For the last time before the defending U.S. Open ISKA world champions attempt to maintain their thrones atop the sport karate world, the Black Belt Magazine rankings committee has published a new rankings update based on the results of the Hungarian Kickboxing World Cup and the Battle of Atlanta. While there have not been any new divisions added, the results of these large events have caused in some movement in the rankings.
The adult forms and weapons divisions feature mostly proven champions holding on to their top rankings. Alex Mancillas remains atop men’s weapons and will be the favorite to claim Jackson Rudolph’s vacated men’s weapons championship next weekend, but will have to get through a gauntlet of dangerous contenders as Dawson Holt (Battle of Atlanta champion), Jake Presley, and Rashad Eugene all reside in the top four. Speaking of Presley and Holt, they hold the top two spots in traditional weapons with Presley in the lead while riding an undefeated season in that division.
Photo Courtesy: Juan C Rodriguez
Dawson Holt’s consistency in the CMX forms division combined with an overall grand championship win at the Ocean State Grand Nationals has put him in the number one contender position, as he looks to turn his junior title from last year into an adult championship. Mason Stowell won the Ultimate Grand Championship title at the Battle of Atlanta and remains the defending champion and number one contender in men's traditional forms.
On the women’s side, the utter dominance of Haley Glass has her firmly established as the number one ranked competitor in CMX forms and weapons, the odds favoring a double title defense in the future. The only women’s forms and weapons division that Glass does not hold the top spot in is the traditional forms category, where Gabrielle Dunn has cemented herself as the standard of excellence in that division.
As for adult fighting, that thrilling division has only gotten more interesting as The Open looms. Bailey Murphy proved why he is the defending lightweight king at the Battle of Atlanta, winning that championship in a tough match against 3rd-ranked contender Tyson Wray. Coming in at number two in that ranking is Jack “The Iceman” Felton who has two lightweight grand championships under his belt this season.
In the heavyweights, Kameren Dawson became the first fighter in that division to win two overall grand championships on the NASKA world tour this season (both of which came at well-attended events in the Battle of Atlanta and AKA Warrior Cup). This achievement is enough to lift him to the top spot in the rankings. Defending Diamond Ring winner Avery Plowden and Ocean State Grand Nationals winner Elijah Everill remain tied in the second position now after their back-and-forth battles in Rhode Island. Warrior Cup champion Darren “Dee Stacks” Payne is still in the mix at the number three spot. The top of this division is extremely competitive and the results of the U.S. Open are likely to significantly impact these rankings.
The open weight division is even more hectic as Jack Felton holds the top rank, Avery Plowden and his OSGN SuperFights title remains at two, Tyson Wray won the Battle of Atlanta open weight to move up to three, defending champ Bailey Murphy slides to the fourth contender’s position after a surprisingly early loss in the ATL, and a grand championship win in Hungary has Anatoli Kuschnir tied with the red-hot Devon Hopper in the fifth spot.
Photo Courtesy: Chris Split Photography
There are no surprises in the women’s division as Morgan Plowden and Ki’Tana Everett stand above the pack in the first and second positions, respectively. Francesca Ceci recorded a huge win in Hungary that catapulted her to the third spot in her introduction to the BBM rankings. As for men’s team fighting, the All Stars remain in the top spot with Battle of Atlanta champions Top Ten Team USA hot on their tails as the number two-ranked team in the world. The plot thickens when we recall that Top Ten Team USA is the defending champion from last year, setting us up for what could be a gargantuan matchup at the Night of Champions. The rest of the top five teams featuring Team Dojo Elite, Team Straight Up, and Team Next Level all have the firepower to go on a run to glory next weekend too.
To briefly cover some junior competitors, his back-to-back overall grand championships have promoted Esteban Tremblay to the number one rank in CMX weapons as he will challenge defending champion Mason Bumba. With other top contenders in that division like Ben Jones and Phillip Brumme, that division could be one of the most exciting of the entire event. Isabella Nicoli’s domination in Rhode Island and Georgia have earned her the unprecedented position as the number one-ranked competitor in all four youth girls’ forms and weapons divisions. Her teammate, Averi Presley, will head to Orlando with the lead in both junior girls' CMX divisions as she plans to add to her four career ISKA titles. Other top-ranked junior athletes who look to add a U.S. Open title to their résumé next weekend include Shane Billow, Alessandra Alinea, Matthew Gruitia, Katelyn McMillan, Michael Molina, Sterling Keefe, Judah Sagawa, and Adomas Rackauskas.To see how all of the rankings shake out going into one of the largest events of the year, click here. There is much more in the full rankings than what was highlighted in this article, including the senior divisions, team forms and weapons events, and our list of featured junior fighters.
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