Our website introduced the inaugural Beyond Kickboxing Rankings on October 1. 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.
In this first edition of 'Rankings Review' we take the opportunity to introduce the fighters we have ranked and explain why they've earned their ranking, starting with the Heavyweight division. 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. RADE OPAČIĆ
Record: 17-6 (15 KOs)
Accomplishments: None notable
Past: Opačić stepped into the kickboxing mainstream after signing with ONE Championship in 2020. In the two years since then scored five stoppage victories, a record most in the ONE Super Series, while suffering only one loss at the hands of Guto Inocente (#8). Although these five triumphs were enough to claim the final spot on the rankings, Opačić will have to keep winning, as a number of talented Heavyweights could take the ranking from him should he stumble.
Future: In a recent podcast appearance, Opačić was promised a rematch with Inocente should he overcome Stoforidis and a title shot if he beats Inocente as well. Should ONE stick to their promises, Opačić will face the Brazilian Heavyweight next.
9. CIHAD KEPENEK
Record: 21-6 (15 KOs)
Accomplishments: None notable
Past: Despite having a mostly unremarkable career in the past decade, Kepenek scored an upset first-round knockout victory over Nordine Mahieddine in August of this year, which had earned him a spot in the rankings in place of the aforementioned Mahieddine. It will be interesting to see whether the Turkish heavyweight will be able to hold on to his ranking in future fights.
Future: Kepenek has no fights currently scheduled.
8. GUTO INOCENTE
Record: 40-11 (19 KOs)
Accomplishments: 2016 and 2019 WGP Kickboxing Super Heavyweight champion
Past: Inocente came back to kickboxing after spending three years competing in mixed martial arts. In his three fights since then, he's beaten Bruno Susano and Rade Opačić (#10), while suffering a stoppage loss to Roman Kryklia (#4). His win over Opačić was enough to earn him the #8 slot.
Future: Inocente has no fights currently scheduled.
7. LEVI RIGTERS
Record: 20-1 (10 KOs)
Accomplishments: Former Enfusion Super Heavyweight champion; 2020 Glory Heavyweight Tournament Winner
Past: During his time in the Dutch circuit, Rigters beat Cihad Kepenek (#9), Serkan Ozcaglayan (#3 MW) and the highly regarded Giannis Stoforidis. He's amassed a 4-1 record since signing with GLORY, but has yet to achieve a major step-up victory, as he suffered his first loss at the hands of Tarik Khbabez in one such step-up fight. Rigters will need a major statement victory if he wants to advance further up the rankings.
Future: Rigters has no fights currently scheduled.
6. TARIK KHBABEZ
Record: 47-10-1 (27 KOs)
Accomplishments: 2015 Superkombat Heavweight World Grand Prix Winner
Past: The most impressive performance of Khbabez's career was a 2015 decision over Roman Kryklia (#4) to win the Superkombat Grand Prix. In 2018 and 2019, Khbabez won four fights with ONE Championship, most notably beating Ibrahim El Bouni (#9 LHW) and Nordine Mahieddine, before suffering a stoppage loss to Kryklia at the end of his time with the Singapore-based promotion. Khbabez signed with GLORY last year, but has since gone on a 1-4 run, with his sole win being over Levi Rigters (#7).
Future: Khbabez has most recently fought to a split decision loss in a GLORY Light Heavyweight title bout. He looks poised to continue competing in the division, in which case he will be de-ranked as per our ranking policy.
5. BENJAMIN ADEGBUYI
Record: 35-8 (20 KOs)
Accomplishments: 2015, 2016 & 2018 GLORY Heavyweight Contender Tournament Winner; two-time GLORY Heavyweight title challenger
Past: A GLORY staple for nearly eight years, Adebuyi has beaten a number of highly regarded contenders in the past, such as D'Angelo Marshall, Jahfarr Wilnis and Mladen Brestovac. He's only won twice in the past five fights, with his most notable victory being over an aged Badr Hari, and he hasn't been able to beat any of the current top ten either. The 37-year-old seems to be on a downward trend, although his past success was enough to place him at #5.
Future: Adegbuyi has no fights currently scheduled.
4. ROMAN KRYKLIA
Record: 47-7, 1 NC (26 KOs)
Accomplishments: 2019 Kunlun Fight Heavyweight Tournament Winner; ONE Championship Light Heavyweight Champion
Past: Kryklia spent the first several years of his career campaigning up to 93 or 95 kg, before moving up to Heavyweight proper for the 2018 Kunlun Fight Heavyweight tournament. Despite coming up short to Iraj Azizpour in the finals, he would overcome Azizpour in the finals of the next year's Kunlun Fight tournament. After this, he signed with ONE Championship and won their inaugural title in his very first fight with the promotion, which he has since defended twice. He holds notable wins over Rade Opačić (#10), Guto Inocente (#8), Tarik Khbabez (#6) and Sergej Maslobojev (#2 LHW).
Future: Kryklia is expected to face Iraj Azizpour in a rubber match in the finals of the ONE Heavyweight Grand Prix at ONE 163 on November 19.
3. JAMAL BEN SADDIK
Record: 37-8, 1 NC (30 KOs)
Accomplishments: 2018 Glory Heavyweight Grand Prix Winner; two-time Glory Heavyweight title challenger
Past: In the first seven years of his professional career, Ben Saddik was able to beat Errol Zimmerman, the current divisional kingpin Rico Verhoeven and the three-time K-1 Grand Prix winner Remy Bonjasky. During his Glory run, Ben Saddik has twice overcome Guto Inocente (#8) and Benjamin Adegbuyi (#5). Despite only fighting twice in the past four years, his past accolades and his most recent victory against Adegbuyi in August of this year have merited him the #3 ranking.
Future: Like Plazibat, Ben Saddik is awaiting his next crack at Rico Verhoeven and will most likely take a fight in the interim as well, as Verhoeven is unlikely to face either of them before the spring of 2023.
2. ANTONIO PLAZIBAT
Record: 21-4 (15 KOs)
Accomplishments: 2017 K-1 WGP Heavyweight Tournament Winner; former K-1 Heavyweight champion
Past: Plazibat moved up to heavyweight in 2016 and has since amassed a 12-3 record, with most of the notable scalps he's taken being in Glory, which also coincides with his move to Mike's Gym. He won his first three fights with the promotion, before his streak was stopped by Nordine Mahieddine. The victories that have earned him the #2 ranking have happened since that loss however. He has twice knocked out Tarik Khbabez (#6) and has stopped Benjamin Adegbuyi (#5) as well.
Future: Plazibat doesn't currently have a fight booked, but is expected to take a fight while waiting to face Rico Verhoeven. He has several times called out Levi Rigters (#7), a fight which would further solidify his place as the second best in the world.
1. RICO VERHOEVEN
Record: 59-10 (19 KOs)
Accomplishments: Ten-time defending GLORY Heavyweight champion; 2013 & 2022 Glory Heavyweight Tournament Winner
Past: Verhoeven holds the best record among Heavyweights today. Aside from a single loss to Andrey Gerasimchuk in 2015, Verhoeven has in the past decade won the GLORY Heavyweight strap and made ten consecutive title defenses, while also notching two non-title victories. He holds wins over several fighters in our current divisional top ten: two over Benjamin Adegbuyi (#5), two over Jamal Ben Saddik (#3), and one each over Tarik Khbabez (#6) and Guto Inocente (#8). He has also beaten a number of past legends such as Peter Aerts, Errol Zimmerman, Daniel Ghiță and Gökhan Saki. All of this has also earned him a top spot in our rankings, as well as a place in the pound-for-pound rankings.
Future: Verhoeven will meet Hesdy Gerges on the 29th of this month and is expected to face fan-favorite Alistair Overeem in early 2023. He will most likely fight either Antonio Plazibat or Jamal Ben Saddik in spring of the next year.