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Is Winning Enough to Cement a Legacy for Georges St. Pierre in UFC?

  • Published in Kickboxing

(C) Getty ImagesAt UFC 129 we saw UFC sell 55,000 tickets for what turned into North America's largest MMA event in history, in GSP's home country of Canada. Georges St. Pierre is one of the UFC's most decorated champions in history, a two-time Welterweight Champion with six defenses in a row, seven if you count retaining the Interim Championship against Matt Serra to be crowned the Undisputed Welterweight Champion. Of course, over that streak there are only two stoppages, including the win over Serra and defense against BJ Penn, which has earned him a reputation among hardcore fans as lacking a killer instinct.

Without a doubt, GSP is something very special for the MMA world. To see that all you needed to do was watch tonight's UFC 129 and watch for both fighters entering the arena. GSP came into the arena sporting a seasonally fashionable suit and looked very composed while Shields was shown stumbling in the arena dressed in a t-shirt, oversized hoodie, jeans, baseball cap and sneakers. For St. Pierre this is par for the course, he is the epitome of professionalism in the world of Mixed Martial Arts; he dresses well, he speaks well, he also comes across as personable and intelligent. He is really the total package in a business sense, with no one able to come close to him in this department and might not for a while. Shields, while the elder to GSP was walking into the biggest fight of his life looking like a NASCAR vehicle, splattered with his sponsors and a bit nervous.

There is also little doubt as to why there were so many fans in the arena tonight; 55,000 came not only for the UFC brand name, the experience and for fights, but to see a hometown hero like Georges St. Pierre fight for the honor of Canada. We may have to wait and see what the PPV numbers are, but there is a good chance that they are indeed very good considering the solid line-up and marketing leading into the event. For GSP, everything seems on par for him to become one of MMA's biggest legends and superstars, yet something doesn't feel right.

On the same card fans saw a humble Randy Couture knocked out by a Crane Kick (not joking) by Lyoto Machida and announce that he was officially retired. Couture has already cemented his legacy, oddly enough he did so with a 19-11 record, which for an elite level MMA fighter who is held in such high regards as he,  a rather poor record. You could see Couture as the fighter that made the blueprint for GSP to follow; be humble, professional, follow the rules and never forget your fans. Yet for Couture, there is something about him that is very different, and that is his story and feelings he evokes from fans. Couture overcame insurmountable odds a few times in his career, hopping between two of the most competitive weight classes in the sport during his twilight years and securing big-name victories and title wins unlike any other fighter. Some of his fights when watched live were impossible not to be caught up in the moment and the passion of, like the Time Sylvia bout, don't hold up when viewed years later. The Sylvia fight is actually a rather boring fight with a very active crowd, but that is because it has already happened and we all know the outcome. Live, it was exciting and told a story of an over-the-hill underdog, former champion coming out of nowhere to stop a then-dominant champion. When Couture landed a punch you felt your heart race, when he took Sylvia down you wanted to jump out of your seat and cheer.

Randy wasn't always "good for business" with Zuffa, as they had a very public tiff a few years back including a lawsuit, Randy almost fighting for Affliction against Fedor Emelianenko and signing on for the EA MMA video game, all while holding the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Even with that said, Randy returned to UFC, was given a better contract than he had before, was allowed to keep his Heavyweight title and actually put it on the line against up-and-comer Brock Lesnar who was doing great PPV numbers for his previous fights. For many, Randy has an X-Factor, even if there are stories of him being a womanizer, hard to work with, terrible at managing his finances and possibly using hormone therapy to extend his career. None of that matters in the eyes of the public.

At this point UFC has two dominant champions; Georges St. Pierre at Welterweight and Anderson Silva at Middleweight, yet neither man really seem to be as beloved as Couture or primed to have as long of a lasting legacy as Couture. Both champions have been criticized for not finishing off their opponents, many of which are clearly not on their level. For Anderson Silva, the criticism tends to lean towards him simply playing with his opponents and becoming bored and disinterested with fighting them or putting on a good show. For GSP the criticism comes that he looks to fight a safe fight and only to win, not to finish his opponents. Anderson Silva plays more of a bad boy and GSP plays off more like a company man, and while both have great drawing potential in their home countries, possibly even become big stars on a world-wide scale, neither man have the untouchable aura of Randy Couture.

This makes one wonder if winning is really important for cementing a legacy as much as telling the fans an interesting story and having them get emotionally invested in you as a person, not just a fighter. A fighter like Brock Lesnar has this figured out, as to date he has only a handful of fights but has earned more money in those fights than some UFC fighters with lengthy, successful careers. On top of that, he will most likely always have a place in UFC history with fans all having a strong opinion on him, be it good or bad.

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John Wayne Parr to Help GSP Train for Johny Hendricks

  • Published in Muay Thai

JWP

Muay Thai and Kickboxing living legend John Wayne Parr not only picked up an impressive recent win inside of a cage wearing MMA gloves, but he's apparently been tapped to head to Montreal to train with UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, helping GSP prepare for his upcoming title bout against Johny Hendricks. This also means that we'll see John Wayne Parr cageside at UFC 167 to help corner Georges St. Pierre.

Here is the statement from JWP via his Facebook today.

"Received another email off Firas, looks like I am going to Tristar in Canada early August for 2 weeks for the sole purpose of training George St Pierre with his striking. The best part is the boys will be flying me to Vegas to be part of the corner in November when GSP takes on Johnny Hendricks.

This is without doubt the biggest opportunity of my life. Thank you Firas & GSP!"

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Full Cast Revealed for Reboot of The Kickboxer

  • Published in Kickboxing

So a few months ago we heard news about the classic Jean-Claude Van Damme flick, "The Kickboxer" being remade with the likes of GSP, Dave "Batista" Bautista and Alain Moussi. Now we finally have more news about the flick, including a few big casting announcements that are a big deal for the martial arts world. We already knew that Alain Moussi would take the lead role of Kurt Sloan, who heads to Thailand to learn how to fight and avenge the tragic beathdown of his brother by the evil Tong Po.

We now know for sure that Batista, who is currently starring in Guardians of the Galaxy, will play the role of Tong Po. The recent additions to the cast are Scott Atkins of the Undisputed films fame (or lack thereof) and, yes, this is the big one, Tony Jaa. Tony Jaa set the world on fire with Ong Bak back in 2003, using a modified muay thai style, muay boran. Since then he's gone on to make a number of films that martial arts fans have salivated over (although Ong Bak 2 and 3 are pretty terrible). [source]

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JCVD's The Kickboxer Being Remade with GSP and Bastista

  • Published in Kickboxing

JCVD

I feel like the title alone and how instrumental the Jean-Claude Van Damme movies were in the 80's into making Kickboxing a more popular sport here in the United States warrants coverage, but damn, they are remaking The Kickboxer. This is really a classic film in the world of martial arts, Kickboxing specifically. It featured Dennis Alexio as JCVD's brother, who was training and fighting in Thailand before he ran into the devious Thai Boxer Tong Po, who crippled him. This led JCVD on a mission of revenge and to learn Muay Thai.

What wasn't to like about it?

Now it looks like it is being remade with an interesting cast of characters to back it up. Alain Moussi will be the lead actor, best known for his marital arts-based stunt work in big budget films like Pacific Rim, White House Down, Brick Houses and many others. Hong Kong actor/producer/director Steven Fung will be directing the remake. It sounds like they change things up a little bit, with Eric (the Dennis Alexio character) being murdered by Tong Po, but hey, why not, right?

The film is also set to feature former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre as well as WWE wrestler Batista (Dave Bautista), although it isn't clear which roles they will play. I'd have to say that Batista would make for a convincing Tong Po, wouldn't you agree.?

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Joe Valtellini: GLORY's Own GSP in the Making

  • Published in Glory

When it comes to conventional wisdom how to make Kickboxing take off in the United States everyone always says the same thing; you need an American star. You need an American star, that is what everyone thinks, so therefore that is what it needs. That is sound logic, but the only thing is, when we look at the recent history of breakthrough stars in combat sports, we don’t see just Americans. Sure, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is American and Oscar De La Hoya is American (but he associates as Mexican for many), but Manny Pacquiao is definitely not American, nor were many of the big UFC Champions.

So of course, you can’t talk UFC champions without talking about Georges St-Pierre, the Canadian former Welterweight Champion who was one of the UFC’s few “big” stars. Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and a few others were important, sure, but GSP proved to be a real, tangible draw for the company and he wasn’t American. GSP was from Canada, he was also responsible for their biggest live gate in history.

GLORY continues its search for their breakthrough star and the feeling that I’ve been getting over the past few months is that as much as conventional wisdom tells me that it’ll be Joe Schilling or Wayne Barrett, the evidence has been pouring in that Canada’s Joseph Valtellini might indeed be that guy. Joe Valtellini might be the guy to break through and become a big star. 

It’s difficult not to make parallels to the UFC’s own Georges St-Pierre, the humble Canadian fighter who was educated, well-spoken, personable, marketable as well as incredibly talented. If you were to tick off boxes in favor of Valtellini you’d be able to tick off every single one of those boxes. It isn’t crazy to think that GLORY’s big breakthrough star could be a Canadian fighter who is marketable, talented, educated and everything that you’d want in a fighter.

While speaking to Valtellini this week we even discussed how he’s never fought in his home country of Canada as a professional, in part due to that the Toronto area has yet to legalize professional Kickboxing. They were late to the game with legalizing MMA, but when they did and promoted a GSP fight they found themselves packing 55,000 fans into the Roger’s Centre in the UFC’s biggest gate to date, with it looking like the record won’t be broken for a very long time. Valtellini wants to be not only important to the sport of Kickboxing, but to his home of Canada as well. One would have to think that Canada could potentially be for GLORY what it has been for MMA in creating stars and passionate fight fans.

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but Joseph Valtellini is popping up everywhere. Interviews, television shows, all over social media and is being discussed by not only fans of Kickboxing, but fight fans everywhere. There is a general feeling that he’s going to take off and very soon. GLORY definitely needs that sharp, articulate fighter to present to the world and if Joseph Valtellini can do the work in the ring against Marc de Bonte on June 21st it’ll be interesting to see what the response is, because he hasn’t fought in a few months, but everyone is still talking about him already. If he becomes champion I only imagine it’ll be intensified. 

It’s not a far stretch to imagine that Joseph Valtellini could be for GLORY what GSP was for the UFC.

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