If there was one criticism that I had for Daniel Ghita it would probably be that Daniel Ghita needs to find a trainer and a gym and stick with them for a while. Daniel Ghita when we first saw him in K-1 was raw clay, he was unfinished and ready to be molded. That was where Anil Dubar came into play, all of a sudden Daniel Ghita's hands were tighter. He was throwing not only combinations, but solid combinations. He was defending, he was mixing up his levels and his strikes and he was waiting for the right moment to pounce.
This is what Daniel Ghita could do when he was put with a coach who was willing to put in the work with him, this is what happens when Daniel Ghita is training like a professional. Then, all of a sudden, things went south with Dubar and Ghita was in the market for a new trainer after a few losses. It made sense, kind of, because Daniel Ghita needed to change things up. So then the switch was made to Seconds Out Gym in Almere with Eric Warmerdam. Now Daniel Ghita has announced that he is no longer training there.
It'll be interesting to see where Ghita ends up next.
We've been keeping our ears to the ground over the past few months in regards to everything GLORY, from possible television deals to upcoming shows to the format for their big Heavyweight tournament for this year. Last year's GLORY Grand Slam tournament was interesting, to say the least, using a one-night, sixteen man format with shorter rounds. It led to some quick action, but some of the more methodical, technical fighters like Remy Bonjasky were really hurt by such a ruleset and four fights in one night is just a lot of fights.
While some within the GLORY organization were steadfast in saying that they would repeat the format again this year, we've heard some conflicting reports on the format of the tournament. As GLORY gets closer to a larger American television deal (no insult to CBS Sports, but tape delay at 1am is simply not good enough for shows like this) they have to be concerned with time constraints and putting on a tighter, more unified production. GLORY already do a fantastic job with their pacing on their events, with the fights following each other in quick succession in a way that doesn't feel rushed, but natural. We can at least expect the quirks of last year's Grand Slam to not return.
So according to our source, who wishes to remain unnamed, this year's tournament will be shrunk down from sixteen men to just four to be able to properly fit on a two to three hour American television slot while putting on entertaining fights and being able to properly present the fighters to the audience. The first three participants will be based upon the GLORY World Rankings, although it should be noted that word is that Semmy Schilt will not participate. That means that Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita and Tyrone Spong are guaranteed spots in the tournament, with the fourth spot being a "Wildcard." That "Wildcard" spot will be determined by another tournament that will take place before the event, a Qualifying tournament. It is not clear who will participate in this tournament, but the next four in the rankings are Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Jerome Le Banner and Errol Zimmerman (although I believe that Rico Verhoeven is actually in that spot now after his win over Errol).
So, what do you think? Would you be upset to see the Final 8 format disappear, or is it time for something new?
So far a lot of the attention for K-1 has been focused with a laser-sharp precision on the K-1 Rising US GP in Los Angeles event, and of course with good reason, as it is the next event that K-1 is holding. The event, while getting a good deal of press and groaning from hardcore fans, is the US GP, though, a qualifier for the World Grand Prix and for the World MAX tournament for US fighters. For the actual K-1 World Grand Prix there has been little news outside of a date of October 14th in Tokyo outside of Cro Cop looking to participate in the Final 16.
Now it looks like one fighter who has been a hot topic of late, Daniel Ghita, has finally landed on one side for now, and that appears to be K-1. Daniel Ghita was one of the key fighters for either side to land, and as of last week when we spoke with Anil Dubar, Ghita's trainer, it seemed like a frustrating situation for all involved. They were not sure which contract was valid and who he would fight for, and it felt like Ghita, one of the best Heavyweights in the world, was being used as a pawn in a powerplay to gain headway in the Kickboxing world. Now today reports close to Ghita's camp are coming out that Daniel Ghita will fight in the Final 16 and the Final 8 before he most likely departs to fight for GLORY and test his skills in that tournament.
Ghita has always been quoted wanting to be the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, and to many it feels like no matter who they get, K-1 will not be able to find a real challenge for him, especially with Badr Hari sitting in a Dutch prison.
Tonight at 9pm Eastern time GLORY 11 Chicago will be airing live on Spike TV. Pinch yourself, it's alright, we aren't judging. GLORY has graciously put up the weigh-in videos, so get your dosage of dudes in their skivvies having macho staredowns with each other before GLORY 11 goes down tonight. It's okay, we aren't judging, remember?
2010 was a rough year for K-1 MAX. Three of the division's very top stars fought their (for now) last MAX fights in 2009, including Masato, the man MAX had been built around from the start. Shows were planned, then canceled. Only two qualifying Grand Prixs were held, and one of those 2 never aired. Half of the Final 16 fights were shoved onto the 63kg GP finals almost as an afterthought, and at one time, there were rumors that the 2010 MAX Grand Prix might not even happen. Fans of MAX were looking at the year as somewhat of a disaster.
That changed on October 3. Amidst all this chaos and confusion, the MAX Final 16 event in Seoul was a grand slam of an event - an all around fantastic card with every fight delivering. The next day, no one was talking about how K-1 MAX was struggling. Instead, they were talking about what a show it was. And they were talking about one fight.
That fight is your 2010 LiverKick.com Fans' Fight of the Year - "Iron" Mike Zambidis vs. Chahid Oulad El Hadj.
Coming into the event, this was a fight that on paper looked like it could be a good one. Both Zambidis and Chahid are exciting fighters who like to push the pace and have turned in plenty of fun bouts. But they are also two men whose presence in the Final 16 was questionable, as neither had claimed a significant K-1 win in some time. From the moment the two men meet in center ring for the staredown, any concerns about them not belonging flew out the window. Because right from the opening, you can tell this is going to be something special. Both men looked hungry, out for redemption, and just plain pissed off. They looked ready to tear into each other. And that's exactly what they did.
For four epic rounds, Zambidis and Chahid engaged in an all out war. By the end of the 3rd, the announcers are all on their feet waiting for the judges' decision. By the end of the 4th, fans are already writing their friends telling them what they just saw. And by the next morning, all the focus was on this classic.
Watching it now, I'm reminded of another all-time K-1 great contest - Ray Sefo vs. Mark Hunt (and if you've never seen that, watch it, seriously, now). Like Sefo vs. Hunt, this is a fight that doesn't need any backstory. It's a moment that stands on its own, where even if you've never heard of either man, the combination of heart, determination, technique, and aggression they show is enough to grab you. At a time in combat sports where the UFC is the clear top dog, and where Dana White's love of wild stand-up brawling has come to define how many fans view stand-up action, this fight is a definitive example of what stand-up can be. Yes it's a brawl, but it's also two supremely skilled fighters never losing track of the technique needed to fight at this level. It's a fight every fan of Griffin vs. Bonnar, Garcia vs. The Korean Zombie, or countless other recent fights really owes it to themselves to watch.
Chances are good you've already seen this fight, probably more than once. But as we say our final good-byes to 2010, do yourself a favor and watch it once more. You'll thank yourself later.
A big thanks to all our fans who voted in this poll. In the end, Zambidis vs. Chahid was the clear winner, drawing 34% of the vote. #2 and #3 were only separated by a handful of votes, with the sentimental favorite Peter Aerts vs. Semmy Schilt at #2, and the battle of the new guard in Gokhan Saki vs. Daniel Ghita at #3. For full results, click here, and don't forget to vote on our new polls every week here at LiverKick.com.
Friday night in Virginia live on Spike TV Rico Verhoeven defended his GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Errol Zimmerman. Of course Zimmerman went down to a knee injury in the second round and not to the fists of Verhoeven, but that's another story for another day. The story right now is that Rico Verhoeven is still the Heavyweight Champion and that when you look out over the rest of the division things are a bit muddled at the moment.
If you look around it will be clear that the guy next in line should be Daniel Ghita, but of course, the only problem with that is that we've seen Daniel Ghita challenge for the GLORY Heavyweight title already within the last year. At this point Daniel Ghita is 0-2 against Verhoeven and it's not clear if a third bout would really be a smart move so soon after the last bout between the two.
Looking down through GLORY's rankings we see, well, a mess of a division. GLORY's rankings never did make much sense to me, but they are especially strange considering Sergei Kharitonov is in the #2 spot behind Ghita considering Anderson "Braddock" Silva defeated him last year at GLORY 16. While you might be able to make a case for Braddock, for Adegbuyi or maybe even Gerges in the future, I think that it is high time that we are returned to our kickboxing roots and get an old-fashioned Heavyweight tournament.
The last large-scale Heavyweight tournament was GLORY 4, which was done via a 16-man field, which might have been too much for one evening. That tournament did, however, set Daniel Ghita apart from the pack as one of the top contenders in the division. The truth of the matter is, while GLORY might be able to turn a blind eye to Verhoeven's fight from January in China, those of us that follow the sport closely are well aware of it and the problems that it creates. Essentially Verhoeven's #1 spot in the Heavyweight division comes with an asterisk at the moment. The best way to alleviate some of that pressure and to make heads or tails of the division is to toss them all into the blender and see who comes up on top.
An eight-man field containing Verhoeven, Ghita, Braddock Silva, Zimmerman (once healed), Gerges, Edwards, Adegbuyi and Kharitonov would remove any doubts or concerns about the division and help to create more excitement around what has proven to be the money division in the sport. It would especially make sense considering how much more sense can be made of the Middleweight division after Last Man Standing last year. Four man tournaments have their place, but at the end of the day pitting the top contenders against each other is what will cause the cream to rise to the top and for the true king of the division to stand at the top.
Apparently Sebastian van Thielan woke up one day and realized he was going to be fighting one of the scariest men in the world of combat sports, because he went to It's Showtime and demanded more money for the May 12th fight in Belgium. It really is hard to blame him, as there really was not much of a chance for van Thielan against Daniel Ghita. That is not a knock on van Thielan as much as it is high praise for Daniel Ghita who looks like a complete monster right now.
Stepping in for van Thielan is Brian Douwes, who was last seen defeating Dzevad Poturak in SuperKombat in February of this year stopping him in the third round.
It's Showtime issued a press release stating that van Thielan had signed a bout agreement and the amount of money was agreed upon a long time ago and then wished him luck in the rest of his career. It is safe to assume that van Thielan appearing on future It's Showtime cards just went out the window for van Thielan.
Results from last week's question: Who is K-1's greatest of all time?
42% - Peter Aerts
27% - Ernesto Hoost
11% - Semmy Schilt
9% - Andy Hug
7% - Remy Bonjasky
2% - Jerome Le Banner
2% - Ray Sefo
This week: Coming up this Saturday will be the first truly major card of 2011 as It's Showtime kicks off their year. Headlining the event is a great top 10 battle with #8 Daniel Ghita vs. #9 Hesdy Gerges. So, who wins?
So GLORY 13 is in the books now, where Nieky Holzken held onto the top spot in the Welterweight division, Peter Aerts showed that at 43 he's still one of the most exciting guys in the world to watch and two Heavyweights proved that they are without a doubt the two best Heavyweights in the world; Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven. Rico Verhoeven kept his composure as Peter Aerts kept applying pressure and looking for the big knockout in a fight billed as his "Japanese retirement," able to land cleaner shots and pick up the decision victory. Earlier in the night Daniel Ghita met an old foe by the way of Errol Zimmerman and made shorter work than he did of him the first time.
For those who follow Heavyweight kickboxing, well, this all won't surprise you, but it does segue into what is the most logical match to make in the Heavyweight division right now; Daniel Ghita vs. Rico Verhoeven II. Rico Verhoeven is perhaps the fighter of the year for 2013, with wins over Jhonata Diniz, Errol Zimmerman, Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita and Peter Aerts, with Saki and Ghita being on the same night. It wasn't that no one believed that Verhoeven would ever reach such heights, it's that no one expected it to be this year, yet, that is exactly what happened.
For Daniel Ghita there has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for him, including a heartbreaking loss to Semmy Schilt in the finals of the GLORY 4 Grand Slam last year, followed by a poor performance against Gokhan Saki. Ghita's personal life was beginning to get in the way of his professional life and there were a lot of changes for him, both in his family and in who he was training with. Ghita bounced back and the GLORY 11 Heavyweight tournament was going to be his shot at redemption, the only thing was that nobody told Rico Verhoeven that this was the narrative for the night.
For both men they are at the top of their respective games right now and the third man in the GLORY Heavyweight universe, Gokhan Saki, is most likely dropping down to Light Heavyweight or testing out non-GLORY waters once his contract is up. Then add in the imminent retirements of Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky and Semmy Schilt. This leaves Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven as the lone goliaths atop of the Heavyweight Kickboxing world and with them only having met once before, which for Heavyweight kickboxing is incredibly rare. While seeing both in another tournament would be great, a single rematch to crown a king of the division seems like a more refined way for them to meet, as would bumping up the number of rounds to 5 or even 7 to really see who walks away as the winner.
As we always say, a picture says a thousand words, and for Daniel Ghita, he has reached the top of the mountain for the current Heavyweight Kickboxing landscape. The hope now is that Glory get their tournaments underway and get the biggest names in Kickboxing like they promised and that we can see Daniel Ghita involved in that. It wouldn't make sense to exclude him at this point.