Yesterday was a pretty tense day for me and a few other people, as GLORY made their Spike TV debut with GLORY 11. For me, I've been running Kickboxing-oriented sites for about five years now, which as an American can be a rather losing endeavor. Kickboxing in the United States hasn't had a fair shake in a very long time, with the rise of the UFC in the mid-90's decimating whatever was left of Kickboxing and made Mixed Martial Arts the new attraction. This meant that all of the new, up-and-coming talent moved to the new world of MMA where there was money to be made.
Kickboxing and America have a rather sordid history, as at one time America gave Kickboxing a chance and it never really caught on like it should have. Part of the problem came from the confusing rules and just how different it was from everything else. Many were talking about last night as if it were the first time on a major American television network that Kickboxing programming had aired, but that is just not true at all. Kickboxing appeared network television in the 70's, as PKA had deals with ESPN in the 80's while also making brief appearances on CBS. This continued until around 1986 or so when the PKA, like any other big Kickboxing organization, was brought down by rumored criminal ties and for being run poorly.
This is Kickboxing's plight.
Last night was Kickboxing's first real chance in America in almost 30 years, only this time things were different. There were no foot guards, no long pants, the rules are based on the modified Muay Thai and Kyokushin rules that K-1 made famous in the 90's. Of course, GLORY has a few modifications to their rules which sets them apart, including a flash knockdown rule that fans and fighters can't seem to wrap their heads around (or even know it exists!). The product that GLORY presents is big on showmanship and provides high octane action.
For many Kickboxing purists, GLORY 11 wasn't the greatest show ever, as Heavyweight is one of the most maligned classes for the hardcores, but from a pure entertainment value it was unbeatable. GLORY had to hit a home run in their Spike TV debut, which is exactly what they did. There were definitely some kinks to work out in the production, but it was a professional presentation that made other Spike TV programs, like Bellator, look that much worse. Absolutely every fight on the broadcast delivered and it was fitting that a new star was born in Rico Verhoeven.
While the ratings for this show will give us an idea of who was willing to try Kickboxing on for size, all signs tend to be pointing towards GLORY 12 pulling in bigger numbers and attracting more and more fans. The live reactions from last night all throughout social media should be telling enough, as everyone who watched GLORY 11 walked away satisfied and exciting about the sport of Kickboxing, which is all that this peddler of an obscure sport could ask for.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, launches on March 24th.