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GLORY Welterweight Champion Joseph Valtellini Vacates Championship

  • Published in Glory

It has been almost a year since we've seen "Bazooka" Joe Valtellini in action. At GLORY 17 Los Angeles Valtellini was victorious over then-champion Marc de Bonte securing the GLORY Welterweight Championship. Since then fans have been anxiously awaiting the rematch between Valtellini and Nieky Holzken, Holzken himself feeling rather impatient over how many times the bout has been pushed back.

Now we know why and it is pretty heartbreaking. According to our friend John Joe O'Regan over at BloodyElbow the GLORY Champ has been suffering from Post-Concussion Syndrome, which includes sensitivity to light or loud noises and has kept him on the shelf for a while now. According to Valtellini there is still no real timetable for him being able to start training again and return to the ring so he made the tough decision of vacating the championship. Valtellini notes that it could be a matter of weeks until he is better or it could be a matter of months, it's simply difficult to tell at this point. 

Here's hoping to a speedy recovery for Valtellini and we will hopefully see him vying for that GLORY Welterweight Championship again in no time.

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GLORY 19 Officially Announced

  • Published in Glory

Along with yet another successful card Glory also announced their next event which will take place on Friday the 19th of December. Glory 19 is rumoured to take place in the USA however no official location is confirmed at the moment.

Headlining the card will be the Heavyweight title bout between the current  champion Rico Verhoeven as he takes on Errol Zimmerman for the third time. Zimmerman won the initial encounter with a brutal KO in less than a minute at It's Showtime in January of 2012 with Verhoeven leveling the score with a points victory in New York at Glory 9 in June of last year. 

Zimmerman earned the right to fight for the belt after winning the Heavyweight Contender tournament back in May at Glory 16. Zimmerman, who's been incredibly inconsistent throughout his career, needed just a single round on both occasions to finish both Anderson Silva and Ben Edwards. Zimmerman aims to finally live up to his potential and put a convincing end to his trilogy with Verhoeven.

Verhoeven is currently riding a 6-fight win streak with all victories coming by decision. Verhoeven has only competed once this year under the Glory promotion, defeating Daniel Ghita for a second time in a highly anticipated rematch at Glory's marquee event this past June. Verhoeven has kept busy in 2014 though, making his professional boxing debut back in April where he KO'd Hungarian fighter Janos Finfera inside two rounds. Verhoeven will be looking for his first stoppage victory since May 2011. 

Also due to feature on the card is the Welterweight contender tourney, with the winner facing Joseph Valtellini in his first title defence. The tournament features two intriguing match-ups between Raymonds Daniels vs. Jonatan Oliveria and Nieky Holzken vs. Artur Kyshenko.

Jonatan Oliveira is currently undefeated in Glory, winning both of his contests by decision. He'll be taking a big step up in competition though as he looks to take on the human highlight reel in Raymond Daniels. Daniels is fresh of his ridiculous spinning heel kick KO of Francois Ambang back in May and will be looking to win this tourney so he can take revenge on Valtellini, whom beat him via KO last December.  

Holzken is probably wondering why he wasn't given an immediate shot against the champion, considering he's widely regarded as the best Welterweight on the planet and already has a convincing win over Valtellini. Holzken will take on a man whom has defeated him previously in Artur Kyshenko. Kyshenko has competed twice for Glory, most recently losing a lacklustre decision to Karapet Karapetyan back in March. Kyshenko has always been regarded as supremely talented however his fluctuations in weight class and general inconsistency have held him back from reaching his full potential. 

In the coming weeks look out for more announcements regarding the location of this card as well as additions to the fight card. 

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Weekend Results: Slowinski, Holzken Win

  • Published in Kickboxing

Paul SlowinskiResults are in from this weekend, and there were three kickboxing events of interest.

Top 10 Middlewweight Nieky Holzken (ranked #6) was in action this weekend, headlining a Golden Glory event in Eindhoven and challenging Thilo Schneider for the WFCA World Title.  The intense Holzken brought the fight to Schneider early, using a wide range of techniques to overwhelm his opponent and score the 2nd round TKO win.  A bit of an ugly moment in the 2nd round here after Holzken dropped Schneider with a punch.  As Schneider was down on one knee in the corner, the referee was slow to step in and Holzken blasted his clearly downed opponent with a brutal punch that rocked the completely exposed Schneider.  Poor reffing there for sure, but also not the most sportsmanlike move from Holzken.  After the fight Faldir Chahbari entered the ring and challenged Holzken.  Those two put on one of the best fights in 2009 with Holzken pulling off a close decision win, and I would have no problem seeing them square off again.

In Australia, the big event was Knees of Fury 32, headlined by Paul Slowinski vs. Thor Hoopman.  Slowinski (pictured) was able to get his revenge on Hoopman for a 2009 loss, as the long-time K-1 veteran scored a 1st round KO victory over his younger opponent.  The difference in the fight seemed to be Slowinski's power, which proved too much for the smaller Hoopman.  At one point, Slowinski was able to simply pick Hoopman up and slam him to the mat in a throw that was low on technique, but high on strength.  As the round progressed, Slowinski increased his pressure, landing multiple punch combos that dropped Hoopman before the referee stepped in and stopped the fight.  Great win for Slowinski, who was talking about retiring two years ago, but is now 8-2 in the last year and getting ready for a May showdown with Daniel Ghita in what will be Slowinski's biggest international fight since the 2008 K-1 GP Finals.  Hoopman remains a young talent to watch, but this is a definite setback for him, and he will need to figure out how to deal with bigger, stronger opponents if he hopes to remain at Heavyweight.  Elsewhere on the card Wes Capper stopped Kym Johnson in 1 round, Flip Street defeated Myles Simpson by TKO after round 2, Sarah O'Connell decisioned Tenille May, Charlie Chau KO'd Hiki Hanui in the 1st via leg kicks, and Cameron Murcott stopped Steve Behan, again in the 1st.

Finally, over in Japan was R.I.S.E. 74 with a pair of title fights as the main attraction.  In the main event, Kosuke Komiyama took a 5 round split decision win over Kan Itabashi to become the new R.I.S.E. 60 kg champion, while Koji Yoshimoto and Yusuke Sugawara battled to a Draw in a 63kg title fight.  Yoshimoto remains the champion after the draw decision.  The other notable fight was Dyki vs. Hiroki Maeda, where Dyki scored the decision win.  The event also included a retirement ceremony for K-1 MAX veteran Tatsuji.

Nieky Holzken (red) vs. Thilo Schneider (blue):

Paul Slowinski (blue) vs. Thor Hoopman (red)



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New Fight Announcements

  • Published in Kickboxing

Explosion Fight Night 3There has been an onslaught of fight announcements in the past few days.  To keep you up to speed, we're putting them together here in one story, so let's get to it.

Feb. 19 - Shootboxing act.1: We previously announced that UFC veteran Kuniyoshi Hironaka would be on this card against an opponent TBA.  His opponent is now set, and it's Satoru Suzuki.  The Japanese ex-boxer had a good year in Shootboxing in 2010, but ended the year breaking his arm and being forced out of the S-Cup.  This is his first fight back from the injury.

Feb. 26 - Golden Glory Eindhoven: Top 10 fighter Nieky Holzken is in action, facing Thilo Schneider in a Golden Glory sponsored event.  Holzken is moving back and forth between the 70 and 77kg limits these days - hopefully he can settle down and find where he fights best this year.

Feb. 27 - RISE 74: A few good fights set for the latest edition of Japan's RISE promotion.  The show will feature two title fights: 60kg champion Kan Itabashi faces Kousuke Komiyama, while 63kg champion Koji Yoshimoto meets Yusuke Sugawara.  The show will also include the retirement of former K-1 MAX fighter Tatsuji.  Full card at HeadKickLegend.

March 6 - It's Showtime Amsterdam: IS added a pair of interesting fights to their first show of 2011.  First, Wendell Roche fights Danyo Ilunga for the vacant IS 95kg title.  We'll have more on this fight in the coming weeks.  Plus, Chahid Oulad El Hadj vs. Robin van Roosmalen in what should be an exciting match up.

March 12 - Fight Nights: Battle of Moscow: Top 5 MW Albert Kraus headlines this show against Batu Khasikov.  Kraus is a busy fighter who takes a fair number of these smaller fights, typically knocking his opponents out.  But as Souwer showed us this weekend - anything can happen.

April 2 - Explosion Fight Night 3: This French Muay Thai event is notable for a 4 man K-1 rules tournament that will feature Sudsakorn.  The Thai fighter is popping up everywhere these days, already having turned in two high profile fights in 2011 against Khem Sitsongpeenong and Giorgio Petrosyan.  He's also entering a lot of tournaments, which is a smart move for the experience.  The other participants are Michael Piskitello, Michale Lallemand, and Mohammed Rahoui.

April 24 - REBELS 7: Former K-1 MAX Korea GP champion Chi Bin Lim meets Daiki Watabe.  Good to see Chi Bin Lim here, as he looked very good at the K-1 MAX Final 16 last year, but has seemingly been passed in the MAX pecking order by his countryman Su Hwan Lee.

May - Local Kombat: This one is not 100% confirmed yet, but Local Kombat revealed that their May event will likely be headlined by Daniel Ghita vs. Alexey Ignashov.  Ignashov is notoriously hard to stop or even knockdown, but he's not looked good lately, and I have to think Ghita may be the man to finally stop him here.

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Exclusive Liver Kick Interview with Nieky Holzken

  • Published in Interviews

Nieky Holzken has not only been an unstoppable force in Glory lately but also was a big part in the two most viewed Glory cards to date. So it seemed only natural that we should sit down and have a little talk with him about all his recent success.

LK: Hello Nieky, thank you for taking the time for this interview. How has everything been since we saw you last in Virginia?

NH: hello yeah I'm fine training is going well.

LK: Lets start from the beginning, what age did you start Kickboxing, where did you start and what made you start?

NH: i start when i was 10 because of the movie Kickboxer in a gym called Yamaneko.

LK: What are your Current fight stats height, weight, record, etc?

NH: im 183cm 77 kg 103fights/92/11/53ko's

LK: How and who gave you the Nickname "The Natural"?

NH: Mike Passenier from Mike's Gym after a fight in England.

LK: What do you like to do during your time away from the gym?

NH: gaming, watching movies

LK: Even though you had a few Pro boxing fights last year, and a kickboxing fight in December, you said you still felt a bit rusty against Stetsurenko can you explain this?

NH: yeah he was a strong guy and i keep in mind that i have to fight a final

LK: How nice did it feel to get back in the Glory ring after one year, not only once but twice in one night so you could totally knock off the ring rust?

NH: yeah it feel great, I did what I had to do.

LK: Give me your honest opinion, did Raymond Daniels get up from your knockdowns more times than you expected? Also how did you feel about the ref giving you an 8 count in that fight?

NH: yeah he has good heart to come up every, time respect for him. But I don't deserve the 8 count I slipped and stand up very fast and it didn't hurt me.

LK: I'm sure you heard that both the #1 and #2 most viewed Glory events are Tokyo, and Virginia which both included you, what do you think about this?

NH: its luck i'm guessing haha

LK: One thing i've been wondering lately about your career is what is the difference between the Nieky Holzken at 70kgs as opposed to 77kgs, I've always noticed you are much more dominant at the heavier weight, is it the weight cut?

NH: yeah its the weight cut that was my biggest fights

LK: We all know that your next Glory fight will be against Valtellini, we just aren't sure when yet. Do you have any other fights planned in the meantime?

NH: yeah two fights in boxing april 19 and 24 may

LK: Valtellini has been very outspoken about fighting you on social media since his close victory over Mark De Bonte even though you have already knocked him out. I spoke to some of your family about this in Virginia, but I think you should tell all the fans how you feel about Valtellini, don't hold back.

NH: yeah Valtelinni says hes the champ and that he expects more from the next time we meet so he will get more much more.

LK: How was training in America with the Blackzillians compared to training in Holland?

NH: yeah the same because I train only with my trainer.

LK: What does the future hold for "The Natural"? Possible Pro boxing career? have there actually been talks with Showtime signing you?

NH: I concentrate a lot on boxing. I didn't hear anything about showtime I wish haha.

LK: Last question is 4 questions I ask everyone, Hardest Puncher you've fought? 

NH: I don't now really i fought so much 

LK: Hardest Kicker you've fought? 

NH: Buakaw

LK: Hardest Fight? 

NH: It was a B class amatuer fight against Ali Mogtagari I won by KO but got two eight counts myself haha

LK: Your favourite fighter? 

NH: Ramon Dekker/Mike Tyson

LK: Thank you so Much Nieky for this interview is there anything else you would like to say to your fans, sponsors, etc?

NH: I want to thank all the fans for support, love you all and my family and sponsor they will keep me going ush.

LK: Well I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to watch your next fight for the Glory title and I wish you all the best for the future.

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United Glory Details and Videos

  • Published in Europe

United GloryWe've got more information coming in from United Glory from this past weekend. First up, if you are interested in the MMA portion of the card, Sherdog.com has full results from the MMA fights online.  Check those out here.  Video has also surfaced of both Nieky Holzken and Errol Zimmerman in their fights, so we have some details on those fights, plus those videos, below.  As for the rest of the card - your guess remains as good as mine.  Which, I have to say, is completely ridiculous.  It's a real shame that this company would put on a show featuring multiple top 25 fighters, then not even bother to tell anyone who was actually on the show.  In this day and age it's absurd not to put results up on your own site, or at the very least, visit a big message board such as Mixfight.nl and post full results.  I'd like to say I'm looking forward to the next United Glory show and Guidon vs. Saki, but I have so little faith that I'll actually see the show that it's hard to drum up much interest.

Up first is Nieky Holzken vs. an unknown fighter mis-labeled as Wendy Annonay.  To be clear, Holzken's opponent here is NOT Wendy Annonay, as the YouTube video states.  Mr. Annonay himself contacted us to clear this up.  Our sincere apologies to him, and our readers for the confusion - just more proof of the lack of information from UG. UPDATE: It appears Holzken's opponent is French fighter Carlos Tavares.

Anyway, not sure what weight class this was, as Holzken has been moving around the 70-77 range a bit lately.  His opponent looks pretty big, so I would guess something higher than just 70kg.  Very impressive performance from Holzken, who patiently waits for the right opening, then takes advantage once he gets it:

Next is Errol Zimmerman vs. Zinedine Hamer-Lain.  After hearing Zimmerman was on this card, I was interested to see this, as the Bonecrusher has not looked too good in his last few showings.  Here, we once again get the somewhat overweight looking Zimmerman - a fighter who looks distinctly different from the man who made the K-1 semi-finals 2 years ago.  On the plus side, he does show off his power and aggression here, putting a heavy beating on Hamer-Lain that ends up breaking the overmatched fighter's arm.  I'll call this one better than we've seen from Zimmerman lately, but still not the kind of shape I would like to see him in:

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Glory Announces GLORY 13 Tokyo on December 21st

  • Published in Glory

Glory

Right in line with the rumors that we've been hearing, GLORY will be heading back to Japan for the end of the year once again, this time instead of on New Year's Eve it will be on December 21st at the Ariake Colosseum in a night featuring a Welterweight/77kg tournament. The only name announced for the tournament this so far is longtime Golden Glory member Nieky Holzken, who sits atop the GLORY rankings at 77kg/170lbs currently.

If I were to wager a guess as to who else will be involved, I'd look at GLORY 10's undercard fight between Alexander Stetsurenko and Karapet Karapetyan and GLORY 11's Joe Valtellini vs. Kharim Ghajji to complete the tournament spots, but that is just a [very] educated guess on my part. They also will be booking a series of Super Fights, for what they are calling a "SuperFight Series," which does make me curious as to what that exactly means. Once again, if I were to guess, I'd say that it had something to do with Spike TV.

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GLORY 23 on August 7th to Feature Daniels vs. Holzken for GLORY Welterweight Title

  • Published in Glory

After the staggering news of Joseph Valtellini relinquishing his GLORY Welterweight Championship it was announced today via John Joe O'Regan at Sherdog that the title won't be vacant for long. On August 7th in Las Vegas Nieky Holzken will vie for the championship against Raymond Daniels in a rematch from the GLORY contender tournament that Holzken won. 

The event is GLORY 23 and is set for August 7th at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas and will be airing live on Spike TV. Raymond Daniels has had some solid exposure on Spike TV and it should make for an interesting bout for the ever-evolving Daniels against the consensus top dog in the division in Holzken. 

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Big Night for Holzken, Schilling and Verhoeven at GLORY 19

  • Published in Glory

(C) Glory Sports International

GLORY 19 was an interesting night that was full of some truly tremendous action that had a bit of an underwhelming finish. 

The show's big draw, the Welterweight Contender's tournament, delivered in every fight. Raymond Daniels kicked off the night by absolutely demolishing Jonatan Oliveira with his fancy, traditional martial arts moves. Oliveira was able to cut off the ring and keep Daniels on the defensive, but Daniels found the openings for some truly highlight reel kicks throughout, making for an entertaining start to the evening. 

On the other end of the tournament we saw Nieky Holzken face the tough-as-nails Alexander Stetsurenko. Stetsurenko was a game opponent but Holzken was simply able to outperform against him. Many were looking for Holzken to make a big impression to start the night but Stetsurenko is simply too tough for that. 

Joe Schilling made his return to the GLORY ring against Robert Thomas. Many expected Schilling to steamroll through the young Canadian but Thomas was crafty and proved himself to be incredibly tough when being assaulted by Schilling's heavy hands. Thomas landed a few of his signature spinning back fists, but it was a spinning back fist by Joe late in the fight that sent Thomas crashing to the ropes and a few more punches that put him down in what would have knocked out anyone else. Thomas is tough, though, so he fought back up to his feet and was able to finish out the fight, but he clearly was outclassed by Schilling. 

Nieky Holzken and Raymond Daniels met in the tournament finals and there was a feeling that Daniels might actually have a chance against Holzken after the tremendous performance earlier on. What transpired in the ring though was completely according to the script with Holzken bullying him around the ring and utilizing his hands to hurt Daniels. He dropped Daniels with a liver punch early and continued to batter the karateka throughout the fight, dropping him a total of three more times before the fight was called in the third round. That isn't to say that there wasn't heart from Daniels, because there was. Daniels landed a huge spinning back kick that put Holzken onto his butt, the ref scoring it a knockdown, but definitely a questionable knockdown at that. It was Holzken's hands that sealed the deal and put Daniels down in the third, though. Holzken goes on to fight Valtellini in one has to be the most anticipated bout of the year.

Speaking of anticipated bouts, Rico Verhoeven and Errol Zimmerman fought for a third time with Mike Tyson at ringside to give in-between round analysis with Luke Thomas and sadly the fight ended after Zimmerman tweaked his knee in the second round. The first round was chaotic, though, with Rico scoring against Zimmerman in the first round and having him wobbled but not quite sure how to get him onto his back. Zimmerman was able to get Verhoeven wobbly as well, leaving both of them dazed and winging shots at each other. Needless to say they both looked mighty upset.

 

The fight took a turn in the second round, though, when Zimmerman when for a spinning back kick and landed on his right leg at an awkward angle, immediately falling into the corner and shrieking out in pain. The ref began counting him down, then for some reason called a time out and brought the doctor in. The doctor ruled Zimmerman unable to continue and that was the end of the fight. The Heavyweight division is kind of in chaos right now considering Verhoeven's little indiscretion in China last month, but such is life.

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Glory 19: A New Way Forward?

  • Published in Glory

(C) Glory Sports International

What I love most about the kickboxing community—and what I think redeems us regardless of what happens in the industry—is that we are all diehard fans of the sport who share a strong sense of ownership of it as well as a desire to see it succeed. This comes across very clearly in Joe Schilling’s recent appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast as well as Glory bigwig Ivan Farneti’s tweets and interviews—and hopefully, our work here at LiverKick. As writers, we’ve seen the sport go through challenging times and make many a false comeback, which poses great difficulty from an editorial standpoint. On the one hand, we feel obligated and committed to supporting the sport especially when it’s struggling to survive, which in the past—speaking for myself—has led me to cheerlead at the expense of my own personal doubts. 2011 was a particularly tumultuous year; I remember arguing passionately on the dark corners of the Internet that It’s Showtime would save kickboxing even when it became increasingly clear that the Dutch organization didn’t have the resources to do so. To this day I’m not entirely sure if I really believed it could, but at the time, when kickboxing seemed to be losing its last hope for legitimacy, it seemed like the right thing to believe. On the other hand, I think that willfully overlooking blatant problems and trying to paint a falsely optimistic picture of reality is dishonest. If these seem like conflicting motives, it’s because they are, and it’s why I support Glory today while still joining in the fandom’s shared confusion and doubt when it breaks its promises and disappears for three months.

Having said all of that, I believe Glory deserves all the credit in the world for what it accomplished in Virginia Beach at Glory 19. Something just felt right this time. The product finally showed signs of maturity, of beginning to break through its veil of obscurity into the peripheral consciousness of mainstream sports. For once, there was talk of Glory on combat sports blogs that was spontaneous and organic rather than forced—and genuine interest in fighters like Joe Schilling, Raymond Daniels, and Nieky Holzken. Glory turned in its second-highest ratings of all time—coming off of a 3 month hiatus! The Virginia Beach audience seemed energized and alive as if they actually knew what they had come to see. The fights and fighters delivered on every level, showcasing the intensity and technique of kickboxing to viewers tuning in for the first time. Even Mike Tyson seemed genuinely impressed, more so than he was probably paid to be.

Glory 19 set the tone of how it should conduct itself in 2015. If excess was the fault of Glory in its first two years of operations, then new CEO Jon Franklin is to be commended for making strategic and calculated decision-making Glory’s new credo. First, let’s talk Glory’s choice of venues. Since its return in October of 2014, Glory has targeted smaller, affordable venues in cheaper domestic markets over more prestigious venues in expensive locales such as Madison Square Garden. In addition to the cost of the venues themselves, touring through smaller communities has likely saved on lodging expenses and is likely a boon from a promotional standpoint through low cost grassroots partnerships with local gyms and media outlets. This is the model that regional pro wrestling has followed for decades and seems like the appropriate strategy for Glory at this point.

Next, let’s talk about the match-ups. What started out as a decent fight card with Rico Verhoeven, Errol Zimmerman, and Nieky Holzken turned into an event that was stacked from top to bottom, with later additions Joe Schilling and Andy Ristie considerably elevating the profile of Glory’s return to SpikeTV. Adding Schilling in particular was a smart move, capitalizing on his highly publicized knockout of Melvin Manhoef in MMA. It seems that Glory has finally realized the value of keeping its exciting fighters in the limelight and that it can put together a stacked fight card and deliver top tier entertainment without having to shell out for big ticket fighters like Gokhan Saki and Tyrone Spong, something which Jon Franklin indicated as a shift in strategy last year. The new approach is more economical and still effective, and while it may indicate an end to huge fighter paydays for now, it will help provide Glory with the staying power to find prosperity in the future.

Glory 19 also signaled a shift in Glory’s efforts to expand its fanbase, including new gimmicks like adding Mike Tyson as an “analyst” and featuring an amateur fight between two active military servicemen. While people may have mixed feelings about this, I interpret it as Glory seizing opportunities for self-promotion. The aggressiveness of these tactics is a welcome change, and as a fledgling promotion, it is precisely the style of marketing that it should have adopted from the start. Glory made a strong play to associate its brand with familiar things that people take seriously, from Iron Mike to the welfare of military veterans, and in both instances Glory put its fighters front and center. The veteran commercials in particular were a brilliant touch because they asserted that Glory exists in the real world rather than the void of late-night television. From this perspective, booking Goldberg could turn out to be a savvy move.

This is encouraging stuff from Glory, and the fact that Glory is still being talked about on the web demonstrates that its new strategies are working. The ratings are also encouraging, and with rumors circulating of SpikeTV planning a stronger push back into combat sports, the future may begin to look up for kickboxing. That said, it is up to Glory to keep the momentum going; it has had promising starts in the past only for long hiatuses to kill the hype. Dubai is an interesting destination for Glory in April, perhaps representing increased international interest and investment in the brand. That said, given Glory’s astute move to Friday nights, it will be interesting to see how the significant time zone difference between the United States and the Middle East will be negotiated.

 

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