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Glory 17 and Last Man Standing: A Night to Remember (Part 1)

  • Published in Glory

June 21st, 2014 is a night that kickboxing fans will be talking about for quite some time. Glory 17, even though it ended up being a 6 hour event, at no point did I feel this was too much. They did a great job of making us look forward to the next fight even more than the last. Now, I am going to be brutally honest and give my opinions on all the things I enjoyed, and things I didn't on one of the most exciting 6 hours in combat sports.

So, the show started with the analyst desk consisting of Michael "The Voice" Schiavello, Stepen Quadros, and Remy Bonjasky. This is a very knowledgeable group of people but we barely heard from them, instead we had to listen to Duke Roufus and Ron Kruck constantly talk about either previous fights, history, or themselves. For some reason they always seem to ignore the fight that is happening and talk about the fighters past fights, or trainers and so on. I mean that is fine to do when there is a lull in the action to keep the viewers informed and educated, but when action is happening i would like the commentators to talk about the fight. I feel that if they could have maybe used the analyst desk as the commentators this event could have been pretty much perfect. I always favor Shiavello when it comes to kickboxing commentary, being that he is a true fan, knows all the fighters inside and out, talks accurately about what is happening in the fight, and he knows how to excite us and make us laugh. As for Remy Bonjasky this would have been the first time I've heard him commentate, but he is intelligent and well spoken, not to mention one of the best heavyweight kickboxers ever and usually its great when real fighters commentate, for example Roy Jones Jr. on HBO.

Enough about Kruck and Roufus, and more about the people that matter, the fighters. Everyone fought their heart out for Glory last night. The first fight on Spike TV was Canadian Gabriel Varga Vs. Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai from Thailand. Varga has been training with us in Surrey, B.C a little bit for the last few weeks so I know how good he is, and what he is capable of. When the fight started and Sitmonchai instantly interrupted Varga's combos with his own punches and Varga kept throwing very slow telegraphed spinning back fists, and back kicks, I began to get worried. But Varga did what Varga does best and kept grinding Sitmonchai down, until it seemed like the Thai was either tired or just lazy, he just stopped throwing anything even tho he had Varga's leg purple and swollen, thus earning Varga the win and moving onto the Finals of the Featherweight Contender Tournament.

Next fight put American Shane Oblonsky against Brazilian Marcus Vinicius, this was a strange fight because Vinicius actually threw zero kicks. He just tried to box Oblonsky's face off with big looping punches considering he was 7 inches shorter, he landed quite a few big punches, but Oblonsky's chin held up and he was constantly landing his big right hand leading to two knockdowns which moved him on to the Finals to face Varga.

Andy Ristie made short work of Ky Hollenbeck and honestly didn't even look like he was trying yet. He landed his signature step in right hand, then followed it with a stiff left jab/hook type punch then just watched as Hollenbeck wobbled and dropped his right hand, and landed a big left hook on the chin to end the fight in the first round. It was nice to see Ristie actually calm down and watch to land that last punch, he does hit ridiculously hard though, even without effort.

Now onto the Final of the Glory 4 man featherweight contender tournament and this fight was a war. Once again Varga came out with his tight defense and started wearing out Oblonsky, but Shane's technique was much tighter and cleaner in this fight than his last. Varga carried on pressing forward, keeping a high pace but he would sometimes break up the rhythm by throwing a spinning technique which really never landed, they were much too slow, every time he tried one I found myself hoping it was the last, and that he would use his energy into just beating on Oblonsky with leg kicks. In the last round both fighter's had very sore left legs, but neither of them decided to kick it nearly enough until Gabriel started smashing it in the last 30 seconds, which gave Gabriel Varga the hard earned unanimous decision victory, the Glory featherweight contender belt, and secured himself a spot in the Glory featherweight world title tournament.

Last fight on the Spike TV portion of the card was the 39 year old legend Mirko CroCop against the 274lbs, 24 year old Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller. I had high hopes for Miller in this fight, he has looked amazing in his last few professional boxing fights and I figured his hands would just be too good for CroCop. Truth is Millers hands very well may have been too good for the Croatian, if he actually threw them. Big baby decided he was going to kick, clinch, and knee the entire fight, which is basically CroCop's specialty. At one point Miller did land one knee that looked like it hurt CroCop but referee Big John McCarthy called it a low blow, replays showed otherwise in my eyes. It wasn't the most exciting fight, but still entertaining with the chance that Mirko could land his trademark left high kick at any point, and a few came very close to knocking Miller's head into the crowd. Mirko CroCop got the deserving unanimous decision putting an end to the controversy of his last fight with Big Baby.

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Gabriel Varga Talks GLORY Featherweight Title and Upcoming K-1 China Fight

  • Published in Interviews

Canadian featherweight Gabriel Varga has turned some heads over the past few years with his appearances in K-1 and GLORY. In fact, Gabriel Varga is the man who is set to fight for the inaugural GLORY Featherweight Championship against Mosab Amrani. Sadly, that fight was pushed back but luckily enough he’ll be keeping busy as he fights on K-1’s China vs. USA event on January 1st.

We caught up with Varga while he prepares for his fight on January 1st.

Your weight class is incredibly competitive all around the world, where do you feel you stand in that weight class right now?

It depends in what style.  I haven't fought full Muay Thai, but in GLORY rules or modified Muay Thai I know I can be the best.  There was so much hype around Sitmonchai and many people where excited to see him fight outside Thailand, but Kickboxing is a different sport and I know I can win a fight against anybody.  I think with another 2-3 wins I will be recognized as the top kickboxer at –65kg.

Do you feel that Canada has finally gotten a chance to show the world how much talent comes from there over the past few years and are you proud of it?

Canadian fighters have had great opportunities over the past few years and Joesph Valentini, Simon Marcus, Josh Jauncey, Rob Thomas, Matt Embree and myself have risen to the challenge. I'm very happy with my accomplishments so far, but I still want to beat the top names and then Canada will be even more recognized in the Kickboxing world.

You've actually fought in China before, how does it feel to head back to China?

After another 6 months between fights I'm just happy to get a fight anywhere. But I'm looking forward to everything about this fight aside from the 12+ hour plane ride.

There isn't much out there about your opponent, does that bother you or will it not be a problem?

I've watched a few videos of him and I feel I know his style well enough now. I always prefer to learn about my opponents and train specifically for them. That's one of the reasons I dislike tournaments. You can only prepare for your first opponent and after that you just have to do the best you can.

Historically your weight class has been dominated by the Japanese, what kind of shift do you think happened over the past few years?

The Japanese are still great fighters but they haven't always had to fight the best foreigners. Japanese organizations often bring in foreign opponents who aren't necessarily amongst the best.  GLORY has been great for including the best fighters in the world.

I'm sure in the future we'll see more Japanese in the -65kg division, but with Kubo's recent loss and Noiri's absence I don't expect to fight a Japanese opponent in the near future. 

You are still going to be fighting for GLORY's Featherweight title soon, how did you go about taking this fight with K-1?

GLORY was kind enough to let me have a one fight deal with K-1 because of GLORY 19 being postponed.  I'd like to fight at least 3 times per year and in 2014 I only got to fight in June. I asked GLORY if they'd be willing to make a special exception this one time and they said yes. And K-1 was great to me as well. I called them up with a 4 weeks notice pleading for a fight and they put me on the first card they had.

Fighting on the first day of the year is a great way to start. I hope to fight at least 5 times next year and getting the GLORY Featherweight title should help me become a bigger draw.

Kickboxing has struggled in North America, what do you think will help it attract more fans?

Kickboxing simply won't become mainstream in North America in only 2 years. GLORY has been doing a great job and if they continue to hold 8+ events per year and air them on Spike, the audience will grow.  I hear so many people complaining about the UFC and I think within a couple of years, GLORY will capture the attention of those less enthusiastic MMA fans and help the popularity of kickboxing grow.

If GLORY can focus on creating a few more stars who are North American that will help as well. And if there's ever a chance to do some sort of reality show that would be very exciting. My management EPOK Agency recently announced a groundbreaking partnership with a major talent agency in New York, which will open new opportunities in mainstream media. So I think this will also help with growing my popularity as a North American fighter.

Is there anyone out there that you want to face down the line?

The only person I think I should fight for the GLORY belt is Mosab Amrani. He holds a win over Kubo and is ranked number 1. That's the fight I want.

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It's Time for the Smaller Weight Classes to Shine

  • Published in Kickboxing

Kickboxing has long been all about the heavyweight weight classes. If you were to ask anyone about K-1 the first thing that would come to mind would be the K-1 World Grand Prix. Of course, there is a good reason for that. When modern kickboxing in the form of K-1 began in Japan it was to appeal to the local audiences with a blend of Kyokushin, Karate and professional wrestling. The Japanese public was always attracted to the idea of the clash of titans (I mean, really, isn’t everybody?) so K-1 focused heavily on the Heavyweights. 

If you look at GLORY, SuperKombat and even promotions like Enfusion you’ll see that the focus is still largely on the heavier weight classes. No matter what Badr Hari is doing it is news, if Peter Aerts is in a pro wrestling match in Japan everyone cares and people still ask if Sem Schilt will ever return to the ring. Speculation over Alistair Overeem leaving the UFC to return to kickboxing has been healthy for his entire UFC run. Needless to say, the big guys draw eyeballs.

The one real anomaly is the rise of K-1’s MAX division in the 2000’s. It was an idea created to promote the handsome and talented MASATO originally, but the reality was that it created a good number of stars and helped to make something outside of Heavyweight sustainable. We’ve seen the rise of a few stars like Giorgio Petrosyan, Buakaw Banchamek, Andy Ristie, Robin van Roosmalen and many more. It’s Showtime helped to push forward with expanded weight classes and GLORY is continuing along the path with the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight classes a big focus over the last year.

If we look at other sports the focus isn’t always just on huge, lumbering titans, though. While American Football might have a few such characters, a lot of the time the smaller, more agile players end up a focal point. The home run sluggers in baseball might draw eyeballs, but not all baseball players are Mark Mcguire. In football (you know, soccer) it is even more clear that you don’t (and shouldn’t) be a giant to be successful. Look no further than some of the lines at betting at William Hill to see how diverse the playing field can be. 

At GLORY 20 Gabriel Varga and Mosab Amrani will compete for the GLORY Featherweight Championship. It’s a solid first step, although there is confusion as to if this will air on the SuperFight Series or on Spike TV. Last that I’ve heard it was the SuperFight Series. Even so, it will be the headliner for that show that will air on CBS Sports Network and across the globe as its own show. 

Then, of course, is K-1’s 55kg World Grand Prix going down in Japan on April 19th. K-1 Japan has been putting out a steady stream of events featuring smaller weight classes and has been wildly entertaining. As long as the big players in kickboxing keep focusing on smaller weight classes there is still hope that the lighter, more technical and quick weight classes can shine in the near future. 

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Gabriel Varga Out of K-1 USA vs. China Event

  • Published in K-1

GLORY fighter Gabriel Varga was set to compete at the K-1 USA vs. China event on January 1st in China but it looks like all of that has gone up in smoke over the past day. Varga is reporting on having visa issues. Upon entering China they found that he did not have the proper paperwork to enter the country, which meant that he had to turn around and go right back home to Canada. 

Definitely a bit of a bummer for those looking forward to seeing Varga fight. The good news is that there are no other issues as of press time with the event and it should go off without a hitch. We'll keep you posted on any further news for the K-1 China vs. USA event.

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Video: Glory 20 Pre-fight Interviews with Mosab Amrani, Gabriel Varga, and Mourad Bouzidi

  • Published in Glory

Glory has begun releasing the pre-fight interviews for Glory 20 in Dubai. First up is the Canadian Gabriel Varga, who also did an Exclusive Liverkick interview which will be coming soon. Naturally the next interview is with his opponent the Moroccan/Dutch Mosab Amrani. After listening to what they both had to say, I can't help but think of how exciting this fight is going to be, I always enjoy a clash of styles in a fight especially when it involves height as well. Only thing I wonder is who will the winner defend his belt against? I feel Glory will have to sign some new featherweights.

The latest interview is with Mourad Bouzidi who seems to have been in Dubai for quite a while already to prepare for this fight. There have been lots of videos posted of him training like a beast for this fight, I get the feeling he REALLY does not want to lose to Pat Barry.

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Exclusive Liver Kick Interview with Gabriel Varga

  • Published in Interviews

We caught up with Glory's #3 ranked featherweight Gabriel Varga after a sparring session at WKX with fellow Glory fighter Josh Jauncey. He is deep into his training camp for his Glory featherweight title fight against Mosab Amrani at Glory 20 in Dubai and is feeling great. Gabriel is always a man of few words and attracts all his fans with his exciting style in the ring but it was great to hear him open up to us more than usual.

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Gabriel Varga vs. Sergei Adamchuk Added to Bellator Dynamite

  • Published in Glory

Earlier this week we told you that Gabriel Varga would be involved with Bellator's Dynamite card that will be airing on September 19th on Spike TV. Now we have officially gotten word that Gabriel Varga will defend the GLORY Featherweight Championship against Sergei Adamchuk at Dynamite in his first title defense.

GLORY also announced that on October 9th they'd be returning to Denver with GLORY 24.

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Gabriel Varga vs. Serhiy Adamchuk Pulled from Dynamite 1

  • Published in Glory

After rumors were abound yesterday that the GLORY Featherweight title fight between Gabriel Varga and Serhiy Adamchuk was off it has come out today that Adamchuk and Varga will indeed not meet at Bellator MMA Dynamite 1 on September 19th in the GLORY ring. While not one of the headline attractions it did help to bolster the GLORY portion of the card with a second title fight between the two Featherweights.

According to our bud Michael Stets GLORY officials informed him that the fight was indeed off but wouldn't clarify on where the injury was. From our own reports we've heard that the injury was on Varga's side, although the specifics of the injury remain unclear. Gabriel Varga was forced to pull out is all that we know. Here's hoping to a formidable bout replacing it.

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