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.
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?
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.
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.
GLORY 9 takes place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City this Saturday, June 22nd. Among the night’s major attractions will be an 8-man light heavyweight (209 lb./95 kg.) tournament, featuring much of the world’s top talent at that weight. The tournament field includes longtime divisional standouts, champions of all varieties, and a couple of American kickboxers with the chance to prove themselves on the international stage. Here is just a bit more information about each of the fighters in the field.
On Saturday June 22nd Glory World Series will come to New York City with GLORY 9 New York, featuring a one night, eight-man Light Heavyweight tournament featuring the likes of Tyrone Spong, Michael Duut, Danyo Ilunga, Brian Collette and more! We'll continue to provide you with information about the card as it approaches. As always, you'll be able to purchase and watch the event live on LiverKick.com for just $20.
Doing so not only supports the sport of Kickboxing but also supports your favorite Kickboxing site, LiverKick.com as well and helps us to continue trudging through the day-to-day.
It's that time of the year (or it might even be a bit late) to recap the best of kickboxing in 2012 now that it's over. We saw some great fights, great knockouts, fighters who had breakout years and great events.
Fighter of the Year
I know some are going to say Semmy Schilt here but ultimately I had to go with Giorgio Petrosyan, the LiverKick #1 ranked middleweight. He fights in the deepest division in kickboxing and still completely dominates it, being in my opinion the undisputed best kickboxer in the world. With four top ten at the time wins on the year, he went undefeated again in 2012. Another reason why I chose Petrosyan over Schilt is because all of his wins were in the regular 3x3 fight format, whereas Schilt had the same number of top ten wins as Petrosyan but three of them were in the 2x2 format. Some people also won't like this, but Petrosyan really has no huge physical advantages over his opponents, as they all weigh in at 70kg or under. The bottom line is that Giorgio Petrosyan had another excellent year and remains the number one kickboxer in the world.
It was actually kind of disappointing that there weren't that many candidates for this award, but unfortunately there are a ton of fights that we don't have any video of so we only have so much to work with. On a positive note, Genji Umeno vs. Chang Hyun Lee was an amazing fight and I feel that it was the best of 2012. Umeno came into the fight a heavy favorite, with Lee being a complete unknown. The result was a highly competitive, action packed fight with Umeno possibly having the edge until getting dropped in the third round. Lee came away with the decision win and stole the show, which featured the entire K-1 Final 16 at heavyweight.
This one actually crept up on me at the last minute, as I almost forgot about it. Thankfully I remembered because Shuichi Wentz's high kick knockout of Romie Adanza at the K-1 US Grand Prix in Los Angeles on September 8 was brutal, unexpected and scary all in one. The ensuing reaction after the knockout made it that much better, but also made it that much worse, if that makes any sense. Adanza was out cold, stiffened up and twitching.
I was looking at what people were saying the event of the year was and was quite surprised that no one mentioned the GLORY 70kg First 16 in Stockholm, Sweden on May 26. Top to bottom it was a great show with great fights. It had one of the honorable mentions for fight of the year in Askerov vs. van Roosmalen. It also had big upsets such as Davit Kiria's win over Kem Sitsongpeenong, as well as the emergence of some of the breakout fighters of the year in Sanny Dahlbeck and the aforementioned Kiria. Nieky Holzken vs. Alex Harris was another great fight with a great finish. Overall it was just a great event from top to bottom.
I was hesitant to proclaim Roman Mailov as the prospect of the year because he has two really tough fights coming up that I think he might lose but nevertheless, Mailov is the definition of a prospect that was built up really well in 2012. His year started in March where he had his first fight at 70kg, moving up from his previous weight of 63.5-65kg. He kept winning while gradually increasing the level of competition in front of him. Overall, he went 9-0 in 2012 and was signed to GLORY by the end of the year. Like I mentioned before, he has some very tough fights coming up (Yuta Kubo on January 14) where he's being thrown into deep waters, but in 2012 I don't think there was another fighter who was built up so well.
A part of me doesn't even know how to process Steven Seagal anymore. Is he delusional? Is he insane? Is he really an old school style martial arts master like they talk about in ancient scrolls? Was he a CIA operative? Is he just an actor with a martial arts background who has marketed himself to be something more? These are the questions that I find myself asking whenever Steven Seagal is in the news.
I'm not sure that tonight's episode of The Voice Versus clears up any of those questions for me, but it does help me to solidify my opinions on him as well as entertain with his stories. Like it or not, Seagal has lived a storied life and has a lot of tales to tell the world. He also seems to genuinely care about the environment and for the world to be a peaceful place, which is really admirable. Schiavello, as always, does his homework and was able to keep up a certain level of rapport with Seagal about his background as well as some of his more entertaining tall tales, some of which Seagal did not wish to comment on, but Schiavello did discuss in between interview segments.
Throughout the entire episode I found myself entertained, if just being outraged at some of his statements or genuinely interested in what his favorite fight scenes were. There is even a full segment about Mixed Martial Arts and his relationships with Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva.
The Voice Versus airs tonight on AXS TV here in the US, so check your local listings and enjoy.
When fight fans think about a fighter, especially a rising star, I’m surprised how few think about the term narrative. To me, the narrative of a fighter’s career and of each fight is one of the most alluring parts of the fight game, and partially why Kickboxing has always aced Mixed Martial Arts for me. Sure, the kicks, the clinch game and the constant action helps, but K-1 especially did a great job in the 90’s and early 00’s of building up new stars and telling a story to the world, as opposed to simply pushing out fighters and booking them in competitive fights.
I’m not trashing competitive fights, just saying that simply booking them alone is not always enough in building a star. This line of thought crossed my mind when it became clear this week that K-1 had Daniel Ghita on the hook for the K-1 World Grand Prix, and instead of reeling him in and claiming the biggest star and most talented Heavyweight in Kickboxing today, they opted to let him go due to fears of him jumping to the competition after fighting for them and winning their tournament. I understand that line of reasoning, but the truth is, there is a good chance of Daniel Ghita, potentially the best Heavyweight alive in the world right now, might have to sit out the 2012 tournament season due to politics. This is all happening right when his star has been cemented and the narrative has been in place that Daniel Ghita is the best in the world, just ready to claim his throne.
Over the weekend at UFC 140 the two featured bouts of the evening saw exciting finishes by two of UFC’s bigger stars. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir took the fight to another former [Interim] UFC Heavyweight Champion in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, surviving being knocked out by quickly reversing a choke and applying an armlock and promptly breaking Big Nog’s arm. Current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones put on an equally as impressive finish after recovering from being outpointed on his feet to working the challenger Lyoto Machida over with elbows on the ground before he was able to corner the challenger and apply a neck chancre that rendered Machida unconscious.
As a fan, it is hard to complain about fights at this level being finished in thrilling fashion. So, while it may be hard to complain about the fights being finished in a dramatic, decisive fashion, there are some other, much more troubling trends in both of these fights that have gone largely unnoticed amidst the excitement. Behavior of fighters has changed, as fans have noticed over the past few years, with both of the featured fights this weekend making light of this. Big Nog suffered a broken arm at the hands of Frank Mir, Nog still laying on the mat while Mir quickly pulled on the gear from his sponsors and celebrated. Jon Jones claimed that he “knew” Lyoto Machida was out cold, but quickly let go to strut off while Machida fell head-first to the mat in a heap.
It is a matter of respect and concern for the opponent’s well-being that seemingly melted away over the past few years, being flaunted on-air at UFC 140. It is a paradigm shift that has occured in the rush to help “legitimize” MMA as a “real sport” in the United States.