The world of kickboxing has a rich history to fall back upon so we here at LiverKick figure, why not? Why not give a glimpse into some of the fights from the past that have made up this wonderful sport and tie it all in to the present. The kids on the Instagram and Twitter like to call Thursdays "Throwback Thursdays," I'm just going to say that this is a LiverKick Throwback.
Today we are only back four years to when Giorgio Petrosyan was dominating the K-1 MAX scene. This fight between Gago Drago and Su Hwan Lee was part of the 2010 K-1 MAX final 16. Drago was still competing with the top guys at the 70 kgs (154 lbs) weight class at this point but after this fight he defeated Mohammed Khamal in the quarter finals then lost a decision to Yoshihiro Sato in the semi's which started his 8 fight and 2 year losing spree. Drago was always had one of the most exciting styles in the K-1 MAX, not the most technical or intelligent, but always going for the KO and fighting hard, that's without mentioning his amazing entrances.
Su Hwan Lee had fought some good names already like Artur Kyshenko or Albert Kraus for example, but he always came up short against the elite level fighters. He's a south paw with technical ability to do well he just always seemed to get caught and knocked outy by the more experienced fighters.
We are, as they say, at a bit of an impasse in the sport of kickboxing right now. It’s difficult to avoid, difficult to make eye contact with and not look away. We’ve been at this place before, though, which is why it feels so awful this time around. Back in 2010 it looked like the sport of kickboxing was heading for imminent doom and destruction. FEG was a sinking ship and they were taking on water -- fast -- faster than they ever wanted to publicly admit.
Things were looking bleak for the sport of kickboxing at that time, but there was still hope. There were still people who were passionate about the sport, who wanted to do everything that they could for it. You had Simon Rutz and Bas Boon at each other’s throats, but both men were passionate and willing to do what it took to keep the sport afloat. You had Romanian promoter Eduard Irimia ready to expand beyond Romania. You had men with vision. Followed by the men with money to go with that passion.
As I stated before, we are at an impasse at the moment. The Japanese fight market has shrunk, shrunk to the point of almost being dead, but not quite. It doesn’t exist like it did what feels like a lifetime ago. What exists now is a facsimile of the grandeur that we knew before. Simulacra, a copy of a copy of a copy with adjustments made for degradation. Europe and America were always the wild west for kickboxing; that was clearly where the money was, but would it be able to reach the great heights that were achieved in Japan and Asia?
Enter GLORY. GLORY took a gamble, filtering millions of dollars into the sport that was on its knees after losing its king. Without a doubt the K-1 name held the prestige, it had done things that no one thought possible with the fringe sport of kickboxing. The rise of K-1 meant making the rest of the sport of kickboxing look silly in the process. The end result is that kickboxing rules aren’t kickboxing rules anymore, they are K-1 Rules. The name K-1 is intrinsically linked with the sport of kickboxing even to this day, for good or for bad.
So GLORY was set to fill the hole that was left by FEG’s bankruptcy with big promises, fireworks and a roster of capable production crew and the best fighters in the world. Sights were set on America, on taking on the leviathan market where the UFC rose from obscurity into a sport appearing regularly on Fox programming and had weaseled its way into becoming a household name. This was kickboxing’s white whale and, for a while, things were looking good.
Spike TV was hungry for the next big combat sport after they lost the UFC to Fox Sports, scooping up Bellator and then K-1. K-1 withdrew their name from the hat to restructure, leaving Spike TV ready to accept GLORY into the fold. Kickboxing had finally made it, it was on cable television in the United States. The first show happened and the ratings were in. They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad, either. There was promise.
Since then there have been the good times and the bad times, but what became increasingly clear was that there was no competition for GLORY anywhere out there. GLORY was doing things right, it was paying the fighters what they deserved to be paid, treating them with respect and doing everything right. Growing pains are real, though, especially when the anticipated growth doesn’t live up to the reality. Kickboxing was, for all intents and purposes, a new sport to many fans out there. It was a part of the whole that is Mixed Martial Arts, thus, it was fringe. There has been growth, but the growth is slow, it is costly and it is frustrating.
GLORY’s last event was GLORY 17/Last Man Standing on June 21st, which, as of the time that I write this, was two months ago. Since then there have been rumors, whispers and public decrees from fans; GLORY is dead. If you read forums or comment sections on websites you’ll hear all about it, you’ll hear that so-and-so’s trainer said that the company is bankrupt, you’ll hear that shows have been canceled, that members of the board are ready to depart, that payments have been filtering in late. For the kickboxing faithful these are all triggers, things that will bring back that long-forgotten PTSD that came with the dissolution of FEG’s K-1 back in 2010 and 2011.
Then there are those that like to watch the world burn, who are calling for the end. These are the fatalists. We’ve had private assurances from many within GLORY that right now is simply a time of restructuring, of regrouping, of changing strategies. Yesterday’s announcement of a new CEO was the first step. But, let’s give in to hysteria, to fatalism. Let’s say that GLORY has a few shows left and then, just as quickly as they emerged, they disappear into the ether of kickboxing history.
Who is there to pick up the pieces this time? Where are the Bas Boons looking to find anyone, to compromise his own visions and brands, to make things work? Where are the Simon Rutz’s running the #2 promotion and ready to take on the financial burden of being the de facto #1? Where are the Pierre Andurands, Ivan Farnetis, Scott Rudmanns and others who are willing to take a risk with their own personal money to invest in the sport? Where are your GLORY replacements where these now out-of-the-job fighters have to find work with?
The market right now is a mess. In a way, you can blame GLORY for the mess. GLORY was looking to be the alpha and omega in kickboxing, which meant exclusive contracts, which meant paying what others couldn’t pay, treating fighters unlike they were used to be treated. So you’ll tell me LEGEND Fight Show, the same promotion that put on three events thus far, only one in 2014 with nothing scheduled yet. So you’ll tell me GFC, the guys that are paying Badr Hari a mint to compete for them, because you were able to watch that last show from your couch, right? Because outside of Badr Hari they are stacking cards with expensive talent, right?
So you’ll say Enfusion, K-1 or SuperKombat. I’ll say that all three are great promotions in their own right, each one growing in their own way, with their own unique business plans and markets. How many of them see a broad market as their audience right now? K-1 is focused on Asia, Enfusion is focused on the UK and SuperKombat is focused on Romania. You might say that if GLORY simply disappears like Criss Angel in a stunt that they’ll be able to bolster their rosters with big names, but where does that money come from? The end of It’s Showtime came from overreaching and hiring top talents.
Right now nobody has what FEG’s K-1 had in a television partner that was willing to sink millions of their own money into each event and, realistically, we might never see that again. GLORY doesn’t even have that right now. Instead, GLORY has a good deal with Spike TV, but one that bears little fruit for either side right now and might take years to build up properly, to build an audience and really start making money.
The rise of GLORY was both beneficial and detrimental to the sport of kickboxing. If GLORY ceases to be, then the sport of kickboxing is set back even further than when FEG’s K-1 ceased to be. If you consider yourself a fan of kickboxing then at this moment the sport will require something of you. The sport will require your faith. If GLORY says that they aren’t done yet, then, well, they aren’t done yet. In the meantime we can only hope that Enfusion, K-1, SuperKombat and others continue to grow and find themselves in better positions to provide stability for both fans and fighters alike.
For now, let's save our eulogies and instead focus on the sport that we all love.
On June 29th in Azerbaijan GLORY fighters Jamal Ben Saddik and Hesdy Gerges clashed in a non-GLORY ring where the outcome saw a frustrated Jamal Ben Saddik take Gerges to the mat and begin viciously attacking him as if it were in MMA rules. Of course, it wasn't, it was kickboxing rules and a "GLORY-ranked" fight. Since the incident occurred we've been hearing that Jamal Ben Saddik would be released by the organization, but there was radio silence on the issue until today.
Today GLORY released a statement announcing that Jamal Ben Saddik has been handed down a six month suspension, during which time his GLORY contract is set to expire and GLORY has opted not to renew that contract. That means that Ben Saddik is effectively out of the organization and out of action for the next few months.
“GLORY will on occasion give permission to fighters to take part in third-party events. But when they do so, they are still bound by GLORY rules and regulations, this is part of the agreement,” said Cor Hemmers, Head of Talent Operations.
“In their contracts with GLORY, fighters agree to abide by the company’s rules and regulations. Failure to do so is a breach of their agreement with the company and leaves the fighter open to disciplinary action.
“Mr. Ben Saddik breached his agreement with GLORY and also conducted himself in a manner liable to bring the sport into disrepute. For this reason a multi-department disciplinary panel was convened, leading to today’s action against Mr. Ben Saddik.” [source]
SuperKombat's next show will be on September 27th in Almere, Netherlands. Just the fact of it being in Holland means the atmosphere is going to be amazing, let alone a 95 kgs 4 man tournament and the always explosive Catalin Morosanu in a super fight against Dutch fighter Brian Douwes who seems to have taken Ismael Londts place. This will be a good test for Morosanu considering Douwes has fought everyone and is on a three fight winning streak, this will be one of Morosanu's hardest fights since Ben Edwards I'd say.
These fight cards are ever changing so here is the most recent card:
WGP Semifinal 1 3x3 +95Kg - Tarik Khbabez (Morocco) vs. Gurhan Degermenci (Turkey)
WGP Semifinal 2 3x3 +95Kg - Patrick Veenstra (Holland) vs. Viktor Bugotzki (Germany)
Superfight 3x3 63.5Kg - Hamza Soesie (Morocco) vs. Christian Spetcu (Romania)
Superfight 3x3 -91Kg - Clyde Brunswijk (Suriname) vs. Hovik Tikranjan (Armenia)
Superfight 3x3 -100Kg - Jegish Yegoian (Armenia) vs. Marcello Adriaansz (Suriname)
Superfight 3x3 -95Kg - Redouan Cairo (Suriname) vs Ali Cenic (Turkey)
Superfight 3x3 +100Kg - Brian Douwes (Holland) vs. Catalin Morosanu (Romania)
WGP Final +95Kg -WINNER SEMI FINAL 1 vs. WINNER SEMI FINAL 2