Artem Vakhitov (James Law/GLORY)

Combat Press Kickboxing Rankings: March 2017

As kickboxing looks to establish itself from both boxing and MMA with promotions like GLORY, K-1, Lion Fight and Kunlun Fighting Championship, fighters are constantly jockeying for position in the eyes (and rankings) of the media.

Every month, Combat Press will rank each weight class from heavyweight to featherweight, as well as the pound-for-pound rankings for both men and women.

The numbers in parentheses represent the fighter’s ranking from last month.


  1. Rico Verhoeven (1)
  2. Benjamin Adegbuyi (2)
  3. Mladen Brestovac (3)
  4. Ismael Londt (4)
  5. Jahfarr Wilnis (5)
  6. Zabit Samedov (6)
  7. Andrey Gerasimchuk (7)
  8. Roman Kryklia (8)
  9. Jamal Ben Saddik (9)
  10. Errol Zimmerman (10)/Guto Inocente (10)

It was a relatively quiet month for the heavyweight top 10 in February, with only second-ranked Benjamin Adegbuyi in the ring. The Romanian needed an extension round at GLORY 38 to get past his fellow former title challenger Anderson “Braddock” Silva, but the victory kept him locked in at No. 2 in the rankings.

Light Heavyweight
  1. Artem Vakhitov (1)
  2. Saulo Cavalari (2)
  3. Zack Mwekassa (3)
  4. Mourad Bouzidi (4)
  5. Pavel Zhuravlev (5)
  6. Fabio Kwasi (6)
  7. Igor Bugaenko (9)
  8. Michael Duut (7)
  9. Ariel Machado (-)
  10. Danyo Ilunga (8)

Dropped from the rankings: Zinedine Hameur-Lain (10)

While GLORY 38 did a great job of sorting out the top of the light heavyweight division, it only made the bottom half of the top 10 more murky. GLORY champion Artem Vakhitov further cemented his place atop the division by stopping former titleholder Saulo Cavalari in the second round to retain his title. Despite the loss, Cavalari held onto the No. 3 spot in the rankings. The same event also featured a four-man contender tournament, and that’s when things got interesting. Former interim champion Zack Mwekassa was forced to withdraw with medical issues, opening the door for Brazil’s Ariel Machado to score a pair of big wins. First, Machado upset veteran Danyo Ilunga on the scorecards and then he stopped Frenchman Zinedine Hameur-Lain in the final to earn a title shot. The pair of victories earned Machado the No. 9 spot in the rankings, while Ilunga dropped to No. 10. Hameur-Lain, who defeated Budimir Bajbic at Emperor Chok Dee earlier in the month and knocked out Brian Collette in the contender tournament semifinals, fell out of the top 10 altogether with the inclusion of Machado.

  1. Jason Wilnis (1)
  2. Simon Marcus (2)
  3. Artem Levin (3)
  4. Israel Adesanya (4)
  5. Alex Pereira (5)
  6. Joe Schilling (6)
  7. Fang Bian (7)
  8. Dustin Jacoby (8)
  9. Alexander Stetsurenko (-)
  10. Hicham El Gaoui (9)

Dropped from the rankings: Sahak Parparyan (10)

After a busy January in the middleweight ranks, February was much quieter. Veteran Sahak Parparyan has fallen from the rankings from a combination of inactivity and the inclusion of Alexander Stetsurenko, who bested Valdimir Idranyi by unanimous decision at W5 Grand Prix Kitek XXXIX in Russia. Stetsurenko has hit his stride since moving up to north of 80 kilograms, where he has won eight in a row to climb into ninth in our rankings.

  1. Cédric Doumbé (1)
  2. Nieky Holzken (2)
  3. Artur Kyshenko (3)
  4. Murthel Groenhart (4)
  5. Yoann Kongolo (5)
  6. Zoltán Laszák (6)
  7. Karim Ghajji (7)
  8. Alim Nabiev (8)
  9. Raymond Daniels (9)
  10. Yohan Lidon (10)

Welterweight was also less active in the month of February. Only former GLORY title challenger Murthel Groenhart was in the ring. The Dutch-Surinamese fighter stopped Thailand’s Thongchai Sitsongpeenong in the third round at GLORY 38 in Chicago to maintain his fourth spot in the rankings.

  1. Sittichai Sitsongpeenong (1)
  2. Superbon Banchamek (2)
  3. Giorgio Petrosyan (3)
  4. Yodsanklai Fairtex (4)
  5. Marat Grigorian (5)
  6. Buakaw Banchamek (6)
  7. Dylan Salvador (7)
  8. Anatoly Moiseev (8)
  9. Jomthong Chuwattana (9)
  10. Mohamed Mezouari (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Davit Kiria (10)

As is the norm, the lightweight division was one of the month’s busiest. Third-ranked Giorgio Petrosyan continued his winning ways by topping Artem Pashporin via unanimous decision at W5 Grand Prix Kitek XXXIX in Moscow. Thailand’s Yodsanklai Fairtex returned from a lengthy injury layoff to stop Sayfullah Hambakhadov in the second round at Kunlun Fight 57. Finally, there’s a new face in the top 10. Dutch-Moroccan Mohamed Mezouari picked up a pair of wins at Kunlun Fight 57 over Danilo Zanolini and Arman Hambaryan to qualify for the 2017 final 16. Mezouari’s inclusion bumped former GLORY champion Davit Kiria outside the top 10.

  1. Kaew Weerasakreck (Fairtex) (1)
  2. Masaaki Noiri (3)
  3. Qiu Jianliang (2)
  4. Robin van Roosmalen (4)
  5. Ilias Bulaid (5)
  6. Gabriel Varga (6)
  7. Hideaki Yamazaki (7)
  8. Yasuomi Soda (8)
  9. Minoru Kimura (9)
  10. Wei Ninghui (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Serhiy Adamchuk (10)

If the lightweight division is the sport’s busiest, featherweight may be the most competitive. The division’s top five continued to jockey for position in February. Japan’s Masaaki Noiri has reclaimed the No. 2 spot in the rankings after defeating Younes Smaili by unanimous decision at K-1 World GP 2017 Lightweight Championship Tournament in Tokyo. Fifth-ranked Ilias Bulaid scored a big knockdown in his title defense against Zakaria Zouggary to retain the title at Enfusion Live 46: Eindhoven. China’s Wei Ninghui edged out former GLORY titleholder Serhiy Adamchuk for the 10th spot in the rankings.

  1. Sittichai Sitsongpeenong (1)
  2. Robin van Roosmalen (2)
  3. Kaew Weerasakreck (Fairtex) (3)
  4. Superbon Banchamek (4)
  5. Giorgio Petrosyan (5)
  6. Cédric Doumbé (6)
  7. Nieky Holzken (7)
  8. Artem Vakhitov (-)
  9. Rico Verhoeven (8)
  10. Takeru (10)/Artur Kyshenko (9)

The pound-for-pound rankings also gained a new fighter in February. Artem Vakhitov’s dominant win at GLORY 38 earned the Russian the No. 8 spot in the poll. As a result, GLORY heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven dropped to ninth, while Japan’s Takeru and veteran Artur Kyshenko have fallen into a tie for 10th.

Women’s Pound-For-Pound
  1. Jorina Baars (1)
  2. Jemyma Betrian (2)
  3. Anissa Meksen (3)
  4. Wang Kehan (4)
  5. Denise Kielholtz (5)
  6. Tiffany Van Soest (6)
  7. Iman Barlow (7)
  8. E. Meidie (8)
  9. Antonina Shevchenko (9)
  10. Rena Kubota (10)

Two of the women’s top 10 were in action over the past month. Third-ranked Anissa Meksen topped Maria Lobo at Emperor Chok Dee in France and seventh-ranked Iman Barlow cruised past Meryem Uslu at Lion Fight 34 to retain her super bantamweight title.

Editor’s Note: Fighters are eligible to be ranked if they have competed in the last 18 months. Any fighter that chooses to switch weight classes will be ranked in their previous weight class until they have competed twice in their new division.