|Heavyweight (Per 10/13)|
|1.||Semmy Schilt (?)|
|7.||Mirko Cro Cop|
|Light HW (per 10/13)|
|Middleweight (per 11/25)|
|Welterweight (per 10/13)|
|70kg (Per 11/25)|
|2.||Robin van Roosmalen|
|65kg (per 10/6)|
|2.||Buakaw Por. Pramuk|
|19.||Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee|
|20.||John Wayne Parr|
|21.||Chahid Oulad El Hadj|
|25.||Chi Bin Lim|
Welcome to part two of our inaugural LiverKick.com 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 in 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.Add a comment
Dynamite 2010 is fast-approaching, and while the entire card hasn't been finalized yet, for the most part, it has. It is safe to say that the card is epic, featuring 15 fights. This goes against FEG's wishes to tone down Dynamite!! this year into a 10-bout affair, but things did not work out that way. There were issues with TBS possibly not airing the card, financial woes and internal struggles at FEG. Since the PUJI deal finally came to fruition, Dynamite!! has once again become a mastodon of an event.
We are going to split our pre-show coverage up into two parts: this first part is what is of key interest to the Japanese crowds and why they are, the second is what is of key interest to Western audiences.
If you are Japanese, the highlights of the evening will most likely be some of the more odd fights. Katsuaki Furuki vs. Andy Ologun might sound like a terrible freakshow, and to a degree it is, but Ologun is a legitimate fighter. His MMA and K-1 record are not entirely impressive, but he is skilled enough to put a hurting on Furuki. Furuki was a popular baseball star, playing most of his career for the Yokohama Bay Stars. 2003 and 2006 saw him look extremely impressive, but from there he fell off a bit. He finished out his career with the Orix Buffaloes and retired after the 2009 season before taking up martial arts. He looked to make his debut at DEEP 50, but instead held off for Dynamite!!
The other freakshow for ratings is an "IGF" rules bout. IGF is Inoki Genome Federation -- professional wrestling -- and both men have a history of professional wrestling, with Sapp being a one-time New Japan Pro Wrestling competitor, holding the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, a belt originated by Inoki. His opponent is shamed sumo Wakakirin Shinichi. Wakakirin was kicked out of sumo for possession of marijuana, basically, which in Japan is very, very shameful (see: Kid Yamamoto). Wakakirin has wrestled for Inoki before and basically works as stiff (read: real) as possible. The IGF rules are essentially old Pancrase rules of no closed-fist strikes to the face, and as of right now it isn't clear how real or worked this will be. I don't think it matters, honestly, as it is a throwaway bout for Japanese audiences.
Minowaman will most likely take his place opening up the televised portion of the show like he is known to do, and do so in a bout against Judoka Hiroshi Izumi. Minowa was the only MMA fighter in Japan to make the Nikkan Sports list last year, with Masato at the top and assorted K-1 fighters and boxers rounding out the list. To say that Ikuhisa Minowa is a national treasure is maybe taking it a bit too far, but he is immensely popular. He will never be the favorite fighter in Japan, but he will always have a following and name for his accomplishments. He faces a tough challenge in Izumi. Izumi will at least not be dwarfing Minowa in weight.
Last but not least is Satoshi Ishii vs. Jerome Le Banner. JLB finds himself in the unenviable spot of facing Japan's only prospect to be a breakout star in a post-KID Yamamoto and post-Masato world. Jerome Le Banner of course has trouble defending against takedowns and throws, which are Ishii's specialty. Le Banner has what many will call a puncher's chance, but the truth is, Ishii has shown a tendency to "stand and bang" in his fights, which against JLB is a death warrant. In his last fight with Katsuyori Shibata, Ishii wisely took him down and submitted him, something he did not have luck against Ikuhisa Minowa with (although he did dominate Minowa). This is a big deal for Ishii, as he has gotten in some practice, he has tasted defeat, is he ready to carry Japan's fight scene on his shoulders, and is Japan ready to make him the next big star? Or is he just not enough of a pretty boy and not witty enough?Add a comment
The last K-1 fight on the list, and we may have saved the best for last...
Peter Aerts v. Semmy Schilt (K-1 World Grand Prix Finals, December 11)
There's been a lot of ink spent on this fight already, but it's the kind of fight that deserves all that attention and more. This was, in my opinion, the single greatest combat sports story of 2010, and the kind of story that makes you a sports fan. On one side - the 40 year old Peter Aerts. Aerts is the most beloved veteran of the sport, but after an unprecedented 17 year run at the top, he finally faltered last year, missing his first ever Grand Prix. Earlier in 2010, Aerts had talked about the end coming soon, and after his KO loss to Kyotaro, it felt like the writing was on the wall - this could be the end of the road for the great one. On the other side - the near 7 foot tall Semmy Schilt, the defending and 4 time K-1 Grand Prix champion. Schilt is as dominant a fighter as K-1 has ever seen, never once being knocked out of the Grand Prix, or any other tournament for that matter. All signs pointed to Schilt taking down the aged Aerts.
Now that is a moment.
Before moving on, let's take a look at exactly how Aerts pulled this off. So many men had failed to take Schilt down - how did Aerts succeed? One key to his victory is Aerts's ability to mix up his attack and constantly keep Schilt guessing. He knows when to wade in with punches, when to lock Schilt up because he is too far inside, and when to retreat from the big man's strikes. He reads Schilt masterfully, allowing him to always keep the pressure up and never let Schilt find his own rhythm. And with that pressure he is able to connect punch after punch accurately on Schilt's chin. They're not powerful KO shots, but they keep stunning Schilt. Most importantly, they prevent Schilt from establishing the methodical rhythm he has used to defeat so many opponents. It's a masterful plan, but one that takes intense concentration, confidence, and stamina to execute. And that's where Aerts seals the deal - he never lets up, ultimately winning the fight in the final minutes. When Schilt finally wilts under the Aerts attack, the 40 year old is still there to put the pressure on, claiming his victory with a definitive closing to the fight. Beautiful, beautiful work that, when combined with the story going in, makes for a truly exceptional fight.
There will be 10 fights total posted, with the final two posted on Wednesday. Fights are featured in chronological order moving through the year. Voting will be open Thursday to determine the winner.Add a comment
As always, FEG has put together some absolutely epic video packages for this year's Dynamite!! It is split into four parts and each part ranges around 9 minutes or so. You can see, very clearly, who FEG and TBS are appealing to in these video packages. Part 1 is Satoshi Ishii vs. Jerome Le Banner. About 10 seconds of JLB footage is shown.
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Our fight of the year march through the Grand Prix continues today with a pair of bouts from the Heavyweight GP. Up first...
Gokhan Saki v. Daniel Ghita (K-1 Grand Prix Finals, December 11)
Heading into the GP finals, this was the fight many were most looking forward to. Post event, it kind of got lost in the hype of a certain other fight that we'll discuss later today, which is a shame as this is a great fight. What you have here are two of K-1's new guard competing in one of the year's finest technical battles. In particular, the kicks thrown by both are simply phenomenal - this whole thing could be an instructional video on how to throw kicks effectively in kickboxing. Ghita and Saki mix it up, attacking the legs, the body, the head, and they do it all with accuracy, set-ups, and beautiful timing. There's so much skill on display here that you can watch this fight again and again and pick up more.
Rewatching it now, I am reminded of Ernesto Hoost v. Peter Aerts from the 1993 Grand Prix - two young fighters with the future standing ahead of them ready to take the next big leap forward. I suspect this fight will age well with time, and will go down as a classic early encounter between two men who will be major players for some years to come. Be happy to be here when they first met.
There will be 10 fights total posted. Fights 7 & 8 on Tuesday, and 9 & 10 conclude on Wednesday. Fights are featured in chronological order moving through the year. Voting will be open Wednesday night to determine the winner.Add a comment