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LiverKick.com Lightweight Rankings - On The Outside Looking In

Lightweight
1. Masaaki Noiri
2. Masahiro Yamamoto
3. Javier Hernandez
4. Karim Bennoui
5. Yetkin Ozkul
6. Thomas Adamandopoulos
7. Ryuji Kajiwara
8. Ruben Almeida
9. Hirotaka Urabe
10. Kosuke Komiyama

We recently introduced the LiverKick Lightweight Rankings, ranking the top ten lightweights in kickboxing. The top ten doesn't tell the whole story, however, as there are a few fighters on the cusp of making the top ten and all they need is that one marquee win. We will highlight these fighters and where they stand within the lightweight division and more specifically, with the top ten lightweights in our rankings.

September 2012

noiri

Most of the fighters that we're highlighting here are actually more well known than many of the fighters in our rankings. They've competed on the big stages, in K-1 and It's Showtime, have been in the ring with the top ten guys, have held their own, but just haven't come away with the crucial wins.

Tetsuya Yamato at one time probably could've been seen as the #1 guy, back when he won K-1's first 63kg GP in July of 2010. Since then, he's had mixed results, losing to Koya Urabe and Ryuji Kajiwara while fighting Muay Thai in between all of that. He had a good win back in May over Sergio Wielzen. Yamato is a very inconsistent fighter, sometimes looking really sharp and other times it's like his head is on a flagpole and he gets hit with every shot. When he's on, he can strike well from range and put together sharp combinations, including being able to counterpunch with knockout power. He'll need another marquee win to get himself into the top ten.

Sergio Wielzen, who Yamato beat, at one time could've also been ranked very highly. 2010 was a big year for him, knocking out Anuwat Kaewsamrit, which really got his name out there, and then going on to get two solid wins over Mickael Peynaud and Masahiro Yamamoto in It's Showtime, also where he was their 61MAX World Champion. Then he lost his title to Karim Bennoui, but picked up two good, but not-good-enough-to-get-ranked wins over Carlos "Chiquitin" Reyes and Ruslan Tozliyan. The success didn't continue though, as shortly after he lost to Kosuke Komiyama, then to Tetsuya Yamato, and even had a loss in Muay Thai to Saeksan Or Kwanmuang(Not that it counts towards our rankings, just adding that in). Now on a three fight losing streak, Wielzen needs to get back in the win column first and foremost. 

Koya Urabe was expected to do big things after being snubbed from the K-1 63kg GP in 2010. He went on to make it to the finals of the K-1 63kg GP in 2011, losing to Yuta Kubo, while beating Yuki and Tetsuya Yamato. Urabe also lost to Ryuji Kajiwara before that. Urabe does have quite a few wins but not over the level of competition that's needed to break into the top ten. Adding to that, he was upset by Keijiro Miyakoshi which really caused him to not make it into our top ten. With all the Japanese talent in Krush at what we refer to as lightweight, it really seems that anyone can beat anyone on any given day and as long as Urabe is in Krush, the opportunity will most likely present itself again where he'll get to fight a major player in the division.

Stylistically, I don't doubt that all three of these fighters could beat some of the fighters in our top ten. Like I said, especially with the Japanese fighters, any of these guys could probably beat each other on any given day, with a few exceptions. For the most part though, the top ten is very competitive and that competitiveness isn't just exclusive to the top ten, it extends outside of it to the fringe, where guys like Yamato, Urabe and Wielzen are at.

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Dzhabar Askerov Wins By KO In Australia

Dzhabar Askerov hadn't fought since June 7, and for him, that is a really long time without fighting. Askerov has said in the past that he "goes crazy" when he doesn't fight for a few weeks. Today in Australia he finally got back in the ring.

At Night of Mayhem 5 in Melbourne, Australia today, Askerov fought Michael "300" Demetriou. Askerov won by KO in the first round from punches, getting another win and setting himself up for a packed end of the year with many fights already scheduled. Demetriou is a solid win, as he's took Saiyok Pumphanmuang the distance and had a good fight with Steve Moxon.

For Askerov, he's got quite a lot ahead of him for the rest of the year, including fights with the likes of Yoshihiro Sato, Mohammed El Mir this year and Andy Souwer in 2013.

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Krush Now Has A Youtube Channel

Krush has been consistently putting on great events with great fighters for the past few years. They have a focus on the lower weight classes, with 70kg being their highest and 55kg being the lowest. Some of the best fighters at these weights fight in Krush, like Yuta Kubo, Masaaki Noiri, Hirotaka Urabe and many more Japanese standouts. Recently Krush has also been bringing in foreign opposition to test their Japanese fighters, and every fight has been great.

For a long time we had to wait at least a few weeks to see the fights from Krush cards but now Krush has started its own Youtube channel. To get it kicked off, they've uploaded two fights from their last event on September 9 and will be uploading all the fights from the event. Check out their Youtube channel, and also this fight between Koya Urabe and Kengo Sonoda at Krush's last event.

 

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Kickboxing's Best Kept Secrets Lie In Unexplored Weight Classes

It's really been brought to my attention lately that a lot of people don't have a clue about about any weight classes in kickboxing besides 70kg and heavyweight, the two divisions that K-1 used for the most part throughout its history. The absence of other weight classes in K-1 for so long created somewhat of a sentiment to some people that those weight divisions didn't matter or that the fighters weren't any good or as good compared to 70kg or heavyweight. That couldn't be any more wrong.

The weight classes outside of 70kg and heavyweight have really been left in the dust for so many years. They've never really had a big stage to fight on like K-1. It's Showtime did utilize other weight classes but that platform still wasn't enough to get some recognition for all the world class kickboxers that unfortunately for their wallets, aren't a 70kg fighter or a heavyweight.

The heavyweight division tends to be looked at in such a prestigious light and cited as the place where the best kickboxers in the world are yet there is such a huge drop off after the top 5 even and then again after the top 10 and it's not too soon until you find out that it's mostly mediocrity. In other weight classes you won't see this to the same extent where everything after the top 15 or so is mostly mediocrity. That's not even mentioning that the overall skill levels of the fighters there isn't on the same level as for example, fighters at 60-63.5kg. It's obviously apparent when you actually watch the fights, comparing and analyzing them.

70kg is a strong a deep division, there's no denying that. People look at it as the most stacked weight class in kickboxing, and while it undeniably is, people really don't realize just how many good fighters there are below that weight. Generally it's that people just don't care to find out for themselves and stick with the notion that most popular equals the best. I could name over 30 guys (I'll elaborate on this in another post) around 61kg that are all good, skillful fighters by kickboxing standards, easily moreso than heavyweights. At heavyweight you can barely find 16 top guys all at or around the same level, enough to be competitive with each other, not even mentioning that the field of lightweight fighters is just going to be more skilled in general.

Alexey Ignashov, who at the time had wins over Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt and Alexander Ustinov lost to Kaoklai Kaennorsing of all people, a 70kg Thai who was on his way out of the Rajadamnern scene in Thailand, long gone from the time when he won that stadium's title in its weakest weight class. I don't care how "inconsistent" Ignashov was, at the time he was on a six fight win streak that included beating Semmy Schilt and in the past two years only had losses to Peter Aerts and Stefan Leko, both top fighters at heavyweight at that time. Kaoklai also knocked out Mighty Mo who would then go on to beat Remy Bonjasky, right after that fight. Cyril Abidi could stop Peter Aerts twice but then go and lose to Rampage Jackson, twice. This, for the most part, happens at heavyweight and these are some of the best guys there losing these fights. At 70kg, almost all of the time, the top guys beat who they were supposed to beat, as in, MMA fighters, boxers and freakshows. Although these fights haven't happened as much in the lower weight classes, most of the times they have, the guy who's supposed to win has won. The only exception might be Wicky Akiyo vs. Tetsuya Yamato.

Heavyweight and 70kg were also developed for years by the old K-1, and to a much lesser degree they started from the ground up with 63kg. Just look at the talent they produced in such a short time with the Koshien series, and with exclusively Japanese fighters. Give any other weight class the development and platform that 70kg and heavyweight had and it would progress immensely. A world stage with enough money for guys to make a living would not only attract more fighters but also motivate current fighters at that/those particular weight classes even more. With Glory and K-1 now holding all the power and openly talking about more weight classes, it's possible.

I haven't even touched on other weights like 65-67kg, 77kg, 85kg, but you should get the point by now and I like 60-63.5kg a lot so I use it as my example when discussing this matter. After around 72.5kg the overall skill level and talent pool gradually diminishes as you go higher in weight until you get to heavyweight, with a few exceptions in between. 90-95kg arguably has better talent than 85kg. Weight classes in kickboxing are a mess though. Guys fight all over the place. You'll see guys fight at 79kg and then at 85kg like Artem Vakhitov, or at 85kg and then at around 91kg like Sahak Parparyan. There aren't established weight divisions aside from 70kg and heavyweight for the most part.

The bottom line is that most kickboxing fans don't even know about some of the sport's best fighters and some have misconceptions about who the better fighters in the sport really are.

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