that time we've heard that he's retiring soon, then silence.  There's still a chance we'll see him again, but it will likely just be a farewell fight, if it even happens at all.  I know Remy has his detractors, but he's in a rare air of K-1 greats, and it's a shame to see his career fade away in such a lackluster way.

As far as upcoming fights are concerned, we'll have to wait until March for much to happen - that's when we'll get both the Ultimate Glory semi-finals (#5 Gokhan Saki vs. Wendell Roche and #17 Brice Guidon vs. #20 Mourad Bouzidi), and the superb It's Showtime fight between #8 Daniel Ghita and #9 Hesdy Gerges.  Given K-1's troubles, it may be awhile before be get a HW fight to rival Gerges vs. Ghita.  That fight is set for It's Showtime Amsterdam on March 6, which will also feature #22 Rico Verhoeven vs. Jamal Benz on the undercard.

One other fight to note - on February 26 in Australia it will be Thor Hoopman vs. Paul Slowinski.  Although neither man is currently ranked, both are just outside the top 25, and a big win here could propel one of them into the rankings.

The #1 Ranked Alistair OvereemAnd finally, don't forget to keep your eyes on MMA promotion Strikeforce in the coming months.  That's where #1 Alistair Overeem will be found, as he faces Fabricio Werdum in the opening round of their Grand Prix tournament.  This weekend for Strikeforce, K-1 veteran Ray Sefo continues his MMA career against The Reem's big brother Valentijn Overeem, plus K-1 newcomer and MMA veteran Sergei Kharitonov meets Andrei Arlovski in the HW Grand Prix.

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LiverKick.com Middleweight Rankings


Middleweight
1. Giorgio Petrosyan
2. Buakaw Por. Pramuk
3. Andy Souwer
4. Albert Kraus
5. Yoshihiro Sato
6. Nieky Holzken
7. Artur Kyshenko
8. Murat Dirkeci
9. Gago Drago
10. Pajonsuk
11. Mike Zambidis
12. Hinata
13. Chris Ngimbi
14. Yuichiro Nagashima
15. Mohamed Khamal
16. Yuya Yamamoto
17. Hiroki Nakajima
18. Khem Sitsongpeenong
19. Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee
20. John Wayne Parr
21. Chahid Oulad El Hadj
22. Leroy Kaestner
23. Marcus Oberg
24. Armen Petrosyan
25. Chi Bin Lim

Welcome to part two of our inaugural LiverKick.com rankings.  These rankings are an attempt to break down the top 25 fighters in two different weight classes - Heavyweight, for fighters above the 77kg limit, and Middleweight, for fighters at the 70-72.5kg limit.  We'll be posting rankings on roughly a quarterly basis.  Just as yesterday, I want to stress that all rankings are inherently subjective, and are sure to ruffle a few feathers.  To be clear, our rankings are based on in-ring accomplishments and recent wins and loses, and as such, we hope they reflect where these fighters currently stand.

It's been a tough year for the Middleweight division.  Where the K-1 MAX Grand Prix once stood as the clear pinnacle of accomplishment for a 70kg fighter, this year's GP was somewhat watered down by the loses of Souwer and Buakaw.  In the end, only 5 of the top 10 fighters were even entered in the GP.

Hopefully we can all agree that depleted line-up or not, K-1 MAX champion Giorgio Petrosyan remains the #1 man at MW.  The man is simply amazing, with only one loss to his name, and a massive undefeated streak stretching nearly 4 years.  That said, Petrosyan wasn't truly pushed this year.  The man to challenge him is probably #2 Buakaw Por. Pramuk, the newly crowned Shootboxing S-Cup champion.  These two men met in 2007 and fought to a draw - a rematch absolutely must happen.  Let's hope It's Showtime puts it together.

The warring crowns of Buakaw and Petrosyan speak to the difficulties currently facing this division.  With MAX having a rough 2010, the 70kg division has become quite fractured.  A number of fighters are competing almost exclusively in Japan, or Europe, or for select companies, with no central event bringing them together.  As a result, rankings have become increasingly difficult, with many of the top fighters not having met in recent years.

One other tricky point in these rankings is the split between Muay Thai and kickboxing.  Muay Thai inspires a great passion in their fans, which inevitably results in some heated discussions over these rankings.  I find including Muay Thai to be a tricky proposition.  On the one hand, since so many of these fighters regularly compete in both, it seems foolish to discredit a result just because it was under Muay Thai rules.  If Buakaw defeats Petrosyan in a Muay Thai contest, should Buakaw be #1?  I would think so.  But a lot of the Muay Thai scene is concentrated in Thailand, making it difficult to rank on an international level.  My philosophy is this: in these rankings I am focusing on kickboxing and including fighters who compete on at least a semi-regular basis in the international kickboxing scene.  I factor in wins and loses in Muay Thai just as I would wins and loses in other kickboxing events.  Disagree with that plan?  I absolutely welcome any feedback in the comments.

Moving on, there are some good fights coming up involving big MW names.  On New Year's Eve #2 Buakaw faces #17 Hiroki Nakajima for SRC, while #14 Yuichiro Nagashima meets Shinya Aoki at Dynamite.

Switching into the new year, Giorgio Petrosyan is currently set to defend his #1 spot twice inGiorgio Petrosyan upcoming fights - first against #19 Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee on January 29, then against 77kg fighter Cosmo Alexandre in March, though his hand injury could easily force him out of those fights.

Finally, It's Showtime has some big plans set.  Their March 6 shows features two superb fights in #3 Andy Souwer v. L'houcine Ouzgni and #7 Artur Kyshenko v. #9 Gago Drago.  And their July 3 show features Kyshenko v. Ouzgni plus a stacked 8 man tournament which could rival the K-1 MAX Grand Prix in determining the #1 man at MW.  The current line-up for that tournament includes #1 Petrosyan, #3 Souwer, #5 Yoshihiro Sato, #8 Murat Direkci, #9 Drago, and #13 Chris Ngimbi.

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LiverKick.com Heavyweight Rankings

Heavyweight

1. Alistair Overeem
2. Peter Aerts
3. Semmy Schilt
4. Remy Bonjasky
5. Badr Hari
6. Gokhan Saki
7. Kyotaro
8. Ewerton Teixeira
9. Daniel Ghita
10. Hesdy Gerges
11. Tyrone Spong
12. Jerome Le Banner
13. Nathan Corbett
14. Errol Zimmerman
15. Ashwin Balrak
16. Ruslan Karaev
17. Zabit Samedov
18. Brice Guidon
19. Melvin Manhoef
20. Pavel Zhuravlev
21. Mourad Bouzidi
22. Anderson Silva
23. Rico Verhoeven
24. Mighty Mo
25. Raul Catinas

Welcome to the first edition of our LiverKick.com rankings.  These rankings are an attempt to break down the top 25 fighters in two different weight classes - Heavyweight, for fighters above the 77kg limit, and Middleweight, for fighters at the 70-72.5kg limit.  We'll be posting rankings on roughly a quarterly basis, with the inaugural Middleweight rankings out tomorrow.  Before we discuss, I want to stress that all rankings are inherently subjective, and are sure to ruffle a few feathers.  To be clear, our rankings are based on in-ring accomplishments and recent wins and loses, and as such, we hope they reflect where these fighters currently stand.

The biggest talking point here is likely the ascension of a new #1.  Alistair Overeem, with only 14 pro kickboxing fights to his credit, rises to the top spot by becoming the 8th man to win the K-1 Grand Prix crown.  Always a subject of controversy, many fans still view him as an outsider to kickboxing, and can't fathom The Reem as the #1 man.  But with wins over Saki, Aerts, Hari, Teixeira and Spong, plus the GP victory, it's hard to place him elsewhere.  Beyond that, there's also the question that if Overeem is not #1 - who is?

Also making a huge move up the ladder is Peter Aerts.  Aerts looked like his time near the top was at an end just a few months ago, but with a history making win over Semmy Schilt, Aerts moves into the #2 spot.  Glad to see the Dutch Lumberjack there one more time.

A few fighters are near the point of being removed from rankings due to inactivity - most notably #4 Remy Bonjasky.  Bonjasky has not fought in over a year, and may have one last fight in him before retirement.  If he doesn't announce another fight soon, it will be hard to keep him ranked.  It's a similar case with the often unreliable #16 Ruslan Karaev, who likewise has not competed since the 2009 GP Finals.  Finally, #15 Ashwin Balrak may be dropped out of the rankings, as his next few years could be spent behind bars after his 2010 cocaine bust.

Looking ahead, there are not a huge number of big heavyweight fights currently announced, which is always the case as the year ends.  A few cards are worth noting though.Alistair Overeem

At Dynamite!! on Dec. 31, #7 Kyotaro will face Gegard Mousasi under K-1 rules.  Also competing on that card are Overeem and #12 Jerome Le Banner, though both fights are under MMA rules.

January 30 marks the 2nd round in the Ultimate Glory world series event.  This round of 4 includes #6 Gokhan Saki v. Wendell Roche, and #18 Brice Guidon v. #21 Mourad Bouzidi, with the winners meeting at the April 21 finals.

Finally, It's Showtime heavyweight champion #10 Hesdy Gerges has a busy time ahead of him.  He faces #9 Daniel Ghita on March 6 in an absolute blockbuster of a fight, and Alexey Ignashov on July 3.  That Gerges v. Ghita bout could be the biggest heavyweight fight of the next 6 months, though it could see some competition from the It's Showtime/K-1 Qualifying Grand Prix event on May 21 - no names yet announced for that show, but expect some big fights.

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