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LiverKick's 2012 Best of Kickboxing Awards

It's that time of the year (or it might even be a bit late) to recap the best of kickboxing in 2012 now that it's over. We saw some great fights, great knockouts, fighters who had breakout years and great events.

Fighter of the Year

I know some are going to say Semmy Schilt here but ultimately I had to go with Giorgio Petrosyan, the LiverKick #1 ranked middleweight. He fights in the deepest division in kickboxing and still completely dominates it, being in my opinion the undisputed best kickboxer in the world. With four top ten at the time wins on the year, he went undefeated again in 2012. Another reason why I chose Petrosyan over Schilt is because all of his wins were in the regular 3x3 fight format, whereas Schilt had the same number of top ten wins as Petrosyan but three of them were in the 2x2 format. Some people also won't like this, but Petrosyan really has no huge physical advantages over his opponents, as they all weigh in at 70kg or under. The bottom line is that Giorgio Petrosyan had another excellent year and remains the number one kickboxer in the world.

Honorable mentions: Semmy Schilt (LiverKick #1 Heavyweight), Murthel Groenhart (LiverKick #2 Middleweight)

Fight of the Year

It was actually kind of disappointing that there weren't that many candidates for this award, but unfortunately there are a ton of fights that we don't have any video of so we only have so much to work with. On a positive note, Genji Umeno vs. Chang Hyun Lee was an amazing fight and I feel that it was the best of 2012. Umeno came into the fight a heavy favorite, with Lee being a complete unknown. The result was a highly competitive, action packed fight with Umeno possibly having the edge until getting dropped in the third round. Lee came away with the decision win and stole the show, which featured the entire K-1 Final 16 at heavyweight.

Honorable mentions: Dzhabar Askerov vs. Robin van Roosmalen (LiverKick #3 Middleweight), Hirotaka Urabe (LiverKick #9 Lightweight) vs. Naoki Ishikawa III

KO of the Year

This one actually crept up on me at the last minute, as I almost forgot about it. Thankfully I remembered because Shuichi Wentz's high kick knockout of Romie Adanza at the K-1 US Grand Prix in Los Angeles on September 8 was brutal, unexpected and scary all in one. The ensuing reaction after the knockout made it that much better, but also made it that much worse, if that makes any sense. Adanza was out cold, stiffened up and twitching.

Honorable mentions: Hirotaka Urabe KO1 Masato Kobayashi, Michael Duut KO3 Ricardo van den Bos, Ryuya Kusakabe KO3 Ilias El Hajoui, Daniel Ghita KO2 Brian Douwes

Event of the Year

I was looking at what people were saying the event of the year was and was quite surprised that no one mentioned the GLORY 70kg First 16 in Stockholm, Sweden on May 26. Top to bottom it was a great show with great fights. It had one of the honorable mentions for fight of the year in Askerov vs. van Roosmalen. It also had big upsets such as Davit Kiria's win over Kem Sitsongpeenong, as well as the emergence of some of the breakout fighters of the year in Sanny Dahlbeck and the aforementioned Kiria. Nieky Holzken vs. Alex Harris was another great fight with a great finish. Overall it was just a great event from top to bottom.

Honorable mentions: It's Showtime 54/55 (January 28), It's Showtime 57/58 (June 30)

Prospect of the Year

I was hesitant to proclaim Roman Mailov as the prospect of the year because he has two really tough fights coming up that I think he might lose but nevertheless, Mailov is the definition of a prospect that was built up really well in 2012. His year started in March where he had his first fight at 70kg, moving up from his previous weight of 63.5-65kg. He kept winning while gradually increasing the level of competition in front of him. Overall, he went 9-0 in 2012 and was signed to GLORY by the end of the year. Like I mentioned before, he has some very tough fights coming up (Yuta Kubo on January 14) where he's being thrown into deep waters, but in 2012 I don't think there was another fighter who was built up so well.

Honorable mentions: Alim Nabiev, Vitaly Lisnyak


The Voice Versus Steven Seagal is Truly Insane, Watch It


A part of me doesn't even know how to process Steven Seagal anymore. Is he delusional? Is he insane? Is he really an old school style martial arts master like they talk about in ancient scrolls? Was he a CIA operative? Is he just an actor with a martial arts background who has marketed himself to be something more? These are the questions that I find myself asking whenever Steven Seagal is in the news.

I'm not sure that tonight's episode of The Voice Versus clears up any of those questions for me, but it does help me to solidify my opinions on him as well as entertain with his stories. Like it or not, Seagal has lived a storied life and has a lot of tales to tell the world. He also seems to genuinely care about the environment and for the world to be a peaceful place, which is really admirable. Schiavello, as always, does his homework and was able to keep up a certain level of rapport with Seagal about his background as well as some of his more entertaining tall tales, some of which Seagal did not wish to comment on, but Schiavello did discuss in between interview segments.

Throughout the entire episode I found myself entertained, if just being outraged at some of his statements or genuinely interested in what his favorite fight scenes were. There is even a full segment about Mixed Martial Arts and his relationships with Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva.

The Voice Versus airs tonight on AXS TV here in the US, so check your local listings and enjoy.


Building a Narrative: The Story of Daniel Ghita

When fight fans think about a fighter, especially a rising star, I’m surprised how few think about the term narrative. To me, the narrative of a fighter’s career and of each fight is one of the most alluring parts of the fight game, and partially why Kickboxing has always aced Mixed Martial Arts for me. Sure, the kicks, the clinch game and the constant action helps, but K-1 especially did a great job in the 90’s and early 00’s of building up new stars and telling a story to the world, as opposed to simply pushing out fighters and booking them in competitive fights.

I’m not trashing competitive fights, just saying that simply booking them alone is not always enough in building a star. This line of thought crossed my mind when it became clear this week that K-1 had Daniel Ghita on the hook for the K-1 World Grand Prix, and instead of reeling him in and claiming the biggest star and most talented Heavyweight in Kickboxing today, they opted to let him go due to fears of him jumping to the competition after fighting for them and winning their tournament. I understand that line of reasoning, but the truth is, there is a good chance of Daniel Ghita, potentially the best Heavyweight alive in the world right now, might have to sit out the 2012 tournament season due to politics. This is all happening right when his star has been cemented and the narrative has been in place that Daniel Ghita is the best in the world, just ready to claim his throne.


UFC 140 Highlights the Gentrification of Mixed Martial Arts

Over the weekend at UFC 140 the two featured bouts of the evening saw exciting finishes by two of UFC’s bigger stars. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir took the fight to another former [Interim] UFC Heavyweight Champion in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, surviving being knocked out by quickly reversing a choke and applying an armlock and promptly breaking Big Nog’s arm. Current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones put on an equally as impressive finish after recovering from being outpointed on his feet to working the challenger Lyoto Machida over with elbows on the ground before he was able to corner the challenger and apply a neck chancre that rendered Machida unconscious.

As a fan, it is hard to complain about fights at this level being finished in thrilling fashion. So, while it may be hard to complain about the fights being finished in a dramatic, decisive fashion, there are some other, much more troubling trends in both of these fights that have gone largely unnoticed amidst the excitement. Behavior of fighters has changed, as fans have noticed over the past few years, with both of the featured fights this weekend making light of this. Big Nog suffered a broken arm at the hands of Frank Mir, Nog still laying on the mat while Mir quickly pulled on the gear from his sponsors and celebrated. Jon Jones claimed that he “knew” Lyoto Machida was out cold, but quickly let go to strut off while Machida fell head-first to the mat in a heap.

It is a matter of respect and concern for the opponent’s well-being that seemingly melted away over the past few years, being flaunted on-air at UFC 140. It is a paradigm shift that has occured in the rush to help “legitimize” MMA as a “real sport” in the United States.

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