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Schilling vs. Kato II Headlining Bellator's Second Kickboxing Card

When Joe Schilling initially made the move to Bellator MMA's middleweight division many saw this as his opportunity to break out and really make a name for himself. His debut came against Melvin Manhoef in what was a crazy brawl of a fight that ended with Schilling knocking Manhoef out in spectacular fashion. Joe Schilling had arrived. His next fight against Rafael Carvalho saw Schilling demonstrate some of the grappling that he had been working on to spruce up his MMA game, but ultimately the judges gave the fight to Carvalho, which was not without some controversy. 

His next fight was against Hisaki Kato in Kato's Bellator debut in a fight that many saw as a foregone conclusion. The only problem was that no one told Kato that. Kato scored a rather crazy superman punch against Schilling, putting Schilling down and out. Interestingly enough, the superman punch has been one of Schilling's signature moves in the kickboxing realm, it being the punch that put down Artem Levin in their first meeting back at GLORY 10, leading to Schilling's big tournament victory. Since the June loss to Kato Schilling has been competing in kickboxing, working his way through the remainder of his GLORY contract with wins over Jason Wilnis and Mike Lemaire followed by a loss to Wilnis at the recent GLORY 30.

This past weekend it was announced that Bellator was setting up Hisaki Kato vs. Joe Schilling II, but that interestingly enough, it would headline Bellator's second kickboxing event. That event is set to take place directly following Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 on June 24th. 

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Absolutely Do Not Push Takeru While He's Wearing His K-1 Championship

  • Published in K-1

K-1 Japan has another, star-studded and most likely knockout-filled card approaching on the 24th of June, featuring a 65kg tournament. Also featured on the card will be K-1 -55kg Champion Takeru taking on Ozawa Kaito. At a recent press conference for the event both men stared down and Kaito decided to get cute with Takeru. Takeru is, of course, a beautiful, violent soul, which is to say that it didn't work out too well. Here's the thing, don't come at Takeru while he's wearing his belt.

Apparently he's kind of invincible while wearing it, because this one-handed judo takedown is just a thing of beauty.

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Changes to the GLORY 31 SuperFight Series

  • Published in Glory

Hot on the heels of the announcement that Iman Barlow was pulling out of the GLORY Super Bantamweight tournament and, subsequently, her bout on June 25th at GLORY 31's SuperFight Series, GLORY has released a revised fight card for the GLORY 31 SuperFight Series. Filling in for Iman Barlow will be reserve fighter Irina Mazepa. Another big change comes to the headline bout of the card, originally slated to be a GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship bout between Mourad Bouzidi challenging champion Artem Vakhitov. 

Vakhitov has been forced to pull out thanks to an injury that he suffered in training and instead Zack Mwekassa will be stepping in to fight Mourad Bouzidi. 

GLORY 31 SuperFight Series

Light Heavyweight Headline Bout: Zack Mwekassa vs. Mourad Bouzidi

Lightweight Co-Headline Bout: Josh Jauncey vs. Anatoly Moiseev

Featherweight Bout: Mosab Amrani vs. Eddy Naït-Slimani

Super Bantamweight Bout: Isis Verbeek vs. Irina Mazepa

Welterweight Bout: Máximo Suarez vs. Eyevan Danenberg

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Iman Barlow Pulls Out Of GLORY Super Bantamweight Tournament

  • Published in Glory

Interesting update following the announcement of the GLORY Super Bantamweight Tournament, as one of the bigger names that was signed has already pulled out. That name is Iman Barlow, the UK-based fighter known as one of the best in the world. Her statement via Facebook points towards a lack of communication.

Unfortunately I have come to a decision that I am not going to be part of the Glory tournament. I was asked to fight on Glory 25th June to which I said Yes. I then later find out via social media that it was a tournament which is above my fight weight class. This was bad communication, I was never told it was at 55.5 or more than one bout. I can not commit to this as I have other commitments to fulfil. I would and am willing to fight Tiffany (as I know many want to see this fight) after the tournament if they want in a one off

Fight, but without signing a long confusing contract. I wish everyone in it the best of luck and I hope it's a great success for Glory. It's an amazing opportunity but for me just came across at the wrong time. 

I hope you all understand.Thanks X

So, according to Barlow, she didn't know the weight class that she was supposed to be competing in, didn't know that it was a tournament and it seems like she didn't understand that the contract with GLORY was a longer term one and not just one fight. This all feels like strange oversight considering how the tournament came together. Possibly her and her team agreeing to a deal without weighing deals she already had in place? Especially considering just the other day she posted a screenshot of the GLORY rankings (with the weight clearly listed) celebrating her #1 spot, she seemed excited about fighting in GLORY and being atop of their division.

This wouldn't be the first false-start that GLORY has seen with well-known muay thai fighters. GLORY had initially announced signing muay thai phenom Kevin Ross only for his previous contract with Lion Fight ultimately getting in the way. Here's to hoping that this gets worked out in the near future and that we're able to see more of Iman Barlow in the near future.

We've reached out to GLORY for comment.

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Ratings Up for GLORY 30 on ESPN2

  • Published in Glory

After a few disappointing performances for GLORY replays on ESPN2, GLORY 30 came back with stronger numbers. Maybe, in part, thanks to the appearance on ESPN SportsCenter late in the week featuring CEO Jon J. Franklin, Simon Marcus, Dustin Jacoby and Tiffany van Soest. Regardless, GLORY 30 aired on Sunday evening and the numbers were up. 

GLORY 30 on ESPN2 averaged 209,000 viewers at a 9pm time slot for the welterweight tournament, the incredible headkick knockout from Marat Grigorian and Simon Marcus defending his GLORY Middleweight Championship against Dustin Jacoby. [source]

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Badr Hari Released on Bail After Weekend Arrest in Morocco

  • Published in Kickboxing

While initial reports as to the situation with Badr Hari in Morocco were foggy at best, further information was released today by the press. Badr Hari was indeed arrested on this weekend in Morocco at the Casablanca airport, but he was not flying to Brussels, instead he was flying from Brussels and was detained upon landing in his home country. The reason behind the arrest was the assault in Marrakesh the previous month. The arrest also happened on Saturday, not Thursday.

Hari has been released on bail and it looks like the kickboxing bad boy has indeed found himself in trouble yet again, contrary to friends and fans persistence that the media was somehow trying to make Hari look bad yet again. 

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GLORY 32 Virginia Featuring Adamchuk vs. Varga II

  • Published in Glory

GLORY continues to march forward with their 2016, while GLORY 31 might be the next show, GLORY 32 takes place on July 22nd in Virginia, featuring a GLORY Featherweight Championship rematch between the new champion Serhiy Adamchuk and former champion Gabriel Varga. Varga lost the title at GLORY 25 to Adamchuk in what was a closely-contested bout that saw its fair share of controversy. Hopefully the rematch between the two is a bit cleaner when it comes to the action.

Varga will definitely be motivated to take his title back while Adamchuk is coming off of a defense of his title over Mosab Amrani at GLORY 28 and stepping in on late notice to fight Mohammed El Mir at Lightweight at GLORY 29 just one month later. 

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GLORY Announces Women's Super Bantamweight Division and Grand Prix

  • Published in Glory

Today in Los Angeles at a press conference streamed live to the world via Facebook GLORY announced that they would be creating a Women's Super Bantamweight division, the weight at which Tiffany Van Soest fights. It makes sense considering the signing of Van Soest. They've announced a Super Bantamweight Grand Prix, which Van Soest vs. Hasshass is the first quarterfinal bout in said tournament. The second fight will be at GLORY 31 Amsterdam as Isis Verbeek takes on Iman Barlow.

The addition of Barlow is perhaps the other biggest bit of news as she can easily be considered one of the best female fighters in the world. In fact, Steven Wright ranked her as the #2 pound-for-pound woman in the world right now. GLORY has built a ten-woman division, with future match-ups being Zoila Frausto vs. Daniela Graf and Amel Dehby vs. Ji Waen-Lee, while Ferial Ameeroedien vs. Irina Mazepa will serve as the reserve fight.

There are some solid names in there for the division and hopefully this takes off in a big way. You can watch the full announcement below.

We're thrilled to announce a new division with a Grand Prix tournament, tune in LIVE!

Posted by GLORY Kickboxing on Thursday, May 12, 2016

 

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Badr Hari Detained In Casablanca Airport, Subsequently Released

  • Published in Kickboxing

Badr Hari is once again snatching headlines out of thin air, this time due to an arrest in Casablanca, Morocco. While the reason for the arrest has yet to be released, chances are it has something to do with the recent assault that Hari committed in Marrakesh, Morocco where a waiter was attacked for bringing the kickboxing superstar a glass of vodka and not a bottle. 

Reports claim that Hari was at the airport, departing for the Netherlands when he was detained. No reason has been released yet, but the speculation is that it's related to the late April incident. Badr Hari has been in the news again when renewed interest in a possible bout between GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari surfaced, with both men accepting the fight and simply looking to find an appropriate home for it. Verhoeven is currently in a negotiation period with GLORY for a new contract, which slows things down a bit, although the promotion has hoped to deliver the Hari fight for Verhoeven as a part of an offer.

If this arrest leads to anything more serious the chances of Badr Hari fighting Verhoeven drop from an already improbable range to practically zero. Here's looking at you, kid.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, he was released after a period of time. Apparently he was also flying to Brussels, not the Netherlands and his people are fervently saying that he wasn't arrested, simply "questioned."]

UPDATE: The same site that initially reported this news had a followup that went into further detail, explaining that the arrest was done quietly in the airport and pertained to the recent assault involving Badr Hari.

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May 2016 LiverKick Rankings Update: Ch-ch-ch-changes Galore

  • Published in Rankings

There has been a lot going on this year for both Jay and I, so we waited for the rankings to really need an update. The thing is, now that we got to tackle them, they needed a lot of changes. After a rather uneventful early part of the year we are seeing major changes in quite a few divisions. While at times we've been able to let entire divisions stand as they are, this time around each division has at least one big change.

The LiverKick rankings date back to 2010 when Fraser Coffeen and myself began ranking fighters across multiple divisions, with the only way to move up the rankings (or being added to them) being defeating a ranked opponent. Therefore, these rankings are based upon who beats who, not talent, potential or anything else. They are also current, meaning that past wins or losses are not taken into account when ranking a fighter. 

Heavyweight saw some changes, some were good, others were questionable. Brian Douwes had a win over Jamal Ben Saddik to earn his spot, then had an incredible slide that bumped him out. Easy come, easy go. New additions are in WFL tournament winner Fabio Kwasi and GLORY newcomer Guto Inocente. Both had ranked wins that put them on the map here and have taken hold of the middle of the division. Their addition means that Badr Hari once again slides out of the rankings, mirroring his lack of activity against, well, anyone. 

Light Heavyweight saw a big departure in the way of Gokhan Saki. In a way, that was a long time coming. Saki hasn't competed at this weight in a very long time and his last fight was now well over a year ago now, meaning that he has finally been dropped. This makes Artem Vakhitov the undisputed #1 Light Heavyweight in the world. There are two additions to the rankings at this point, one being Mladen Kujundzic thanks to his recent win over Andrei Stoica and Luis Tavares. Middleweight only saw movement really at the top with Marcus and Levin swapping, Wilnis and Schilling swapping and the addition of Cedric Doumbe who is a rare case of a fighter ranked in two divisions.

Welterweight is another division that has seen some shake-ups. While Holzken is still unmoving, Artur Kyshenko is on an incredible run and Cedric Doumbe hasn't tasted defeat in a while now. Mustapha Haida has made some big strides and makes his debut. Lightweight has seen only a few changes, notably the slide of Davit Kiria. Enriko Gogokhia's win over him earns him a rather high spot on the list. Tayfun Ozcan has quietly been making his way into the top ten for a while now and once again, Davit Kiria is welcoming new names into the rankings.

Featherweight is, well, Featherweight. That'll probably change again soon after the next K-1 Japan event. 

LiverKick Rankings Updated on 5/26/2016

Heavyweight (Per 5/16)

1 Rico Verhoeven
2 Benjamin Adegbuyi
3 Ismael Londt
4 Jahfarr Wilnis
5 Fabio Kwasi
6 Guto Inocente
7 Jamal Ben Saddik
8 Anderson Silva
9 Andrei Gerasmichuk
10 Zabit Samedov

Light

Heavyweight (Per 5/16)

1 Artem Vakhitov
2 Saulo Cavalari
3 Mourad Bouzidi
4 Danyo Ilunga
5 Mladen Kujundzic
6 Jorge Loren
7 Andrei Stoica
8 Zack Mwekassa
9 Luis Tavares
10 Reduon Cairo
Middleweight (Per 5/16)

1 Simon Marcus
2 Artem Levin
3 Jason Wilnis
4 Joe Schilling
5 Filip Verlinden
6 Alex Pereira
7 Dustin Jacoby
8 Israel Adesanya
9 Cedric Doumbe
10 Fang Bian
Welterweight (Per 5/16)

1 Nieky Holzken
2 Artur Kyshenko
3 Cedric Doumbe
4 Murthel Groenhart
5 Hicham El Gaoui
6 Raymond Daniels
7 Yoann Kongolo
8 Mustapha Haida
9 Karim Ghajji
10 Bai Jinbin
Lightweight (Per 5/16)

1 Robin van Roosmalen
2 Sitthichai
3 Enriko Gogokhia
4 Giorgio Petrosyan
5 Yodsanklai Fairtex
6 Marat Grigorian
7 Wu Xuesong
8 Tayfun Ozcan
9 Dzhabar Askerov
10 Josh Jauncey
Featherweight (Per 5/16)

1 Kaew Fairtex
2 Hidaeki Yamazaki
3 Masaaki Noiri
4 Minoru Kimura
5 Massaro Glunder
6 Yasuomi Soda
7 Yuta Kubo
8 Serhiy Adamchuk
9 Gabriel Varga
10 Qui Jian Liang
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WATCH: Yohan Lidon Lands a Monster Head Kick KO

  • Published in Video

Yes, slow news day. That being said, this head kick KO from Yohan Lidon over Karapet Karapetyan from May 19th at Capital Fights in France is simply a thing of beauty. Does it match the Marat Grigorian one from the last GLORY show? Maybe, maybe not, but who cares? It's a beautiful head kick KO and that's the reason why we are here. 

Énorme KO de Lidon sur Karapetyan

Incroyable KO infligé par Yohan Lidon ! Rassurez-vous, son adversaire d'un soir s'est relevé quelques instants après. #boxe21

Posted by L'ÉQUIPE 21 on Thursday, May 19, 2016
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Steven 'The Warman' Wright's Women's Pound-for-Pound List: May 2016

  • Published in Rankings

In putting together this women's pound for pound lists I must first make it clear that there is no difficulty in finding talented women. The difficulty lives in how many talented women there are. I could make a list for several weight classes, but it gets so thin after number five, that I thought a better representation for female Muay Thai and kickboxing fighters is to do a p4p list. 

My criteria is simple; the total number of victories over solid opposition is number one. Another way to put it; who did you beat and how did you beat them. A win is good, a KO win is better. Championships mean little, because there is a world champion in 90 percent of the gyms in the world. It means more to travel or import top talent and test ones self in that way than it is to remain undefeated against familiar opposition. Volume of fights is huge. If you flirt with boxing and MMA from time to time and do not build your kickboxing and Muay Thai resumes, fighters can jump you. Also if you are predominately a stadium Muay Thai fighter this is not the list for you. The major stadiums do not have female fights as of right now so all the champs are from regional stadiums. Muay Thai contributor Sylvie Duuglas Ittu has a great list for those that want lighter weight stadium fighters. Without further a due, your Liverkick.com female pound for pound(p4p) rankings. 

Honorable mentions, (Marianna Kalergi, Ilona Wijmans, Miriam Nakamoto (not sure if she is returning, but she is elite) Julia Berezikova (would be in the top 15 if she didn't compete in MMA so much, still an elite fighter with a good resume) Lucia Krajcovic, Lucy Payne and Rachel Adamus.

15. Anissa Haddaoui HOLLAND/MOROCCO

Fresh off a tournament win over all action star Ilona Wijman's and Sheena Windershoven she enters the top 15. She will have to be more consistent to move up in the rankings.

14. Mio JAPAN

Mio is a KO artist that campaigns at 48kgs, the smallest weight class in competitive fighting. She will struggle to move up in the rankings due to lack of depth in the weight class. However she has been the girl to beat in Shootboxing's smallest division for some time now. Her KO over Yuuki is violent stuff

13. Samantha van Doorn HOLLAND

Samantha is on fire right now. Sure, she has been beaten by the top women on this list. But she has won three straight over Australia's Sam Brown, Ilona Wijmans(2015 Fight of the Year), and Patrizia Gibelli

12. Eva Naranjo SPAIN

Eva has a controversial win over Iman Barlow and a solid win over Sam Brown. However her boxing focus has taken away from her kickboxing resume of late so she can only be on the list at 12.

11. Anke van Gestel BELGIUM

Its hard to find a more active fighter than the 22yr old Anke van Gestal. She fights anyone, and despite some loses to the better women in the sport she has just beaten Rachida Bouhout and Aleide Lawant, Bouhout was a higher weight Enfusion champion. Anke has also beaten Lindsey Haycraft Sheer, veteran Claire Haigh, Sarah Debaieb, and Ilona Wijmans in an Awesome fight.

10. Antonina Shevchenko PERU

Sister of All time Great Muay Thai fighter Valentina Shevchenko, Antonina has built quite the resume herself. Fresh off a Enfusion reality show tournament win over Laetitia Bakissy and Shana Lammers. Antonina started the year off right and then signed with Lion Fight. If all goes well, she will get one fight to showcase her skill and then a title shot with Jorina Baars later in the year. Lack of opponents could mean the Jorina fight is next. 

9. Jemyma Betrian HOLLAND/SURINAME 

Activity is the only reason why Jemyma isn't higher. Outside of a draw to Tiffany van Soest, Betrian is unblemished. No loses in kickboxing and wins over Christi Brereton, E Meidie, and Wang Kehan in an epic fight. She hasn't fought kickboxing in two years, but also hasn't committed to MMA full so she makes the list. 

8. E Meidie CHINA

Though controversial, E Meidie has the biggest win on this list in an extra round decision victory over Anissa Mekson. She also beat Isis Verbeek and won six times in eleven months. She will need more total fights to move up, but she is in the elite women's weight class so opportunities will come.

7. Wang Kehan CHINA

Despite E Medie having the big win, the best fighter in China is Wang Kehan. She burst on the scene when she almost stopped Jemyma Betrian in the first round. Since that fight, she trains with Betrian and hasn't lost a fight sense. Irena Mazepa, Michaela Michl, and Masha Valent. Unlike Meidie, Wang has left the country and has had success without the favoring of hometown judges, winning in the US, Belarus, and the Philippines. She just stopped Rachel Adamus on Kunlun so she is adding to her resume every month. 

6. Tiffany van Soest USA

The American super star has been Lion Fight Champion pretty much since it has aired on TV. She has wins over Ashley Nichols, Bernise Aldis, Lucy Payne(twice) and Alexis Rufus. Tiffany had a tough 2014 losing to Muay Thai Legend Caley Reece and Denist Kielholtz. But she bounced back to regain her Lion Fight title and is now signed to Glory kickboxing. She is seen as the premiere signing in the women's division and now fighting between 52 and 54kgs she will have plenty of chances to move up in the rankings. 

5. Rena JAPAN

The Shootboxing queen hasn't lost since she was 19yrs old in 2011. Sense then she is beating and stopping opponents. Elli Maria Ekstrom, Christina Jurjevic(Twice), Ai Takahashi, and her most important victory, a 5rd decision over Erika Kamimura, who would be on this list had illness not end her career. Rena is a talent and her KOs of Za Za Sor Aree and Reinthong are brutal and beautiful.

4. Denise Keilholtz HOLLAND/SURINAME

She is the best 57kg fighter on the planet. Denise has wins over Ilona Wijmans(controversial), Lindsey Haycraft Sheer, Vicky Church, Lucy Payne, Lucia Krajcovic, Cindy Huyer, and a big win over Tiffany van Soest at a time when most felt they were one and two in the world. Denise is fresh off a win in Bellator's kickboxing league so more to come from the Dutch/Suriname fighter

3. Jorina Baars HOLLAND

Jorina Baars is amazing. She has the combination to low kick game down, uses her length well, and is getting victories in Muay Thai, which isn't even her best stand up sport(she is a better kickboxer). Victories over Martina Jindrova(twice), Chantel Ughi (twice), Anissa Haddaoui and the most important win in the history of women's Muay Thai, a dominate victory over the unbeatable MMA star Cyborg Santos. Outside of that there isn't much talent in the higher weight classes so her inevitable fight with new Lion Fight signee Antonina Shevchenko is an opportunity to move up. 

2. Iman Barlow ENGLAND

In truth, no one has a better resume than Iman Barlow. No female fighter on the planet, in boxing, MMA, or Muay Thai fights as much and win's as much as Iman. She has wins over, Samantha van Doorn(twice), Alexis Rufus, Maria Lobo, Adi Rotem, Mellony Geugjes, Johanna Ryberg, Ferial Ameeroedien, and Fani Peloumpi to name a few of many. The only reason she isn't number one is because of a stoppage loss to Anissa Meksen in the Enfusion reality show tournament. Outside of that, the girl who beat the boys Iman Barlow is a prodigy in the sport and has been fighting in Muay Thai since she was 3...that isn't a joke. She has more than 150 fights. 

1. Anissa Meksen FRANCE

French fighter Anissa Meksen is he number one p4p female fighter on the planet due to her resume and the way she won. She has victories over Isis Verbeek, Maria Lobo, and Ashley Nichols. But she has stoppage wins over Adi Rotem, Johanna Ryberg, Phet Yodying, and the win that makes her number 1, a stoppage victory over p4p number 2 Iman Barlow. A controversial loss to E Meidie is the only blemish to her otherwise stellar record. She should remain at the top spot, but the arrival of Glory's female division could mean a possible fight with Tiffany van Soest and a rematch with Iman Barlow. Yet as it stands, Anissa Meksen is the number one p4p female kickboxing/Muay Thai fighter on the planet.

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Kickboxing Roundtable April 14th - GLORY 29 and Bellator Kickboxing Preview

  • Published in LK Podcast

This weekend is a big one for kickboxing and combat sports as GLORY 29 comes at you live on Saturday afternoon and Bellator Kickboxing makes its debut on Saturday in Italy. The Bellator event won't be airing until next week on Spike TV, but the MMA portion will be airing on Saturday. That doesn't mean that we can't talk about it, right?

MMAMania.com's Michael Stets and myself have been talking about putting together some sort of podcast thing for a while now, usually trying to include BloodyElbow's Fraser Coffeen and John O'Regan, but trying to organize four busy schedules has led to it never happening. Last night Stets decided to set things up and I was around, so this meeting of the minds is setting up this weekend's events with a lot of talk and insight into what to expect from GLORY 29 and Bellator Kickboxing.

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Artem Levin Talks About the Fallout From GLORY 27, the Future and More

  • Published in Interviews

On Friday, February 27th Glory returned to Chicago and headlining the event was the third installment of the epic battle between Simon Marcus and Artem Levin. Glory 27 did not disappoint from the first bout to the last, fighters electrified the crowd with stunning knockouts and hard fought battles. The main event was not without drama. The night ended with reigning champion Artem Levin being disqualified after he failed to continue fighting. In a statement he later released to the public, Levin apologized to his fans for letting them down, however, he revealed that he felt self respect was far more important than winning or losing. In a follow-up conversation with Levin, he expressed his view point and gave an idea of what is to come.

Levin: The refereeing was strange from the very beginning. There were thoughts after the fight, perhaps, I overreacted and ended the fight early, but after another time I’ve watched the fight, I realized that I was right about everything. The referee was charged-up from the start, beginning with the fictitious knockdown. They’ve taken way the belt for the second time using this referee. The 4-man tournament in Los Angeles in 2013 involved the referee beginning the count after a punch to shoulder in the extra round. Also during this event the referee began the count in the first round and took points from me in the next rounds due to mutual clinching. This referee has done the same thing each time refereeing my fights. I decided in the third round to exit and to stop the absurdness and nonsense. Some say, that I should have continued and fight until the final bell, but the referee would have taken a point another time and I’d be disqualified by him. So I thought I should make a decision. I rely on me only, I decide my fate myself, thus I made the decision! Numerous Americans, Canadians, and websites around the world supported me. I am sure that I’ve done the right thing!

As far as his immediate plans, Levin continued: I’ve got many suggestions, but I’ve signed with GLORY at the current time. The future is interesting, time will show whether I will be perfoming. I’d like to leave it without comment. I will say that one of my main aim is to perform in Russia I've been fighting abroad through all my career in foreign promotions, with foreign supporters, with foreign referees. Now I’d like to fight for my native fans in my country with the best opponents!

As I footnote to Levin's comments, I asked Glory CEO, Jon Franklin to give some of his feedback on the incident.

Jon Franklin: ISKA held a special session during the rules meeting to triple check that the athletes understood clinching and holding rules. The rules are available to the athletes and it is the responsibility of the athletes to know and understand all rules of competition. If an athlete has a question about the referee or judging, there is a proper procedure in place for review after the bouts. One of the rules is that refusing to fight will result in a disqualification. That is what happened.

It remains to be seen whether Levin will in some way attempt to appeal the disqualification on some ground or if he will just prepare himself for Levin-Marcus IV.

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World Fighting League Promo Video

  • Published in Video

World Fighting League, promoted by Melvin Manhoef has a massive card coming up on April 3rd in Almere, Netherlands. It will include 3 tournaments and 7 super fights.

The Main event of the card will feature 2x K-1 Max Champion Andy Souwer against the very technical and dangerous Mohamed Khamal. The other fights have not been announced yet but names like Murthel Groenhart, Zakaria Zouggary, Chahid Oulad el Hadj, Ibrahim el Bouni, Fred Sikking, Luis Tavares, Redouan Cairo, Marco Pique and Ilona Wijmans will be included.

They recently released an amazing promo video for the event featuring many of the cards fighters plus a hooded Joop Ubeda wielding a flaming glove, if that isn't epic then I don't know what is. These type of videos really make me wish all promotions would put this kind of effort into their videos, Well done WFL.

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Artem Levin Talks Marcus Rematch, Vaseline and What Went Down Leading Into GLORY 25

  • Published in Interviews

To many he's an enigma, quiet, stealthy and calculating. A man of few words outside the ring where afterall, he's let his knees, fists and elbows do most of his talking.  On the other side of the ropes Levin is relaxed with the disarming smile of a school boy and someone who would seem incapable of the brutality he often inflicts upon his opponents. With the precision of some of his idols, Artem Levin has taken the world of kickboxing and muay thai by storm and is preparing to indelibly leave his mark on the sport. Currently Levin is top man in the Middleweight division, a title he earned in 2014 and one which he is determined to maintain for years to come. On Friday, February 27th Levin will again defend his title as he for the third time faces Simon Marcus. In what is bound to be one of the most exciting face-offs of the year, Levin and Marcus will participate in an extremely emotional battle which most recently erupted at Glory 21 in San Diego. Ahead of this trilogy, I had an opportunity to pose some questions to Levin and find out what beats within the heart of "The Lion".

On his beginnings:

I was born in a small provincial town of Prokopyevsk. It’s a mine town. There were no other good professions other than coalminer in the 1990s. There were three ways to make living: be a coalminer, a criminal or a sportsman, so I joined my brothers at the gym. They were going in for boxing and then muay thai became my sport. My influence was the fact that there had been some muay thai fighters with world and European titles and golden medals at that time in town, and not any boxing champions.

What was your family's response to you pursuing kickboxing as a profession?

Definitely my parents and my family are my main fans, my support, my base of power. They support me and make me comfortable. My mother is distressed for me as any mother would be. She always waits for the ending of this “nightmare”, but at the same time she understands my choice and that it’s useless to dispute with me. I’m really proud of my family. They had waited for me to quit during the first years of my sports experience, but everyone knows that it’s my life choice now.

Had you not pursued a career in combat sports what other kind of career would you have chosen?

It’s hard for me to say. I’ve been in sports since I remember myself, I began with muay thai when I was 10. I always have seen myself with a career in sports. I see myself as comprehensive person: I read books and I have many hobbies. All that happens through sports. I guess, nothing good can come without sport, but I haven’t known another life.

Describe a typical training day when you are preparing for a fight.

It’s not exciting. My usual routine: wake up, have a breakfast, go to morning workout for an approximately 1.5-2 hour session of drills and techniques, speed or strength endurance exercises.  It depends on preparation stage but then lunch, sleep and on to a second workout which usually includes an intensive 3 hour session of sparring and using special equipment.  After training I usually take a walk, have dinner, do some reading before bed and then sleep and it all begins again.

You are becoming widely known for your boxing and defensive strategy, what do you feel are some of your other strengths as a fighter?

I don’t focus narrowly on one thing. Perhaps, I act instinctively in a fight and I’m training in all aspects. I try to become comprehensive. My work is based on defense firstly. I appreciate my health, that’s why I don’t want to join in an exchange of blows or to let a punch get through. It's my goal to keep being healthy during my entire career  so as to take more fights with sober mind, without injures, with fresh body.

Who inspires you as a fighter?

I’m inspired by legendary athletes, even though not martial artists, such as Mike Tyson and Muhammed Ali – they became iconic for thousands around the world. I admire Michael Jordan, Usain Bolte, Michael Phelps and others who became a hero in their sport. Those who proved that nothing is impossible.

Aside from fighting Joe Schilling and possibly Simon Marcus again, are there any other fighters with whom you'd be interested in being matched up against.

It doesn’t matter who’s the opponent. If you want to be the best, to leave a mark in kickboxing or muay thai history, it doesn’t matter who you fight against. You don’t choose opponents, you just defeat the best and prove that you are the best. The question: who I’d be interested in fighting against? I don’t have any preference. I want to fight no matter against who.

How many years have you've been living in San Diego? How did you choose that city? Has the transition between the two countries been difficult?

Well I can’t say I’ve moved here yet. I still live in Russia. One of my training camps is here and there are valuable opportunities here to develop and work on my career. The transition was quite easy, my friends from The Boxing Club in San Diego have helped. I chose San Diego as it is a warm city by the ocean with a mild climate and beautiful places to live in. It’s a simple choice after cold Siberia.  

Your fight with Simon Marcus in San Diego was a bit controversial. Both of you felt that you had won the match. Additionally during the post-fight press conference, you expressed a concern that he had not been called on excessive holding. Can you talk more about that fight from your perspective in terms of the calls by the referee and how the match was scored. How do you feel it should have been scored.

Definitely I won the fight. As for Simon Marcus, he played foul. He was slippery with vaseline. I guess it was a trick to rub on the vaseline a few hours before the fight, for skin to dry and then to become slippery with sweat. We are not allowed to apply anything besides vaseline to our face. As for points, I wonder why a point was reduced from my score and none from Simon’s, the clinch was mutual. Thus I think I won three rounds undoubtedly at least. If I gave away two rounds to him, I still don’t think that I lost them.  A draw is a gift to him from the judges and referees. From the referee especially, I’d say. He can thank the referee personally.

Also you have been highly criticized by Joe Schilling. Most recently following the Glory 25 event Schilling stated that he feels that you are in fact avoiding him. You were set to face Schilling for the third time in Denver this year but had to withdraw due to injury. Can you talk about what happened and where you are with your recovery?

I was injured during training camp before the amateur world championships in Thailand in August. The injury was not severe but it was such that it could keep me from proper preparation for the fight.  I was informed about the fight six weeks before it was scheduled and it was to be held in a high mountain region. I am the champion of the promotion. It would be foolish to go on with that risk and to demonstrate disrespect in that way to Schilling. If I took a fight as insignificant and began preparation within 6 weeks, and taking into account that I had  been to Thailand at that time, then - 5 weeks, and I could take normal proper workout sessions in a week after then perhaps. That’s why I did not and I also saw the prospect of coming to a fight with an injury and without proper preparation as disrespectful to GLORY’s executives. I won a WKN title bout recently and I am recovered and  motivated.  I’m ready to fight anywhere. I’d rather watch Joe Schilling fight outside  the USA. Is he able to fight outside California or USA? He needs helpful judges.

I know that continuing to defend your title is a priority for you in the coming year. Do you have any other plans for 2016?

The main priority is my title defense obviously, but also to fight more, in any promotion, even if it would be not GLORY.  I took the WKN muay thai belt and now my aim is leave a mark in muaythai and kickboxing, for people to remember me even after the my career is finished.

Any message to your fans?

Enjoy spectacular fights. Thank you for your support. Follow me on Instagram and watch my career. I will try my best to reward you with my victories.

Reminiscent of the Thrilla in Manila, Glory 27 is expected to bring the drama from which only one man can walk away victorious.  Levin has the confidence and the experience -- Marcus, the determination and the desire to bring to fruition a lifetime of dedication.  Friday night at the Sears Centre it will be time.  

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Video: Masato vs. KID Yamamoto II From Kyokugen

  • Published in Video

Rizin FF has come and gone, there was some insanity there for sure, but there are always other New Year's Eve shows in Japan and one of those shows was Kyokugen. Kyokugen was a variety show on TBS in Japan that decided to throw together a dream fight. That dream fight was Masato vs. KID Yamamoto. Masato has been retired for a while now and KID Yamamoto is under contract to the UFC still, so the chances of them having an actual fight was slim-to-none.

Instead they had an exhibition, which was legal under KID's contract. KID, who has taken on quite a few new tattoos since his last appearance fighting on Japanese television, was forced to fight with a rash guard on due to Japan's broadcast laws against such yakuza-ish things. That being said, this still happened and damn is it cool to watch. 

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K-1

Absolutely Do Not Push Takeru While He's Wearing His K-1 Championship

  • Published in K-1

K-1 Japan has another, star-studded and most likely knockout-filled card approaching on the 24th of June, featuring a 65kg tournament. Also featured on the card will be K-1 -55kg Champion Takeru taking on Ozawa Kaito. At a recent press conference for the event both men stared down and Kaito decided to get cute with Takeru. Takeru is, of course, a beautiful, violent soul, which is to say that it didn't work out too well. Here's the thing, don't come at Takeru while he's wearing his belt.

Apparently he's kind of invincible while wearing it, because this one-handed judo takedown is just a thing of beauty.

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K-1 Japan 65kg World Grand Prix

  • Published in K-1

K-1 Japan keeps churning out some of the best kickboxing action in the world with their upcoming K-1 Japan -65kg World Grand Prix, set to happen on June 4th. The best 65kg fighters in the world will be competing in a one-night tournament, including favorites like Kaew, HIROYA, Glunder and Noiri while bringing some new names into the mix like Stanislav Renita, Ilias Bulaid (well, he fought there before, but you know) and Chris Mauceri.

65kg World Tournament

Teruaki Yamazaki VS Stanislav Renita

Ilias Bulaid VS Chris Mauceri

Massaro Glunder VS Masaaki Noiri

Kaew Weerasakreck VS HIROYA

Reserve Fight: Kimura 'Philip' Minoru vs NOMAN

Superfights

Takeru VS Ozawa Kaito

Urabe Hirotaka VS Komiyama Kosuke

Uehara Makoto VS TBA

Kido Yasuhiro VS TBA

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Remembering Prince Through K-1's Theme Song 'Endorphinmachine'

  • Published in K-1

Kickboxing has changed a lot over the past few years. To the point where if you took a fan from the late 90's or mid-00's it would be near-unrecognizable. Yet the legacy of K-1 lives on in many ways. Interestingly enough, today there have been rumors about a possible K-1 World Grand Prix that we are trying to track down some leads on, but that's not what I'm posting about. I'm posting about the passing of a legend in the music industry, Prince. I know that the link between Prince and kickboxing is tenuous, at best, but there is one. I wrote a little bit about Prince's passing already, if you are interested.

But the link here is that for years K-1 used a Prince track as their theme. That song was "Endorphinmachine" from the oft-forgotten album "The Gold Experience." While that album might not go down as an all-time classic for His Royal Badness, it did contain an amazing track that was difficult NOT to pump you up, especially when it came to K-1. 

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Live Stream Information for K-1 Japan -65kg Japan GP

  • Published in K-1

That's right, it's that time again to get your Smiling Points ready on NicoNico and buckle down for some of the best kickboxing action in the world with K-1 Japan's -65kg Japan GP. This tournament will be a one-nighter that'll decide which Japanese 65kg fighter will move on to the next leg of this big tournament. As always, they stream live via NicoNico for 2,000 Smiling Points. I'm not entirely sure how much their Smiling Points translate to due to current exchange rates, but I'm pretty sure it's around $18 USD to watch the show live, although it might be a bit more than that. If you've never used NicoNico before, we have an old guide up from the 2014 Shoot Boxing S-Cup that Jay put together that will help get you started. 

The K-1 Japan -65kg Japan tournament starts at 6:00PM Tokyo time (so 4am Eastern/2am Pacific) according to the listing on NicoNico and costs the usual 2,000 Smiling Points. 

Here's a refresher on the card for this event.

65kg Japan Tournament - Quarter Finals

Noiri Masaaki VS Kimura Minoru

Terasaki Naoki VS Hiroya

Soda Yasuomi VS Yamazaki Teruaki

Kubo Yuta VS Noman

Superfights

Kaew Weerasakreck VS Massaro Glunder

Urabe Hirotaka VS Johannes Wolf

Makoto Uehara VS Nori

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K-1 Global Reiterates Their Long-Forgotten Claim to Their Video Library

  • Published in K-1

If you remember back, far back, you'll remember a time when GLORY was proud to announce the acquisition of the K-1 tape library and K-1 was quick to retort that they hadn't and that anything that they did buy was not a legal sale. So the recent announcement that UFC Fight Pass had acquired over 100 K-1 events from GLORY was sure to raise their ire.

Earlier today K-1 Global issued a press statement explaining that this matter is still under legal scrutiny in Japan and that they are still refuting that GLORY actually bought anything back in 2013. What will come of this is anyone's guess, but K-1 seems adamant on this issue. K-1 has been moderately dormant of late, their latest outing was an amateur tournament in Italy run in conjunction with Carlo di Blasi.

K-1 Global currently sanctions K-1 Japan events, though. The last K-1 World Grand Prix that was ran by K-1 Global concluded in 2013 with Mirko Cro Cop emerging victorious. The last K-1 World MAX that they ran saw Enriko Kehl victorious.

Seeing as though the UFC went through with this deal I'm under the assumption that they were comfortable with whatever documentation that GLORY had. For now it looks like the only hope that K-1 has in this matter is for the legal system in Japan to decide in its favor. 

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K-1 The Championship: Title Fights Breakdown

  • Published in K-1

Since this next K-1 Card is so exciting we've decided to breakdown the 4 title fights and get everyone as pumped up as we are. The full card is listed AT THIS LINK.

This card will be played on NICO NICO TV, we posted instructions on the easiest way to order from this site earlier in the year for the S-cup, you can order these the same way just instead of looking for the name S-cup u should look for the name K-1 WGP 2015 The championship. Here is the link on how to order through NICO NICO.

Kaew Fairtex(c) vs Kimura "Phillip" Minoru

We will start with the 65kg fight between Kaew Fairtex and Kimura Minoru. This fight is a rematch from January of this year where Minoru won a very controversial decision. First of all here is the video of the fight.

Now lets talk about the elephant in ring... that referee! I believe that by being so involved in the fight and constantly touching, pushing, and breaking up the fighters he actually ruined the outcome of the fight. In the 2nd round Fairtex had Minoru badly hurt yet the ref kept interfering because of the clinch and then spending extra time talking and pushing the fighters around for no reason which gave Minoru plenty of time to recover. Also it seemed that Kaew won the first two rounds quite decisively but then he got an 8 count in the 3rd, I was sure there was going to be an extra round but was proven wrong by the bad judging.

Since their last meeting which was almost a year ago both fighters have been very active and made great improvements. Fairtex is getting much more confidant with his boxing which is showing us the power he has in hands but for this fight its best if he sticks with his left body and head kick. The only time he was ever in any danger the first fight was when he decided to come in and punch, which eventually got him an 8 count and cost him the fight. He can use that kick all fight to keep himself out of range of the dangerous hands of Minoru.

There is no doubt that Kimura has huge power and speed in his hands for this weight class, it seems no matter who he touches on the chin, they fall down. He will really need to work on keeping his left foot on the outside of Kaews right foot and using his explosiveness to get past the kick and land punch combinations. I'm really expecting fireworks with this fight, now lets just hope they have a better referee this time.

Marat Grigorian(c) vs Sanny Dahlbeck

Grigorian vs Dahlbeck is once again the typical orthodox boxer vs southpaw kicker which seems to be happening a lot lately but always makes for an interesting fight.

Armenian fighter Marat Grigorian is the current K-1 70kgs champion and is now training at Hemmers gym in Holland. He is predominantly a boxer who throws in low kicks and knees every so often. His strongest attributes are the constant pressure he can put on fighters and his great combinations. He will really have to use this against Dahlbeck, the last time Grigorian fought a good southpaw it was against a much smaller fighter in Serhiy Adamchuk the newly crowned Glory 65kgs champion. To be fair Adamchuk took the fight on 24 hours notice, which of course is a disadvantage for Adamchuk but everyone forgets that Grigorian had been training for an Orthodox fighter for 4-6 weeks and now he gets sprung with a tricky southpaw last minute. This led to Marat having a really bad performance and losing to Adamchuk who was really making Grigorian look sloppy. For this fight Grigorian cannot just plod forward, get into range and throw punches like he usually does, he must use more explosiveness and push Dahlbeck to the ropes then unleash his combinations. If Marat can keep close to Dahlbeck and keep him on the ropes I feel Sanny will get tired and eventually get stopped in the later rounds.

Sanny Dahlbeck is a Swedish fighter who spends lots of his time in Thailand training at Sitmonchai. He is an extremely explosive southpaw with a very hard and fast left hand. Southpaws always have a small advantage over orthodox fighters because for the most part they always fight and train with right handed fighters, where as orthodox fighters only meet left handed fighters once in a while and to find a good southpaw for training is quite difficult. Dahlbeck will need to use this as much as possible, he will need to use his left kick and straight left as much as possible and make sure he angles off after throwing. If Sanny can keep Marat off balance with his body kick, angle to maintain the center of the ring and clinch up to avoid damage he can make this an easy night just like Adamchuk did. Dahlbeck is taller than Adamchuk, this is a good thing because he can land his straight left from further away and get the angle without too much danger but it could also mean that Marat is able to keep him off balance more due to his higher center of gravity in which case Sanny will end up on the ropes and be in big trouble.

I really do feel that conditioning is going to play a huge part in this fight, with Grigorians pressure if Dahlbeck gets tired in the last round he will not make it to the decision but if Dahlbeck has trained hard and made sure he is ready to move the whole fight he should be fine.

Koya Urabe(c) vs Hirotaka Urabe 

In case you didn't notice yes, these guys have the same last name and yes they are brothers. Koya is Hirotaka's younger brother, they have already fought once before in the final of the 60kgs tournament in January of this year.

Now keep in mind after watching that fight that they had both already won two fights, Hirotaka got one first round KO but in the semi-finals he ended up winning an extra round decision and Koya got two first round knockouts. You can tell that Hirotaka already had a damaged leg going into the final and Koya took advantage of it like a good little brother would do.

Koya is a southpaw and maybe a little bit slicker and more skilled but Hirotaka is tougher, grittier and will never give up especially now that his younger brother already beat him once. Both fighters love to use their hands so the southpaw to orthodox thing plays less of a role plus I'm sure they know each other very well since they have probably been training together their whole lives before this fight. I personally feel the fight is going to play out quite similar to the previous one but it will be very interesting to see what Hirotaka can do without a damaged back leg. Hirotaka has to find a way to surprise his younger brother, it seemed in the first fight that Koya was always one step ahead.

Whatever happens with this fight these two are always non-stop action from bell to bell and Hirotaka seems very motivated to take that belt from his younger brother as he feels that he deserves it.

Takeru(c) vs Charles Bongiovanni

I had not heard much about the Frenchman Charles Bongiovanni until his last fight on the K-1 Survival wars card where he took on Danial Williams. Williams is usually the hard puncher for this 55kg weight class but Bongiovanni proved he was right up there as well by landing a perfect counter right hook to drop Charles and then showed great finishing skills to drop him twice more. Its quite unusual to get first round knockouts in the 55kg division but Charles has proven he has the power to do it. Once again there is a pattern with all the fights here and Bongiovanni is a Southpaw and looks like he will be the taller of the two fighters so we will see how well he is able to work that on the current champion Takeru.

Takeru is not a big power puncher like Williams or Bongiovanni but he can score knockdowns with well placed punches due to his great technique. He will definitely be the more technical fighter of the two and he has great eyes to see what openings he can capitalize on as you can see in his fight above with Alexandre Prilip. Takeru lands one overhand right, and then its just a matter of time before he lands another to put Prilip down for an 8 count to end the first round. I really feel that both of these fighters are not the type to move backwards and they will meet in the middle and stand toe to toe until one fighter falls down. I'd be quite surprised if this one gets to the judges scorecards.

 

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K-1 WGP 2015 The Championship Fight Card

  • Published in K-1

K-1 WGP 2015 "The Championship" is taking place on November 21, 2015 at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan. We are hoping this will at the very least be streamed through NicoNico because this is an amazing card.

Once again K-1 is giving us an absolutely ridiculous card with all 4 of their champions (Takeru 55kgs, Koya Urabe 60kgs, Kaew Fairtex 65kgs, and Marat Grigorian 70kgs) defending their belts plus super fights including Masaaki Noiri, Yasuomi Soda and Massaro Glunder, we cannot wait!

FULL CARD

65kg(Thailand) Kaew Fairtex (c) vs. (Brazil) Minoru Kimura (-65kg Championship)

70kg(Armenia) Marat Grigorian (c) vs. (Sweden) Sanny Dahlbeck (-70kg Championship)

60kg(Japan) Koya Urabe (c) vs. (Japan) Hirotaka Urabe (-60kg Championship)

55kg(Japan) Takeru (c) vs. (France) Charles Bongiovanni (-55kg Championship)

65kg(Japan) Yasuomi Soda vs. (Japan) Masaaki Noiri

70kg(Japan) Hiroki Nakajima vs. (Russia) Dmitrii Grafov

60kg(Japan) Taiga vs. (Japan) Leona Pettas

60kg(Japan) Kotaro Shimano vs. (Japan) Fumiya Osawa

65kg(Netherlands) Massaro Glunder vs. (Japan) Ren Hiramoto

65kg(Japan) Yuta Shinohara vs. (Japan) Kensei Kondo

55kg(Japan) Haruma Saikyo vs. (Japan) Tatsuya Tsubakihara

PRELIMS

60kg(Japan) Taishi Hiratsuka vs. (Japan) Yuki Miwa

70kg(Japan) Daisuke Fujimura vs. (Japan) Jin Hirayama

65kg(Japan) Kazuhiro vs. (Japan) Daiki Matsushita

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K-1 Japan's Survival Wars Card is Packed

  • Published in K-1

This weekend might not have delivered on the kickboxing action that you have hoped it would have, but there is still hope by the way of K-1 Japan. On September 22nd K-1 Japan will put forth their latest effort in Survival Wars. K-1 Japan have been putting on some of the very best shows anywhere in the world for quite a while now and this show looks to be no different including an awesome main event between Kimura Minoru and Ren Hiramato. 

As always, it will be airing on NicoNico. There is also word of them having a big announcement in regards to airing on a broadcast television network in Japan. There is hope yet.

Main Card

Main Event - 65KG Super Fight

Kimura 'Philip' Minoru VS Hiramoto Ren

Co-Main Event - 55KG Challenger Finals

Daniel Williams VS Charles Bongiovanni

70KG Fight

Shintaro Matsukura VS Tian Xin

Super Exhibition (2x2)

Koya Urabe VS Takeru

70KG Fight

Kazuya Akimoto VS Keiji

55KG Fight

Taisuke Degai VS Yuichiro Ito

55KG Fight

Namito Izawa VS Satoshi Katashima

Heavyweight Fight

Hitoshi Sugimoto VS Hidekazu Kimura

65KG Fight

Minamino Takayuki VS Waki Mitsuharu

Undercard

70kg Fight

Jinbo Katsuya VS Yasuhi Hitoshi

70kg Fight

Tsuyoshi Oh VS Daisuke 

Heavyweight Fight

Yoshinari VS Hase

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RIP Andy Hug 15 Years Ago Today

  • Published in K-1

So much has changed in the past 15 years in the world and in kickboxing that it's almost impossible to think of how different both would be if Andy Hug were still around. Hug was a rare ambassador for a sport that likes to kick itself when its down continually. While we only had a brief amount of time with Andy Hug he provided us with some of the most memorable moments in kickboxing history and taught us all that hard work, dedication, belief and spirit can get you very far in the world.

RIP Andy Hug. 

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K-1 World Amateur Championships in November, Plus K-1 Japan 70kg in July is Amazing

  • Published in K-1

After a bit of radio silence from K-1 over the past few months K-1 has announced that they will be holding a world amateur championship this November in Italy. It will run on November 13-15th in Tuscany and if you are an amateur fighter interested in testing your mettle and being crowned as an amateur world champion you can contact them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On the K-1 Japan front they are still gearing up for the K-1 Japan 70kg Championship tournament on July 4th. It features a one-night tournament featuring eight 70kg fighters, one could even argue some of the best in the world, while the rest of the card is up to the usual K-1 Japan standards of excellence. Seriously, I dare you to find a better card than this from this year. You won't.

70kg Tournament

Reserve: Sergey Adamchuk vs. Kazuya Akimoto

Quarterfinal: Marat Grigorian vs. Yoichi Yamazaki

Quarterfinal: Dylan Salvador vs. Makahira Keita

Quarterfinal: Hiroki Nakajima vs. Sanny Dahlbeck

Quarterfinal: Daiki Watanabe vs. Jordan Pikeur

Super Fights

Hirotaka Urabe vs. Toshi

Minoru Kimura vs. Massaro Glunder

Takeru vs. Hakim Hamech

Koya Urabe vs. Konstantin Trishin

Kaew Fairtex vs. Yasuomi Soda

 

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Changes to the GLORY 31 SuperFight Series

  • Published in Glory

Hot on the heels of the announcement that Iman Barlow was pulling out of the GLORY Super Bantamweight tournament and, subsequently, her bout on June 25th at GLORY 31's SuperFight Series, GLORY has released a revised fight card for the GLORY 31 SuperFight Series. Filling in for Iman Barlow will be reserve fighter Irina Mazepa. Another big change comes to the headline bout of the card, originally slated to be a GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship bout between Mourad Bouzidi challenging champion Artem Vakhitov. 

Vakhitov has been forced to pull out thanks to an injury that he suffered in training and instead Zack Mwekassa will be stepping in to fight Mourad Bouzidi. 

GLORY 31 SuperFight Series

Light Heavyweight Headline Bout: Zack Mwekassa vs. Mourad Bouzidi

Lightweight Co-Headline Bout: Josh Jauncey vs. Anatoly Moiseev

Featherweight Bout: Mosab Amrani vs. Eddy Naït-Slimani

Super Bantamweight Bout: Isis Verbeek vs. Irina Mazepa

Welterweight Bout: Máximo Suarez vs. Eyevan Danenberg

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Iman Barlow Pulls Out Of GLORY Super Bantamweight Tournament

  • Published in Glory

Interesting update following the announcement of the GLORY Super Bantamweight Tournament, as one of the bigger names that was signed has already pulled out. That name is Iman Barlow, the UK-based fighter known as one of the best in the world. Her statement via Facebook points towards a lack of communication.

Unfortunately I have come to a decision that I am not going to be part of the Glory tournament. I was asked to fight on Glory 25th June to which I said Yes. I then later find out via social media that it was a tournament which is above my fight weight class. This was bad communication, I was never told it was at 55.5 or more than one bout. I can not commit to this as I have other commitments to fulfil. I would and am willing to fight Tiffany (as I know many want to see this fight) after the tournament if they want in a one off

Fight, but without signing a long confusing contract. I wish everyone in it the best of luck and I hope it's a great success for Glory. It's an amazing opportunity but for me just came across at the wrong time. 

I hope you all understand.Thanks X

So, according to Barlow, she didn't know the weight class that she was supposed to be competing in, didn't know that it was a tournament and it seems like she didn't understand that the contract with GLORY was a longer term one and not just one fight. This all feels like strange oversight considering how the tournament came together. Possibly her and her team agreeing to a deal without weighing deals she already had in place? Especially considering just the other day she posted a screenshot of the GLORY rankings (with the weight clearly listed) celebrating her #1 spot, she seemed excited about fighting in GLORY and being atop of their division.

This wouldn't be the first false-start that GLORY has seen with well-known muay thai fighters. GLORY had initially announced signing muay thai phenom Kevin Ross only for his previous contract with Lion Fight ultimately getting in the way. Here's to hoping that this gets worked out in the near future and that we're able to see more of Iman Barlow in the near future.

We've reached out to GLORY for comment.

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Ratings Up for GLORY 30 on ESPN2

  • Published in Glory

After a few disappointing performances for GLORY replays on ESPN2, GLORY 30 came back with stronger numbers. Maybe, in part, thanks to the appearance on ESPN SportsCenter late in the week featuring CEO Jon J. Franklin, Simon Marcus, Dustin Jacoby and Tiffany van Soest. Regardless, GLORY 30 aired on Sunday evening and the numbers were up. 

GLORY 30 on ESPN2 averaged 209,000 viewers at a 9pm time slot for the welterweight tournament, the incredible headkick knockout from Marat Grigorian and Simon Marcus defending his GLORY Middleweight Championship against Dustin Jacoby. [source]

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GLORY 32 Virginia Featuring Adamchuk vs. Varga II

  • Published in Glory

GLORY continues to march forward with their 2016, while GLORY 31 might be the next show, GLORY 32 takes place on July 22nd in Virginia, featuring a GLORY Featherweight Championship rematch between the new champion Serhiy Adamchuk and former champion Gabriel Varga. Varga lost the title at GLORY 25 to Adamchuk in what was a closely-contested bout that saw its fair share of controversy. Hopefully the rematch between the two is a bit cleaner when it comes to the action.

Varga will definitely be motivated to take his title back while Adamchuk is coming off of a defense of his title over Mosab Amrani at GLORY 28 and stepping in on late notice to fight Mohammed El Mir at Lightweight at GLORY 29 just one month later. 

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GLORY Announces Women's Super Bantamweight Division and Grand Prix

  • Published in Glory

Today in Los Angeles at a press conference streamed live to the world via Facebook GLORY announced that they would be creating a Women's Super Bantamweight division, the weight at which Tiffany Van Soest fights. It makes sense considering the signing of Van Soest. They've announced a Super Bantamweight Grand Prix, which Van Soest vs. Hasshass is the first quarterfinal bout in said tournament. The second fight will be at GLORY 31 Amsterdam as Isis Verbeek takes on Iman Barlow.

The addition of Barlow is perhaps the other biggest bit of news as she can easily be considered one of the best female fighters in the world. In fact, Steven Wright ranked her as the #2 pound-for-pound woman in the world right now. GLORY has built a ten-woman division, with future match-ups being Zoila Frausto vs. Daniela Graf and Amel Dehby vs. Ji Waen-Lee, while Ferial Ameeroedien vs. Irina Mazepa will serve as the reserve fight.

There are some solid names in there for the division and hopefully this takes off in a big way. You can watch the full announcement below.

We're thrilled to announce a new division with a Grand Prix tournament, tune in LIVE!

Posted by GLORY Kickboxing on Thursday, May 12, 2016

 

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GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven is Considering a Full-Time Move to MMA

  • Published in Glory

The UFC is in the Netherlands for an event there and that means that the MMA media world has also made its presence shown. MMAJunkie's Mike Bohn is over in the Netherlands posted this video today where he spoke with current GLORY champion Rico Verhoeven.

While there will be some who swarm on the headlines for this that "Rico Verhoeven is going to switch to MMA," nothing is a done deal quite yet. Verhoeven speaks about the possibilities open to him, including saying that Bellator has already expressed interest in his services and that WSOF seems interested. He talks about being excited about MMA because it's so new to him still and he feels that he has a lot to offer. What he does mention is that while his current GLORY deal has ended, there is still a three month negotiation period that they are in the midst of and that he's not technically a free agent until the end of that period. Verhoeven claims that it was a good offer, although he seems to want a bit more.

Having multiple opportunities available to top athletes like Verhoeven is important because it allows for them to have leverage in contract situations. Where Verhoeven ends up is ultimately in his control right now and while he seems interested in the idea of fighting for the UFC, it's unlikely that they make a move for him just yet. Time will only tell where Verhoeven ends up, but my gut tells me that he's not done kickboxing just yet.

As for the Bellator offer? Our bud Stets reached out to Bellator and they denied any sort of offer being made to Verhoeven. 

So time will tell. [source]

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GLORY 31 Card Updated: Ismael Londt vs. Hesdy Gerges

  • Published in Glory

GLORY released further details on GLORY 31 Amsterdam on Saturday, June 25th. We already knew that Robin van Roosmalen would be defending his GLORY Lightweight Championship against Sitthichai and that there would be a GLORY Welterweight tournament featuring Murthel Groenhart and Karim Benmansour. Now we know more, a lot more. Groenhart will square off against Karim Benmansour in the first round of the tournament while on the other side of the bracket Yoann Kongolo will take on Harut Grigorian. 

The other fight of note is the co-headline bout where Hesdy Gerges returns to the GLORY ring after a lengthy legal battle over an alleged drug trafficking incident. Gerges has been cleared of these charges and is a free man, so GLORY is looking to quickly bring one of the best heavyweights in the world back into the fold by having him square off against GLORY's top heavyweight contender in Ismael Londt. It's interesting to note that Londt will fight Gerges here and not wait for a shot at Verhoeven. 

GLORY 31 Amsterdam

Lightweight Title Headline Bout: Robin van Roosmalen (c) vs. Sittichai

Welterweight Tournament Final Bout: Winner of Bout A vs. Winner of Bout B

Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Ismael Londt vs. Hesdy Gerges

Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout B: Yoann Kongolo vs. Harut Grigorian

Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout A: Murthel Groenhart vs. Karim Benmansour

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Tiffany Van Soest's New Opponent and Complete Cards For GLORY 30 and SuperFight Series

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There have been some changes for GLORY 30 Los Angeles as the event approaches. As reported prior, Van Soest's original opponent of Jeri Seitz was forced to pull out due to an injury and replacing her will be Esma Hasshass from Morocco, looking to make a name for herself against the debuting Van Soest. On the main card the co-main event is now Marat Grigorian vs. Djime Coulibaly.

GLORY 30 Los Angeles

Middleweight Title Headline Bout: Simon Marcus (c) vs. Dustin Jacoby

Lightweight Co-Headline Bout: Marat Grigorian vs. Djimé

Welterweight Tournament Final Bout: Winner of Bout A vs. Winner of Bout B

Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout B: Francois Ambang vs. Daniel Morales

Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout A: Casey Greene vs. Richard Abraham

GLORY 30 SuperFight Series

Middleweight Headline Bout: Joe Schilling vs. Jason Wilnis

Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Brian Douwes vs. Guto Inocente

Middleweight Bout: Mike Lemaire vs. Karl Roberson

Light-Heavyweight Bout: Manny Mancha vs. Warren Thompson

Super Bantamweight Bout: Tiffany van Soest vs. Esma Hasshass

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GLORY 29 Ratings: Stiff Competition From NBA Playoffs, UFC and Bellator

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Ben Pontier / GLORY Sports International

This past Saturday was GLORY 29, which was live in the afternoon on ESPN3 here in the United States and was aired via tape delay at 7pm on ESPN2. That start time was moved up from 9pm at almost the last minute, about a day or two prior. Their competition for that day was somehow even worse than the last event, which faced NCAA playoffs. This time around they faced a full day of NBA playoff games, a tape delayed Bellator event on Spike TV and the UFC on Fox event which pulled in over two million viewers.

Bellator itself had over 580,000 viewers, while the NBA games on during GLORY 29 averaged three million apiece. GLORY 29 scored 118,000 viewers after all was said and done, which would be their lowest television ratings to date on American cable. While this number doesn't include DVR numbers, it's still not a great number. The reality here for GLORY is that they need a regular television spot with ESPN2 and hopefully a live broadcast for their events, not tape delay. 

Currently GLORY 30 promotional posters only say "ESPN," not ESPN3 or ESPN2, and don't have a hard and fast start time listed. This would lead me to believe that they are at least working with ESPN2 to get the main card live on ESPN2, which would really be the litmus test to see where they stand. Here's to hoping that happens. [source]

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GLORY 30 SuperFight Series Card is Pretty Crazy

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While the plans for the GLORY 30 main card might not be setting much on fire, the GLORY 30 SuperFight Series is pretty much jam-packed full of interesting fights. As we reported previously, Tiffan Van Soest has signed with GLORY and will make her debut on this card. Her original opponent, Jeri Seitz, has been forced to pull out due to an injury, so they are currently searching for a new opponent for her. Joe Schilling vs. Jason Wilnis will headline the card in a rematch from their pretty crazy fight at GLORY 24 that saw Schilling walk away victorious after Wilnis suffered a foot injury.

Chopper is back, which means that the leadup to this event just got a whole hell of a lot more colorful and we can expect a lot of crazy interviews leading up to his fight against the impressive Guto Inocente. Karl Roberson gets another chance to prove himself against known quantity Mike Lemaire. Warren Thompson fights Manny Mancha as well in a Light Heavyweight bout.

GLORY 30 SuperFight Series

Middleweight Headline Bout: Joe Schilling vs. Jason Wilnis

Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Chi Lewis-Parry vs. Guto Inocente

Middleweight Bout: Mike Lemaire vs. Karl Roberson

Light-Heavyweight Bout: Manny Mancha vs. Warren Thompson

GLORY Debut: Tiffany van Soest vs. TBD

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Artem Levin Talks About the Fallout From GLORY 27, the Future and More

  • Published in Interviews

On Friday, February 27th Glory returned to Chicago and headlining the event was the third installment of the epic battle between Simon Marcus and Artem Levin. Glory 27 did not disappoint from the first bout to the last, fighters electrified the crowd with stunning knockouts and hard fought battles. The main event was not without drama. The night ended with reigning champion Artem Levin being disqualified after he failed to continue fighting. In a statement he later released to the public, Levin apologized to his fans for letting them down, however, he revealed that he felt self respect was far more important than winning or losing. In a follow-up conversation with Levin, he expressed his view point and gave an idea of what is to come.

Levin: The refereeing was strange from the very beginning. There were thoughts after the fight, perhaps, I overreacted and ended the fight early, but after another time I’ve watched the fight, I realized that I was right about everything. The referee was charged-up from the start, beginning with the fictitious knockdown. They’ve taken way the belt for the second time using this referee. The 4-man tournament in Los Angeles in 2013 involved the referee beginning the count after a punch to shoulder in the extra round. Also during this event the referee began the count in the first round and took points from me in the next rounds due to mutual clinching. This referee has done the same thing each time refereeing my fights. I decided in the third round to exit and to stop the absurdness and nonsense. Some say, that I should have continued and fight until the final bell, but the referee would have taken a point another time and I’d be disqualified by him. So I thought I should make a decision. I rely on me only, I decide my fate myself, thus I made the decision! Numerous Americans, Canadians, and websites around the world supported me. I am sure that I’ve done the right thing!

As far as his immediate plans, Levin continued: I’ve got many suggestions, but I’ve signed with GLORY at the current time. The future is interesting, time will show whether I will be perfoming. I’d like to leave it without comment. I will say that one of my main aim is to perform in Russia I've been fighting abroad through all my career in foreign promotions, with foreign supporters, with foreign referees. Now I’d like to fight for my native fans in my country with the best opponents!

As I footnote to Levin's comments, I asked Glory CEO, Jon Franklin to give some of his feedback on the incident.

Jon Franklin: ISKA held a special session during the rules meeting to triple check that the athletes understood clinching and holding rules. The rules are available to the athletes and it is the responsibility of the athletes to know and understand all rules of competition. If an athlete has a question about the referee or judging, there is a proper procedure in place for review after the bouts. One of the rules is that refusing to fight will result in a disqualification. That is what happened.

It remains to be seen whether Levin will in some way attempt to appeal the disqualification on some ground or if he will just prepare himself for Levin-Marcus IV.

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Artem Levin Talks Marcus Rematch, Vaseline and What Went Down Leading Into GLORY 25

  • Published in Interviews

To many he's an enigma, quiet, stealthy and calculating. A man of few words outside the ring where afterall, he's let his knees, fists and elbows do most of his talking.  On the other side of the ropes Levin is relaxed with the disarming smile of a school boy and someone who would seem incapable of the brutality he often inflicts upon his opponents. With the precision of some of his idols, Artem Levin has taken the world of kickboxing and muay thai by storm and is preparing to indelibly leave his mark on the sport. Currently Levin is top man in the Middleweight division, a title he earned in 2014 and one which he is determined to maintain for years to come. On Friday, February 27th Levin will again defend his title as he for the third time faces Simon Marcus. In what is bound to be one of the most exciting face-offs of the year, Levin and Marcus will participate in an extremely emotional battle which most recently erupted at Glory 21 in San Diego. Ahead of this trilogy, I had an opportunity to pose some questions to Levin and find out what beats within the heart of "The Lion".

On his beginnings:

I was born in a small provincial town of Prokopyevsk. It’s a mine town. There were no other good professions other than coalminer in the 1990s. There were three ways to make living: be a coalminer, a criminal or a sportsman, so I joined my brothers at the gym. They were going in for boxing and then muay thai became my sport. My influence was the fact that there had been some muay thai fighters with world and European titles and golden medals at that time in town, and not any boxing champions.

What was your family's response to you pursuing kickboxing as a profession?

Definitely my parents and my family are my main fans, my support, my base of power. They support me and make me comfortable. My mother is distressed for me as any mother would be. She always waits for the ending of this “nightmare”, but at the same time she understands my choice and that it’s useless to dispute with me. I’m really proud of my family. They had waited for me to quit during the first years of my sports experience, but everyone knows that it’s my life choice now.

Had you not pursued a career in combat sports what other kind of career would you have chosen?

It’s hard for me to say. I’ve been in sports since I remember myself, I began with muay thai when I was 10. I always have seen myself with a career in sports. I see myself as comprehensive person: I read books and I have many hobbies. All that happens through sports. I guess, nothing good can come without sport, but I haven’t known another life.

Describe a typical training day when you are preparing for a fight.

It’s not exciting. My usual routine: wake up, have a breakfast, go to morning workout for an approximately 1.5-2 hour session of drills and techniques, speed or strength endurance exercises.  It depends on preparation stage but then lunch, sleep and on to a second workout which usually includes an intensive 3 hour session of sparring and using special equipment.  After training I usually take a walk, have dinner, do some reading before bed and then sleep and it all begins again.

You are becoming widely known for your boxing and defensive strategy, what do you feel are some of your other strengths as a fighter?

I don’t focus narrowly on one thing. Perhaps, I act instinctively in a fight and I’m training in all aspects. I try to become comprehensive. My work is based on defense firstly. I appreciate my health, that’s why I don’t want to join in an exchange of blows or to let a punch get through. It's my goal to keep being healthy during my entire career  so as to take more fights with sober mind, without injures, with fresh body.

Who inspires you as a fighter?

I’m inspired by legendary athletes, even though not martial artists, such as Mike Tyson and Muhammed Ali – they became iconic for thousands around the world. I admire Michael Jordan, Usain Bolte, Michael Phelps and others who became a hero in their sport. Those who proved that nothing is impossible.

Aside from fighting Joe Schilling and possibly Simon Marcus again, are there any other fighters with whom you'd be interested in being matched up against.

It doesn’t matter who’s the opponent. If you want to be the best, to leave a mark in kickboxing or muay thai history, it doesn’t matter who you fight against. You don’t choose opponents, you just defeat the best and prove that you are the best. The question: who I’d be interested in fighting against? I don’t have any preference. I want to fight no matter against who.

How many years have you've been living in San Diego? How did you choose that city? Has the transition between the two countries been difficult?

Well I can’t say I’ve moved here yet. I still live in Russia. One of my training camps is here and there are valuable opportunities here to develop and work on my career. The transition was quite easy, my friends from The Boxing Club in San Diego have helped. I chose San Diego as it is a warm city by the ocean with a mild climate and beautiful places to live in. It’s a simple choice after cold Siberia.  

Your fight with Simon Marcus in San Diego was a bit controversial. Both of you felt that you had won the match. Additionally during the post-fight press conference, you expressed a concern that he had not been called on excessive holding. Can you talk more about that fight from your perspective in terms of the calls by the referee and how the match was scored. How do you feel it should have been scored.

Definitely I won the fight. As for Simon Marcus, he played foul. He was slippery with vaseline. I guess it was a trick to rub on the vaseline a few hours before the fight, for skin to dry and then to become slippery with sweat. We are not allowed to apply anything besides vaseline to our face. As for points, I wonder why a point was reduced from my score and none from Simon’s, the clinch was mutual. Thus I think I won three rounds undoubtedly at least. If I gave away two rounds to him, I still don’t think that I lost them.  A draw is a gift to him from the judges and referees. From the referee especially, I’d say. He can thank the referee personally.

Also you have been highly criticized by Joe Schilling. Most recently following the Glory 25 event Schilling stated that he feels that you are in fact avoiding him. You were set to face Schilling for the third time in Denver this year but had to withdraw due to injury. Can you talk about what happened and where you are with your recovery?

I was injured during training camp before the amateur world championships in Thailand in August. The injury was not severe but it was such that it could keep me from proper preparation for the fight.  I was informed about the fight six weeks before it was scheduled and it was to be held in a high mountain region. I am the champion of the promotion. It would be foolish to go on with that risk and to demonstrate disrespect in that way to Schilling. If I took a fight as insignificant and began preparation within 6 weeks, and taking into account that I had  been to Thailand at that time, then - 5 weeks, and I could take normal proper workout sessions in a week after then perhaps. That’s why I did not and I also saw the prospect of coming to a fight with an injury and without proper preparation as disrespectful to GLORY’s executives. I won a WKN title bout recently and I am recovered and  motivated.  I’m ready to fight anywhere. I’d rather watch Joe Schilling fight outside  the USA. Is he able to fight outside California or USA? He needs helpful judges.

I know that continuing to defend your title is a priority for you in the coming year. Do you have any other plans for 2016?

The main priority is my title defense obviously, but also to fight more, in any promotion, even if it would be not GLORY.  I took the WKN muay thai belt and now my aim is leave a mark in muaythai and kickboxing, for people to remember me even after the my career is finished.

Any message to your fans?

Enjoy spectacular fights. Thank you for your support. Follow me on Instagram and watch my career. I will try my best to reward you with my victories.

Reminiscent of the Thrilla in Manila, Glory 27 is expected to bring the drama from which only one man can walk away victorious.  Levin has the confidence and the experience -- Marcus, the determination and the desire to bring to fruition a lifetime of dedication.  Friday night at the Sears Centre it will be time.  

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Steven Banks on His Time in Kunlun Fight and How Phuket Top Team Transformed Him as a Fighter

  • Published in Interviews

Before GLORY came to America and helped to bring kickboxing back into the discourse of the average combat sports fan kickboxing in America was a very different beast. There was a small cluster of names that you'd hear all of the time who would be fighting throughout the country without a lot of fanfare, one of those was Steven Banks. Banks, a larger heavyweight was doing his best to capture the attention of bigger international leagues but it has always been a bit of a slow road for Banks.

This included fighting in shows in Europe on short notice for bad pay, taking fights that weren't going to be good for his career because it was worth a shot and everything else in between. Things finally seem to be turning around for Banks and a lot of that he credits to his time training in Thailand at Phuket Top Team. His time in China has helped to give him a new perspective on fighting and on October 31st he'll return to China for Kunlun Fight 33. We caught up with Banks to talk to him about the past, the present and the future.

LK: So you’ve done both MMA and kickboxing in your professional career, what is it about kickboxing and muay thai that has drawn you in as a fighter as opposed to focusing solely on MMA like so many fighters today?

SB: I love the art of striking. I enjoy every bit of it, the culture and the tradition... my 1st love was and will always be Muay Thai... I think the reason that I prefer to do Muay Thai or kickboxing over MMA is because alot of fighters will go out there and get a takedown, and cuddle for a win... I actually still train for MMA as well...I will be fighting in MMA again soon...

LK: You are an American living and training in Thailand right now. What prompted that move and what kind of results have you seen?

SB: When Phuket Top Team offered me the chance to train full time,  I had to take it! Best decision I have ever made... I have seen amazing results... it was really hard to try and train effectively while having a full-time job, competing against the best in the world is tough already... most of the guys I have been fighting were training full-time already... I decided that if I wanted to go out and become one of the best American heavyweights I needed to go and train with some of the best... training full-time and having a camp that pushes you to become better and better each day is incredible... my head trainer Neung pushes me everyday, Neung took me under his wing as soon as I got to PTT... no day is easy...its put all the effort in it... getting to train everyday with world class trainers is a great way to spend your time...

LK: You’ve gone through your share of a transformation when it comes to your body, from what I understand losing a great deal of weight. How has that impacted your career?

SB: Oh yes... since I have been training at PTT... I have dropped over 60 pounds... I have been told by promotions that I didnt look "pretty" enough for the sponsors of the show.  As a heavyweight, I have always been one of the heavier fighters... I'm a fighter, not a model... I love food... since dropping this weight I have noticed my cardio is 100 times better than ever... when I finished my last fight, I walked over to my coach and told him I felt like I could go a couple more rounds and that I felt great... my coaches at Phuket Top Team have made it a point to push me to become one of the best...

LK: I’ve gotta ask -- the fight with Lungu where you guys spilled out of the ring. What went through your mind at that moment and when the fight was declared a loss for you?

SB: Oh man... I wish I could get that changed on my record... that accident should have been called a no contest... we knew he was going to try and take me to the ground from the very beginning of the fight... just wasn't expecting the ropes to be so low...  the ropes were at the correct height, but when you have almost 700 plus pounds moving in 1 direction its hard to stop... I didnt understand why they gave Lungu the win. I have asked for several rematches to set the record straight... but to no luck...

LK: You’ve seen some success of late in Kunlun Fight in China and are currently preparing to fight in a few weeks time here, how has your experience fighting in China been thus far?

SB: Yes, I fight again for Kunlun Fight October 31st against another Chinese fighter...I absolutely love fighting in China... they treat every fighter with so much respect. I have fought in China 6 times... and every time I have, it has never been a bad experience...I got my nickname from fighting in China... I have so much respect for the fans. I will stay after the fights to meet as many fans as i can... I wamt them to know how much I respect them as a fighter...

LK: Your success in China has been interesting, with your only loss to the guy who beat Rico Verhoeven, do you see yourself as a threat to these guys on the top tier of the division?

SB: That loss was my 1st loss in China... he caught me with a great jumping knee to the ribs... I really believe I can beat many of the guys on the top tier of the division...  I was able to compete against top level guys with part-time training. Now its time to show everyone what I can really do... I see guys fight and I feel that I can trade with the best there is... I might not be pretty, but I will give the crowd a show they will never forget...

LK: Do you think that kickboxing or muay thai will ever really take off in the United States, especially after seeing China of late and how it’s growing there?

SB: I really hope it does take off in the United States... I know that it is currently growing... I think the reason more fighters choose to go to MMA rather than kickboxing or Muay Thai is because they have a background in wrestling... not like most of the dominant countries in the world of Muay Thai or kickboxing...

LK: You started off in football and transitioned to fighting, have you been able to take anything from your time in football with you into combat sports?

SB: One of the biggest things that I have been able to take to fighting from football has been the will not to give up. With all sports comes injuries... I played football for many years, I finally started to listen to my body on recovery and injuries...I think that has helped me to stay active in fighting over and over...

LK: What can we expect in the future from Steve Banks?

SB: Keep your ears and eyes open... I am planning on dominating the heavyweight division... I want to take on everyone... I will be fighting in Muay Thai,  kickboxing, boxing,  and MMA in the very near future...  to be the best, you got to take on the best... I'm here to do that... we make our own future... I'm here to show everyone that America does have great heavyweight Muay Thai and kickboxers... and we will be taking on all...

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Wayne Barrett Ready to Return to Greatness at GLORY 24

  • Published in Interviews

This Friday at GLORY 24 Wayne Barrett is set to return from an absence from the ring to fight recent GLORY tournament winner Dustin Jacoby. For many, Wayne Barrett is one of those raw talents in kickboxing who could easily become a major player for years to come, which is especially rare considering that he is an American. Perhaps the feather in the cap of his relatively young kickboxing career is a win over Joe Schilling. The Schilling win came at a time when many saw Schilling as unstoppable, putting a considering dent in the armor of the myth that was Joe Schilling at the time. The win over Bogdan Stoica that came at GLORY’s Last Man Standing tournament was purely academic at that point.

After that, though, things haven’t been all sunshine and happiness for Wayne Barrett. On a three fight skid right now, Barrett elected to take time off to get his head back into the game. “You know, they offered me fights, man. They offered me fights to get myself a win, to build my confidence up and everyone thought that I should do it, but I turned them down. What’s the point if I’m not the Wayne Barrett that I truly believe that I can be? I took time for myself,” he explained. “And let me tell you, I feel incredible right now. This fight is all about me, it’s all about Wayne and getting everything right.”

What he means is that during his time away from the ring he made sure that everything was in order in his personal life as well as his professional life. As a father it was important to him to feel that he was doing his best and to set the right kind of example. A lot of that had to do with how he was training, as well. “I went through so many coaches at this point, I’ve had coaches telling me what to do, trying to change me and make me more of an orthodox fighter. But that isn’t who I am. I’ve got, for lack of a better word, a sort of swagger to me and how I fight. I’m unlike anyone else in the world in the ring and that’s what I bring to the table, so I’m not trying to be someone else anymore, I’m just being me right now.”

I brought up a young Rico Verhoeven, who at the time was incredibly talented with a ton of potential, but if you would go back and watch Rico’s early fights you’ll see a stiff, rigid and uncomfortable Verhoeven. The confidence to be himself wasn’t quite there yet compared to the Rico Verhoeven of today. “Oh man, absolutely,” he was getting excited now. “I love Rico, man. He’s just incredible. He’s his own man out there. Does he honor the whole Dutch style? Of course he does, but he’s making it his own, what he’s doing is an evolution. That’s how I view myself. They wanted me to do this you kick-I kick thing and that wasn’t who I am so it just didn’t work.”

Barrett, while in his late 20’s, is still relatively fresh into his professional career. “My second professional fight,” he said, “that was in the GLORY ring against a guy like Mike Lemaire.” Indeed it was his second professional fight, that fight being a knockout of Lemaire. What is astonishing about Barrett’s professional career is that upon joining GLORY he was immediately thrust into the spotlight, fighting some of the biggest names in the world. He stepped into the ring for his fourth professional fight against Joe Schilling, arguably the top dog in the division at that time, and he didn’t only handle himself well, but he won. There was no carefully curated career here, Barrett was simply there, with a rocket strapped to his back going full steam ahead.

When it came time for him to step into the ring with the notorious Romanian slugger Bogdan Stoica he felt ready, although the more that we talked about how kickboxing worked overseas, the more he opened up about how different his career has been. “There is no padding on my record,” he laughed. “I remember looking at Stoica’s record and thinking -- as a fan -- that I had no clue who some of these people that he was crushing were. Even some of the guys who beat him I had never heard of before.” The fight ended with Stoica going down to a left hook, Barrett moving forward in the tournament only to meet Joe Schilling. When I brought up the decision and how there was controversy over it he quickly interjected, “You could say that again.” 

Even if his next two fights were indeed losses, one to Jason Wilnis and one to Simon Marcus, they were still against two of the top fighters within the division. While most would look at that, shrug and take an easy fight, Barrett decided to go back to the drawing board and wait for another opportunity down the line. Now, though? “I’m going full force now,” he said. “I want to fight again this year, as long as they’ll let me. I think they probably will. Then next year I want to stay as active as I can.”

Tournaments, though, don’t seem to be in the immediate future for Wayne Barrett. “Nah,” he said. “Just single fights for me right now. Too much is out of your control in those tournaments. In the future? Yeah, if there is a big tournament I’ll be a part of it, but I want to focus on one opponent for right now and I want to prove to everyone that Wayne Barrett really is as good as everyone thinks that he can be. Man,” he laughed. “Now I’m talking in third person about myself. I still can’t believe that I’m at that point where I can talk to people about myself in third person.”

What I took away from my time talking to Wayne Barrett is that he’s in a very, very good place right now. He’s both mentally and physically ready for the road ahead and understands that while it was sort of shocking to initially see himself on a list as a top middleweight that he has to keep proving himself and earn his top spot. We’ll see what he brings to the table against Dustin Jacoby at GLORY 24 on Friday night in Denver.

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Joe Schilling Talks Once Again Chasing Artem Levin for Rubber Match and GLORY 24

  • Published in Interviews

(C) Glory Sports International/James Law

Few names have become as synonymous with the American kickboxing movement within GLORY over the past few years like Joe Schilling. Schilling was originally a standout muay thai fighter who made a name for himself taking on all comers within his division and rising among the ranks until it was time to fight the top dogs in the world. There may have been some bumps, bruises and cuts along the way, but when it comes to Joe Schilling the word “pretty” isn’t often in the vocabulary. With a nickname like “Stitch ‘em Up” due to his proclivity for throwing lacerating elbows one can quickly understand why Joe Schilling rose up from being a cult favorite to one of GLORY’s American poster boys. 

This Friday evening at GLORY 24 he returns to the GLORY ring to face top middleweight Jason Wilnis. Originally Schilling was going to get his chance at a rubber match with career-adversary Artem Levin and his GLORY Middleweight championship, but an injury forced Levin off of the card and left Schilling with a tough, young and hungry Jason Wilnis looking to make a name off of one of the men who earned his spot on the Mount Rushmore of the division. For Schilling there is a lot riding on this fight outside of just another kickboxing fight, this is his first kickboxing fight since two back-to-back losses in Bellator, the latter being via knockout.

“You know, people have been talking a lot of shit, saying a lot of things, but really, I’m a multi-sport athlete,” he explained to us. “How many fighters can say that? I got caught in MMA, it happens, but now I have to show the world what I can and always have done in the ring and too bad for Wilnis, it’s going to be against him. I’m in demand right now, like they wanted me for the Dynamite show but the medical suspension got in the way of that happening.”

For a time the fight with Artem Levin was Schilling’s white whale, the one fight that eluded him. Scheduled and rescheduled a number of times in their respective pre-GLORY careers, their clash finally happened at GLORY 10 in the middleweight tournament that saw Schilling pull off the victory in an extension round of the finals. Once again Schilling finds himself frustrated with Levin pulling out of a fight with him. “I feel like I’m chasing him all over again. GLORY called me up and said they wanted me to fight Levin in Denver and, you know, this was the fight that I was asking them for, so I took it. Then a few weeks later they call and tell me that Levin was out and Wilnis is in and I was really pissed off.”

Schilling doesn’t seem certain that he’ll get that third fight with Levin any time soon, that he’ll be able to settle the score and have one man walk out victorious in their series, but he seems dead set on moving forward. As for where that future will be for Schilling, it seems to be on Spike TV for now. “I signed a new deal with Bellator, for MMA and kickboxing on Dynamite shows. I know not everyone loved that show, but it was incredible, a lot of vision went into that. There are going to be more and I’m gonna be fighting on them, be it kickboxing or MMA.”

The future within the GLORY ring seems to be less certain for Schilling, though, although he does seem open to more fights in the future. “Kickboxing is always my preference and if the offer is there and it’s the right offer I’ll take it without a second thought. The fights that I want are in GLORY right now.”

There has been a lot of talk about the future of kickboxing in America as well as GLORY’s future, which Schilling of course has had on his mind of late. His thoughts on the matter diverge from the common line of thought, though. “I never buy this line of bullshit about how you need an American champion to make it big here in the US. GLORY has been diluting their product in the name of finding this big American star and it has meant putting on weaker cards not featuring the top talents in the world. Put on big fights between the best fighters and the fans will react to that, who cares if they speak english or if they don’t? What matters is what happens in the ring, not the post-fight interviews.”

Schilling himself is of course one for leaving it all in the ring, with some of the most exciting fights in GLORY’s history under his belt, including the two dramatic fights with Artem Levin that have helped to define GLORY’s middleweight division. That doesn’t mean that he’s overlooking Wilnis on Friday at all, though. “Wilnis is a tough guy, he’s hungry and a win over me would mean a lot for his career. In no way am I overlooking Wilnis, though, I think that I’m on a mission here to prove those doubters wrong. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Joe Schilling makes his return to GLORY on Friday at GLORY 24 against Jason Wilnis live on Spike TV in the main event.

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Prize Fighter Ben Edwards Ready for GLORY 24 Heavyweight Tournament

  • Published in Interviews

GLORY 24 will see a new heavyweight contender crowned, the winner moving on to fight champion Rico Verhoeven for the top spot in the world of heavyweight kickboxing. Over the past year we’ve seen Verhoeven fight Errol Zimmerman and Benjamin Adegbuyi, defeating both to retain his title. Fans have been starved for a good heavyweight tournament from GLORY, the last one at GLORY 16 Denver.

Interestingly enough, a man that we last saw at GLORY 16 Denver will be making his return to the GLORY ring at GLORY 24 looking for another crack at the GLORY Heavyweight Championship. That man is Australia’s own Ben Edwards. We caught up with Ben Edwards as he finishes up his preparations for the tournament and will be heading back to the United States.

Edwards had announced that he was leaving kickboxing after his loss last year, but the return is a welcome one for fans of the Aussie slugger. For Edwards, it is about making a living. “With kickboxing the last 3 of my last 4 losses were to guys pretty much the top 3 in the world (Rico, Errol and Overeem the year he won) and they are the guys that were at least making a living. If I couldn't crack that top tier I couldn't make a living and kickboxing is very hard to train for in Canberra so I decided to concentrate on boxing which is easy to train for in my home town. I won the national title 2 fights in returning to the sport so it wasn't a bad decision,” he explained. The offer from GLORY took him by surprise, actually. “The offer from Glory was unexpected and appreciated and I am very much looking forward to making the most of this second chance.”

Heavyweight kickboxing has seemed to be less of a focus of late, with the lighter weight classes taking a lot of the spotlight and there being a lot of fighters -- much like Edwards -- looking for opportunities outside of kickboxing. “As a hard-core combat sport fan I really feel kickboxing is the most exciting format. Its sad the sport has lost some of the bigger names but I still feel the sport has a healthy future.”

As for this tournament especially, Edwards seems ready to finally show the world what he’s made of after what he considered disappointments before. “The main difference in training is I've been spending a lot of time in Sydney, I've don't 6 trips in 5 weeks to train with Stu McKinnon and the boys at Castle Hill Bulldog,” he explained. “It’s world class padwork and sparring there and for the first time in  long time I am excited to fight. I had a lot of personal problems going into the last fight and I have fixed every single one and I am looking forward to being back to my best. I'm sick of feeling disappointed and letting people down, being considered a journeyman etc. Those days are over.”

When it comes to the first opponent for the night, Jahfarr Wilnis, Edwards seemed more focused on himself and his preparations, instead. “I only ever watch a little bit of footage on my opponent when the fight gets signed, get a feel for them, come up with a game plan then I don't think about them anymore. He appears to be a busy fighter with not much power which should leave plenty of openings to land one of my ghetto whoppers.”

Edwards has been a busy guy of late if you follow him on Facebook, taking a few acting gigs and looking happy to be going outside of his comfort zone. He explained to us how he found himself in front of the camera without gloves on. “I trained a guy who ended up being a producer on a local film that ended up starring Billy Zane, they have finished filming but they were running short on money to finish the production. Blue World Order is the film's name and they have a website to visit. This latest project stemmed from people I met on that, this one is called Tech Noir and the director is attempting to get it into the aussie short film festival Tropfest. I had a great experience on both films and definitely look forward to participating in more projects.”

What does the future hold for Edwards? Only time will tell. Edwards has done it all from boxing to kickboxing to even dog walking, but will he keep fighting even if he loses? “There will be plenty of dog walking, I can't express how much I enjoy doing that and I am a prize fighter, whatever the rules if there is a prize I'll be there.”

Any man who loves dogs is okay by me. The same with any man who genuinely loves fighting and Ben Edwards fits that bill. Ben Edwards is participating in the GLORY 24 Heavyweight tournament, facing Jahfarr Wilnis in the first round.

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Zack Mwekassa Promises That His Fight Will be Epic

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"It's going to be epic!" That is Zack Mwekassa's prediction for the rematch between he and Saulo Cavalari and at the event called 'Dynamite' .With an event name like that, it's only natural to expect to see some bombs being dropped in the ring. Zack Mwekassa promises you will not only get bombs but some drama as well! If you're curious about what bombs and drama means and the hashtag (#bombsanddrama) that has captivated fans of Mwekassa around the world, the originator explained, "A lot of people think my punches are like bombs and they believe the whole persona of Zack Mwekassa with the bombs just makes it spectacular and just brings the drama. Look at the fight with Pat Barry, when I walked in people booed me, I walked in the ring thinking what have I done to these people, they don't know me, but I stopped him and they played my entrance song, 'There is Power in the Name of Jesus', and that was the drama. I walked in with the bombs and that was drama. When Pat Barry walked in they all were shouting 'HD, HD, HD!' but booing me, but again that was drama too". In fact bombs and drama is one of Mwekassa's goals as a fighter, to give a spectacular performance to his fans during every fight. Mwekassa stated that he doesn't come to win fights, he comes to bring emotions. He makes a distinction between simply winning and trying to offer more. Mwekassa stated that trying to win fights is easy to do, but his overall goal, is to give fans something they can talk about, and that is the drama side of it. If his past is any prediction of his future Zack Mwekassa will definitely bring both bombs and drama to the SAP center.

Taking a look back, you will recall Cavalari and Mwekassa first met in November 2014 during the light heavyweight qualifying tournament in Oklahoma at Glory 18. Mwekassa's first opponent in the tournament was Brian 'The Lion' Collette. Mwekassa easily dispatched Collette with a devastating blow that left Collette dazed and down for the count. Phase two of the tournament brought together Cavalari and Mwekassa. In was beginning the bout seemed to be an unending slugfest but ended with Mwekassa getting caught and knocked out. Since that time Mwekassa has made a commitment to step up his level of training and stretch the boundaries of his performance as an athlete. Chiefly among the changes Mwekassa has made was his decision to spend time in Holland at Hemmers Gym to give himself exposure to different fighting styles, higher level sparring partners and other things that had been unavailable to him while training in Africa.

Mwekassa makes no excuses about his loss to Cavalari despite any training disadvantages he might have had prior to the bout. This however is the nature of Zack Mwekassa and the basis of his #Mwekassance. Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to talk to Mwekassa, fighters and fans alike, I'm sure can testify to his character and his desire to strive, on a daily basis, to be a better man. Mwekassa is both a fighter and a business man, at this time in his career seeing fights not just on the basis of what stylistically or intellectually makes sense but also as opportunities to continue to hone his craft and to build the means to give back to his family. Like most fighters, Mwekassa laments the grueling amount of time and energy the life of a fighter requires. It's however, a sacrifice he's willing to make for achievement of his ultimate goal, light heavyweight champion. Stylistically, Mwekassa mentions Gokhan Saki as an opponent with whom he could have had a very interesting and challenging fight. He is also, however, quick to add that he is willing to take on whoever Glory places in front of him and that he feels very fortunate to have arrived at his current place in life. For that he gives glory to God.

When it boils down to it both he and Cavalari are similar in nature. Both men arose from very humble beginnings in their respective countries and both had achieved a certain level of success in their combat sports careers prior to their Glory debuts. Both have made it their life's goal to be the best. Now both men have set their sights on the light heavyweight title which on Saturday, September 19th only one man can be victorious, but if nothing else we can all expect some bombs and drama until the end.

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New challenges - An interview with Gábor Görbics

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For the first time in Muaythai Mania's history the event will not be at it's usual location of Szentendre but Budapest. Looking at the card fans can expect some great fights in a guise of women's and a man's tournament with four participants in each and some superfights.

In the female fights Irén Rácz, Alexandra Kovács, Tímea Bélik and Fruzsina Nagy will clash in 63,5kg (~140lbs) while Roland Berényi, Dániel Bodnár, Ádám Gaál and Krisztián Kovács will meet in the 71kg (~156lbs) category. The organizers are looking for a fourth member in full swing as aninjury left Daniella Éltető without an opponent.

As it was revealed earlier in the men's superfight freshly crowned Venum Fights world champion Gábor Görbics will meet none other than Phetsangkhat "Check Bin" Deo, a former Rajadamnern champion, Russian K-1 Grand Prix tournament champion thai fighter with nearly 200 muay thai fighst under his belt.

Without further ado Gábor Görbics on his last fight, trying muay thai, his preparation and more!

Q: - How was the Debrecen show from the inside? Can you talk about the fight and your opponent a bit?

A: - I knew that I'm going to go in there with a very confident, tough opponent who has solid skills, a nice record and that according to the books I'm not the favorite so I went in there with the underdog's calmness. I trusted myself although I knew that anything can happen. I have tons of experience against good fighters in boxing, K-1, so I have plenty of experience but this was certainly something different. I was really focusing on this one and managed to pull it out.

Q: - We knew that for some time now you've been thinking about giving muay thai a try but it has been quite a busy year for you so far. How did you get to the decision to jump into it right now with the Venum show just behind your back?

A: - You know I always try to get better, focus on my kickboxing a bit more and fill some gaps while boxing still remained my big love, because it is my base, where I'm coming from . If I'm on my phisycal and mental game, I'm ready for anything.

Q: - You have quite the dance partner for your debut. Did you want your hands that full yourself by picking a guy like Phetsangkhat "Check Bin" Deo?

A: - I look at muay thai as a brother to kickboxing and I really don't have anything to lose here. I want to test myself and obviously I'm going in there to win. It is an honor for me and I want to give fans a great fight!

Q: - How do you prepare for the fight? To what extent is it different than a usual fight camp? Do you visit muay thai gyms or bring in people to work with you?

A: - I have a number of days at our gym, Titan, but I try to visit a few guys who have plenty of experience and work with them. Also my head coach Gábor Juhász is trying to add his insights to the whole so I feel we'll bring an A game and make a fun fight for everyone.

Hereby I would like to thank Gábor Juhász, Gábor Kádár, Csaba Lelekács, Jenő Svasznek, Zsolt Erdei, Zsolt Bedák, Benji Bacskai, Norbert Szentkúti and everyone else who has added to my game, my training or results and helped ous out along the way. It would be way too much to mentione them all. This is a result of teamwork. And the team includes my wife and child as well, who always support me and endure when times are tough or when I'm cutting weight.

Thank you for the interview! Wishing you best of luck in your preparation and for the fight!

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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 CEO Talks About Preparing for a Bright Future with GLORY 23 and Dynamite on the Horizon

  • Published in Interviews

James Law/GLORY

GLORY’s next event is August 7th in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Las Vegas is known for being one of the fight capitals of the world and GLORY will finally make their debut there in the historic Hard Rock. The main event of the show is a GLORY Welterweight Championship bout between Nieky Holzken and Raymond Daniels, two men that have fought before and will meet for the newly-vacated championship. 

In a way, Daniels vs. Holzken is a perfect way to sum up GLORY as an organization at the moment. GLORY began with a bang, pushing out nothing but star-studded cards with fights between top names from K-1 and It’s Showtime, but things have changed quite a bit since then. Some would say the changes were unwelcome, while others would argue that the health of the organization and the sport in particular should come before glitz and glamour. Chief among them would be GLORY’s CEO Jon J. Franklin.

Franklin was involved with GLORY previously, but his role was in assisting them with television rights deals and not running the entire organization. After some reshuffling after GLORY Last Man Standing failed to deliver in PPV sales last year Franklin was placed into the unenviable position of the CEO of GLORY and basically just told, “fix it.” GLORY started off big, just as big as the shows it was replacing from Japan, but the problem was there was really no market for it anymore and the shows, while impressive, helped the organization to bleed money for the first few years. 

“You know,” Franklin explained to me when talking about the difficulties of taking over. “First thing I thought was that I was going to come in and trim the fat. Just come in and cut out everything that we didn’t need, make the whole operation leaner, more profitable and to ensure that we’ll still be running shows down the line. You can’t just cut everything, though, which I learned the hard way early on. There are contracts in place and if you don’t honor those contracts things can get messy in a hurry, even if those contracts were expensive for us at the time.”

That included some of the older, bigger name fighters who have now mostly retired or moved on to what they consider greener pastures for the time being. There was a marked change in direction for the organization after Franklin joined, which he is willing to admit wasn’t always perfect, but has been adjusted with some fine tuning. “Was the Oklahoma show maybe a bit of a stretch for us? Probably, in hindsight, yeah. That might have been a bit too far in the other direction, but if you look back at our recent shows I think that we’ve really found the right mix for us that keeps the fans in the arena happy and is enjoyable to viewers.”

Part of the change was removing some of the more costly aspects of the production, which meant cutting back on production staff that were attending events and even scaling back on travel expenses. “As cool as the ramp was to have, it was an expense and due to how tight our shows are on Spike TV, you’d never really see them anyway. On top of that, most of our more memorable entrances were fighters interacting with the crowd more, like Gokhan Saki at GLORY 15 Istanbul.” 

As for the travel? “I travel coach now, which a few of the older guys were kind of shocked by. ‘How does it look that our CEO is traveling coach?’ They asked me, just not understanding it, still worried about image. I think that it shows that we are very serious about our organization and for its longevity that we aren’t spending frivolously or concerned about things like that. I don’t mind doing it and I believe that it sets a good example for everyone else.”

In a way, Nieky Holzken vs. Raymond Daniels is the perfect GLORY title fight under Jon J. Franklin’s leadership, especially in the Hard Rock, a venue that as a boxing promoter he had worked to put on shows numerous times in the past. Holzken is one of the most renowned and revered kickboxers in the world while Raymond Daniels is an American fighter who might not have the same level of credentials as a professional that Holzken does, but has worked tirelessly to transfer his skills in karate to the sport of kickboxing. His work has resulted in some of GLORY’s most spectacular knockouts and for Daniels becoming one of the more viral and notable stars for the organization. 

“He’s incredible,” he said about Daniels. “I think that showcasing a fighter like Daniels helps to set us apart and really stand out. Nieky is an incredible boxer and Daniels is an incredible athlete who does things that nobody else does inside of the ring. The two-touch kicks, spinning back kicks, just everything that he does takes your breath away and leaves an impression.”

Many older fans see the fight between Daniels and Holzken as a forgone conclusion, but Franklin isn’t worried about a loss for either man hurting their image, instead noting that fighters with heart and personality tend to stand out. “I know that I’ll take some flak for this, but how can you not love a fighter like Dustin Jacoby? He’s still learning the ropes in our sport, but he entered the Road 2 Glory tournament on a day’s notice and won the whole thing, he fought Mourad Bouzidi on short notice and in Bellator stepped into the cage against King Mo on short notice. The guy is a fighter and he’s exciting to watch. I don’t think that losses define a fighter at all and I think that fans have certain connections with fighters and that doesn’t just fade away after a loss or two.”

GLORY is, of course, involved with the big Dynamite event in September that will showcase Bellator fights in a cage and GLORY fights inside of the GLORY ring. The event was in the works for quite a while and Franklin talks about how pleased he has been in the whole process. “How can you not like working with Scott Coker? I’d say he’s one of the top promoters in the world. He’s been a pleasure to work with and we are looking forward to putting on a great show. I mean, Bellator has an amazing platform that they’ve grown since Scott came in and we get to be a part of that with Dynamite.”

The inclusion of GLORY seems almost academic considering the caliber of events that they’ve produced in their short tenure and how Franklin and crew have been able to work miracles out in the previous few events with their reduced budget. Franklin does credit the fighters for sticking with them through the transition, as well. “What people don’t realize is that 95% of our fighters stuck with us through lean times. That is incredible, they really believe in what we are doing and believe that this is where they belong. Look at guys like Errol Zimmerman or Rico Verhoeven who stuck with us through everything and are just excited to get out there and fight.”

The card isn’t settled yet for Dynamite, but GLORY has promised to bring their A-game for this. There was talk of the event possibly happening without GLORY’s assistance, but the reality here is that GLORY’s stable of fighters are some of the very best in the world. The Dynamite event is a huge stage for kickboxing in general and GLORY has top talent in healthy supply to wow both old and new fans alike. It also speaks further for the health of the relationship with Spike TV, which Franklin feels strongly about.

“I was just out there at the Bellator show and I walked away from my meetings with Scott and everyone at Spike TV feeling very positive about it,” he explained. “We have a longterm deal with Spike with extension options and everyone who see GLORY programming feels strongly about it. Could the landscape change in the future, could our relationship change? It could, but that is the nature of television. We aren’t concerned, though, we have a healthy relationship and a lot more shows that we are planning right now.”

The market is ever-changing for combat sports but what is clear is that GLORY is in this for the long haul and is looking to help to grow the sport worldwide as well as the United States. While Spike TV is usually the hot topic, Franklin made sure to mention that they don’t plan on abandoning their international markets any time soon. They have healthy television relationships all throughout Europe and Asia and he notes how it is easier to fill up arenas throughout Europe with their top talent, like in Lille, France where Rico Verhoeven defended his GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi.

In a way, it is refreshing to speak with Franklin and to hear him be so candid about the past and future of the organization. They are very aware of their product and aware of any possible missteps that may have happened in the past and are always looking for ways to provide quality entertainment to all of their fans across the world, all while spending responsibility and ensuring that the company has a bright future. Because, as Franklin told me, having less opportunities for fighters to work and make money is good for no one, so all of the fighters are invested in the future of both the sport and the organization.

GLORY 23 is Friday, August 7th live on Spike TV from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

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