|11.||Jerome Le Banner
Welcome back to the 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. 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.
Another month, another period of essential inaction in the heavyweight ranks, although this time there were at least a few fights that impacted the rankings.
The biggest of course was the huge It's Showtime clash between Hesdy Gerges and Daniel Ghita. This battle between the sport's next generation heavyweights lived up to the hype. Gerges pulled out a close (and, according to some, controversial) decision - he moves up to #7, while Ghita falls back to #9.
The other notable fight was in Australia, where Paul Slowinski defeated Thor Hoopman handily in one round. With that win, Slowinski brings his record in the last year up to an impressive 8-2, and earns himself a spot back in the rankings at #22. Glad to see The Sting back in here after many wrote him off a few years ago.
Luckily, things are definitely gaining momentum, as we have some solid fights announced in the upcoming weeks and months. This weekend is the Ultimate Glory semi-finals, featuring #5 Gokhan Saki vs. Wendell Roche and #15 Brice Guidon vs. #19 Mourad Bouzidi. Also this weekend is a Local Kombat show with a number of fighters just outside the top 25: Freddy Kemayo vs. Sebastian Ciobanu, Dzevad Poturak vs. Ionut Ifitmoaie, Catalin Morosanu vs. Ayadin Yuksel, and hot upcoming prospect Andrei Stoica vs. Alex Rossi. I'd expect at least the winner of Kemayo vs. Ciobanu to make it in to next month's rankings.
But the big news is the return of #4 Badr Hari. It's been nearly a year since we've seen the Golden Boy in action - he'll make his long-awaited return on May 14 for It's Showtime in Lyon. His opponent will be French fighter Tony Gregory. Also on that card: #10 Tyrone Spong vs. Igor Mihaljevic, and #9 Daniel Ghita vs. #22 Paul Slowinski. For some reason, rumors keep popping up about #11 Jerome Le Banner fighting on this card as well, but I would not count on it as the main card seems completed.
After that, It's Showtime continues their lock on the HW division with #7 Hesdy Gerges vs. Alexey Ignashov on July 23.
Finally, 2010 K-1 Oceania champion Ben Edwards has two upcoming fights - April 2 vs. Carter Williams, and July 30 vs. an opponent TBA. Good chance for Edwards to get back into the rankings with a pair of wins.
As for #1 Alistair Overeem? No clue. His next fight should be an MMA fight against Fabricio Werdum in the opening round of the Strikeforce Grand Prix. But with the recent UFC buyout of Strikeforce, who knows what this means. Will Overeem continue on as Strikeforce champion? Will he move into the UFC? Will Zuffa allow him to still take kickboxing bouts on the side (don't bet on it). It's all up in the air. For now, get your Reem fix with the first episode of The Reem, Part 2.