We've been talking about GLORY helping fighters find a gym to train at in America, as well as the possibility of some gyms moving some operations over to the United States. While we already know that Murthel Groenhart has been training in the US at the Blackzilians camp, it might be good to note that we've heard of other guys from Mike's Gym training there as well, namely Gokhan Saki.
Well, here is just further proof of the work that they've been putting in by the way of a photo of both Murthel and Saki at the Blackzilians camp hanging out with Tyrone Spong.
The wait is over for Gokhan Saki's return and it will not be in the GLORY ring but instead in the GFC ring in Dubai. On April 17th GFC will present an oddly-enough Badr Hari-free show that is headlined by another four-man tournament. Winning the tournament gains entry into an 8-man tournament later on this year that Badr Hari and Ismael Laazar have already qualified for.
What's interesting is that most of these fighters are smaller than your average Heavyweight and qualify as Light Heavyweights in most respects, especially Ilunga, who made a name for himself as It's Showtime 95kg Champion and as a GLORY Light Heavyweight contender.
Heavyweight 4 Man TournamentSteve Mckinnon VS Zabit Samedov Jafar Ahmadi VS Danyo IlungaSuperfightsGokhan Saki VS Sebastian CiobanuIsmael Lazaar VS Fatih ulusoyAndre Meunier VS Naoufal Benazzous
GLORY 11 Chicago has been shaping up to be one of the better cards of the year, which comes as no surprise as it is the GLORY Heavyweight tournament event, as well as their debut on Spike TV here in America. It makes sense for GLORY to be throwing so much into this event, which just means that in the end we all win. GLORY have released a new trailer for the upcoming event, showcasing the big Heavyweight talent that will be on display at the show and if it doesn't get you pumped, well, I don't know.
We've been keeping our ears to the ground over the past few months in regards to everything GLORY, from possible television deals to upcoming shows to the format for their big Heavyweight tournament for this year. Last year's GLORY Grand Slam tournament was interesting, to say the least, using a one-night, sixteen man format with shorter rounds. It led to some quick action, but some of the more methodical, technical fighters like Remy Bonjasky were really hurt by such a ruleset and four fights in one night is just a lot of fights.
While some within the GLORY organization were steadfast in saying that they would repeat the format again this year, we've heard some conflicting reports on the format of the tournament. As GLORY gets closer to a larger American television deal (no insult to CBS Sports, but tape delay at 1am is simply not good enough for shows like this) they have to be concerned with time constraints and putting on a tighter, more unified production. GLORY already do a fantastic job with their pacing on their events, with the fights following each other in quick succession in a way that doesn't feel rushed, but natural. We can at least expect the quirks of last year's Grand Slam to not return.
So according to our source, who wishes to remain unnamed, this year's tournament will be shrunk down from sixteen men to just four to be able to properly fit on a two to three hour American television slot while putting on entertaining fights and being able to properly present the fighters to the audience. The first three participants will be based upon the GLORY World Rankings, although it should be noted that word is that Semmy Schilt will not participate. That means that Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita and Tyrone Spong are guaranteed spots in the tournament, with the fourth spot being a "Wildcard." That "Wildcard" spot will be determined by another tournament that will take place before the event, a Qualifying tournament. It is not clear who will participate in this tournament, but the next four in the rankings are Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Jerome Le Banner and Errol Zimmerman (although I believe that Rico Verhoeven is actually in that spot now after his win over Errol).
So, what do you think? Would you be upset to see the Final 8 format disappear, or is it time for something new?
Tonight at 9pm Eastern time GLORY 11 Chicago will be airing live on Spike TV. Pinch yourself, it's alright, we aren't judging. GLORY has graciously put up the weigh-in videos, so get your dosage of dudes in their skivvies having macho staredowns with each other before GLORY 11 goes down tonight. It's okay, we aren't judging, remember?
Gokhan Saki is a guy that fans of Kickboxing have been high on for quite a while now, as he might be a bit undersized for the Heavyweight division but that has never stopped him from being one of the best in the world. Saki has carved out a space in the world for himself over the past few years with big wins over Tyrone Spong, Daniel Ghita and Anderson "Braddock" Silva. He also has shown a ton of heart in big fights against top names like Badr Hari and Semmy Schilt, which gave him a place in the hearts of fans across the world.
Apparently, Nike has been listening, at least Nike in Turkey, that is. Fans in Turkey are very proud of Gokhan Saki -- and they have every right to be -- and he has become a national hero accordingly. So it comes as no real surprise that Saki has been included in this Nike ad that is currently airing in Turkey that features some of the best Turkish athletes that are known the whole world over. Saki takes place in the GLORY 11 Chicago Heavyweight tournament this October, airing live on Spike TV.
2010 was a rough year for K-1 MAX. Three of the division's very top stars fought their (for now) last MAX fights in 2009, including Masato, the man MAX had been built around from the start. Shows were planned, then canceled. Only two qualifying Grand Prixs were held, and one of those 2 never aired. Half of the Final 16 fights were shoved onto the 63kg GP finals almost as an afterthought, and at one time, there were rumors that the 2010 MAX Grand Prix might not even happen. Fans of MAX were looking at the year as somewhat of a disaster.
That changed on October 3. Amidst all this chaos and confusion, the MAX Final 16 event in Seoul was a grand slam of an event - an all around fantastic card with every fight delivering. The next day, no one was talking about how K-1 MAX was struggling. Instead, they were talking about what a show it was. And they were talking about one fight.
That fight is your 2010 LiverKick.com Fans' Fight of the Year - "Iron" Mike Zambidis vs. Chahid Oulad El Hadj.
Coming into the event, this was a fight that on paper looked like it could be a good one. Both Zambidis and Chahid are exciting fighters who like to push the pace and have turned in plenty of fun bouts. But they are also two men whose presence in the Final 16 was questionable, as neither had claimed a significant K-1 win in some time. From the moment the two men meet in center ring for the staredown, any concerns about them not belonging flew out the window. Because right from the opening, you can tell this is going to be something special. Both men looked hungry, out for redemption, and just plain pissed off. They looked ready to tear into each other. And that's exactly what they did.
For four epic rounds, Zambidis and Chahid engaged in an all out war. By the end of the 3rd, the announcers are all on their feet waiting for the judges' decision. By the end of the 4th, fans are already writing their friends telling them what they just saw. And by the next morning, all the focus was on this classic.
Watching it now, I'm reminded of another all-time K-1 great contest - Ray Sefo vs. Mark Hunt (and if you've never seen that, watch it, seriously, now). Like Sefo vs. Hunt, this is a fight that doesn't need any backstory. It's a moment that stands on its own, where even if you've never heard of either man, the combination of heart, determination, technique, and aggression they show is enough to grab you. At a time in combat sports where the UFC is the clear top dog, and where Dana White's love of wild stand-up brawling has come to define how many fans view stand-up action, this fight is a definitive example of what stand-up can be. Yes it's a brawl, but it's also two supremely skilled fighters never losing track of the technique needed to fight at this level. It's a fight every fan of Griffin vs. Bonnar, Garcia vs. The Korean Zombie, or countless other recent fights really owes it to themselves to watch.
Chances are good you've already seen this fight, probably more than once. But as we say our final good-byes to 2010, do yourself a favor and watch it once more. You'll thank yourself later.
A big thanks to all our fans who voted in this poll. In the end, Zambidis vs. Chahid was the clear winner, drawing 34% of the vote. #2 and #3 were only separated by a handful of votes, with the sentimental favorite Peter Aerts vs. Semmy Schilt at #2, and the battle of the new guard in Gokhan Saki vs. Daniel Ghita at #3. For full results, click here, and don't forget to vote on our new polls every week here at LiverKick.com.
If for some reason you were like me, that means that you were sleeping a few hours ago when the Glory World Series live presser went down. That is kind of a bummer, as it was live on YouTube for the whole world to watch, in English, and hosted by none other than Mauro Ranallo. Lucky for us who enjoy sleeping, the internet is a marvelous thing and it was archived. This means you can watch it at your leisure as you get hyped up for what is one of the biggest kickboxing weekends in a very long time.
What is important when watching this video is to note just how far Glory has come. This press conference was uber professional and exactly what you'd expect from a worldwide combat sports brand working its way to the top.
Don't forget to watch the Glory World Series live this Saturday morning at 10:00am Eastern time/7:00am Pacific time. If you are worried about where to watch it, well, never fear, as you don't have to leave the comfort of your chosen web browser or even leave this very site. Just load up this page right now and order the video by clicking on it and plonking down $15 USD. Seriously, if you don't have a problem buying multiple UFC PPVs a year to fund Dana White's Bruce Lee t-shirt collection, this should be no sweat. Help out Glory and help out LiverKick, by doing so you will help me expand my own Bruce Lee t-shirt collection, which as of right now is a lone shirt. I have to beat Dana White in this category guys, and you can help.
There are very few modern kickboxers who command an audience anymore, but without a doubt one of those names is Gokhan Saki. Saki, with a passionate fan base, has been one of the top Heavyweights and now Light Heavyweights for a while now. After the generation of Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt and Jerome Le Banner were retired it was clear that Gokhan Saki was a part of the next generation of top kickboxing stars. Of course, things within FEG's K-1 fell apart and the kickboxing world fractured. It was then partially reassembled in the way of GLORY, where Saki competed until recently.
It's been no secret that GLORY has been restructuring and reevaluating their business and that fighters who were commanding hefty purses but weren't drawing ratings became quite a bit less valuable. Many fans see it as a slap in the face that GLORY no longer sees fighters like Gokhan Saki and Tyrone Spong worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per appearance, but the reality is that GLORY 15, which featured the two men in a Light Heavyweight tournament, drew the weakest ratings to date on Spike TV.
While GLORY has not abandoned their global audience, the dollars and cents boil down to the United States market being more profitable than anywhere else in the world for the promotion, which made the value of guys like Saki and Spong drop a bit. Understandably Gokhan Saki felt that he was worth more, which led to a rift between the promotion and the fighter, this ultimately led to Gokhan Saki fighting on an upcoming GFC event against Sebastian Ciobanu. While Ciobanu is a fine fighter, no one expects him to give Saki any trouble.
In a new interview (in Dutch) Saki spoke about what has been going on from his point of view and it's interesting, to say the least. According to Saki he is still willing to fight for GLORY, but it has to be at the right price. He says that he will only fight when he is being paid what he is worth and not a dime less. On top of that, he had some pointed criticism towards GLORY's management, believing that they are still the top promotion and that they always treated him well, but he believes that the "American influence" has tainted the company and that the Americans are clueless in regards to promoting the sport.
It's unfortunate that GLORY and Saki couldn't come to terms, but there is still hope for the future for fans. Of course, both sides have valid points in such a situation; the promotion shouldn't lose money on its fighters and should pay them what the market value is and for the fighters they should be compensated for their experience, talent and appeal. Fans have been bickering about who is right and who is wrong in this matter and the reality seems to be that everyone did what was best for themselves and that hopefully the situation changes in the future.
Our fight of the year march through the Grand Prix continues today with a pair of bouts from the Heavyweight GP. Up first...
Gokhan Saki v. Daniel Ghita (K-1 Grand Prix Finals, December 11)
Heading into the GP finals, this was the fight many were most looking forward to. Post event, it kind of got lost in the hype of a certain other fight that we'll discuss later today, which is a shame as this is a great fight. What you have here are two of K-1's new guard competing in one of the year's finest technical battles. In particular, the kicks thrown by both are simply phenomenal - this whole thing could be an instructional video on how to throw kicks effectively in kickboxing. Ghita and Saki mix it up, attacking the legs, the body, the head, and they do it all with accuracy, set-ups, and beautiful timing. There's so much skill on display here that you can watch this fight again and again and pick up more.
Rewatching it now, I am reminded of Ernesto Hoost v. Peter Aerts from the 1993 Grand Prix - two young fighters with the future standing ahead of them ready to take the next big leap forward. I suspect this fight will age well with time, and will go down as a classic early encounter between two men who will be major players for some years to come. Be happy to be here when they first met.
There will be 10 fights total posted. Fights 7 & 8 on Tuesday, and 9 & 10 conclude on Wednesday. Fights are featured in chronological order moving through the year. Voting will be open Wednesday night to determine the winner.