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Why Kickboxing Fans Should Rejoice About Bellator's Changes

  • Published in News

In case you haven’t heard already, it was announced today by Bellator that Bjorn Rebney has departed from the organization and that his replacement is former Strikeforce head Scott Coker. Coker was restricted under his deal with Zuffa from competing with them until March of this year, which was when Viacom began making a play to push Rebney out and to replace him with Coker. The rumors are no longer rumors and it is indeed now fact; Scott Coker is the new head of Bellator and Bjorn Rebney is out.

Now, I’m sure that you are asking yourself; why does this matter to Kickboxing. The answer is a long one, which you already knew because I only give long answers. GLORY is on Spike TV and in case you haven’t noticed, GLORY has had problems gaining much power with Spike TV since they joined up with the network. GLORY’s ratings have been just as good as Bellator’s have been and they’ve done so with a whole lot less backing compared to Bellator.

See, Bellator had a majority share sold off to Viacom a few years ago, making them not only a part of the Spike TV family, but embedded into the very essence of the network. Viacom now had a stake in not only Bellator’s survival, but its growth and prosperity. While I can’t speak firsthand of Bjorn Rebney, there have been reports for years about how he does business and that the way in which he handled Bellator wasn’t much different. I remember balking at the leaked Bellator contracts when the promotion first began, then we all remember the contract disputes with guys like Eddie Alvarez and Ben Askren.

It’s safe to say that not many in the fight world are big fans of Bjorn Rebney. Kickboxing fans shouldn’t be, either. You’d think that with GLORY under the Spike TV umbrella that there were natural crossover appeals for Bellator and GLORY, in fact, better crossover appeal than between Bellator and TNA Wrestling. Yet the crossovers that we saw were between Bellator and TNA Wrestling, TNA being a distant second place to the WWE and has been in constant financial and creative turmoil for years now. Not even pro wrestling fans like TNA Wrestling (you could argue that MMA fans don’t like Bellator, either, but that’s another story). 

So why not work with GLORY?

The answer is simple; GLORY is a great, polished and professional product. It offers something exciting and if people watch it, they fall in love with it. Bellator on the other hand has had to struggle for any gains in viewers and at times had to sacrifice their “vision” of tournaments to even attract marginal attention from the MMA press and fan base. We’ve had many reports that Rebney considered GLORY as the competition for Spike’s and Viacom’s affections, not something that he could work with and form mutually-beneficial deals with.

GLORY is on the rise and is doing so through rather modest means, while Bellator has had to dip into Viacom’s coffers to push expensive stars like Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz as real competition. While I can’t speak to boardroom affairs or meetings that happened behind closed doors, there has been a sense that a reason why we haven’t seen more GLORY programming on Spike TV or more support for the GLORY brand had a lot to do with Rebney’s attitude towards Kickboxing and GLORY. 

This is why the inclusion of Scott Coker is like a beam of light through a cloudy day for GLORY and Kickboxing fans right now. Scott Coker’s history is one that is rich not only in Mixed Martial Arts, but Martial Arts in general. Scott Coker was a longtime Kickboxing promoter, even working for K-1 on their US events. Before you rag on those events, remember that K-1 gave him extremely limited resources for those events and that any of the good that came for K-1 USA came through Scott and his very talented and motivated team (later on Mike Kogan had similar struggles but did an admirable job as well).

Scott Coker isn’t afraid of Kickboxing, in fact, Scott Coker loves Kickboxing. Kickboxing is how he broke into the world of promoting fights and nobody in the United States did it as successfully as Coker did it. Scott Coker also isn’t afraid of working with other brands on mutually-beneficial arrangements. Strikeforce came into prominence through a landmark deal with EliteXC that brought Strikeforce’s fighters, following and respect to PPV with some of EliteXC’s big names that they had signed, making for truly memorable events. It later led to Strikeforce absorbing EliteXC and becoming the #2 promotion in the world overnight. 

Now, do we think that things are going to immediately get better? Probably not. In fact, it might take a while. Scott Coker might bring about change, but Scott Coker still has to answer to Viacom at the end of the day and without a financial stake in GLORY they might not see the value in pushing it too hard. Then again, there is a contract in place and they are paying GLORY for the programming, so it makes sense to maximize the brand to its fullest and I see no reason why Scott Coker and Bellator would turn away a chance at working with another successful, unique brand to help build credibility for both. 

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Joe Schilling Hit With 90 Day Suspension After Bellator Loss

  • Published in Glory

If you were looking forward to seeing Joe Schilling in the ring wearing bigger gloves at the Bellator/GLORY Dynamite event in September it looks like you are out of luck. On Friday evening he competed within the Bellator cage against a Japanese karateka Hisaki Kato. Kato, who was a virtual unknown to most was thought to be simply a guy being fed to Schilling but he has an extensive history of competing within the world of karate and had racked up four knockouts for four wins in his MMA career prior in Japan. Needless to say the guy is no can and Schilling found out the hard way just how good he was, Kato scoring a brutal knockout over Schilling in the second round.

Schilling was originally scheduled for the September 19th Dynamite event on Spike TV but it came out today that the Kansas commission has handed out a 90-day medical suspension for Schilling, which takes him to the end of September before he's allowed contact. Clearly that means he won't be able to compete on the Dynamite card, which is a bummer. For now we still know that Paul Daley is scheduled to participate on the Dynamite card and he's been calling out recent-Bellator signee Josh Koscheck. I'm not sure that I want to see Kos's brain get scrambled in a kickboxing ring, but that could be interesting. 

Scott Coker also made mention of wanting to have a GLORY title fight on the card, so there is hope yet. 

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Raymond Daniels is Chasing Another World Title in Bellator Kickboxing

(C) Bellator

This weekend Bellator presents Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2, a hybrid MMA and kickboxing event followed by Bellator Kickboxing 2. At Bellator Kickboxing 2 Raymond Daniels will be one of the banner fighters, taking on Stefano Bruno during the telecast. Whenever Daniels is in the ring you can expect something spectacular and in his first Bellator bout Daniels delivered exactly that. In just 30 seconds he was able to finish Francisco Morrica with a spinning back kick, the move that has become a pro wrestling-like finisher of sorts for Daniels.

But the thing is, Daniels has been working incredibly hard on rounding out his kickboxing game and he’s rarely getting to show it. “Yeah, you know,” Daniels told us, “it’s funny because we do all of these things in training camp and have plans to try them out, but the openings are there, so I take them and I knock guys out.”

Raymond Daniels is acutely aware that he provides what nobody else in professional kickboxing currently can in spectacular knockouts. He’s even got a signature kick that is credited with many of his knockout victories. Does it bother Daniels, though? “Not really. I know what I’m capable of, I know what I train and people will get to see it eventually. We always plan on showing off what I’ve learned, but I’ve mastered certain techniques -- and when I say master I mean that I’ve been practicing them for years -- and it’s like what Bruce Lee said; ‘I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.’ There are just certain techniques that I know when to set up, I know how I’m going to land, what happens if I miss. So yeah, when I see that opening I’m going for it.”

As Daniels continues forward in Bellator and becomes more and more synonymous with crazy knockouts and one of the more recognizable names in kickboxing, the question comes of what does Daniels look to do with his future. Does he stay humble and teaching karate, or does he have to move on? “I’ll always find time to teach,” he explained. “It’s a part of me and it’s so important to me. I think about what it did for me growing up, how it helped to shape and mold me. You don’t have to go on to become a world champion for martial arts training to be important in your life. When I was a kid I thought that I had it all figured out, but now that I’m older I realize that while I’m in a better position, I’m still not perfect. I’ve got an 18 year old son that just graduated from high school and he’s trying to figure his life out, it’s funny because he has these plans and he thinks that he’s got it figured out, now it’s his time to learn that he can be wrong.”

When it comes to fighting, though, Daniels does have his eyes on the prize. While he’s not overlooking his opponent this weekend, he will be looking for another spectacular knockout. “That’s just what I do. Against that traditional kickboxing and muay thai style I’m able to really frustrate guys, to make them move like they aren’t comfortable, to be aware that I hit from different angles. It keeps them on edge.” 

But for the future? “Karim Ghajji won that title on the first show and I’m not that guy, I’m not gonna call out the champion before he has a chance to settle in. Let him have his moment, let him be happy with his accomplishments, but I’m coming for him. I’m a world champion, that’s what I do. I’m not looking beyond this next fight, but the way I see it, if I win this fight and get another big knockout I’ve got a pretty good claim to challenge for that title. Then I can make my way to another world title. That’s just what I do.”

Daniels does make a point, I can’t imagine anyone else challenging Karim Ghajji at this point. We’ll have to tune in this weekend to see what Daniels brings to the table and if we get another spectacular knockout. Bellator Kickboxing 2 airs directly after Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 on Friday, June 24th.

 

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Kevin Ross Talks Signing with Bellator Kickboxing, Freedom of Expression and Always Entertaining

Perhaps the thing that caught my eye the most about the early leaks for the inaugural Bellator Kickboxing card was some of the names included. Sure, Melvin Manhoef makes a lot of sense, considering he’s signed to Bellator for MMA already, but it was the names Denise Kielholtz, Raymond Daniels and Kevin Ross that really caught my eye. All three were stars in other promotions before; Kielholtz in Enfusion Live, Daniels in GLORY and Ross in Lion Fight. While Daniels departing GLORY came as a bit of a shock, Kevin Ross signing with Bellator Kickboxing was the real surprise.

Kevin Ross is perhaps the poster boy for muay thai in the United States, to the point where Ross himself is sort of a meme. Seriously, Ross is sort of a meme for this photo of him bowing, fists extended towards the camera with the words “muay thai” scrawled across his knuckles. Chances are that you’ve seen that photo before, even if you aren’t super into kickboxing or muay thai. Regardless, Ross made his name among hardcore fans as a tough-as-nails American nak muay who wasn’t afraid to fly over to Thailand and scrap with the best of them or to sign on to face top level Thais in his home of California. The list of Thai opponents stretches from Coke Chunhawat to Malaipet, Sagetdao and even, yes, one of the greatest of all time in Saenchai. 

The Famous Photo of Ross
The Famous Photo of Ross

Win, lose or draw (Ross actually has zero draws to his credit) Ross is always looking to entertain. “I’m there to put on a show for the fans,” he explained to me. “I put everything into my fights, I’m never taking it easy or trying to just hold on, I’m always doing my best even if it means losing.” This is the Kevin Ross that endeared himself to a larger audience thanks to Lion Fight’s television deal with AXS TV that saw Ross as one of Lion Fight’s centerpieces for so long. Much like Ross explained, he entertained in each and every outing with Lion Fight, which is what made the fact that Lion Fight somehow let him go all the more insane. Who let’s a guy like that go?

Bellator’s Scott Coker made a deal that Ross simply couldn’t resist. “What’s important to me is staying active, being able to go anywhere and fight anyone if I have downtime. That’s what they offered me. Of course, Bellator is my home base and takes priority, but part of my deal is that I can take outside fights.” If you’ve never spoken to Kevin before he’s an incredibly nice guy, always easy to talk with. I joked with him about how he had multiple fight offers in China, only for those to fall apart due to his contractual obligations and exclusivity. “Yeah, exactly,” he said. “I can take outside fights now. If you are gonna keep me under lock and key at least keep me active. Fighting once or twice a year just isn’t enough.”

As I mentioned above, Ross is best known for muay thai. In fact, if you talk to Ross he’ll express his love and passion for the sport, but kickboxing has been on his agenda for a while now. Ross has had multiple false starts when it comes to kickboxing, from being booked with K-1 in China to GLORY announcing that they signed Ross only for Lion Fight to impose their will and keep Ross from fighting there. I’ve always seen Ross as sort of a ride-or-die guy for muay thai, but he brushed that off.

“Muay thai is my passion,” he explained, “but I’ve always loved kickboxing as well. I’ve always been a fan of it and it’s a really good fit for me. I can’t throw elbows or anything, but that’s okay.” His style actually adapts incredibly well to kickboxing. Ross has a fluid style that relies a bit heavier on range than your average muay thai fighter. Sure, kickboxing lacks the clinch or the elbows, but that also means we probably won’t have that many more Kevin Ross bloodbaths, which got a laugh out of him. “Yeah, I’m comfortable with kickboxing, for sure. You’ll see the same Kevin Ross that you always see, I’m gonna be fighting my heart out as always.”

And fight he will, because on April 16th he’s schedule against Matteo Taccini, whom we both admitted to not exactly know a ton about. “I know that he’s young, I know that he’s hungry and for me this isn’t anything different. I’m prepared to be myself and to fight like I always do, whatever he brings to the table I’ll be prepared for. It’s gonna be a fun fight.”

The future's looking bright for Ross, who admits that he’s been fighting for over 13 years now. The inevitable question was that now that he’s under contract to Bellator would he consider MMA, something that he had considered for a long time in the past, but was able to avoid. The answer was pretty simple. “If I was going to do it, I would have done it already, you know? For a long time I thought that I was going to, I was getting ready for it. Never say never, I guess? But probably not.” We had agreed that it makes a bigger statement for him to stay where he is, and according to Ross he’s already see the flow move towards kickboxing and muay thai thanks to the popularity of Glory and Lion Fight. “I’m already seeing fighters trying to make their way in kickboxing, choosing it over MMA, I think that you’ll see more of that in the future.”

When I brought up the topic of if MMA and kickboxing needed to be connected closely for kickboxing and muay thai to grow, or if it was detrimental he was optimistic in it finding its own audience as well as appealing to fight fans in general. “It’s a little of both, I think. I don’t think that being closely related to MMA will be a bad thing for it, or that anyone will look down on it. I think that people will realize that it’s different and that it’ll come into its own. I’m just happy that I get to be a part of it and to help move the sport forward still.”

The decision that Ross made to jump to Bellator Kickboxing is a huge one for the sport, with Ross being incredibly upbeat heading into his first fight for the organization and clearly holds Scott Coker and his past accomplishments within kickboxing and MMA in high regards. “I mean, it’s Scott Coker,” he said, “his track record speaks for itself. Nobody has more experience doing what he’s done and how he’s done it, I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out and I’m honored to be an important part of it. He’s got the right fighters, the right team and the right network in Spike TV in place to help to make this a success.” 

Indeed, Scott Coker made his mark on kickboxing a great deal of years ago with his own events before he took the reins of K-1 USA and before Strikeforce transitioned to MMA and took the world by storm. On April 16th (airing on April 22nd on Spike TV) we’ll see the vision start to fall into place with Kevin Ross at the forefront against Matteo Taccini.

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GLORY CEO Talks About Preparing for a Bright Future with GLORY 23 and Dynamite on the Horizon

  • Published in Interviews

James Law/GLORY

GLORY’s next event is August 7th in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Las Vegas is known for being one of the fight capitals of the world and GLORY will finally make their debut there in the historic Hard Rock. The main event of the show is a GLORY Welterweight Championship bout between Nieky Holzken and Raymond Daniels, two men that have fought before and will meet for the newly-vacated championship. 

In a way, Daniels vs. Holzken is a perfect way to sum up GLORY as an organization at the moment. GLORY began with a bang, pushing out nothing but star-studded cards with fights between top names from K-1 and It’s Showtime, but things have changed quite a bit since then. Some would say the changes were unwelcome, while others would argue that the health of the organization and the sport in particular should come before glitz and glamour. Chief among them would be GLORY’s CEO Jon J. Franklin.

Franklin was involved with GLORY previously, but his role was in assisting them with television rights deals and not running the entire organization. After some reshuffling after GLORY Last Man Standing failed to deliver in PPV sales last year Franklin was placed into the unenviable position of the CEO of GLORY and basically just told, “fix it.” GLORY started off big, just as big as the shows it was replacing from Japan, but the problem was there was really no market for it anymore and the shows, while impressive, helped the organization to bleed money for the first few years. 

“You know,” Franklin explained to me when talking about the difficulties of taking over. “First thing I thought was that I was going to come in and trim the fat. Just come in and cut out everything that we didn’t need, make the whole operation leaner, more profitable and to ensure that we’ll still be running shows down the line. You can’t just cut everything, though, which I learned the hard way early on. There are contracts in place and if you don’t honor those contracts things can get messy in a hurry, even if those contracts were expensive for us at the time.”

That included some of the older, bigger name fighters who have now mostly retired or moved on to what they consider greener pastures for the time being. There was a marked change in direction for the organization after Franklin joined, which he is willing to admit wasn’t always perfect, but has been adjusted with some fine tuning. “Was the Oklahoma show maybe a bit of a stretch for us? Probably, in hindsight, yeah. That might have been a bit too far in the other direction, but if you look back at our recent shows I think that we’ve really found the right mix for us that keeps the fans in the arena happy and is enjoyable to viewers.”

Part of the change was removing some of the more costly aspects of the production, which meant cutting back on production staff that were attending events and even scaling back on travel expenses. “As cool as the ramp was to have, it was an expense and due to how tight our shows are on Spike TV, you’d never really see them anyway. On top of that, most of our more memorable entrances were fighters interacting with the crowd more, like Gokhan Saki at GLORY 15 Istanbul.” 

As for the travel? “I travel coach now, which a few of the older guys were kind of shocked by. ‘How does it look that our CEO is traveling coach?’ They asked me, just not understanding it, still worried about image. I think that it shows that we are very serious about our organization and for its longevity that we aren’t spending frivolously or concerned about things like that. I don’t mind doing it and I believe that it sets a good example for everyone else.”

In a way, Nieky Holzken vs. Raymond Daniels is the perfect GLORY title fight under Jon J. Franklin’s leadership, especially in the Hard Rock, a venue that as a boxing promoter he had worked to put on shows numerous times in the past. Holzken is one of the most renowned and revered kickboxers in the world while Raymond Daniels is an American fighter who might not have the same level of credentials as a professional that Holzken does, but has worked tirelessly to transfer his skills in karate to the sport of kickboxing. His work has resulted in some of GLORY’s most spectacular knockouts and for Daniels becoming one of the more viral and notable stars for the organization. 

“He’s incredible,” he said about Daniels. “I think that showcasing a fighter like Daniels helps to set us apart and really stand out. Nieky is an incredible boxer and Daniels is an incredible athlete who does things that nobody else does inside of the ring. The two-touch kicks, spinning back kicks, just everything that he does takes your breath away and leaves an impression.”

Many older fans see the fight between Daniels and Holzken as a forgone conclusion, but Franklin isn’t worried about a loss for either man hurting their image, instead noting that fighters with heart and personality tend to stand out. “I know that I’ll take some flak for this, but how can you not love a fighter like Dustin Jacoby? He’s still learning the ropes in our sport, but he entered the Road 2 Glory tournament on a day’s notice and won the whole thing, he fought Mourad Bouzidi on short notice and in Bellator stepped into the cage against King Mo on short notice. The guy is a fighter and he’s exciting to watch. I don’t think that losses define a fighter at all and I think that fans have certain connections with fighters and that doesn’t just fade away after a loss or two.”

GLORY is, of course, involved with the big Dynamite event in September that will showcase Bellator fights in a cage and GLORY fights inside of the GLORY ring. The event was in the works for quite a while and Franklin talks about how pleased he has been in the whole process. “How can you not like working with Scott Coker? I’d say he’s one of the top promoters in the world. He’s been a pleasure to work with and we are looking forward to putting on a great show. I mean, Bellator has an amazing platform that they’ve grown since Scott came in and we get to be a part of that with Dynamite.”

The inclusion of GLORY seems almost academic considering the caliber of events that they’ve produced in their short tenure and how Franklin and crew have been able to work miracles out in the previous few events with their reduced budget. Franklin does credit the fighters for sticking with them through the transition, as well. “What people don’t realize is that 95% of our fighters stuck with us through lean times. That is incredible, they really believe in what we are doing and believe that this is where they belong. Look at guys like Errol Zimmerman or Rico Verhoeven who stuck with us through everything and are just excited to get out there and fight.”

The card isn’t settled yet for Dynamite, but GLORY has promised to bring their A-game for this. There was talk of the event possibly happening without GLORY’s assistance, but the reality here is that GLORY’s stable of fighters are some of the very best in the world. The Dynamite event is a huge stage for kickboxing in general and GLORY has top talent in healthy supply to wow both old and new fans alike. It also speaks further for the health of the relationship with Spike TV, which Franklin feels strongly about.

“I was just out there at the Bellator show and I walked away from my meetings with Scott and everyone at Spike TV feeling very positive about it,” he explained. “We have a longterm deal with Spike with extension options and everyone who see GLORY programming feels strongly about it. Could the landscape change in the future, could our relationship change? It could, but that is the nature of television. We aren’t concerned, though, we have a healthy relationship and a lot more shows that we are planning right now.”

The market is ever-changing for combat sports but what is clear is that GLORY is in this for the long haul and is looking to help to grow the sport worldwide as well as the United States. While Spike TV is usually the hot topic, Franklin made sure to mention that they don’t plan on abandoning their international markets any time soon. They have healthy television relationships all throughout Europe and Asia and he notes how it is easier to fill up arenas throughout Europe with their top talent, like in Lille, France where Rico Verhoeven defended his GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi.

In a way, it is refreshing to speak with Franklin and to hear him be so candid about the past and future of the organization. They are very aware of their product and aware of any possible missteps that may have happened in the past and are always looking for ways to provide quality entertainment to all of their fans across the world, all while spending responsibility and ensuring that the company has a bright future. Because, as Franklin told me, having less opportunities for fighters to work and make money is good for no one, so all of the fighters are invested in the future of both the sport and the organization.

GLORY 23 is Friday, August 7th live on Spike TV from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

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Free Agent Alistair Overeem Could Revitalize Kickboxing's Heavyweight Division

  • Published in Kickboxing

(C) Dan Herbertson

Today Bellator announced the signing of former WEC and UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. Henderson was a free agent after his UFC contract expired and him moving to Bellator is yet another big deal in the wake of UFC's grasp on the industry starting to wane thanks to Viacom's hefty check book and moves by the UFC like the Reebok deal that made fighting in the UFC a lot less attractive to fighters. There is another free agent out there that has interest from many sides and that free agent also has our interest as well, that is Alistair Overeem. 

Overeem's UFC career has been solid, if not average at 5-3 with big wins over Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir and Junior Dos Santos. But now he finds himself as a free agent and it seemingly comes down to taking a lesser offer from the UFC in hopes of getting a run at the UFC Heavyweight Championship, or to look for greener pastures. 

The question on lots of fans' minds is this; will he end up in Bellator. My question is a bit different; will he kickbox again? 

In a way it seems impossible, right? With all due respect to GLORY, the chances of them paying Overeem what he wants seems slim-to-none at this point and no other big kickboxing organization would really benefit from adding Overeem to their roster at his high price point. That is, if you are looking at things in a traditional, binary way of a promotion having only this or that, or just being MMA or just kickboxing. What if a promotion could offer both?

We've known about Bellator's Scott Coker looking to expand into kickboxing for almost a year now, but the wheels seem to be in motion starting at the April Oktagon event (although Bellator has yet to comment on this yet), with Joe Schilling confirming in his recent Reddit AMA that Bellator was going to venture into kickboxing. All of a sudden Bellator seems not only like a logical destination for a fighter like Alistair Overeem's MMA career, but for the final K-1 World Grand Prix Champion (at least under the FEG banner, I guess, are we counting Cro Cop's win?) to return to kickboxing and shake things up in heavyweight kickboxing. 

A huge part of why heavyweight kickboxing has felt so hollow over the past few years has been not only the dissolution of K-1's legendary heavyweight division, but the retirement or fading away of the stars that made that division so great. Alistair Overeem was the man to win the last real K-1 World Grand Prix while K-1 still had its roster in tact. A big part of why the division hasn't felt as vibrant would have to be that for years the champion would continue fighting in tournaments and when a new champion was crowned there were no lingering doubts because the system was clear. The system was incredibly simple; the champion won a one-night, eight man tournament each year. Period. That's it. 

GLORY has held tournaments since then, and K-1 held a World Grand Prix in 2012 that Mirko Cro Cop won, but all of these tournaments felt like they were missing something. In that period of time Rico Verhoeven has risen up to the very top of the food chain, but finding someone to challenge him has been a chore for GLORY. On top of that, some fans still don't accept him as the "real" champion for god know's what reason. I'd argue that a big part of that feeling is that the chain was broken and the champion didn't go on to fight in another tournament. There was no passing of the torch, so to speak. 

If Bellator is truly going to have their own kickboxing promotion this year who better to help build that promotion around than Alistair Overeem, former K-1 World Grand Prix Champion? And yes, he could do that while still fighting in MMA for them as well. Overeem's star power is undeniable at this point and while promotional logistics would make a potential clash between Overeem and Verhoeven difficult, never say never. 

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Joe Schilling Talks About The Technically Illegal Shot That Kato Won With

This past Friday at Bellator Kickboxing 2 Joe Schilling stepped into the ring against Hisaki Kato. Kato holds a victory over Schilling under MMA rules, but to many this was Joe's chance to shine and avenge the loss to Kato under his own rules. The fight was going Joe's way until a fateful blow landed and Joe was down on the mat. That blow was a spinning backfist, only many were quick to note that it looked more like the elbow or forearm connected, not the glove.

Technically under ISKA rules that was an illegal shot. Throughout the evening I heard talk about there being heated discussions backstage about the legality of the blow and even rumblings of it being overturned. Cooler heads prevailed and that talk has died down. Interestingly enough, Joe appeared on a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience this week where both men talked about losing, talked about the kind of awful people who exist online and talk smack at fighters as well as the legality of the blow. 

At about 13:47 listen for the talk of the shot and how both seem to agree that shots like that should probably be legal anyway.

There's also just some solid talk about kickboxing and muay thai in the show as well.

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Joe Schilling Reveals That GLORY Let His Contract Expire

  • Published in Glory

Ah jeez, here we go, right? It came out last week that GLORY 10 Middleweight Champion and GLORY Last Man Standing finalist Joe Schilling would be fighting for Bellator on Spike TV. Joe had made it known for a while now that he was looking into making the jump back into MMA and has been training with some of the best of the best just in case the opportunity came up. Needless to say it wasn't a shock to hear that Scott Coker had eyes for Schilling and that Schilling will be fighting Melvin Manhoef on the undercard of the Stephan Bonnar vs. Tito Ortiz event on November 15th. 

GLORY issued a statement through us from GLORY CEO Jon J. Franklin about an agreement of sorts between Bellator and GLORY to exchange talent with Schilling vs. Manhoef being the first such fight. It turns out that Joe Schilling has another story, one that involves the company letting his contract expire without talks of renewing and that they had absolutely nothing to do with his move to Bellator outside of being unresponsive to him. 

"We thought that there was another fight on the contract, but after going back over it, it was a two-fight guaranteed with a third-fight option," Schilling explained. "My contract expired along with Spong's and Saki's. So GLORY is taking credit on the internet -- Liverkick did a write up about it -- trying to give GLORY credit for co-promoting it or allowing me to go. They had absolutely nothing to do with it. I'm a free agent. My contract expired and Bellator offered me a good deal and we took it, but it had absolutely nothing to do with GLORY."

"We've been told they want to start to negotiate a new one, but nothing is happening with that yet. They allowed my contract to expire. Bellator offered me a new one and we took it. The wording in the Bellator contract does allow me to fight outside of Bellator for kickboxing. It doesn't have to be just GLORY, there are other promotions available as well. I'm out of my contract with GLORY, this deal had nothing to do with GLORY and It's kind of shocking to me that they would let my contract expire."

Here's hoping that we see Joe back in a kickboxing ring again soon.

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Updated Card for Bellator Kickboxing's Debut Show in Torino, Italy

On April 16 in Torino, Italy Bellator Kickboxing will finally make its debut. The card, set to be headlined by Melvin Manhoef, is starting to come together with a few interesting bouts. Melvin Manhoef finally has an opponent in Alexandru Negrea and Mustapha Haida will fight Karim Ghajji in a very, very interesting battle between a battle-hardened veteran and a fighter that many see with a bright future in Haida. Raymond Daniels, Denise Kielholtz and Kevin Ross are still scheduled without opponents.

Updated “Bellator Kickboxing: Torino” Fight Card:

Bellator Kickboxing Middleweight Main Event: Melvin Manhoef (49-12) vs. Alexandru Negrea (8-2)

Bellator Kickboxing 165-Pound Feature Bout: Mustapha Haida (37-3-3) vs. Karim Ghajji (95-12)

Bellator Kickboxing Welterweight Feature Bout: Raymond Daniels (10-3) vs. TBA

Bellator Kickboxing Flyweight Feature Bout: Denise Kieholtz (43-2) vs. TBA

Bellator Kickboxing Bantamweight Feature Bout: Kevin Ross (30-9) vs. TBA

Update: Here is the full card for the kickboxing portion of the event, including the Venum Victory World Series portion of the card.

Card 

H 17:30 VICTORY WORLD SERIES. 

Technical partner Leone Sport.

ThaiBoxe code Fight Rules, 3 rounds x 3 min + extra rounds in case of a tie.

Cat - 60 kg Tarik Totts (Mar) vs. Wang Shanwei (Chn)

Cat -95 kg Igor Bougaienko (BR) vs. Bruno Sousano (Portugal)

Cat -70 kg Armen Petrosyan (ITA) vs Wang Tengyue Chn)

Cat -72.5 kg Chingis Allazov (Az) vs Wu Sihan (Chn)

Cat -70kg Giorgio Petrosyan (TA) vs Jordan Watson (UK)

H 20:00 Bellator KICKBOXING. 

Technical partner Boxeur des rues.

3 x 3 min rounds + extra round for a draw

Cat -57 kg Denise Kielholz (NL) vs tba (ITA)

Cat -65 kg Taccini Matteo (ITA) vs Kevin Ross (USA)

Cat -77 kg Moricca Francesco (ITA) vs Raymond Daniels (USA)

Cat - 75.5 kg world title ISKA 5 rounds of 3 minutes 

karim Gajii (F) champion vs Mustapha Haida (Sea) Challenger 

Cat -86 kg Melvin Manhoef (NL) vs Alexandru Negrea (ROM)

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Bellator Announces Dynamite!! September 19th in San Jose with GLORY Participation

  • Published in Glory

Yesterday there was a spark of this potentially huge event happening in September featuring Spike TV's premier combat sports brands of Bellator and GLORY. While there was some trepidation throughout the industry everything fell into place and today Bellator announced that Dynamite!! will happen on September 19th in San Jose at the SAP Center. GLORY's participation in the event will be a three-fight offering featuring fights from Joe Schilling, Paul Daley and more to be announced.

It will be interesting to have the Bellator cage set up in the arena as well as an area for a kickboxing ring as well, with Spike TV looking to present what should be their biggest combat sports card to date. In addition to the three-fight GLORY card there will be a lot of big stuff from Bellator, including a Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship bout between champion Liam McGeary and UFC legend Tito Ortiz. In addition there will be a one-night tournament at Light Heavyweight featuring King Mo Lawal, Phil Davis, Linton Vassal and Emanuel Newton, the winner challenging the winner of McGeary and Ortiz at a later event.

This should be a big deal for both MMA fans and kickboxing fans alike and is a very good thing for GLORY to be associated with Bellator like this. While Dynamite!! was a Japanese tradition that blended together DREAM and K-1, it will be interesting to see what a night of "Dynamite" featuring Bellator and GLORY can be.

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