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Tyrone Spong Confirms That His GLORY Contract Has Expired

  • Published in Glory

You gotta hand it to Tyrone Spong for keeping a positive attitude in the face of his horrific leg break against Gokhan Saki earlier this year. In this interview MMAFighting caught up with Tyrone Spong from this past weekend in Brazil, where he was cornering fellow Blackzilian Gilbert Burns. A few interesting points came up from this interview, the first being that he confirms that his contract with GLORY has expired and that there is no new contract just yet. He feels that he did a lot for the organization and is expecting an offer, but nothing yet.

He's still under contract to World Series of Fighting, but as we've seen before, if the UFC comes knocking, Ray Sefo and company aren't going to force him to stay by any means. Interestingly enough he's looking towards trying his hand at professional boxing to both let his leg heal up some more and to regain some of that confidence that he might be missing after the injury. 


Tyrone Spong vs. Gokhan Saki Possibly Headlining GLORY's Spike TV Debut

  • Published in Glory


GLORY is planning something big for their Spike TV debut. Originally the bout which was set for the fall was Semmy Schilt vs. Gokhan Saki, with Saki challenging for Schilt's Heavyweight Championship, but as we now know, Schilt showing up is a long shot at best. Glory have been pushing for Schilt to continue fighting, but with Bas Rutten's announcement on Monday it seems like everyone is admitting that Semmy Schilt is probably not going to continue fighting.

The rumored headlining bout for the GLORY Spike TV debut is none other than Gokhan Saki against Tyrone Spong, which makes a lot of sense as both men are more popular among American audiences and are the top fighters in Glory's rankings (of course Daniel Ghita sits in between them, but it happens). Tyrone Spong was the headliner for GLORY's American debut in New York City, winning the Light Heavyweight Slam tournament.

The two met in 2009 in K-1, with Gokhan Saki defeating Spong via TKO in an Extension Round.


Dynamite Concept a Flop - Kickboxing Treated Like MMA's Little Brother

  • Published in Kickboxing

Tonight's Bellator MMA: Dynamite 1 was a bit of a strange night, to say the least. Dynamite was billed as a hybrid show being thrown by Scott Coker, the brainchild of the former K-1 and Strikeforce promoter. Dynamite was the culmination of his vision to bring that Japanese feel into the world of American combat sports. The problems started mounting almost immediately, even before the show was announced.

Rumors flew that Coker wanted it to include kickboxing, but that GLORY's name was not in the equation until pretty late in the planning of the event. The question was why would Scott Coker want to run his own kickboxing fights when he is in charge of Bellator, Spike TV's MMA promotion? Using GLORY's roster, production, brand and identity for the show made a whole lot of sense, so by the time the show was unveiled it was going to be a huge Bellator event featuring GLORY kickboxing.

Many fans saw this as GLORY's chance at being in front of a huge audience on Spike TV. Bellator's ratings have been increasing since Coker took the wheel and started promoting shows that were more his style, so some of that Midas Touch could wear off on GLORY, right? As the event approached it appeared that GLORY's role in the event would indeed be lesser than imagined. Their name wasn't attached to the event, as Bellator's staff was quick to correct, the event was Bellator MMA: Dynamite 1, not Bellator and GLORY: Dynamite or any other derivative of that. 

The event was going to be loaded with Bellator MMA fights, too. A one-night Light Heavyweight tournament, a Light Heavyweight Championship bout, even the debut of former UFC and Strikeforce fighter Josh Thomson. GLORY was going to get four slots to fill, which seemed fair. Joe Schilling's name was originally attached to the event, but the knockout from a few months back and subsequent suspension saw that go up in flames, but at least Bellator was loaning Paul Daley to GLORY for the night, right?

Wrong. Paul Daley would be fighting another Bellator fighter by the way of Fernando Gonzalez. Gonzalez is not a kickboxer, but instead a Bellator welterweight. In fact, the only fight that was actually booked by GLORY involving GLORY opponents on the entire main card was the Light Heavyweight Championship bout between Zack Mwekassa and Saulo Cavalari. The other "GLORY kickboxing fight" that would air would be Bellator's new signee in Keri Melendez against a 1-4 MMA fighter named Hadley Griffith. If it feels like a stretch to blame GLORY for this fight you are probably connecting the right dots.

The undercard saw TJ Arcangel vs. Jose Palacios, a fight which was planned before GLORY's involvement, then Serhiy Adamchuk vs. Anyar Boynazarov, originally supposed to be a main card fight of Adamchuk vs. Varga until Varga had to pull out due to injury.

What's clear is that both Bellator and GLORY didn't exactly mesh well together. Bellator was protective of the card being their show and GLORY was trying to protect the integrity of their own brand and put on a strong showing on their biggest platform. Instead what we got was everything feeling half-cocked. We got two Bellator fights contested under GLORY rules and we got a GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship fight that saw MMA fans turning their noses up at the prospect of having to sit through it for who knows what reason. All of this happened without a single advertisement or mention of GLORY 24 outside of from the lips of Mauro Ranallo and Stephan Quadros.

That fun feel of kickboxing vs. MMA that happened at Dynamite shows of the past was missing in a big way here. Opportunities were seemingly boundless for interpromotional fights. Paul Daley and Nieky Holzken even worked social media angles against each other hyping up a potential fight, only for that fight to never amount to much because one promotion would end up "losing." The final result was the fans lost and the sport of kickboxing was treated like an afterthought. 

MMA sites everywhere are tsking and shaking their heads at how GLORY could fumble such an opportunity, or dismissing them entirely after the show. I find it hard to really point the finger at GLORY for what was essentially one fight that they presented on the main card. Their only crime was wanting to show their product to the world, which in the end was not what happened. No one can really walk away happy from this show. The concept of the Dynamite show might have felt special and different at the time, but this was not the caliber of show that anyone was expecting, nor did it even attempt to deliver on that level. Instead it gave everyone a little bit of what they might want and a whole lot of what they didn't want.

Kickboxing deserves so much better than this.


Sergei Kharitonov Out of Cro Cop Bout at GLORY 17

  • Published in Glory


GLORY 17's main event is having a few problems thus far. Originally the plan was for a rematch between Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and Pat "HD" Barry, but Zack Mwekassa's fists had something to say about that. That left former PRIDE, K-1 and Strikeforce fighter Sergei Kharitonov for Cro Cop. Well, it looks like a finger injury has sidelined Kharitonov for the next few months, leaving Cro Cop again without an opponent.

June 21st is less than a month away now, meaning that GLORY has to scramble to find a new opponent. The rumored list of names right now is Zack Mwekassa, Jarrell Miller, Jerome Le Banner and Jamal Ben Saddik. There was a remote chance of Tim Sylvia, but that is definitely not happening, Ray Sefo and Ernesto Hoost have apparently also offered their services for the Cro Cop lottery as well. Out of all of these options, Mwekassa is probably the one with the most upside for GLORY. Mwekassa made short work of former UFC star Pat Barry earlier this month and will be fresh in the minds of fans, so he'd be a credible threat to Cro Cop. If Mwekassa wins you have a Heavyweight star that you can nurture, if he loses there isn't much for GLORY to lose at this point.


Why Daniel Ghita vs. Rico Verhoeven II is Such a Big Deal

  • Published in News


On June 21st live on PPV Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven will square off for a second time within the GLORY ring, this time for the GLORY Heavyweight Championship. The last time that they met they were vying for the GLORY 11 Heavyweight Tournament crown, this time it is for a tangible Championship, one that will be worn and defended with pride. At GLORY 11 the promotion made their Spike TV debut with Daniel Ghita vs. Rico Verhoeven as the explosive main event, possibly one of the best Heavyweight fights in GLORY’s brief history thus far.

Of course it is not without controversy. Gokhan Saki has decried the referee in his opening round bout against Verhoeven for counting a controversial down against him, which mentally “broke” him and led to Verhoeven picking up the victory. Regardless of that, Verhoeven earned his spot in the Finals against Daniel Ghita, but even then everyone assumed that Ghita would coast to victory.

He didn’t. In fact, Verhoeven vs. Ghita was so closely-contested that when you look at the stats for the fight, they have Ghita winning by a small margin. Daniel Ghita was quick to point this out on social media recently as both men traded barbs digitally before their fight next month. Do the numbers tell the story? I’m not quite sure. After another viewing of Rico vs. Ghita I I had scored the bout the same way that I did the first time; Daniel Ghita won the first round and Rico Verhoeven won the last two rounds. Round two was up for debate, sure, but round three was very clearly Rico, especially with how he ended it.

GLORY 11 was, in a way, a historic event and was seen by more fans in the United States than GLORY has ever had watching before. What they walked away with was an understanding and respect for both Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven as the top Heavyweights in the world. Many longtime fans would be quick to point out fighters like Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki and Tyrone Spong could and might break into GLORY’s Heavyweight scene and make a huge impact, but GLORY made their Spike TV debut and two stars were born.

Verhoeven and Ghita is the first real rivalry to be built up by GLORY since their Spike TV debut, making this rematch the first in GLORY’s post-Spike TV history and their biggest fight to date. It doesn’t hurt that both men are well-spoken, educated and easy to get along with, important traits for combat sports stars in the United States. I was impressed with how Rico Verhoeven handled the press at GLORY 16, with Verhoeven not only more comfortable in the ring but also comfortable out of the ring as well. 

GLORY is taking a chance by promoting Verhoeven vs. Ghita as the headliner on their first PPV event, but in a way it is symbolic. Both of these men helped to christen the new era for GLORY and will be an integral part of GLORY’s next big step to prominence. The best part about it is that both men are tremendous talents and that this fight not only appeals to those newer fans that GLORY has recently won over, but to fans who have been following the sport of Kickboxing for years now. 


How K-1 Blew it and Let the UFC Become Huge on Spike TV

  • Published in K-1


This video is both fascinating and frustrating, as Albie Hecht, the founder of Spike TV sits down to talk about how the deal between Spike TV and the UFC first came to be. As we all know, the UFC's deal with Spike TV happened and it opened up the market to MMA and helped to save the UFC from an untimely demise. The UFC and MMA in general might have never "boomed" if it weren't for the support of Spike TV.

What's the worst part as a Kickboxing fan? Knowing that it could have been K-1 instead, but that Ishii and K-1 in general back then kind of blew it by being as shady as we all knew that they were. This video is utterly fascinating in that Spike went FIRST to Japan to speak with K-1 before the UFC and that Ishii believing that Hecht insulted his geisha led to K-1 being more than just a Japanese brand and possibly the biggest combat sports brand in the world went up in smoke just like that.

As we've known, K-1 rarely thought about the American market in a serious way, as multiple K-1 USA heads (Scott Coker and Mike Kogan) have spoke about how shows in the US were geared towards Japanese audiences and television and more for saying that they ran shows in the US than to build up the brand and sport here in America. Even when both tried to build up K-1 in the USA, K-1 seemed disinterested in any money coming from the US. Just bonkers. We all do remember K-1 blowing it in China a few years ago, too, right? FIKA? Thanks to our old mothership for the discovery.


Jarrell Miller vs. Mirko Cro Cop II Set for GLORY 17

  • Published in Glory

This has probably been the worst-kept secret in recent Kickboxing history, but it is now [somewhat] official; Jarrell Miller will finally get his rematch against Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic at GLORY 17. The two met in 2013 in the K-1 World Grand Prix tournament in Croatia where Cro Cop was given a suspect judges decision after Miller roughed up the PRIDE, K-1 and UFC legend in his hometown. Cro Cop went on to win the tournament, but to many fans, there was a bad taste in their mouth over the victory.

Miller has since then been focused on his Boxing career, where he remains undefeated and seen as a top prospect. He's worked with everyone from the Klitschkos to the Money Team and is building up quite a reputation for himself. This is the opportunity that he's been waiting for to return to Kickboxing and should be an interesting fight. 


GLORY CEO Andrew Whitaker Talks SuperFight Series and More

  • Published in Interviews


When it comes to Kickboxing, there is nothing hotter right now that GLORY Sports International, best know for the GLORY Kickboxing events. GLORY houses some of the Kickboxing world’s greatest talents and have been putting on some of the best shows in the sport for over a year now. GLORY began when Pierre Andurand and Marcus Luer teamed up with Golden Glory, who had some success with their own Ultimate Glory and Glory World Series events, to make the promotion that we know now, and since then it has been growing rapidly into one of the top combat sports leagues in the world.

LiverKick sat down with GLORY Sports International’s CEO, Andrew Whitaker, to discuss all things GLORY and what is in store for the promotion in the near and far future. Whitaker initially served on the board of directors for GLORY Sports International before transitioning to the CEO position this January and it has been an interesting transition for him, coming from a background in entertainment and sports entertainment, previously working at Kings Highway Media and most notably for WWE. His career within the WWE spanned many years and many positions, placing him in a rather unique position when it comes to producing sports entertainment television and expanding a business on an international scale.

The transition for Whitaker was one that forced him to get down and really learn about the business before he took the reins of the company this year. “Obviously there was a period of immersion to all things GLORY kickboxing. As you know, I obviously worked in entertainment for many years, albeit working with the sports business as well with my former employer. It was more the sports and entertainment businesses, as it was more efficient to do so. In that sense, the licensing people in sports, the live events people in sports on a global basis, the media rights people in sports on a global basis are all people that I’ve been working with for a very, very long time. While I come from what is a very successful entertainment brand and helped grow a global entertainment brand, the transition for me to sports was more about me learning about the specific sport of kickboxing than it is on a business-to-business basis, or a business-to-consumer basis that we have here in America and globally.”


Join the LiverKick and Can't Stop Crazy GLORY 17/Last Man Standing Kountermove Tournament

  • Published in Glory

That title is crazy long, isn't it? Well, there is a saying out there, it's; You Can't Stop Crazy. So if we were going to have a crazy long Kountermove title, why wouldn't we team up with our friends at Can't Stop Crazy to present the GLORY 17/Last Man Standing Kountermove tournament that we were going to do anyway? Just like last time this bad boy is a freeroll, meaning that you can sign up for a fresh, new account if you don't have one already, put no money in and enter the tournament. You can walk away with money from that. 

So yeah, it's free. If you already have an account you should enter as well, because, well, you should. 

The official odds for GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing aren't live yet, but I expect to see them soon on MMAOddsBreaker.

There is zero reason for you not to enter this Kountermove free roll tournament for GLORY 17/Last Man Standing, so go do it now. Now, let's talk about what you should (and should NOT) be betting on.

  • Easy Money
  • Jarrell Miller ($4500) - Sure, there were some out there that felt in their first meeting that Cro Cop might have somehow won that fight. I wasn't one of them and if we are real, you shouldn't be either. Jarrell controlled where the fight took place, was landing cleaner strikes and that was the biggest fight of his career at that point. Since then he's had experience -- lots of experience -- and been scouted by some of the biggest names in Boxing. Cro Cop's dirty boxing-centric style is not going to cut it against Jarrell this time and Jarrell knows better than to get in range for that and eat headbutts. Without Croatian judges and referees this is an even playing field and that favors the man who calls himself Big Baby.
  • The Underdog
  • Joseph Valtellini ($4600) - Marc de Bonte is the defending champion, which gives him an advantage, as does his long career. But you know what? There is a tidal wave forming right now and it's forming behind Joseph Valtellini. Styles make fights and de Bonte's style is more conservative compared to Valtellini's, which is usually fine, except for one thing. Valtellini held his own against Nieky Holzken and was able to not only defend, but break through Holzken's defenses. Holzken is just about untouchable at this weight and is able to sneak by strikes through the best defenses. Holzken had problems with Valtellini. I think that de Bonte is an incredible fighter, but I'm not sure his defenses are as tight as Holzken's and he's gonna play the counter-puncher game, which means Joe will pick him apart. 
  • Too Close to Call
  • Daniel Ghita ($4700) vs. Rico Verhoeven ($4900) - Perhaps the most exciting single fight on paper for Last Man Standing, it is also really tough to call. Verhoeven absolutely has a win over Daniel Ghita, but this is both men, fresh, against the best version of each other. Verhoeven reminds me of Daniel Ghita back in 2012, when Ghita was just getting comfortable in the ring and broadening his horizons. Verhoeven used to be stiff and gunshy, now he's confident and using all of his tools in a fluid manner, which is great, but Daniel Ghita has been through it all now; wins, losses, a trip to the top only to get shot back down. There's a good chance that Verhoeven looks the best he's ever looked and wins a close fight, there is also a chance that Daniel Ghita pummels Verhoeven enough to take the win. 
  • The Long Shot
  • Alex Pereira ($4300) - If you look at the odds, Alex Pereira is the man least likely to win the tournament, when, in fact, for being relatively inexpensive in this Kountermove tournament, he's a tremendous value. He's shown us a ton in his past few fights and we all already know what Artem Levin brings to the table. That being said, knowing what Artem brings to the table, it means that he's going to be himself. He's going to be slipping strikes, working the clinch a ton and maybe even losing a point for it. Moving in close on Alex Pereira is a suicidal move and one that someone as confident as Levin might not be afraid of trying. There's a chance that Pereira even wins this whole damned tournament. You can quote me on that, because I said chance, not will, okay?
  • Stay Away From
  • The entire GLORY 17 Featherweight tournament - This is beyond too close to call, this is insanity. If you are into taking risks then go for it, I'd say your best bets are Shane Oblonsky ($4800) or Gabriel Varga ($4800), but that being said, daaaamn. That is a great, great tournament and some stellar matchmaking by Cor Hemmers. 

Why Kickboxing Fans Should Rejoice About Bellator's Changes

  • Published in News

In case you haven’t heard already, it was announced today by Bellator that Bjorn Rebney has departed from the organization and that his replacement is former Strikeforce head Scott Coker. Coker was restricted under his deal with Zuffa from competing with them until March of this year, which was when Viacom began making a play to push Rebney out and to replace him with Coker. The rumors are no longer rumors and it is indeed now fact; Scott Coker is the new head of Bellator and Bjorn Rebney is out.

Now, I’m sure that you are asking yourself; why does this matter to Kickboxing. The answer is a long one, which you already knew because I only give long answers. GLORY is on Spike TV and in case you haven’t noticed, GLORY has had problems gaining much power with Spike TV since they joined up with the network. GLORY’s ratings have been just as good as Bellator’s have been and they’ve done so with a whole lot less backing compared to Bellator.

See, Bellator had a majority share sold off to Viacom a few years ago, making them not only a part of the Spike TV family, but embedded into the very essence of the network. Viacom now had a stake in not only Bellator’s survival, but its growth and prosperity. While I can’t speak firsthand of Bjorn Rebney, there have been reports for years about how he does business and that the way in which he handled Bellator wasn’t much different. I remember balking at the leaked Bellator contracts when the promotion first began, then we all remember the contract disputes with guys like Eddie Alvarez and Ben Askren.

It’s safe to say that not many in the fight world are big fans of Bjorn Rebney. Kickboxing fans shouldn’t be, either. You’d think that with GLORY under the Spike TV umbrella that there were natural crossover appeals for Bellator and GLORY, in fact, better crossover appeal than between Bellator and TNA Wrestling. Yet the crossovers that we saw were between Bellator and TNA Wrestling, TNA being a distant second place to the WWE and has been in constant financial and creative turmoil for years now. Not even pro wrestling fans like TNA Wrestling (you could argue that MMA fans don’t like Bellator, either, but that’s another story). 

So why not work with GLORY?

The answer is simple; GLORY is a great, polished and professional product. It offers something exciting and if people watch it, they fall in love with it. Bellator on the other hand has had to struggle for any gains in viewers and at times had to sacrifice their “vision” of tournaments to even attract marginal attention from the MMA press and fan base. We’ve had many reports that Rebney considered GLORY as the competition for Spike’s and Viacom’s affections, not something that he could work with and form mutually-beneficial deals with.

GLORY is on the rise and is doing so through rather modest means, while Bellator has had to dip into Viacom’s coffers to push expensive stars like Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz as real competition. While I can’t speak to boardroom affairs or meetings that happened behind closed doors, there has been a sense that a reason why we haven’t seen more GLORY programming on Spike TV or more support for the GLORY brand had a lot to do with Rebney’s attitude towards Kickboxing and GLORY. 

This is why the inclusion of Scott Coker is like a beam of light through a cloudy day for GLORY and Kickboxing fans right now. Scott Coker’s history is one that is rich not only in Mixed Martial Arts, but Martial Arts in general. Scott Coker was a longtime Kickboxing promoter, even working for K-1 on their US events. Before you rag on those events, remember that K-1 gave him extremely limited resources for those events and that any of the good that came for K-1 USA came through Scott and his very talented and motivated team (later on Mike Kogan had similar struggles but did an admirable job as well).

Scott Coker isn’t afraid of Kickboxing, in fact, Scott Coker loves Kickboxing. Kickboxing is how he broke into the world of promoting fights and nobody in the United States did it as successfully as Coker did it. Scott Coker also isn’t afraid of working with other brands on mutually-beneficial arrangements. Strikeforce came into prominence through a landmark deal with EliteXC that brought Strikeforce’s fighters, following and respect to PPV with some of EliteXC’s big names that they had signed, making for truly memorable events. It later led to Strikeforce absorbing EliteXC and becoming the #2 promotion in the world overnight. 

Now, do we think that things are going to immediately get better? Probably not. In fact, it might take a while. Scott Coker might bring about change, but Scott Coker still has to answer to Viacom at the end of the day and without a financial stake in GLORY they might not see the value in pushing it too hard. Then again, there is a contract in place and they are paying GLORY for the programming, so it makes sense to maximize the brand to its fullest and I see no reason why Scott Coker and Bellator would turn away a chance at working with another successful, unique brand to help build credibility for both. 

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