LiverKick Rankings Updated on 5/15/2015
It has been too long (again), hasn't it? The LiverKick Podcast makes its return after two weeks of absence with all of the latest news from the Kickboxing world. This week we take a look at the It's Showtime, SuperKombat and Fight Code cards that went down this weekend, as well as a look forward for K-1 and the Glory World Series.. Rian Scalia (@rianscalia) and myself (@liverkickdotcom / @locuststar) give our thoughts on the cards, from the good to the bad to the downright ugly.
|As of July 2012||As of July 2012||As of July 2012|
Welcome back to the LiverKick.com rankings. These rankings are an attempt to break down the top 10 fighters in three different weight classes - Heavyweight, for fighters above the 85kg limit, Middleweight, for fighters at the 70-72.5kg limit, and Light Heavyweight, for fighters at the 77-84kg 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.
Once again it is that time, where the LiverKick.com Rankings have been updated. So far in July there has only really been movement in Heavyweight, but as the month moves along we are sure there will be movement elsewhere. The It's Showtime event this weekend was not only historic, but helped to clear up some rankings issues as well. Sergei Laschenko and Rico Verhoeven move up a spot apiece due to sheer force of will. In Rico's case, his second win over Hesdy Gerges solidifies his spot in the top ten, but also puts Hesdy's spot in jeopardy. Peter Aerts dropped from his #6 spot and into #9 after a tough loss to Tyrone Spong, who also moves up two spots to #8.
Welcome back to the LiverKick.com rankings. These rankings are an attempt to break down the top 10 fighters in three different weight classes - Heavyweight, for fighters above the 85kg limit, Middleweight, for fighters at the 70-72.5kg limit, and Lightweight, for fighters under 63kg. 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.
|5.||Jamal Ben Saddik
Heavyweight - January 2013
There is a phrase when it comes to Heavyweight Kickboxing and that phrase is "Heavyweights gonna Heavyweight," and that is exactly what we have seen over the past few weeks. There has been a lot of movement in the Heavyweight rankings due in part to the SuperKombat World Grand Prix Finals and then of course the Glory World Series Grand Slam tournament.
#1 Semmy Schilt once again cemented his spot at the very top of the sport by defeating four men in one night to take home yet another tournament crown. As always, our rankings tend to favor the tournament format for rankings as that is the standard for which Heavyweight kickboxing is weighed. That is the easiest way to explain that #2 Daniel Ghita holds steady at the number two spot. Ghita worked through three opponents in one night and lost to Semmy Schilt in the finals in a disputed decision. Surely there are lots of fans of #3 Gokhan Saki upset that Saki is not in the second spot, but the reality is that he did not make it to the finals, but was very close indeed. Saki put up a very good fight against Semmy Schilt and is slated to fight Daniel Ghita in April.
#4 Rico Verhoeven earned his spot over the past year, where his inclusion on the rankings was always based on a win over Hesdy Gerges, who was ranked due to a DQ win over Badr Hari. Verhoeven has without a doubt proven his mettle and was only ousted by Schilt. #5 Jamal Ben Saddik is the guy who really threw a wrench in everyone's plans by making it to the semi-finals. There will be some dispute that he belongs above Rico, but the loss to Jafhar Wilnis does weight heavily on him right now. He still has shot onto the rankings in a heartbeat and should be here to stay.
#6 Tyrone Spong actually opted not to participate in the tournament for whatever reason, so he does not move, but he faces a still unranked Remy Bonjasky soon, which could change things. #7 Hesdy Gerges is in the same boat, except he is fighting for K-1 and no one is clear when his next high level fight will be. The big upset was for #8 Errol Zimmerman who went from being in the top 5 to slipping to the eighth spot after his loss to Jamal Ben Saddik. The next two are courtesy of the SuperKombat WGP where #9 Pavel Zhuravlev made sure that Benjamin Adegbuyi was knocked out of the rankings and secured himself a spot in the top. Then came #10 Freddy Kemayo who won a reserve fight over the formerly ranked Sergei Laschenko who continues his downward spiral.
While not exactly on Badr Hari's "hit list," the next fight announced for the Golden Boy is none other than Romania's favorite dancing politician with heavy hands, Catalin Morosanu. Morosanu is one of Romania's toughest exports and is pretty much physically incapable of having a boring fight, which is a good thing for fans. Chances are when they step into the ring together that there will be a lot of leather thrown and that Morosanu will be fearless against Hari, something that not many fighters can say.
The fight was announced at the GFC event today and the implication is that the fight would go down in May. There is a SuperKombat event in May, which makes a lot of sense for such a big fight like this and would draw some eyes to SuperKombat. It looks like this might be pushed back to the Fall, though. Who really knows? It's Badr Hari and he doesn't really adhere to strict schedules.
According to Irimia it will happen in either Dubai or Bucharest.
SUPERKOMBAT is going to have a busy end of the month, as they will hold their SUPERKOMBAT Heroes event in Dracula's hometown on the 30th and then on the 31st will hold another, bigger event in Bucharest, Romania. The event, SUPERKOMBAT VIP Edition, will be headlined by a SUPERKOMBAT Middleweight World title bout between Mike Zambidis and Turkey's Harun Kina. This provides a bigger kick off for SK's WGP series that will be ongoing this fall.
Here is the line-up for SUPERKOMBAT VIP Edition.
SUPERKOMBAT® VIP Edition (Saturday, August 31, 2013) Main Card:
SUPERKOMBAT® Middleweight World Title -71kg
Mike Zambidis (Greece) vs. Harun Kina (Turkey)
Alexandru Popescu (Romania) vs. Cedric Manhoef (Suriname)
Bogdan Stanciu (Romania) vs. Kevin Heselink (Netherlands)
Miodrag Olar (Romania) vs. Alexandros Chatzichronoglou (Greece)
Florin Abrudan (Romania) vs. Cristian Spetcu (Romania)
We are, as they say, at a bit of an impasse in the sport of kickboxing right now. It’s difficult to avoid, difficult to make eye contact with and not look away. We’ve been at this place before, though, which is why it feels so awful this time around. Back in 2010 it looked like the sport of kickboxing was heading for imminent doom and destruction. FEG was a sinking ship and they were taking on water -- fast -- faster than they ever wanted to publicly admit.
Things were looking bleak for the sport of kickboxing at that time, but there was still hope. There were still people who were passionate about the sport, who wanted to do everything that they could for it. You had Simon Rutz and Bas Boon at each other’s throats, but both men were passionate and willing to do what it took to keep the sport afloat. You had Romanian promoter Eduard Irimia ready to expand beyond Romania. You had men with vision. Followed by the men with money to go with that passion.
As I stated before, we are at an impasse at the moment. The Japanese fight market has shrunk, shrunk to the point of almost being dead, but not quite. It doesn’t exist like it did what feels like a lifetime ago. What exists now is a facsimile of the grandeur that we knew before. Simulacra, a copy of a copy of a copy with adjustments made for degradation. Europe and America were always the wild west for kickboxing; that was clearly where the money was, but would it be able to reach the great heights that were achieved in Japan and Asia?
Enter GLORY. GLORY took a gamble, filtering millions of dollars into the sport that was on its knees after losing its king. Without a doubt the K-1 name held the prestige, it had done things that no one thought possible with the fringe sport of kickboxing. The rise of K-1 meant making the rest of the sport of kickboxing look silly in the process. The end result is that kickboxing rules aren’t kickboxing rules anymore, they are K-1 Rules. The name K-1 is intrinsically linked with the sport of kickboxing even to this day, for good or for bad.
So GLORY was set to fill the hole that was left by FEG’s bankruptcy with big promises, fireworks and a roster of capable production crew and the best fighters in the world. Sights were set on America, on taking on the leviathan market where the UFC rose from obscurity into a sport appearing regularly on Fox programming and had weaseled its way into becoming a household name. This was kickboxing’s white whale and, for a while, things were looking good.
Spike TV was hungry for the next big combat sport after they lost the UFC to Fox Sports, scooping up Bellator and then K-1. K-1 withdrew their name from the hat to restructure, leaving Spike TV ready to accept GLORY into the fold. Kickboxing had finally made it, it was on cable television in the United States. The first show happened and the ratings were in. They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad, either. There was promise.
Since then there have been the good times and the bad times, but what became increasingly clear was that there was no competition for GLORY anywhere out there. GLORY was doing things right, it was paying the fighters what they deserved to be paid, treating them with respect and doing everything right. Growing pains are real, though, especially when the anticipated growth doesn’t live up to the reality. Kickboxing was, for all intents and purposes, a new sport to many fans out there. It was a part of the whole that is Mixed Martial Arts, thus, it was fringe. There has been growth, but the growth is slow, it is costly and it is frustrating.
GLORY’s last event was GLORY 17/Last Man Standing on June 21st, which, as of the time that I write this, was two months ago. Since then there have been rumors, whispers and public decrees from fans; GLORY is dead. If you read forums or comment sections on websites you’ll hear all about it, you’ll hear that so-and-so’s trainer said that the company is bankrupt, you’ll hear that shows have been canceled, that members of the board are ready to depart, that payments have been filtering in late. For the kickboxing faithful these are all triggers, things that will bring back that long-forgotten PTSD that came with the dissolution of FEG’s K-1 back in 2010 and 2011.
Then there are those that like to watch the world burn, who are calling for the end. These are the fatalists. We’ve had private assurances from many within GLORY that right now is simply a time of restructuring, of regrouping, of changing strategies. Yesterday’s announcement of a new CEO was the first step. But, let’s give in to hysteria, to fatalism. Let’s say that GLORY has a few shows left and then, just as quickly as they emerged, they disappear into the ether of kickboxing history.
Who is there to pick up the pieces this time? Where are the Bas Boons looking to find anyone, to compromise his own visions and brands, to make things work? Where are the Simon Rutz’s running the #2 promotion and ready to take on the financial burden of being the de facto #1? Where are the Pierre Andurands, Ivan Farnetis, Scott Rudmanns and others who are willing to take a risk with their own personal money to invest in the sport? Where are your GLORY replacements where these now out-of-the-job fighters have to find work with?
The market right now is a mess. In a way, you can blame GLORY for the mess. GLORY was looking to be the alpha and omega in kickboxing, which meant exclusive contracts, which meant paying what others couldn’t pay, treating fighters unlike they were used to be treated. So you’ll tell me LEGEND Fight Show, the same promotion that put on three events thus far, only one in 2014 with nothing scheduled yet. So you’ll tell me GFC, the guys that are paying Badr Hari a mint to compete for them, because you were able to watch that last show from your couch, right? Because outside of Badr Hari they are stacking cards with expensive talent, right?
So you’ll say Enfusion, K-1 or SuperKombat. I’ll say that all three are great promotions in their own right, each one growing in their own way, with their own unique business plans and markets. How many of them see a broad market as their audience right now? K-1 is focused on Asia, Enfusion is focused on the UK and SuperKombat is focused on Romania. You might say that if GLORY simply disappears like Criss Angel in a stunt that they’ll be able to bolster their rosters with big names, but where does that money come from? The end of It’s Showtime came from overreaching and hiring top talents.
Right now nobody has what FEG’s K-1 had in a television partner that was willing to sink millions of their own money into each event and, realistically, we might never see that again. GLORY doesn’t even have that right now. Instead, GLORY has a good deal with Spike TV, but one that bears little fruit for either side right now and might take years to build up properly, to build an audience and really start making money.
The rise of GLORY was both beneficial and detrimental to the sport of kickboxing. If GLORY ceases to be, then the sport of kickboxing is set back even further than when FEG’s K-1 ceased to be. If you consider yourself a fan of kickboxing then at this moment the sport will require something of you. The sport will require your faith. If GLORY says that they aren’t done yet, then, well, they aren’t done yet. In the meantime we can only hope that Enfusion, K-1, SuperKombat and others continue to grow and find themselves in better positions to provide stability for both fans and fighters alike.
For now, let's save our eulogies and instead focus on the sport that we all love.
SUPERKOMBAT have a huge double-header coming up next weekend in Romania, kicking off on the 30th with SUPERKOMBAT New Heroes in Targoviste, followed the next night by SUPERKOMBAT VIP in Bucharest, Romania. We finally have the full card for SUPERKOMBAT New Heroes and there are definitely some worth additions to the card on here, including fights from Bogdan and Andrei Stoica!
Main card SUPERKOMBAT New Heroes Targoviste:
Super-fight – 91 kg
Marsan Yohan (France) vs Bogdan Stoica (Romania)
Super-fight – 95 kg
Zinedine Hameur-Lain (Algeria) vs Andrei Stoica (Romania)
Super-fight -65 kg
Kostas Papedelis (Greece) vs Ionut Atodiresei (Romania)
Super-fight -95 de kg
Kay Bult (Holland) vs Dănuţ Hurduc (Romania)
Super-fight -71 kg
Claudiu Badoi (Romania) vs Cristian Milea (Romania)
Super-fight -85 kg
Ibrahim El Bouni (Marocco) vs Ciprian Schiopu (Romania)
Super-fight -91 kg
Stefan Szomoru (Romania) vs Cristian Ristea (Romania)
Super-fight -81 kg
Daniel Lazar (Romania) vs Flavius Boiciuc (Romania)
Superfight +95 kg
Catalin Sacagiu (Romania) vs Florin Niculae (Romania)
Today is a day that just keeps on giving for Kickboxing fans across the world and looks to do some more as SUPERKOMBAT has announced that their New Heroes series will return to Romania on August 30th in Targoviste, the city best known as the home of Vlad Tepes -- also known as Dracula. This is SUPERKOMBAT's first show back after a bit of a summer break, but they do note that they've already run a staggering ten events this year so far.
The participants announced so far are as follows; Amansio Paraschiv (Local Kombat champion -67 kg and two times WAKO amateur european champion), Cristian Milea (Local Kombat champion -71 kg), Danut Hurduc (Local Kombat champion – 91 kg), Claudiu Badoi (Superkombat challenger), Cristian Ristea, Ciprian Schiopu, Stefan Szomoru, Catalin Sacagiu, Flavius Boiciuc and Daniel Lazar.
SUPERKOMBAT will also kick off their World Grand Prix tournament series starting on September 28th.
As those of us who’ve been around for a while might say, when it comes to the sport of kickboxing, no news is typically bad news. We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about Glory in the past few months--from murky accounts of an organization on dire straits to assurances by some of our professional kickboxing journalist pals that they have the exclusive scoop on BIG NEWS which has simply been embargoed by Glory for the time being. The fact remains that we haven’t heard anything substantive from Glory since July. There was talk of more SpikeTV content and of an event to be held at the end of October--we’re still waiting for any of these things to materialize. This behavior is worrisome for those of us who followed the scene as recently as 2012, when K-1 made promise after promise of a big comeback that ultimately never took place. It would be sad to see Glory succumb to the same fate as its ambitious predecessors, with K-1 and It’s Showtime telling the tale of how unforgiving the fight business can be.
Kickboxing in particular is a very strange industry, one that appears very active at a glance but which tells a far more sobering story beneath the surface. If we judged the scene solely on the number of events held annually, we might think that things look pretty good, with organizations like LEGEND, Global FC, Top King, A-1, and SuperKombat making news on sites like this one with fight cards featuring big name talent. While the accessibility of this content is highly variable, from robust TV broadcasts to mislabeled camera phone footage posted on YouTube, there are nevertheless fights happening all over the world and subsequently news and results which we can report to you.
But the difference between offering you a survey of sundry action from around the globe and a developing narrative that you can follow and become engrossed in is the difference between Kickboxing as a mere curiosity and as a sport in its own right. There are plenty of Kickboxing and Muay Thai videos that show up on MMA sites, but as much as their readers might appreciate them, they will never get the same first person experience of being there when iconic and spectacular moments unfold--memories of being glued to your TV when Andy Hug landed that spinning back kick or when Joe Schilling knocked Simon Marcus out cold. These moments were real, and they made us believe in this sport and dream about the possibilities. Call it a pet peeve, but I find it a little heartbreaking when brilliant retrospectives of great kickboxing moments wind up on MMA sites under “look at what this might teach us about MMA technique!” headings.
No one in particular is to blame for how things have turned out for kickboxing. Ultimately the success of any venture depends on the convergence of talent, a solid product, proper promotion, and a receptive market at an opportune moment in time. Kickboxing had various combinations of these things at different points in time, but the times and circumstances changed. The downfall of K-1 had as much to do with its management as it did with evolving trends in the Japanese entertainment market. Many factors came into play, but unfortunately, things ended for K-1 in an ugly way, leaving fighters with substantial outstanding earnings which they may never be able to fully collect. However, let us not kid ourselves about what it takes to build a real professional sport league. We’ve seen plenty of flamboyant millionaire playboys from around the world blow their money to party with celebrities and to book their favorite kickboxers for an evening of entertainment. Some of these mysterious rich dudes will even slap a label on their “organization” and take lots of photos with kickboxing bigwigs to make things look legit, but we all know that trying to produce a sustainable sports entertainment venue for the masses takes a lot more vision and tenacity than that. No matter how flashy their shows get, the playboys are not going to save Kickboxing, and neither will the small promotions like Top King (although we’ll give it a chance, just like we always do--that’s the story of Kickboxing, right?) that seem to come and go every year.
We really hope that Glory will actually make it. It seems like the formula’s been there--Glory had enough money, the right talent, the right TV deal, and an ostensible understanding of the business startup process (God knows there are enough smart-sounding former hedge fund/venture capital people on board--how many of them does it take to screw in a light bulb?). Where do things stand now? We really don’t know. We do know that there have been no shows in three months, and if it is indeed true that Glory is coming to Oklahoma on November 7, then that will make four months since its last show. We really hope that the lights will stay on at Glory because as kickboxing fans, we’ve looked forward for a long time to not living in the dark of the sports world.