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Raymond Daniels is Out to Prove Himself Against Nieky Holzken at GLORY 23

  • Published in Interviews

At GLORY 23 Las Vegas there is a tall task laid out for Raymond Daniels, one that many fans and insiders have proclaimed to be impossible: defeat Nieky Holzken and take the GLORY Welterweight Championship home with him. Back at GLORY 19 during a contender’s tournament the two men met for the first time in a fight that Holzken largely dominated with his smart cutting off of the ring and use of his experienced hands to keep Daniels from getting comfortable and doing what he does best, which is kicking from a distance. Since then the champion Joseph Valtellini was forced to vacate the championship due to complications from a concussion and GLORY has placed Holzken against Daniels in a rematch, the winner taking home the title.

Many see it as a foregone conclusion for Holzken. To them he’ll clearly be walking away with the championship, but there is just one thing that they are forgetting in this equation: Raymond Daniels. Daniels is known throughout martial arts circles as one of the best competitive martial artists of all time. That isn’t an exaggeration, if you look through the worlds of sport martial arts you won’t find anyone quite like Daniels. His record is immaculate, his accolades could fill a warehouse, yet he still looks for further challenges and his ultimate challenge is in the GLORY ring right now, his ultimate challenge is taking on Nieky Holzken. 

Their first fight was a tough loss for Daniels, but he reflects on the fight as a positive learning experience for him. “It was a learning experience for sure,” he explained. “I get to watch that fight and see what I need to do to fix the holes in my game and to make myself a better fighter. That’s how you improve as a fighter and a person, by learning from your mistakes.”

When analyzing Daniels as a fighter and his game, it’s difficult not to see where his weaknesses lie. His background in Karate meant less of a focus on using his hands, but since turning professional in kickboxing there has been a marked improvement. “There’s always a learning curve, there’s always something that you can do better. I’ll never be perfect, even if I strive for perfection. You can see the maturity of myself as a fighter, you can see the evolution of my style over my last few fights. It’s a great feeling, I’m just so much more comfortable, so much more calm and collected in that ring now. I used to be really excited, hopping around a lot and trying to get things over quickly. Now I’m able to get my energy out in spurts.”

Daniels is a living legend in the world of sport karate, so the question has to be raised why he would even make such a transition to professional kickboxing. “I’ve been very fortunate in my sport. I’ve traveled the world, I’ve met great people but I’ve accomplished everything that I possibly could a few times over. The next realm with a similar system is kickboxing and GLORY is that vehicle that gets me out there, just like the World Combat League did before. Now GLORY is the biggest league on the planet, so they give me the opportunity to use my skillset. Everyone looks at my sport and says ‘oh it’s pitter patter, it’s Karate Kid, it’s Best of the Best’ or something. This gives me a chance to go out there and show that just because my sport is about control and technique, that I’m able to translate that technique into kickboxing and add speed and power to it. That’s what I love about this, I get to test my skills against guys with different skill sets and style and show them what my sport is capable of doing.”

The World Combat League, organized by Chuck Norris, was dismissed at the time for it’s relatively strange rules and team format, but it’s undeniable that they produced a ton of talent. WCL’s roster included not only Daniels but Uriah Hall, Jarrell Miller, Pat Barry, Anthony Njokuani, Lyman Good, Carlos Brooks, Rick Cheek, Felice Herrig and more.

“What was great was that my sport was dismissed in combat sports, written off as impractical or too old fashioned, but then you look at the WCL and some of the fighters that came from there,” Daniels said. “But you got to see the athletes from the WCL start to blossom afterwards.”

This quickly brought us to the topic of being dismissed and how Daniels has been dismissed by kickboxing fans and pundits almost across the board. “You know, I find it kind of comical in a way. I look at it like; the people that don’t understand a burning desire couldn’t understand what it is, what I want and how I feel. Just because you fail or you fall short on something that you want to accomplish doesn’t necessarily mean that your life is defined by those moments. I lost a fight, but that doesn’t define me. I see people who have that outlook as very close-minded individuals. Everybody has a setback in life. If this wasn’t challenging to me, why would I do it? If I wasn’t fighting world class athletes like Nieky why would I be doing this?

“This gives me an opportunity to grow,” he continued. “Not just as a fight, but as a person. It allows me to step outside of my comfort zone. It allows me to strive to be better, to learn more about myself. I see people who will dismiss a fighter as people that would probably give up as soon as they have a setback in life as opposed to finding a way to make it work, finding a way through and to persevere. I have a fire underneath me and am more motivated than ever. I have an opportunity to go out there and fight someone who has beaten me before, there aren’t a lot of people that can say that they’ve beaten me before in my career. With that being said, people that are overlooking me, I have that knock-it-out-of-the-park ability with every move that I throw. So I always find it funny. Don’t get me wrong, Nieky himself is a great fighter, but he’s a flawed fighter. He’s lost before and he has holes in his game -- just like I do -- that I can exploit. Nobody's perfect. I’m looking forward to going in there and being able to silence people. If you don’t believe, just watch. I want to show people what it is to have faith in myself, in my skillset and to prove these people wrong.”

There is another side to GLORY’s push of Raymond Daniels, though, one that is hard to explain. Daniels possesses a magnetism that many fighters don’t. His ability to do things in the ring that no one thought was practical and not only land, but score crazy knockouts with has earned him a reputation among fans as a can’t miss fighter. I got to see this first hand live at GLORY 16 where fighters like Rico Verhoeven, Errol Zimmerman, Andy Souwer and Ben Edwards were walking around throughout the night and went relatively undisturbed, but Daniels was a different story. He was being stopped for selfies, autographs and high fives throughout the night. He’s fought on some of the most-viewed GLORY cards of all-time on Spike TV and has been one of their featured attractions. 

“That’s my whole goal at the end of the day, outside of fighting, I want to give fans something to talk about. I want to be able to give back to them,” he explained. “I want them to look at something that I did and say ‘my god, I saw that in a movie last week and he did it,’ you know what I mean? I also want the die hard fans to say ‘that stuff doesn’t work in a fight, Nieky has this Dutch style that’s gonna light him up’ and say, okay, come watch. As long as people want to come to watch, that’s cool. At the end of the day I don’t believe my own hype. You know, that’s not who I am. I have a Martial Arts school and I don’t even advertise what I do. Most of my students don’t even know that I’m going to fight for the world title right now.

“Some of my students will see some of my fights later,” he jokes, “and they’ll be like ‘oh my gosh that’s my sensei in there? He’s not like that when he’s in the karate school.’ It’s a different persona, you know, like wrestling. Wrestling isn’t real, but how many people follow that, watch it -- I mean people have tattoos of it. People watch it because they put on a show.  What I’m doing is real, but it’s still entertainment. If I go out there and I can knock a guy out with a kick that you’d only see in the movies, how much entertainment value does that bring? That’s how I look at my fighting.”

Daniels brings all of this and more to the table, also bringing with him one of the gaping holes in the combat sports world of late by the way of traditional martial arts. Martial Arts are indeed about self-defense and technique, but are centered around improving the self and becoming a better person. “I feel that is missing from sports right now. The focus isn’t on that, the focus is on who is the best, who is the flashiest and who is making the most money. It’s absolutely missing from combat sports right now and I’m just glad that I can help bring some of those values with me into the ring.”

It is a monumental task for Raymond Daniels at GLORY 23 against Nieky Holzken, but Daniels seems ready for whatever might come his way. Tune in this Friday at 11pm Eastern time on Spike TV to witness Raymond Daniels vs. Nieky Holzken vying for the GLORY Welterweight Championship and see for yourself who comes out victorious. 

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Glory 34 Denver: Live Results

  • Published in Americas

Glory 34 is starting in just under 30 mins on UFC fight pass for the super fight series and then over to eversport.tv or ESPN3 at midnight ET for the main card. I have a strong feeling this is going to be a night of exciting fights and probably one of the best cards in America since Glory's 8-man tournament in LA. For anyone that misses it, the show will replay on Sunday at 7pm ET on ESPN2 or we have the results for you fight here.

GLORY 34 DENVER RESULTS

Welterweight Title: Nieky Holzken def. Murthel Groenhart by Unanimous Dec - Round 1: Feeling out round for the most part until the last minute of the round, Murthel landing nice jabs and a nice uppercut through the round while Holzken is landing hard inside leg kicks and looking busier than his usual first round. Round 2: All Holzken this round landing lots and lots of low kicks which are taking their toll now. Round 3: More of the same from Holzken hes running away with this fight. Murthel is not throwing enough and standing around too much to get low kicked. This is a different Holzken that we have seen in the past 2 years, no more standing around covering up, hes moving and kicking much more. Round 4: Closer round with Groenhart starting to go for broke, nothing landing clean though but Nieky keeps just losing his balance and getting up very slowly but that's been happening for the past 3 rounds. Round 5: Great round for Groenhart but it seems like too little too late he sat back too many rounds in the beginning of the fight, he landed lots of punches and some hard knees to the body but couldn't put hurt Nieky enough to drop him.

Middleweight Co-Headline Bout: Israel Adesanya  def. Yousri Belgaroui by Split Dec- Round 1: Israel looking calm slipping punches and trying to counter but not landing too many clean strikes but still lands more than Belgaroui who is missing a lot. Round 2: Emotions getting to Israel a bit making him stand and trade instead of picking Belgaroui off like the first round allowing himself to be hit more, very close round. Round 3: Ugh, another close round Israel landing the cleaner, harder shots but Belgaroui throwing more and landing more little shots, hard fight to judge.

Simon Marcus def. Dustin Jacoby by TKO Rd 1 (doctor stoppage) - Round 1: Great round for Jacoby, countering kicks with his front kick (teep) and landing nice punches but Marcus lands a hard knee and hurts Jacoby right at the end of the round. Doctor ends up stopping the right before the 2nd round due to Jacoby having an injured (possibly broken) right arm.

Middleweight Tournament Semi-Final: Israel Adesanya def. Robert Thomas by Unanimous Dec - Round 1: Entertaining first feel out round for the 2 fighters Israel wobbling Thomas once during the round with a right hand giving him the round. Round 2: Hesitant Thomas ends up walking into a really hard left knee to the body and gets an 8 count. Israel didn't push too hard to finish the fight though so Thomas makes it through. Round 3: Again and all Adesanya fight controlling the fight and keeping Thomas guessing. With 15 seconds left in the round Israel lands a left high kick and drops Thomas for the 2nd time in the fight.

Middleweight  Tournament Semi-Final: Yousri Belgaroui def. Ariel Machado by Unanimous Dec - Round 1: Even round, Belgaroui trying to keep distance while Machado landing good low kicks, fighters exchange some slightly angry nudges after the bell. Round 2: Machado slowing down a lot this round could be because he was a late replacement. Belgaroui trying many flying knees and just being the busier fighter but needs to start blocking low kicks. Round 3: Both guys looking extremely tired, I cant imagine either of them fighting again tonight. Machado landed all the more damaging shots this round Belgaroui took tired to throw any power at all. Lets hope for their sake there isn't an extra round.

GLORY 34 SUPERFIGHT SERIES RESULTS

Featherweight Title: Robin van Roosmalen def. Gabriel Varga by TKO Rd 4 (corner stoppage) - Round 1: Varga looking great with his hands keeping his punches long but still ends the round with a cut over the right eye and Robin with blood coming from his nose but varga still much more active, Vargas round. Round 2: Varga gets dropped with a left hook early and he stands up and tells the ref his corner had forgot to put his mouth guard in so that hook chipped his tooth. Robin drops Varga again with a combo, liver punch doing the most damage. Varga up at 8, not looking good but survives the round. Round 3: Another rough round for Varga getting pushed around the ring but Robin. Robin really looks strong at this weight and now hes landing a lot of leg kicks. Round 4: Robin again pressing Varga again and landing some hooks and seems to be gaining momentum. End of the round has Robin unleashing hell on Varga on the ropes, Varga is so tough and staying up. Vargas corner stops the fight after round 4.

Saulo Cavalari def. Brian Douwes by Unanimous Dec - Round 1: Both guys throwing heavy hands all round but Cavalari landing hard leg kicks as well. Douwes clinching a little too much and getting warned by the ref. Round 2: All Cavalari low kicking a tiring Douwes to hell. Round 3: Both guys tiring and nothing significant this round but still Cavalari's round.

Thongchai Sitsongpeenong def. Casey Greene by KO Rd 2 - Round 1: One sided round with Sitsongpeenong landing many punches and hurting Greene twice even dropping him at the end of the round but the ref called no down. Round 2: Sitsongpeenong smashes Greene with a few more right hands and knocks him down for an 8 count. Greene stands up and is on terribly wobbly legs but the ref lets him keep going and take some unnecessary punishment as the commission is waving it off from outside the ring, Greene gets floored with another left hook. 

Richard Abraham def. Mike "Blood Diamond" Mathetha by Unanimous Dec - Round 1: Awkward first round for both guys Mathetha landing some hard left kicks though. Round 2: was going well for Blood Diamond until Abraham landed a front kick to his knee and hyper extended Mathetha's knee now hes got a nasty limp. Round 3: Mathetha has ridiculous heart, his leg was buckling with every kick he threw but he kept kicking all round and firing back at Abraham. Abraham really should have been kicking more he may have been able to at least score a knockdown.

Justin Houghton def. Jonathon Wyderko by Split Dec - Round 1: pretty even round Houghton throwing many flying knees with no success but probably won the round on being active. Round 2: no more flying knees by Houghton and a much closer round but his chin is getting very high he needs to be careful. Round 3: Both too tired tired to throw anything of note not a very good round.

 

 

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Video: Nieky Holzken Pre-Fight Interview for Glory 19

  • Published in Glory

Glory 19 in Hampton, Virginia will include a 4 man Welterweight tournament where we will finally get to see the return of Nieky "The Natural" Holzken. Holzken believes he is already the champion considering he knocked out current champion Joseph Valtellini and has expressed the fact that he is surprised he still has to go through a tournament to fight for the belt again.

He was on the sidelines last year and couldn't compete in Glory due to a shoulder injury caused partly by his fight with Karapet Karapetyan and partly by a car accident. According to him Nieky's shoulder is not causing him pain anymore and he is prepared to win this tournament.

Nieky Holzken is the favourite in this tournament by far, he also has easily the best hair.

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LiverKick Best of 2013: Fight of the Year

  • Published in News

Photo (C) GLORY

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, with yesterday being the Fighter of the Year and today instead turning to the fights themselves. There were a lot of great fights this year, but only one of them could be the Fight of the Year. Surprisingly enough, the Fight of the Year happened near the tail-end of 2013 in the GLORY 13 Welterweight tournament.

LiverKick 2013 Fight of the Year: Nieky Holzken vs. Joe Valtellini

This was a fight that had everything going for it. Throughout the year there were a lot of upsets in the major GLORY tournaments and fans didn’t always get what they wanted to see, but going into GLORY 13 the fans wanted to see Nieky Holzken square off against Canadian fighter Joe Valtellini and they got just that. Valtellini moved on to the finals after a beautiful headkick KO on Raymond Daniels while Holzken picked up a decision over Karapet Karapetyan, leading into what was the fight that the fans wanted to see.

This was a fight that had it all; drama, technique, momentum shifts and even ended with a knockout. If you are a Kickboxing fan this is the kind of fight that gets you excited and makes you want to share it with non-Kickboxing fan friends in an attempt to turn them. In this fight Valtellini showed any of the remaining doubters that he belongs in the top of the Welterweight division and can not only hang with the likes of Nieky Holzken, but get within a breath of taking Holzken out. Without a doubt a possible rematch is something to look out for in the future.

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GLORY 23 Card Finalized for August 7th

  • Published in Glory

GLORY 23 will take place on August 7th live from the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, featuring a bout for the GLORY Welterweight Championship between Nieky Holzken and Raymond Daniels in a rematch from earlier this year. The title was vacated by Joseph Valtellini recently when it was revealed that he had suffered a concussion and was still dealing with the after effects of said concussion and wasn't sure when he'd be able to return to the ring. 

GLORY today released the finalized card (of course subject to change due to injuries, medical or visa issues as are prone to happen in this sport), which mostly just solidifies the fighters involved in the Qualifying tournament at Middleweight. Dustin Jacoby is the big name in this tournament with Casey Greene as the other GLORY veteran. The other two names are Quinton O'Brien and Ariel Sepuvelda.

GLORY 23

GLORY Welterweight Championship: Nieky Holzken vs. Raymond Daniels
Xavier Vigney vs. Daniel Sam
GLORY Middleweight Contender Tournament: Casey Greene vs. Quinton O'Brien
GLORY Middleweight Contender Tournament: Dustin Jacoby vs. Ariel Sepuvelda

GLORY SuperFight Series

Anderson "Braddock" Silva vs. Jamal Ben Saddik
Murthel Groenhart vs. Chad Sugden
Matt Baker vs. Edward Hyman
Giga Chikadze vs. Anvar Boynazarav
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Crowdsourcing Questions for Nieky Holzken

  • Published in Interviews

Glory

This time around we are trying something new, as we are teaming up with MixFight.nl to co-op an interview with GLORY 13 Welterweight Champion Nieky Holzken by crowdsourcing the questions. So leave your questions in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter and we'll pass them along.

"As part of an international partnership with mixfight.nl and liverkick.com we will visit and interview GLORY's brand new welterweight champion Nieky Holzken. We will ask Nieky about his preparation regarding his last tournament, winning the title and the celebration ceremony that followed, but we will also ask how his schedule will look like this year.

As usual we will give the fans the opportunity to ask questions. If you got any questions just ask them here and Nieky will answer your questions the interview will be published on mixfight.nl and liverkick.com."

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GLORY 23 Card Details Begin to Emerge

  • Published in Glory

GLORY 23 Las Vegas is GLORY's next big event happening on Spike TV and we'll see a new Welterweight Champion crowned on this night. Unfortunately due to ongoing effects from a concussion the champion Joseph Valtellini was forced to vacate the title and now Nieky Holzken will get his chance at the title against a man that he defeated just a few months prior in the ever-evolving Raymond Daniels. Daniels holds a rare knockdown over Holzken from their last fight and has been evolving and growing as a fighter steadily, making the rematch between the two in a five-round affair an interesting spectacle for both old and new fans.

The co-main event of the show has been announced as American Heavyweight hopeful Xavier Vigney taking on one of his biggest challenges to date in the UK's Daniel Sam. Sam serves as a gatekeeper to the realm of the international elite for Vigney and while a win over Sam won't thrust him into the top ten, it will help to legitimize his ascending the ranks and prove that he's ready to take a big step up in competition. 

The show will also feature a Middleweight Qualifying tournament and thus far we only have two names associated with it, which are Casey Greene on one side of the bracket and Dustin Jacoby on the other. We aren't exactly holding out hope for this tournament involving many bigger names, but it should serve the same purpose that the recent Heavyweight Qualifying tournament did, at least.

Perhaps one of the best fights on the card is on the SuperFight Series right now, which is Murthel Groenhart vs. Chad Sugden. 

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Let's Relive Nieky Holzken vs. Raymond Daniels II

  • Published in Video

To many this fight was a forgone conclusion. Of course Nieky Holzken was going to win and finally capture the GLORY Welterweight Championship. Why wouldn't he? After a defeat of Raymond Daniels at GLORY 19 it all seemed academic. Holzken, who is a notoriously slow starter at times, was going into this fight with all of the momentum in the world it seemed. In his post-fight interview he talked about how his game plan revolved around letting Daniels do his thing early on and tire himself out.

Of course, what's interesting here is that Daniels didn't care about the ongoing narrative and he didn't care about Holzken's plan, he had one of his own. This was an almost entirely different Raymond Daniels than we've seen in the past who was keeping out of corners, mixing his kicks with his punches, piecing together combinations with his hands and actually scoring on Holzken, which was obviously not a part of Holzken's game plan.

Holzken of course looked great when he turned up the heat, but damn, this is quite a fight. So let's watch it again, shall we?

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Nieky Holzken vs. Marc De Bonte Set for GLORY 16 Denver

  • Published in Glory

Holzken

On May 3rd in Denver, Colorado the stage has been set for GLORY 16 Denver. We already know that it will feature a Heavyweight contender tournament on the card, now we also know that there will be a GLORY World Championship fight on the card as well. Nikey Holzken vs. Marc de Bonte is set for May 3rd according to Holzken. This fight was originally slated for GLORY 14 Zagreb but was pulled and replaced by the GLORY Lightweight Championship fight.

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Year-End Mega Show GLORY 26 Amsterdam Announced

  • Published in Glory

If your itch for a mega show just wasn't scratched by Dynamite you are in for some very, very good news. Today GLORY announced that on December 4th at RAI Amsterdam they will be throwing one of their biggest shows to date with GLORY 26. The event is to be headlined by two huge title fights featuring Dutch champions. The first is GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven vs. the winner of the GLORY 24 heavyweight tournament and the second is Nieky Holzken vs. the GLORY 25 welterweight tournament winner. 

For longtime kickboxing fans it is interesting to note that Amsterdam is notoriously difficult to book kickboxing shows in. In fact, this was one of the big reasons that It's Showtime had so many problems during their tenure, as did the Ultimate Glory events. Dutch fans and promoters still struggle with the restrictive laws placed by Mayor van der Laan to keep the "criminal element" out of sporting events within Amsterdam. GLORY has been working on this for a very long time now and finally Dutch fans will get exactly what they want in a huge kickboxing event featuring Dutch champions. 

GLORY 26 will also feature a featherweight tournament featuring Mosab Amrani, the winner fighting Gabriel Varga.

What I really like about this show is that there is continuity involved for once. There is cause and effect. There are tournaments on the next two shows and those tournaments have an endgame that is clearly in sight. There is no "future title shot" that fans will have to guess at. Instead there is a future title fight with a firm date. This is the kind of foresight that GLORY has been sorely missing and can only help them moving forward. 

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