In this edition of 'Rankings Review' we take the opportunity to introduce the fighters we have ranked and explain why they've earned their ranking, continuing with the Light Heavyweight division for the Beyond Kickboxing Rankings of November 2022. The board that puts out those rankings is made up of eight members, each of whom submits their monthly pound-for-pound lists and participates in discussions of divisional rankings throughout each month.
Although each rankings list will have a certain amount of subjectivity in it, the three primary criteria used are, from most to least important – results, accomplishments, and in-fight performance.
10. ARIEL MACHADO
Record: 49-10 (35 KOs)
Accomplishments: 2017 GLORY Light Heavyweight Contender Tournament Winner; one-time GLORY Light Heavyweight title challenger.
Past: The Curitiba native entered the rankings on the strength of his past performances, which includes decision victories over Pavel Zhuravlev and Danyo Ilunga and a first-round stoppage of Zinedine Hameur-Lain. As Machado has only fought twice in the past three years however, a unanimous decision loss to Nikita Kozlov (#7) in July of this year and a win over Lucas Monteiro, he is poised to fall out of the rankings, should one of the fringe top-ten contenders get a statement victory in the coming months.
Future: Machado has no fights currently booked.
9. LUKAS ACHTERBERG
Record: 14-1 (7 KOs)
Accomplishments: None notable.
Past: Achterberg appears to be one of the most promising Light Heavyweight prospects in the sport of kickboxing. In May of this year, the two-meter-tall German won an eight-man one-day tournament, with performances that passed the eye test. Four months later, he stopped Anthony Leroy with a first-round flying knee, which is the best win on his record at the moment and significantly contributed to his placement in the rankings.
Future: Achterberg was expected to face Abdelilah Azzouzi at Enfusion 113 on October 22, but the bout was later scrapped for undisclosed reasons. Enfusion seems to be a logical next step in his career, should the fight be re-booked, as he has more than outgrown the regional scene.
8. IBRAHIM EL BOUNI
Record: 40-9-1 (21 KOs)
Accomplishments: 2017 K-1 WGP Heavyweight Grand Prix Runner-up.
Past: Following a stint at Heavyweight during his time at K-1 and ONE Championship, El Bouni moved down to Light Heavyweight after signing with GLORY. In the three fights since then, 'Mister Cool' has been able to beat Clyde Brunswijk and Badr Ferdaous by unanimous decision, while he achieved his first stoppage victory with the promotion against Muhammed Balli.
Future: El Bouni has no fights currently scheduled.
7. NIKITA KOZLOV
Record: 14-1 (2 KOs)
Accomplishments: None notable.
Past: Kozlov has only tasted defeat once in his professional career in what was his second pro fight, all the way back in July 2019. He has since won 13 straight fights, the most impressive of which have been a unanimous decision win over Ariel Machado (#10) and a second-round stoppage of veteran contender Zinedine Hameur-Lain. While he was considered a bright prospect up to that point, these victories have made him a bonafide contender in the division and earned him the #7 ranking.
Future: Kozlov has no fights currently scheduled.
6. STÉPHANE SUSPERREGUI
Record: 50-7-1, 1 NC (27 KOs)
Accomplishments: None notable.
Past: The 59-fight veteran has spent almost all 14 years of his professional career competing at various regional shows in Europe, with only a few fights taking place under the GLORY promotional banner. Susperregui's past wins over the likes of Zinedine Hameur-Lain and Lorenzo Javier Jorge, as well as his recent decision victory against Felipe Micheletti (#5), was enough for him to be recognized as the sixth-best light heavyweight in the world.
Future: The 38-year-old announced his intention to retire after his next fight. His retirement fight was initially supposed to take place against Oleg Primachev, but was cancelled following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and is unlikely to be re-booked.
5. FELIPE MICHELETTI
Record: 16-10 (6 KOs)
Accomplishments: 2013 SUPERKOMBAT New Heroes Heavyweight Tournament Winner; WGP Kickboxing Light Heavyweight champion.
Past: Micheletti had a stellar start to his GLORY career, as he was able to overcome both Zinedine Hameur-Lain and Luis Tavares (#3). Although he's lost his last three bouts, the losses have been against other top-ten contenders, while the split decision win against Tavares was enough to keep him at #5.
Future: Micheletti has no fights scheduled.
4. DONEGI ABENA
Record: 16-8 (3 KOs)
Accomplishments: Two-time GLORY Light Heavyweight title challenger.
Past: Between 2019 and 2021, Abena suffered four consecutive losses, which have come against Sergej Maslobojev (#2), Luis Tavares (#2), Artem Vakhitov (#1) and former champion Alex Pereira. In his most recent outing however, he was able to soundly beat Felipe Micheletti (#5) by unanimous decision and has in the past beaten both Stephane Susperregui (#6) and Luis Tavares. Combined with other victories against fighters such as Michael Duut and Andrei Stoica, the Surinamese kickboxer has merited the #4 ranking.
Future: Abena has no fights currently scheduled. He departed from Mike's Gym for the SB Gym prior to his most recent fight, and the change seems to have done him good.
3. LUIS TAVARES
Record: 65-8 (23 KOs)
Accomplishments: Former Enfusion Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight champion.
Past: The most notable victories for the former Enfusion champion have come in the past three years, as he has beaten Stéphane Susperregui (#6), Felipe Micheletti (#5) and Donegi Abena (#4) by unanimous decision. Aside from a loss to Micheletti in 2019, Tavares has been successful in all of his other GLORY appearances.
Future: Tavares was expected to face Sergej Maslobojev (#2) for the vacant GLORY title on August 20, but was forced to withdraw after testing positive for an unspecified banned substance following his win against Florent Kaouachi in May of this year. He is currently sitting out his 10-month suspension.
2. SERGEJ MASLOBOJEV
Record: 36-5 (21 KOs)
Accomplishments: Reigning GLORY and King of Kings Light Heavyweight champion.
Past: Maslobojev is currently riding a 12-fight winning streak, which includes victories over Donegi Abena (#4), Antonio Plazibat (#2 HW) and Tarik Khbabez (#6 HW) in his most recent fight, which had the GLORY Light Heavyweight championship on the line. His lengthy streak and wins over Abena and Khbabez have earned him the accolade of the world's second-best Light Heavyweight.
Future: Maslobojev is currently recovering from an injury and has no fights scheduled.
1. ARTEM VAKHITOV
Record: 22-6 (8 KOs)
Accomplishments: Former two-time GLORY Light Heavyweight champion
Past: Vakhitov, without a doubt, holds the best record out of any Light Heavyweight currently active. Aside from past top ten contenders such as Danyo Ilunga, Saulo Calvari, Lorenzo Javier Jorge and Zack Mwekassa, Vakhitov also holds wins over a number of current members of the divisional elite, i.e. Luis Tavares (#3), Donegi Abena (#4) and Ariel Machado (#10). In his most recent bout, Vahkitov beat Alex Pereira, who was at the time ranked in the third best pound-for-pound kickboxer in the world in the Beyond Kickboxing Rankings. Aside from the top place in our divisional rankings, his success has also earned him the #4 spot in our pound-for-pound list as well.
Future: Vakhitov has signed with Muay Thai Factory and is scheduled to have his promotional debut in December.