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LiverKick.com Rankings

Heavyweight (Per 4/15)
1. Rico Verhoeven
2. Daniel Ghita
3. Gokhan Saki
4. Tyrone Spong
5. Peter Aerts
6. Errol Zimmerman up
7. Benjamin Adegbuyiup
8. Ismael Londt up
9. Hesdy Gerges up
10. Ben Edwards up

Light HW (per 4/15)
1. Gokhan Saki up
2. Tyrone Spong down
3. Danyo Ilunga
4. Nathan Corbett down
5. Saulo Cavalari

Middleweight (per 4/15)
1. Wayne Barrett
2. Joe Schilling
3. Artem Levin
4. Steven Wakeling
5. Franci Grajs

Welterweight (per 4/15)
1. Nieky Holzken 
2. Joseph Valtellini 
3. Simon Marcus
4. Marc de Bonte
5. Aussie Ouzgni


70kg (Per 4/15)
1. Davit Kiriaup
2. Andy Ristiedown
3. Robin van Roosmalendown
4. Giorgio Petrosyandown
5. Murthel Groenhart
6. Buakaw Banchamek
7. Dzhabar Askerov
8. Ky Hollenbeckup
9. Aikprachaup
10. Enriko Kehlup

65kg (per 1/20)
1. Masaaki Noiri
2. Mosab Amraniup
3. Yuta Kubo down
4. Sagetdao
5. Liam Harrison

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Mike Zambidis and John Wayne Parr just fought today for the third time. Previously they were 1-1 and this served as the rubbermatch. JWP proved that even late in his career, he won't roll over for anyone and is still a major player. Check out the video below.

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There is no doubt that there are two big kickboxing organizations in the world today; K-1 and It’s Showtime. One of them has existed for almost 20 years while the other for around 12 years. One of them started off with a bang and continued to grow without restraint while the other took a slower approach to growth. K-1 started off strong, creating the mold for those to follow when it comes to promoting championship kickboxing, with glitz, glamour, international fighters and creating a set of rules that would be used worldwide.

Much like UFC has become synonymous with MMA, K-1 is with kickboxing. You don’t fight kickboxing, you fight K-1, just like you don’t fight MMA, you fight UFC. The problem is that there were no checks and balances for K-1, just growth. The first real problem that could have derailed the train came with founder Kazuyoshi Ishii’s legal problems; tax evasion, money laundering and so forth. This led up to 2006 where the company almost completely went bankrupt, but was able to divert attention away from the problems and founded FEG, an umbrella company to handle their finances and be the new faces of K-1.

It was in 2010 when things really started to fall apart, as K-1 was being publicly called out for late payments to fighters, shows were simply not happening according to schedule and everything felt last minute, rushed and like there were some major, major problems. There were talks of shows being canceled possibly and FEG might go out of business, then there were talks of a Chinese investment bank, PUJI, assisting FEG in restructuring and solving some debt issues. It is almost June now and K-1 has yet to run their first show of the year, nor have they completed their restructuring.

It’s Showtime began as a show running MMA and Kickboxing fights before taking a sharper focus on just kickboxing. Seeing as though there is a wealth of talent in the Netherlands, with some of the best trainers and legends of the sport residing there, it made a lot of sense for kickboxing to become a focus for the Dutch company. Their growth in popularity eventually led for a partnership with K-1 for K-1’s European shows, with both companies working together rather seamlessly.

It’s Showtime also has a management branch that handles a lot of top fighters, with many of them also fighting for K-1. As I said, both companies had always worked together and had a beneficial relationship. Then things got ugly, when certain It’s Showtime fighters were publicly discussing not being paid by K-1, something that comes as a shock to the Japanese company who generally keeps their dealings very, very quiet. The final straw for It’s Showtime was when K-1 stopped returning their calls in regards to the It’s Showtime Amsterdam ArenA show in May, a show which was to be co-promoted between the two.

This comes after a rather public argument about Sem Schilt taping up a cut on his leg against Hesdy Gerges in 2010, with It’s Showtime and Simon Rutz calling for the decision to be overturned and for Gerges to take Sem’s place in the K-1 World Grand Prix. Gerges was given a gift of a bout by K-1 to showcase himself at the Finals, but still wasn’t physically in the tournament.

There is no doubt that It’s Showtime is expanding at a rapid-rate, as they’ll put on over eleven shows before all is said in done in 2011, with four shows to date in the books as K-1 is finally gearing up to put on one smaller show. It came as no surprise that It’s Showtime had given up hope on working with K-1, but that they still saw an opening in the Japanese market, which is one of the strongest markets for kickboxing in the world. When It’s Showtime announced a few days ago that working in conjunction with REBELS and a few governing bodies in Japan that they would start It’s Showtime Japan, alarms went off in my head.

As much as I love the idea of It’s Showtime expanding, moving into K-1’s turf while they are down is a move that will clearly create even more friction between the two. Simon Rutz’s public outcry for his fighter’s not getting paid led to Tanikawa a few months ago proclaiming that “Simon Rutz killed K-1,” so It’s Showtime promoting fights in Japan would without a doubt send K-1 over the edge. Right on schedule, K-1 fired back at It’s Showtime calling for a rushed press conference to announce their first show. While this is only a guess, it is an educated one, the press conference was most likely planned for the future but moved up to respond to It’s Showtime’s Japan announcement.

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Regardless of It's Showtime's legal action and other looming beasts, K-1 has announced two reserve bouts for the upcoming June 25th K-1 MAX 63kg Japan Tournament. This brings the card up to a full ten bouts and has built it up nicely. Full story is here.

The first of these fights is Yuto Watanabe vs. Toshiki Taniyama. Kyokushin Kaikan trained Watanabe has some of the fastest and most deadly kicks in his weight class. He has only fought in MAX twice so far, and gone 1-1 Taniyama came up in K-1 Youth, and won both of his MAX fights last year, including a win over one of the Urabe brothers.

The second reserve bout is Shohei Asahara vs. Koji Yoshimoto. After winning the RISE KAMINARIMON 60kg Tournament 2008 Champion Asahara entered K-1 MAX and went 1-1 last year as well. Yoshimoto on the other hand has 37 fights under his belt, as well as a handful of MMA bouts. He is experienced, but hasn’t had a win since defeating Yuto Watanabe by the smallest of margins at RISE 71 late last year.
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Hot on the heels of K-1's reaction to It's Showtime Japan, announcing the K-1 MAX 63kg Japan tournament and Tanikawa mentioning anyone that fights for It's Showtime Japan will no longer be able to fight for K-1, It's Showtime has once again fired back. It's Showtime's head, Simon Rutz, posted today on the It's Showtime homepage that It's Showtime's fighters are still owed around $400,000 from FEG, and while they have been patient, they have decided with K-1 organizing shows to take legal action.

Until now, we have never contacted a lawyer to claim our credits because we granted K-1 the time they need to financially recover. However, we were very surprised to hear that DREAM and K-1 want to organize a number of smaller events. In our opinion that isn’t possible before K-1 first pays its debts to fighters which already have fought. Therefore, now is the time for us to hire a lawyer.

Also, fighters are even receiving phone calls from Mr. Tanikawa with a threat to not fight for IT’S SHOWTIME JAPAN. If fighters would fight for IT’S SHOWTIME JAPAN, they can wave their money goodbye. Mr. Tanikawa is not in the position to act this way, and subservience would fit him a lot better. Mr. Tanikawa doesn’t understand that K-1 has to pay their debts because the fighters have already delivered their service to K-1.

The second paragraph is extremely interesting, as Rutz claims Tanikawa has contacted fighters possibly working with It's Showtime Japan and threatening to not pay them for past due balances. If this is true, this could be big. Part of the problems It's Showtime could now face in regards to Japan could be huge, as most of us know how the fight industry in Japan works (and how the fight industry everywhere works, let's be honest here), It's Showtime could encounter problems putting on shows in Japan if FEG still has enough pull. Full press release after the jump.

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Saturday marks an important milestone in the world of kickboxing for 2011, actually a few big milestones all in one show. Fight Game will take things to the next level in conjunction with Ultimate Glory as they make their U.S. internet PPV debut for $7.95. At 11am Eastern time the show will kick off LIVE on YouTube. At this point no one has done a YouTube PPV yet, so having a combat sports card as big as this one as the first is an honorable feat. We get to see the Finals of the first big Heavyweight tournament of the year (and possibly the only one) between Gokhan Saki and Brice Guidon. Of course, we also get to see Mark "Fightshark" Miller make his return to action against Nikolaj Falin in a much-anticipated bout.

So tune in Saturday at 11am Eastern/8am Pacific at YouTube.com/FightGameTV.

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Light Heavyweight
1. Artem Levin
2. Yodsanklai Fairtex
3. Cosmo Alexandre
4. L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni
5. Nieky Holzken
6. Dmitry Shakuta
7. Vladimir Moravcik
8. Alexander Stretsurenko
9. Sem Braan
10. Khalid Bourdif

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.

May 2011

We've decided to take a different approach to the rankings, in the past Fraser Coffeen handled them, but as many are aware, Fraser has since had to step down from his responsibilities at LiverKick.com and has since moved on to other ventures. Our Top 10 list a while back moved on to being a top 25 to reflect a uniformity with our then home of SBNation. We've decided to move back to only including the Top 10 and to opt for the inclusion of Light Heavyweight (77kg - 84kg) to reflect the depth of talent in that weight class.

As this serves as our first foray into the Light Heavyweight division, feel free to speak out if you feel anything is out of place, but we did spend a considerable amount of time tweaking these rankings to make sure they were the best possible representation for this weight class. #1 Artem Levin was a no-brainer. In 2010 he won the IFMA European Muay Thai 75kg tournament, won the SportAccord Muay Thai 75kg tournament, became the WBC World Muay Thai Light Heavyweight Champion and won the It's Showtime 77kg MAX Championship. Then in 2011 he moved up to 81kg in the IFMA European Muay Thai tournament and won that as well. He has pretty much beaten a who's-who in the division and is easily reigning at the top.

The clear cut #2 is Yodsanklai, a Muay Thai fighter who also fights world class kickboxers in his down time. While Yods does hop between weight classes sometimes, he mainly fights at 77kg, with only a few kickboxing losses to Viyisile Colossa, John Wayne Parr and Artem Levin. Wins over Viyisile, the UK's Jordan Watson (I know, Fletch, I know) were still within the 70-73kg class, but a win over #3 Cosmo Alexandre propels him into the top of the division.

Cosmo is an interesting case, as he is among one of the top fighters in the world, and was at one time It's Showtime 77kg MAX Champion, until he decided to participate in Thai Fight without alerting It's Showtime as well as rejecting a lower offer for a fight and severed ties with It's Showtime. After a few tough losses he got back on track at Lion Fights in the United States a few weeks ago. #4 L'houcine "Aussie" Ouzgni is a fighter that can be frustrating at times. Aussie is clearly a 77kg fighter; he is tall, lean and powerful, but he still insists at times to drop down to 70kg where he looks a bit rough around the edges. A few losses can't derail forward movement for him, though, as he continues to forge ahead.

#5 Nieky Holzken is in action this weekend, fighting someone from his past home of 70kg in Artur Kyshenko at a catchweight of 74kg (technically within the -77kg division) at the Glory World Series. Since committing to 77kg Holzken has been on a roll, with only one loss to Aussie last year. If you don't know #6 Dmitry Shakuta you will soon enough. Shok is the former It's Showtime 77kg MAX Champion before losing the title to Cosmo, he also holds a rare win over Artem Levin and could at any time make a run at the top again. #7 Vladimir Moravcik has kept himself incredibly busy over the last few years against top competition and is still only walking around with 3 losses, he fights at 73 - 74kg usually, making him too big for 70kg and too small for 77kg, but a perfect fit for It's Showtime's 73kg MAX title.

#8 Alexander Stretsurenko is a fighter whose name you'll see on a lot of the top fighter's records as a (W), but still holds very impressive victories as well as holds his own with the very top fighters in the division. #9 Sem Braan falls into the same category as a fighter who is working his way up and ready to breakout. #10 Khalid Bourdif is a fighter that we honestly do not know a ton about, but every time we've seen him he was incredible impressive and holds some very good victories over big names, he could easily move up a few spots within this year if he remains active.

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