There are many talented kickboxers that are seemingly hidden in obscurity. Fighters often fly under the radar. Basically, if you're not fighting on the biggest stages of the sport, not many people know who you are or have heard of you. Enter Hicham El Gaoui.
The lanky Dutch-Moroccan fighter has been flying under the radar now for a while, slowly building his resume. This past weekend he defeated Alexander Stetsurenko, a top fighter around the 80kg range at the Tatneft Cup 2011 Finals. That's not all. Last month, he beat L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni, one of the more popular fighters in his weight class. He also holds a win over Sahak Parparyan, the current It's Showtime 85MAX World Champion. I'd say it's time Hicham El Gaoui gets some recognition.
On first look, I wasn't that impressed until I stumbled upon his more recent fights. He's improved a lot and the results are showing on his record. El Gaoui uses his quick kicks, especially the teep to find his range and offset opponents. His hands aren't bad when he opens up with them either, something I think he should do more. You wouldn't really think he's all that if you watched him but he manages to win, and in the ends that's what matters.
El Gaoui is at somewhat of a crossroads. His past two fights have been at 80kg. To fight in bigger shows, he can move down to 77kg or move up to 85kg. I'd honestly think he would suit 85kg quite well. He has the frame to fill in the weight and at 77kg he just seems too lanky. Other tall fighters in the past have been around 77kg and moved up like Ondrej Hutnik, with success.
I don't know what's next for El Gaoui, but I'd hope he gets a shot on a bigger stage. The Tatneft Cup is a start and if he enters next season's tournament, he'd be facing some high level competition often. It's Showtime is probably the most likely, being a Dutch-based organization. A lot of fighters float around on the Dutch scene for quite a long time before getting their shot and El Gaoui just has to keep doing what he's doing and he'll eventually end up on the big stage.