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  • Written by Dave Walsh

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 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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