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Bellator Completes Inaugural Kickboxing Card with Opponents for Daniels, Ross and Kielholtz

Bellator Kickboxing's debut is in just under a month now, being headlined by Melvin Manhoef taking on Alexandru Negrea in a middleweight bout that should have a lot of fireworks. The other announced bout is with hot European prospect Mustapha Haida taking on Karim Ghajji in what should be an exciting battle between two top fighters. Also on the card is Raymond Daniels, Denise Kielholtz and Kevin Ross, but until now their opponents have not been finalized.

We've learned from Bellator that their three opponents have been finalized and that these are official. America's favorite son in muay thai, Kevin Ross, will be making his Bellator Kickboxing debut against the young Italian fighter, Taccini Matteo. Dutch champion Denise Kielholtz will be fighting a veteran Italian striker with a whole slew of amateur and professional accolades in Veronica Vernocchi while the explosive, always exciting Raymond Daniels will be fighting someone with experience in amateur kickboxing, MMA and boxing in Morrica Francesca.

Complete “Bellator Kickboxing: Torino” Fight Card:

Bellator Kickboxing Middleweight Main Event: Melvin Manhoef (37-12) 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. Francesco Moricca (15-2-1)

Bellator Kickboxing Flyweight Feature Bout: Denise Kielholtz (43-2) vs. Veronica Vernocchi (31-6-1)

Bellator Kickboxing Bantamweight Feature Bout: Kevin Ross (30-9) vs. Matteo Taccini (24-3-1)

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Bellator Kickboxing Sees Solid Number in Spike TV Debut

On Friday, Bellator Kickboxing made its debut on Spike TV. The event, taped the prior Saturday in Italy, aired after Friday's Bellator MMA event. The show featured what looks to be the future stars of Bellator's kickboxing branch including Raymond Daniels, Kevin Ross, Karim Ghajji and Denise Kielholtz. All of the above had a winning night, while the main event saw Melvin Manhoef upset by Alexandru Negra in an exciting battle. 

The debut for Bellator Kickboxing clocked in at 360,000 viewers, according to Bellator officials. Compared to what kickboxing had been doing prior on Spike TV, the nature of tape delay, the internet and spoilers, as well as a late start time after an already long night of fights, this number seems right in line with what kickboxing had been doing on Spike TV. Here's to hoping for live events (or at least closer to live) in the future and I'm willing to bet that we'll see Bellator Kickboxing grow with time. The action speaks for itself, frankly, people just need time to see the fighters.

UPDATE: Bellator has passed along more information on the ratings, including the peak numbers and the first hour. The first hour saw 464,000 viewers while the peak viewers was 730,000.

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Bellator MMA Dynamite and Bellator Kickboxing 2 See Bump In Numbers

(C) Bellator

On Friday evening Spike TV and Bellator presented Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 as well as Bellator Kickboxing 2. Dynamite saw a number of kickboxing bouts, including Denise Kielholtz against Gloria Peritore and Kevin Ross against Justin Houghton. Bellator Kickboxing 2 started with a bang as Joe Schilling fought Hisaki Kato in a rematch and Raymond Daniels did what Raymond Daniels does best. 

After slightly disappointing numbers for the debut Bellator Kickboxing event, Bellator Kickboxing 2 with a strong Bellator Dynamite lead-in pulled in solid numbers. While Bellator itself did 601,000 viewers, Bellator Kickboxing 2 did 418,000. The Kimbo Slice special aired earlier in the evening did 416,000.

[source]

UPDATE: Spike TV have reached out with peak numbers and DVR figures. Rampage Jackson vs. Satoshi Ishii peaked at 1,140,000 viewers, with the show averaging 675,000 viewers. Joe Schilling vs. Hisaki Kato drew 624,000 viewers, the Kickboxing show pulling a 642,000 peak and average of 439,000.

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Former GLORY Champion Gabriel Varga Signs with Bellator Kickboxing

In an interesting win for Bellator Kickboxing, it has emerged today that former GLORY Featherweight Champion Gabriel Varga has signed a four-fight deal with GLORY's main rival. Varga is a former two-time Featherweight Champion, first winning the title at GLORY 20 against Mosab Amrani to be the promotion's first champion at that weight, then losing it to Serhiy Adamchuk at GLORY 25. Varga was able to win that title back at GLORY 32, only to lose it again to Robin van Roosmalen at GLORY 34. 

He found himself without a contract and in negotiations with GLORY, only to find their terms, while mostly satisfactory, lacking in the pay department. According to a report from Michael Stets at MMAPlus, things were copacetic between the two sides, they simply couldn't agree to financial terms. Varga wanted the pay and respect of a two-time champion while the promotion was looking to stick to their more rigid pay scale that rewards champions and bigger name draws. The company and his management seemingly couldn't find their interests intersecting here, which led Varga to look towards Bellator Kickboxing, who seemed happy to take care of the former champion financially.

In the article, he makes it clear that the increase in pay was not massive, but that he felt there was a clearer path for him to make more money in the future. "The ironic part is it’s not a massive difference. It’s not like one organization is offering 50 percent more. Realistically, it’s like 10 or 20 percent more," Varga explained. "It’s not big dollars, but I noticed that with the Bellator contracts it seems there is more of a path to work your way up to being a higher-paid fighter. With GLORY it just seemed like a lot slower process."

A possible fight with one of the muay thai world's most popular fighters in Kevin Ross could be on the horizon at some point, which would excite a wide variety of fans. Varga also expressed interest in possibly shifting over into mixed martial arts, a move that many top kickboxers have either contemplated or began the process of recently. 

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Bellator Announces Bellator: Dynamite 2 on June 24th

While there might have been a few hitches at last year's Bellator MMA: Dynamite 1 card, Bellator looks to have their ducks in a row this year and have announced Bellator: Dynamite 2. Dynamite 2 will take place on June 24th at the ScotTrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri and once again be a hybrid card between MMA and kickboxing. The only real difference is that this time they get their way and will have complete control over the show, with Bellator Kickboxing launching in just under two weeks now. 

The only fight announced for the card thus far is Quinton "Rampage" Jackson taking on Japanese judoka Satoshi Ishii in an MMA bout. Here's hoping to some big name kickboxing fights at Dynamite 2. 

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Bellator Kickboxing's Raymond Daniels Looks For Cosmic Immortality in Upcoming Fight

Every time that I talk to Raymond Daniels I walk away with different stuff to consider and let germinate. Because Bellator Kickboxing’s Raymond Daniels at his core isn’t like a lot of other fighters who step into the ring as a professional, instead he’s rather grounded and his world outside of the ring looks very different compared to most. His life doesn’t revolve around training for his next fight or chasing that next high, instead his life revolves around his time in the dojo and training the next generation of martial artist. A big part of that is instilling the core tenets of martial arts into their daily lives and showing that while martial arts can be violent, but that violence doesn’t define a martial artist.

“I keep those parts of me very separate,” he explained, “most of my students don’t know my other life at all, or that I fight professionally. To them I’m just sensei. A few of them have seen me fight on TV and they were surprised, or would say, ‘that’s not sensei, he doesn’t act like that.’ They are just very different parts of my life. Some of my students have come out to see me fight, like at my last fight in Las Vegas, but what I’m teaching them is entirely different.”

It’s this duality that has helped to define Raymond Daniels and set him apart from other fighters. He understands that being a professional fighter means being marketable both in and out of the ring. If you’ve heard Raymond Daniels talk when hyping up a fight you know that he doesn’t shy away from doing press and actually tends to enjoy himself. Not that he’s talking a lot of trash, but he’s more than willing to put himself out there and talk about his growth as a fighter, how people have overlooked him or expectations. 

As for expectations, to say that his are high heading into his fight with Francesco Morrica at Bellator Kickboxing’s inaugural event is an understatement. “You know, that first knockout that I got against Francois Ambang? They called that the ‘Knockout Heard Around the World,’ and while that’s good and all, I want to do more than that. I want it to be heard throughout the whole universe. I have some moves up my sleeve, stuff that nobody has seen before in kickboxing and I know how to land them. All respect to Morrica, he’s got great hands and fights that Dutch style, but it’s nothing that I haven’t dealt with before and I want this to be the ‘Knockout Heard Throughout the Universe.’ I want it to put Bellator Kickboxing on the map.”

Daniels remained respectful of his opponent, but throughout his short professional career he has fought some of the very best in the world already, including two tough fights against Nieky Holzken, the current GLORY Welterweight Champion. Twice Daniels had to watch Holzken celebrate, but the second time he was prepared for the fight and was up on the scorecards heading into the third before a cut from Holzken pushed officials to stop the fight. 

“That was my first ever cut, you know that?” He said. “I have never been cut in a fight like that before, and it just so happened to be in one of my biggest fights and be enough to stop the fight. I was winning those first two rounds and I would say that I was winning the third as well until that happened. But it’s just made me itch to get back in the ring all that much more now.”

On the topic of Holzken, when asked if he was upset that he wouldn’t get another crack at him, he seemed to be at peace with it. “You know, I’d love to fight Nieky again. I feel like I’ve come so far and that last fight showed so much, but what can you do? If it happens, it happens. You can never say never, situations change and maybe we’ll get to fight again. But regardless, I wish him the nothing but the best in his career. He just came off of a pretty controversial win, right? Over Groenhart. I think that he’s already got his hands full as it is.”

Daniels sets off on a new journey for himself, though, in this new chapter of his career in Bellator Kickboxing. Much like we’ve heard from other fighters who have made their way to the promotion, there were some important factors for him. “Spike TV is really a great platform,” he said, “it’s in just about every home that it can be here in the States and is available in other places as well. I think that we can really build an audience and build the sport here, especially with Scott Coker at the wheel. “

The subject of Coker seems to be one that comes up often with fighters who are fighting for him. Not because Coker is a commanding figure who demands respect or reverence, but because of his work ethic and history. “I’ve worked with Scott before, I know Scott and we’ve gotten to sit down a bunch and talk. We’ve both that that traditional martial arts background and I think that’s important. Scott has that Midas Touch, you know? Everything he touches turns to gold because he’s a leader and he’s not afraid to take control and lay out his vision for everyone. That’s important and he’s built up more champions and stars than people want to give him credit for. He was the guy that got me my first professional fight in K-1.”

Indeed back when Scott Coker was in charge of K-1 USA he was the first to book Raymond Daniels as a professional in a bout that saw Daniels walk away with a TKO victory. The allure of traditional martial arts is something that has mostly been forgotten in a lot of professional combat sports, but is something that Daniels hopes to help bring back in Bellator Kickboxing alongside Scott Coker.

“If you look at MMA,” he said, “you have guys fighting inside of a cage and while they took parts of martial arts, they cherry picked what they took and left out the peaceful parts of it. If you don’t know what it is and just tune in, it looks almost animalist and brutal. When the Gracies first introduced everyone to jiu-jitsu it opened some eyes and helped to at least change that view for a while, but that’s sorta been lost along the way. I’m hoping that kickboxing can sort of bridge that gap. If I have to take that weight onto my shoulders then so be it.”

We talked about the careful blend that it would take to help bolster the popularity of kickboxing in America. Kickboxing saw some popularity here in the 70’s and 80’s before scandal and disparate, confusing rule sets pushed it aside. While GLORY has made some strides towards making the sport more popular, their approach still feels a bit foreign and different to a lot of fans. “Right, like people don’t realize that kickboxing has a long history, that it was around before MMA. The sport has existed for a long time and has just changed a bit. This is a chance for a fresh start and to really push things forward.”

Getting that “right blend” steered our conversation towards his time in WCL and how WCL was a great idea, but still had perhaps a bit too confusing of a rule set and that the presentation was left lacking in the face of modern sports like MMA. “I think that’s really where Bellator Kickboxing can shine. We can be different and help to push the sport forward, but it doesn’t have to be too different. I’m looking forward to making the sport more popular and to what I’m gonna do in Bellator Kickboxing with Spike TV. The first card has a little bit of everything, different styles and flavors, it brings it all together.”

Look for Raymond Daniels strive for his “Knockout Heard Throughout the Universe” on April 16th in Torino, Italy at Bellator Kickboxing: Torino, airing April 22nd at 11pm Eastern on Spike TV.

 

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Updated Card For Bellator Kickboxing 5 Featuring Giorgio Petrosyan, JWP and More

This Saturday, starting at 5pm Eastern time, Bellator Kickboxing returns with Bellator Kickboxing 5. Bellator Kickboxing directly follows Bellator 176, which features Melvin Manhoef against Rafael Carvalho for the Bellator Middleweight Championship. The Bellator Kickboxing 5 card is perhaps their strongest yet -- and will be airing live instead of tape delay -- featuring Giorgio Petrosyan against Amansio Paraschiv, Denise Kielholtz looking to defend the Women's Flyweight title against Martine Michieletto, John Wayne Parr and Gaston Bolanos making their respective debuts and perhaps the most interesting fight on the card is Mustapha Haida vs. Enriko Kehl.

Updated Bellator Kickboxing 5 Main Card:

Lightweight Feature Fight: Giorgio Petrosyan (83-2-2, 1NC) vs. Amansio Paraschiv (23-5-1)

Women’s Flyweight World Title Bout: Denise Kielholtz (46-3) vs. Martine Michieletto (34-12-5)

Catchweight Feature Fight: Nando Calzetta (45-9) vs. John Wayne Parr (95-32)

Welterweight Feature Fight: Mustapha Haida (45-5-2) vs. Enriko Kehl (45-11-1)

Featherweight Feature Fight: Gaston Bolanos (8-1) vs. Luca D’isanto (36-13-4)

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Bellator Kickboxing Announce Team Set Heading Into Inaugural Event

Bellator Kickboxing has announced today that the broadcast team for the inaugural event has been set. The team in place should feel familiar for fans of Bellator with the inclusion of Sean Grande, and for MMA fans as a whole the addition of Matt Mitrione will add a recognizable voice to the broadcast. Upon Mitrione's signing to Bellator it came out that he was going to be involved in the Bellator Kickboxing broadcasts but now it's official. 

The first Bellator Kickboxing event happens on April 16th and will air on April 22nd.

Complete “Bellator Kickboxing: Torino” Fight Card:

Bellator Kickboxing Middleweight Main Event: Melvin Manhoef (37-12) 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. Francesco Moricca (15-2-1)

Bellator Kickboxing Flyweight Feature Bout: Denise Kielholtz (43-2) vs. Veronica Vernocchi (31-6-1)

Bellator Kickboxing Bantamweight Feature Bout: Kevin Ross (30-9) vs. Matteo Taccini (24-3-1)

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Bellator Adds Don 'The Dragon' Wilson to Stable of Legends for Fan Fest

The upcoming Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 card, followed directly by Bellator Kickboxing 2, is set to be a huge event for the company. The newfound focus on kickboxing includes Kevin Ross and Denise Kielholtz fighting on the Dynamite card and Schilling/Kato headlining the kickboxing card afterwards. Bellator's Scott Coker has always been in touch with his martial arts roots and it looks like things will be no different with their extended push into kickboxing.

Their fan fests have always included MMA legends, but now they've added martial arts and kickboxing icon Don "The Dragon" Wilson to their line-up. Wilson is perhaps one of the greatest American kickboxers of all-time, especially for his time, and moved on to a career in movies, starring in the Bloodfist series as well as doing stunts and producing his own films later on.

Bellator's fan fest is set for June 23rd at Dave & Busters in Maryland Heights, MO.

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Victory World Series and Bellator Florence Fight Cards

The news out of Italy brings good tidings for the upcoming Bellator Kickboxing Florence event, which will feature a Victory World Series event as well. Promised fights for the Victory World Series event are two title fights; one at 70kg with Armen Petrosyan and one at 72.5kg with Musapha Haida.

For the Bellator portion of the card we have Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Jordan Watson, the Bellator 56.6kg World Title between Gloria Peritore and Denise Kielholtz, Joe Schilling returning to action against Iermano Vittorio, Kevin Ross against Allessio Arduni and Karim Ghajii against an still-unnamed opponent.

UPDATE: Bellator officials have informed us that Karim Ghajii will be fighting Luca Novello.

Victory World Series 

ISKA World Championship: - 70kg with Armen Petrosyan (ITA)

World Championship ISKA: -72,5kg with Musta Haida (ITA)

Bellator Kickboxing hours

Giorgio Petrosyan (ITA) vs Jordan Watson (GB)

Bellator World Title -56,6kg: Gloria Peritore (ITA) vs Denise Kielholz (NL)

Joe Schilling (USA) vs Iermano Vittorio (ITA)

Kevin Ross (USA) vs Alessio Arduini (ITA)

Karim Ghajii vs. Luca Novello (ITA)

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