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GLORY and the Underdog Story Conundrum

glory

Few narratives in sports make for compelling entertainment like the classic underdog story does. We all know it by now; there is a clear favorite going into the showdown, but the underdog is able to overcome the odds and walk away as the champion while the world is shocked. For GLORY we’ve seen this happen a staggering number of times in the last few months. In fact GLORY 10, GLORY 11 and GLORY 12 all featured this exact thing happening in their respective tournaments.

schilling

At GLORY 10 American kickboxer Joe Schilling went into the tournament confident that he’d not only meet Artem Levin in the finals, but that he’d defeat him. Fans who know Schilling were pulling for that, but the rest of the world saw Levin walking away as the champion yet again. Of course, Schilling was able to pull off a dramatic victory over Levin and completely reshape the division, taking his place as the top guy in the Middleweight division.

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The LiverKick.com GLORY 12 Preview

Glory

GLORY 12 New York is tomorrow, live on Spike TV at 9PM Eastern featuring a one-night, four-man Lightweight tournament as well as a main event showdown between Joe Schilling and Wayne Barrett. This is GLORY’s second outing on Spike TV, which makes it a pretty big deal, this also means that you should be tuning in without doubt or question, as the best in the world, Giorgio Petrosyan, is going to be live on free television.

This, my friends, is our breakdown of the card from top-to-bottom with predictions included.

 

  • Lightweight Semi-Finals: Robin van Roosmalen vs. Davit Kiria -- This is going to be an incredibly exciting war between two of the world’s finest Lightweights. Davit Kiria is a guy who came from relative obscurity, given a chance due to training with Dave Jonkers and Semmy Schilt on early GLORY events before they realized that they had something special. These two fought back in 2011 while Robin van Roosmalen was on the rise, with Kiria’s technical style neutralizing RvR’s go-for-broke brawling style. Kiria has grown a lot as a fighter since this last fight and I feel like both men are going to look to put on a show. Kiria’s win over Murthel Groenhart shows how capable he is at handling aggressive fighters now, I think that he shocks fans with a win.
  • Prediction: Davit Kiria
  • Lightweight Semi-Finals: Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Andy Ristie -- Poor Andy Ristie. Ristie has been a star on the rise in the last few years, with his exciting style and his affable personality making him a fan favorite. Since stepping up in competition though, the fireworks have been halted for Ristie a bit, as he’s had problems running through the competition like he was known for before. Giorgio Petrosyan is his stylistic nightmare and outside of a cut or Petrosyan breaking his hand and being unable to continue, I think we all know Petrosyan walks away with the W.
  • Prediction: Giorgio Petrosyan
  • Lightweight Tournament Reserve Bout: Warren Stevelmans vs. Ky Hollenbeck -- After a bit of reshuffling we end up with this fight as the tournament reserve and honestly, Ky Hollenbeck deserves this spot. Hollenbeck is one of the few Americans who has made a big statement of late and has shown to have the skill and determination to be a player in the elite field. Warren Stevelmans is nothing to scoff at as a fighter, but I feel like Ky is on a roll right now. Man, whatever happened to Sanny Dahlbeck?
  • Prediction: Ky Hollenbeck
  • Jamal Ben Saddik vs. Ben Edwards -- A clash of the titans! A Heavyweight showdown between two burly guys! I’m mildly excited about the debut of Big Ben, who has really helped to refine his style over the past few years and has been showing a lot more in the way of technical chops. Jamal Ben Saddik is also a big dude with a lot of power, but I’m not sure how to really feel about him in the grand scheme of things at Heavyweight. Is JBS going to be an elite fighter, or is he just a guy who got a few good wins and will be a gatekeeper? This fight helps to determine this.
  • Prediction: Ben Edwards
  • Joe Schilling vs. Wayne Barrett -- It’s East Coast vs. West Coast in the battle of Middleweights. Joe Schilling has long been one of the biggest names in America for Kickboxing and Muay Thai and his huge win at GLORY 10 in the Middleweight tournament has shown that he had a lot of people talking about him for good reason. Wayne Barrett is a young hot shot who has had a few fights as a professional Kickboxer with them mostly being absolute annihilations of his skilled opponents. The thing is, his youth and inexperience run into Joe Schilling, who has fought all over the world and not only fought, but beaten the best at Middleweight. I think it seems like a forgone conclusion that someone is taking a nap, but whomever it is will probably not feel too much shame in the morning.
  • Prediction: Joe Schilling
  • Lightweight Tournament Finals: Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Davit Kiria -- I’m really most interested in seeing this rematch as opposed to any other possible Petrosyan match that could happen. Want to know why? I feel like Robin van Roosmalen is extremely skilled and can hit like a mack truck for the weight class, but that a fighter like Giorgio Petrosyan will not let his guard down long enough to let him do any work. A fighter like Kiria on the other hand has evolved his game a little bit to where it would be more of a chess match, plus Kiria is a bit less predictable with throwing the big spin kicks and all. I still pick Petrosyan in this one, but think that Kiria could show something new.
  • Prediction: Giorgio Petrosyan

 

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Why Giorgio Petrosyan on Free Television is Must-See

Petrosyan

There is a term that fans in the combat sports community tend to throw around a lot, to the point where the meaning has become dubious at best. That term is GOAT. If you are somehow blissfully unaware, GOAT stands for “Greatest of All Time.” In a lot of cases, it is difficult to use such a term as, well, let’s be honest here, most of these fighters haven’t been competing for long enough to really get a beat on where they’ll stand in the Pantheon of Combat Sports. This preface is to explain how the term shouldn’t be taken lightly just so I can really explain to you how important it is to be able to use this label for Giorgio Petrosyan without any sense of irony.

Giorgio Petrosyan is other-wordly. There is just no doubt about it, when you are watching Giorgio Petrosyan you are watching the most skilled Kickboxer that we’ve ever seen in the sport’s rich history. Petrosyan earned the nickname “The Doctor” for his surgical-like precision with his hands and feet, with his ability to take little-to-no damage against some of the best strikers in the world while slipping strikes and landing them from every angle imaginable. In fact, the only knock on Petrosyan seems to be his proclivity to break his left hand, which has led to Knockouts becoming more and more scarce for him.

The fact that on Saturday evening American audiences will be treated with seeing Giorgio Petrosyan fighting (possibly twice) on free television seems to be lost on many with the leadup into GLORY 12 New York. Sure, there are a lot of great names on the card and a lot of great fighters featured, but none have accomplished the things that Giorgio Petrosyan has. Giorgio Petrosyan holds two K-1 World MAX Championships as well as last year’s GLORY 70kg Slam Championship with many believing that this year will be yet another 70kg tournament victory for him.

I’m under no illusion of Giorgio Petrosyan becoming a huge draw in the United States or that American fans are going to tune in by the millions this weekend to watch the best pound-for-pound fighter -- potentially in all combat sports -- compete and make the best in the world look like frustrated amateurs, but the hope is that maybe, just maybe a few new fans will see the technical master that is Giorgio Petrosyan and fall in love with the sport in a whole new way.

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Peter Aerts Only Retiring in Japan... For Now

Peter Aerts

When it comes to Peter Aerts I fear that I'll always be biased, as he was the guy who really got me into Kickboxing. It was one of those memories that I'll never shake free of and never plan on forgetting, the 1994 K-1 World Grand Prix. So this talk of retirement is a bit harrowing, even if he is 43 years old and it might be time to hang 'em up for his own safety.

Put Peter Aerts in a fight and I'll always believe that he has a fighting chance of walking away victorious in that fight. Why? Because he is Peter Aerts. That's why.

The news from Japan today was that Peter Aerts was going to be retiring at GLORY 13, but you know, it is a translation and can be rough. We received confirmation from a GLORY official today that this will be Peter's retirement in Japan, much like his It's Showtime bout against Tyrone Spong was his BeNeLux retirement. This means that this isn't the final curtain call for the Dutch Lumberjack, but still be prepared for that.

Some of our sources are sticking to their guns that this will be Peter's full retirement, but for now, who knows? GLORY's Japanese PR people are also selling this event as a "Farewell to an Era" with Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky and Semmy Schilt. Their retirements could be a very real part of this show.

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Kickboxing is a Rematch Sport

Saki vs. Ghita

Rumors of Glory heading to Chicago has emerged, their third event in the US this year, and they are focusing on a four man heavyweight tournament. No sooner than the names emerged that I start seeing a small sect of grumbling on my twitter news feed and in fight forums. The issues is over Daniel Ghita and Gohkan Saki, the two favorites in the field, meaning there will be a high possibility that they will meet for the second time this year. As Saki was successful in a one sided stoppage earlier this year in Turkey, people would rather not see the fight again. To that I say "Nonsense!" Kickboxing is a rematch sport.

This thinking is birthed from a new found collection of kickboxing fans who are use to the new age boxing and UFC model. It is extremely unusual to see high level boxers or UFC fighters rematch one another in the same year due to fighter activity and audience demand. As both are under the single fight system, the amount of fights one can have in a single year is low. A UFC contract offers 3 fights in a 365 day year, and with a roster of 300 plus athletes, they must mix and match to the best of their abilities, pushing careers forward, no time to allow for verbal inspired rivalries to warrant a rematch on their limited card space. And with one recognized title in each weight class, the chance that one could fight for the title multiple times is almost impossible.

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The Fight World is Turning on Thai Fight Extreme

Thai Fight

Thai Fight aesthetically has it all, the lights, the promo screen, the manufactured sense of honor and history, the audience, the feel of watching a major production for a fight event. Despite every quality that it brings before the bell ring, there is a major problem once the bell does. The matches are one sided and uneventful. Fight fans have known this for a while, but it seems that now, the shift of the fighting public is moving towards not watching the product at all.

It started so well. August 29, 2010 the Isuzu Thai Fight Extreme had a 16-man tournament. It had solid international competition. The likes of Spain's Rafi Zouheir, England's Liam Harrison, Thailand's Petchmonkong Petchfocus, runner up Youssef Boughanem, and eventual champion Frenchmen Fabio Pinca. The tournament was like nothing we were use to from Thai shows. Pyro, rock music during entrances, large screens, and sporting event fan material like big hands, clappers, and streamers. It was as if K-1 Max was being reborn in Thailand. Adding to that was the fight product, which produced awesome KOs, smooth technique, and competitive match ups. Nasser Kacem product and champion Fabio Pinca was made an international star after that victory. Sure he had wins over Thai fighters Sigmanee, Sudsukorn, and Bovy before the Thai Fight championship, but all eyes were on the tournament and thus all eyes were on him. His peformance against Youssef in the final was brilliant, producing one of the most proficient body attacks in the first round and then dropping Boughanem with a hook in the second. A star was made.

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The Unappreciated Career of Semmy Schilt

Sem Schilt

As the news of Semmy's career coming to an end due to a heart issue hits me, I immediately looked to his accomplishments and his place in kickboxing history. I quickly came to the overwhelming conclusion that he is unchallenged, the most unappreciated fighter in the history of kickboxing.

I know there is going to be a heavy dose of write ups were people call him the greatest, or one of the greatest heavyweight kickboxers of all time. Most will quote the easy, he was a four time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, matching the Legend Ernesto Hoost, the only other man to do it. Many will also credit him with a fifth major kickboxing tournament title, as he won the Glory Series Heavyweight tournament on NYE. Though I would be remised if I did not point out that some place an asterisk on the tournament, due to the first two rounds of the tournament not being full fights. Those like myself who value who you beat over what you've won will give a more in-depth line of logic in remembering Semmy's career. 3-0 verses Remy Bonjasky, the other great of the era. 1-0-1 verses Hoost, 4-0 over Jerome Lebanner, 1-1 with Badr Hari, 2-0 against Daniel Ghita, and an admirable 2-3 versus Peter Aerts. Yet these are just wins, they are not legacy.

 

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The Rumored Structure For This Year's GLORY Grand Slam Tournament

Glory

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?

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Building GLORY's Light Heavyweight Division: Ondrej Hutnik

Hutnik

Glory 9 brought great action to kickboxing fans this past Saturday. The event also helped the Glory promotion name its first light heavyweight Slam champion, and provided everyone a greater sense of who’s who in a long-underrepresented division. Glory will now have to attract additional talent from around the world to bolster the ranks of an already strong group of light heavyweights. This series of articles looks at kick boxers that we at LiverKick would have liked to see in Saturday’s tournament and hope Glory can bring into the fold going forward.

Ondrej Hutnik is a 30-year-old southpaw fighting out of Prague, Czech Republic. While his tendency to fight domestically is a concern for some fans, Hutnik has put together a substantial win streak and continues to collect accolades at the light heavyweight mark. With one of the more established resumes in the weight class, it would be fitting to see the Czech kick boxer on kickboxing’s biggest stage.

Hutnik began his career near 147 pounds, and collected titles while moving up toward the light heavyweight division. In December 2005, Hutnik defeated Sem Braan – for the second time in roughly six months – to advance to the It’s Showtime 75MAX Trophy Final. When the final tournament rolled around in September 2006, the Czech fighter defeated Dmitry Shakuta and Joerie Mes before dropping a decision to Sahin Yakut in the championship bout. A victory over countryman Jiri Zak would follow, and Hutnik soon moved up to fight around 190 pounds.

The last defeat of Hutnik’s career came near that mark, as Tyrone Spong stopped him with a hellacious body shot in March 2008. Hutnik’s resume since includes a number of wins over recognizable names, including Redouan Cairo, James Phillips, and Hakan Aksoy. He became the 2011 Enfusion kickboxing tournament champion by following up wins against Wendell Roche and Thiago Martina with decision victories over Mohamed Boubkari and Frank Munoz in the same night. Hutnik has won six more bouts since, defeating Fight Code veteran Pacome Assi and Spanish standout Loren Javier Jorge along the way.

On June 14th, Hutnik topped Stefan Leko in the Czech city of Brno, stopping the K-1 veteran in the round of their championship bout. Hutnik landed a kick that clearly injured Leko’s right arm and led to the bout being immediately waved off.

For many fans, Hutnik’s biggest shortcoming may be his tendency to stay near home when entering the ring. Hutnik has not fought outside of the Czech Republic, or neighboring Slovakia, since early 2011. Considered in tandem with a decision-heavy record and lack of blistering speed, this has led some to question whether Hutnik’s success in recent years would be duplicated in a promotion like Glory.

Unlike our last featured fighter, Vladimir Mineev, Ondrej Hutnik does not have an upcoming bout scheduled at this time.

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GLORY 9 New York Photo Gallery

Ghita

GLORY 9 New York went down this weekend with a lot of action and luckily for you, we've been all over it. Our good friend from MiddleEasy, Bauzen, was in attendance at the event with his camera doing some work for the WKA and happened to graciously pass along his photos to us for the site. Get a look at some of the most intense moments from GLORY 9 New York courtesy of Bauzen.

 

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