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LiverKick Best of 2013: Fighter of the Year

  • Published in News

Photo (C) Bauzen

The year 2013 was a tremendous year for the sport of Kickboxing as we saw GLORY take aim at America as one of its home bases and really made some strides that I honestly thought we’d never see for the sport here. GLORY not only ran shows, but they ran a bunch of shows and those shows were attended by a good number of paying customers. Then, to top it off, GLORY moved from CBS Sports Network and internet PPVs to Spike TV, picking up steam and viewers with every show. That was a big deal.

GLORY wasn’t the only organization to make moves, either, as we saw another season of the SuperKombat World Grand Prix, the birth of LEGEND in Russia and K-1 starting to get the gears in motion by running both a Heavyweight World Grand Prix and a World MAX tournament within the same year. But which company did what doesn’t really matter, what matters are the fights and the fighters.

Throughout the coming week we’ll be looking at the best of 2013 throughout multiple categories, but first we kick things off with LiverKick’s 2013 Fighter of the Year, which was probably the most competitive category of them all. Just about every GLORY tournament winner deserved a spot as Fighter of the Year and the decision between the last two was incredibly difficult, but a decision was rendered. First, let’s look at the runner-up.

LiverKick 2013 Fighter of the Year - Runner Up: Andy Ristie

Man, what a year for Andy Ristie. The man was a wrecking machine with a five-fight win streak in 2013, including two wins that eclipsed the rest. Ristie’s wins were over Alessandro Campagna, Albert Kraus, Niclas Larsen, Giorgio Petrosyan and Robin van Roosmalen. The last two were by knockout to claim the spot of #1 in the 70kg division across the world, which is a herculean feat.

If it wasn’t for the guy who claimed the top spot having as great of a year as he did, Andy Ristie would have been a shoo-in for Fighter of the Year.

LiverKick 2013 Fighter of the Year: Tyrone Spong

Andy Ristie’s 2013 was incredibly impressive, but Tyrone Spong’s 2013 started off with a complete annihilation of a three-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion in Remy Bonjasky before heading into the GLORY 9 Light Heavyweight tournament. GLORY 9 was unique in that it was an 8-man tournament, not a 4-man tournament, meaning that Spong had to win three fights in one night, which saw him knock out Michael Duut, pummel Filip Verlinden for three rounds and then stop the reigning king of the Light Heavyweight division, Danyo Ilunga, in just one round.

What followed after that was Tyrone Spong making up for one of the few strange points of contention on his record with a rematch against the legendary Nathan “Carnage” Corbett. Carnage has been the king of 95kg Muay Thai for what seems like forever now, remaining unchallenged. Carnage was on a seven-year win streak (with a random No Contest to Spong in the mix, even though he had knocked Spong out) before he met Tyrone Spong and not only did Spong look good against Carnage, but he looked incredible. No one has been able to make Carnage look that lost in the ring, which is what set Tyrone Spong apart and made him the LiverKick 2013 Fighter of the Year.

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Liverkick Exclusive: Glory 18 Calm Before The Storm Video

  • Published in Video

So our one man camera crew (Carlo) managed to get all the pre and post fight interviews while taking behind the scenes footage which I like call the calm before the storm. I saw him running around like a maniac trying to get footage of everyone, but after watching this video, man was it worth it. It really captures the feeling of being back stage before these shows, the way everyone warms up differently, some super calm, some screaming and smashing the pads. There is always tension especially when everyone's change rooms were right beside each other and most people could hear their opponent warming up. It's great to see how the fighters that we love to watch fight their hearts out, prepare right before putting on an amazing show for us. 

This is just a sample of the videos that we will be making for the upcoming Glory shows, Enjoy!

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Interview with world champ Liam Harrison before THE big fight: Harrison/Saenchai II

  • Published in Video

A real clash of the titans.

An oft overused phrase in fightsports, but in this case it is undoubtedly true. As Liam himself puts it in this video interview, regarding the fight later today with Saenchai, it is a meeting between "the p4p best thai-boxer in England, against the p4p best in the world in the last 20yrs, from Thailand".

Stay tuned for a report on the fight itself.

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Steven Wright's 2014 Year in Kickfighting Highlight

  • Published in Video

The year 2014 was a pretty strange one for kickboxing. There were some great things that happened and there was a lot of downtime and doom and gloom hanging over the sport as a whole. This year feels a lot different, a lot better thus far. Things are looking up. We have schedules from both K-1 and GLORY, we have promise popping up in China and the sport seems to be correcting itself and its trajectory. I spoke about all of this with Patrick Wyman on Steven Wright's podcast last week, where we delved into the year that was and the year that will be. It's interesting to hear us start geeking out about all of the things that are happening in China as well as all of the good from 2014. Check it out here.

Steven also put together a really awesome highlight video from last year showcasing some of the best fights that went down and the most memorable moments.

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LiverKick Blow-by-Blow: GLORY 38 Edition

  • Published in Glory

On Friday night, February 24th live from Chicago, Illinois, GLORY returns to the ring with GLORY 38. The event is set to make some further sense out of the ultra-competitive light heavyweight division by showcasing a GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship bout and also deciding a new contender in a tournament, with the winners of each going on to fight for the title at GLORY 40. 

GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship: Artem Vakhitov (Champion) vs. Saulo Cavalari (Challenger)

This is a rubber match between two of the divisions top fighters for one of the most important and prestigious of GLORY's titles. So no, that magical Gokhan Saki return didn't happen, but the division has proven itself to be one of the promotion's strongest even in his stead with fighters like Mwekassa, Cavalari and Vakhitov stepping up and proving themselves to be worthy. Each man holds a win over the other, but perhaps their last meeting where Vakhitov was able to wrestle the title free of Cavalari's grasp told us the most about what to expect from their third clash. 

While Cavalari has proven himself to be a scary presence in the division with heavy hands and the technique to go along with it, Vakhitov feels like he's moving on to a different level. Where Cavalari is more likely to brawl and grow sloppy, Vakhitov reins it in and tightens his game up. Cavalari walked away with a split decision in their first meeting and in their second Vakhitov had made sure to change his game plan up enough to where he could pick up a decisive win. So yeah, Cavalari is a knockout artist, but Vakhitov has the defenses to weather the storm and the offense that is able to nullify Cavalari's offense and keep him off balance enough for Vakhitov to impose his will. I think we actually see a more decisive Vakhitov win this time out, especially considering how he absolutely destroyed Mwekassa in his first title defense.

Winner: Vakhitov.

GLORY Light Heavyweight Tournament: Zack Mwekassa vs. Zinedine Hameur-Lain, Danyo Ilunga vs. Ariel Machado

The winner of the main event will fight the winner of this tournament at GLORY 40, giving us a really good feel for the division and where it's headed. That being said, all four men are entering the tournament with at least one loss, which is a bit confusing when crowning a contender for a title. For example, Danyo Ilunga just lost to Michael Duut. Where's Michael Duut? Zinedine Hameur-Lain lost to Pavel Zhuravlev, where's Pavel? In Machado his loss was to a fighter in another weight class, so it feels weird but excusable, and for Mwekassa he lost his last title fight, which once again, feels excusable. 

Still, I'd be remiss if I wouldn't prefer this as Pavel Zhuravlev vs. Ariel Machado II and Mwekassa vs. Michael Duut. But I'm sure there are contractual situations, injuries and the usual chaff to worry about, so we've got what we've got and outside of those losses, there isn't a lot to complain about. While I initially see Danyo Ilunga vs. Zack Mwekassa in the finals, I'm not entirely sure that Ariel Machado doesn't beat Ilunga and fight Mwekassa. If so, I'm not sure that I pick Mwekassa over Machado considering Mwekassa still shows weaknesses to kick-heavy fighters. 

So yeah, if it's Danyo Ilunga against Mwekassa, I pick Mwekassa to win it all. But Machado is absolutely the dark horse here.

Winner: Mwekassa.

Richard Abraham vs. Antoine Pinto

For a while this fight baffled me. Why would this be on the main card in what is essentially the co-main event position? Abraham has a series of impressive wins, but not against any top fighters with any really visible knockouts and Pinto is making his debut. Then it struck me; Abraham is a local guy and there is this phenomenon in the United States where the arenas get packed full of friends and family of the local fighters on the card. After their guy fights, they leave. So while you might see a packed arena during the SuperFight Series, by the time the main event rolls around it's a sea of empty seats. So yeah, put Richard Abraham near the top of the card and you'll retain a lot of that crowd. 

I still don't get that mindset and why you would attend a show and not care about seeing some of the best fighters from around the world -- even out of curiosity -- but whatever. 

Pinto's brother made his debut recently and showed that coming from muay thai you really do need to adjust to kickboxing rules if you aren't a kick-punch kind of fighter. Has Antoine learned this lesson? My bet is not really, or at least not in enough time to properly figure it out. Abraham feels like GLORY's next American star and that's pretty cool.

Winner: Abraham.

Benjamin Adegbuyi vs. Anderson "Braddock" Silva

Man, it's just tough to be a Braddock Silva fan sometimes. He's talented, skilled and destroys fighters outside of the top ten, but he takes on all-comers without fear and sometimes it just doesn't work out. Adegbuyi is a guy who has improved with every fight and I don't see that stopping any time soon. So power, technique and now cardio are all within his toolbelt heading into this fight. Is it just a tune-up fight? I guess so, but never count Braddock out.

Winner: Adegbuyi.

Murthel Groenhart vs. Thongchai

GLORY's Welterweight division has been tipped on its head with Nieky Holzken being dethroned by Cedric Doumbe, leaving the rest of the division in a state of flux. Who will be the next challenger and who will emerge as the next rising star? For Murthel Groenhart, who arguably held two wins over Holzken in everyone's eyes but the judges, this is a chance for a fresh start against a man who has only beaten him once prior. But his first draw is an incredibly tough opponent in Thongchai Sitsongpeenong.

Thongchai is a former Lumpinee Champion and current Rajadamnern 160lbs Champion, meaning that he's essentially one of the best in the world without question. His first foray into the GLORY ring was an impressive win over Casey Greene that showed that he didn't need to have a long adjustment period to the rules, he was just ready to go. Of all of the fights on this card, this is perhaps the most pick 'em. I think that Thongchai is incredibly skilled and tough, but this is Murthel's fight to lose. To Murthel this is a chance at redemption and to solidify his status as the uncrowned champion, for Thongchai it's just another fight.

Winner: Groenhart.

Catalin Morosanu vs. Maurice Greene

All due respect to Maurice Greene, but holy shit. Catalin Morosanu is an incredibly tough, incredibly exciting fighter who has proven himself time and time again as one of the best heavyweights in the world. In the latter half of 2016 Morosanu looked pretty rough and his signature cardio wasn't there, but he was suffering from a bad back injury that kept him out of the gym. Hopefully that is shored up.

The Romanian who credits Bob Sapp as his hero and inspiration has already proven himself to be a much, much better version of Bob Sapp. Shorter? Yes, but hits just as hard. Less muscular? Yes, but he's got incredible cardio and it means that he can throw bombs all night without slowing down. That has led to some incredibly exciting fights and it's very rarely that you'll walk away from a Morosanu fight without a surge of adrenaline running through your system. This is perhaps the most exciting GLORY signing at heavyweight in a long, long time.

Winner: Morosanu.

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LiverKick Podcast for April 20th - GLORY 40 Preview, Bellator Kickboxing and More

  • Published in LK Podcast

With GLORY 40 just on the horizon and Bellator Kickboxing coming off of two big shows it felt like the right time for the SS LiverKick Podcast to set sail again. This time we got it done more than a day before the show we were previewing, truly a herculean feat if there ever was one. So join myself and Jay Jauncey as we run down the GLORY 40 card, spend less time complaining about four-men tournaments than we've ever done before and perhaps even get some insight into what went into Josh Jauncey's preparation for his upcoming fight seeing as though Jay is his coach. 

Maybe not, though. That's for me to know and for you to find out by listening to the LiverKick Podcast. 


Download | Listen on Stitcher | Subscribe on iTunes

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