2022 once again delivered a plethora of amazing fights and knockouts. The kickboxing scene has been diverse as ever, with great fights happening all over the globe. But which fighters earned the top spots? Which fights were the most brutal, the most flashy, and the most memorable? Beyond Kickboxing has compiled this year's top fights throughout all the promotions.
TOP 10 FIGHTS OF 2022
10. TENSHIN NASUKAWA VS TAKERU
The most significant fight of the year, and possibly of this decade. Tenshin Nasukawa met Takeru in front of a sold-out Tokyo Dome. Sixty thousand roaring fans saw a masterclass in outfighting. The southpaw prodigy showcased efficient footwork, an excellent southpaw jab, and accurate timing of left kicks and knees that prevented Takeru from being able to close the distance or establish his rhythm. The former K-1 champion came alive in the later rounds, but it was never quite enough to hurt Nasukawa. A fight that many hoped to be more competitive, but it still delivered a satisfying conclusion to one of the biggest rivalries in the sport.
9. KAITO ONO VS. MASAAKI NOIRI
A close fight between two of Japan's top fighters, Kaito Ono and Masaaki Noiri. The two butted heads in the middle of the ring, and exchanged combos in a game of inches that saw Kaito take home the decision win.
8. REGIAN EERSEL VS ARIAN SADIKOVIC
Regian Eersel looked to extend his ONE Lightweight title-reign against Germany's Arian Sadikovic. While not many expected Sadikovic to pose a serious threat to Eersel, the 28-year-old silenced his doubters when he knocked down the champion with a brutal jumping knee in the second round. As so often, Eersel quickly recovered and rallied back in the championship rounds, to win a unanimous decision. A great showing for both fighters.
7. SERGEJ MASLOBOJEV VS. TARIK KHBABEZ
Sergej Maslobojev earned the vacant Light Heavyweight Title by defeating Tarik Khbabez via split decision over five rounds of nonstop action. Nonetheless, a gutsy performance by Khbabez, who looked impressive in his move down a division.
6. MASAHIKO SUZUKI VS. SEIKI UEYAMA
Masahiko Suzuki is fan-friendly to a fault. While his all-out, always-forward style is too much to handle for most fighters, Seiki Ueyama capitalized on it, and scored an early knockdown. Suzuki tried his best to rally back, earning himself the extra-round and the unanimous decision shortly after.
5. ROMAN KRYKLIA VS. IRAJ AZIZPOUR
ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Champion Roman Kryklia overcame a knockdown in the first round to stop longtime rival Iraj Azizpour and win the ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship. Azizpour dropped Kryklia with a right hand in the opening frame, but the Ukrainian tower of power dug deep and survived. In the second round, Kryklia stung the Iranian with a knee down the middle that had his rival dazed. One knockdown and a couple of thunderous shots later saw Kryklia getting his hand raised.
4. TAIJU SHIRATORI VS. YA-MAN
Things started to heat up in the second round, as the taller Taiju Shiratori landed a knee on YA-MAN's chin, dropping the 26-year-old for an eight-count. Jumping on his hurt prey, Shiratori kept tagging YA-MAN with clean and varied shots, almost finishing him. Bruised and cut open, a roaring YA-MAN rallied back in typical fashion, chasing Shiratori across the ring and visibly hurting him with hooks to the body and looping punches to the head. Although a losing effort, in the end, the gutsy performance of the 'King of Street Fight' ended up being the talking point of the event once again.
3. AKIHIRO KANEKO VS. MASASHI KUMURA
After the departure of Takeru, K-1's new two big stars, Akihiro Kaneko and Masashi Kumura met in the final of the K-1 Super Bantamweight World Grand Prix. Both made their way into the final by knocking out both of their opponents earlier that night. Both refused to back down, as they clashed in the ring, resulting in a bloody back-and-forth war over three rounds, which saw Kaneko as the winner and new champion. Many fans thought that the fight should have gone to an extra-round, with Kaneko scoring a knockdown in round two but Kumura edging out round one and three. It's likely we will get a rematch this year, if both fighters overcome their next challengers in March.
2. ZHANG PEIMIAN VS. JONATHAN DI BELLA
While Zhang Peimian quickly got himself a reputation as the next undefeated prodigy, Jonathan Di Bella came into this fight as much more of an unknown factor. Having spent the last months competing under boxing rules, fans weren't sure if the Canadian-Italian is up for the task. Those doubts were quickly destroyed, as Di Bella came out firing, making this a closely-contested affair. In the last round, he sealed the deal with a clutch high kick knockdown, to take home the inaugural ONE Strawweight Kickboxing Championship.
1. CAPITAN PETCHYINDEE VS. HIROKI AKIMOTO
For his second ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing title defense, Capitan took on surging Japanese star Hiroki Akimoto. A classic match-up as old as the sport itself - Muay Thai against Kyokushin Karate. Capitan pushed the pace early, but Akimoto kept firing back at every opportunity. While the fight occasionally got ugly with Capitan looking to take off some of the pressure in the clinch, both fighters showed great heart, pressure and volume while landing heavy punches, kicks and knees over the whole five rounds. A battle worthy of this year's Fight of the Year award.