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Washing Away the Myth of the Eurocentric Kickboxing Machine

  • Published in News

I want to preface this by saying that without a doubt the sport of Kickboxing owes a lot to its European roots. Without some of the pioneers in Europe the sport of Kickboxing would absolutely not be what it is today. That being said, I feel like after GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing we can effectively say that Kickboxing belongs to no one country or continent. Sure, some of the all-time greats are Dutch and yes, the original home of K-1 was without a doubt Japan, but it’s 2014 and the world has become a smaller place. Talent is no longer concentrated to secretive gyms or trainers, instead it is being spread out and being found across the world.

For the longest time fans had to hear that American Kickboxers sucked. The history that came with American Kickboxing, the fighters like Benny Urquidez, Don Wilson, Rick Roufus and the many other who cut their teeth across the world against the best of the best was somewhat washed aside. I mean, why not? Names like Rob Kamen, Ramon Dekkers and Cor Hemmers carry a lot of weight with them, as do the names of fighters like Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Semmy Schilt and many others. How could American fighters compare?

At GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing North America got to show the world just how seriously Kickboxers from this continent need to be taken and should leave fans open to talent from other nations as well. Joe Schilling once again found himself in a tough finals against Artem Levin, this time Levin walking away victorious, with North American fighters Wayne Barrett and Simon Marcus having incredibly strong showings as well. Joseph Valtellini showed the world what a kid from Canada can do when given a chance, bringing home the GLORY Welterweight Championship in a tough fight against Marc de Bonte. Then on GLORY 17 Canadian Gabriel Varga proved himself to be one of the best Featherweights in the world, ready to take on the best of the best and vye for the GLORY Featherweight Championship. 

At this point it’s hard to argue that America and Canada aren’t producing top talents, because both nations are producing some of the very best that the world has to offer. Is Europe still producing some of the absolute best talents in the world in Kickboxing? Absolutely. It’s impossible to argue against the talents we are seeing coming from the Netherlands, the UK, France, Germany and many others, but it’s no longer a monopoly. For a while Dutch Kickboxing was the alpha and omega and while Dutch Kickboxing is still very strong, it would be crass to ignore the talents coming from all across the world to prove themselves as the best of the best. 

Kickboxing is a global sport and the name on the gym or the prestige of the nation are no longer deciding factors alone. The amount of work put in, the quality of the training, the talent and the desire are what matter at the end of the day. I, for one, look forward to continue to watch fighters from all corners of the world stepping up their game on a regular basis.

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What You Can Do to Make a Difference for Kickboxing

  • Published in Kickboxing

Right now is probably one of the best times to be a kickboxing fan in the United States in over 30 years. If you stop to think about that it is almost hard to imagine. My introduction to K-1 came in the mid-90's from my Kenpo instructor who let me borrow a few tapes of his that led to a spiral of insanity involving having my mom drive me into the city to go to the one store in the mall that imported anime and manga and occasionally had Japanese wrestling and fighting tapes available. 

To say that it was difficult to follow kickboxing back then is an understatement. The advent of the internet made it easier to find tape traders and other people with similar interests, but it was still a process that involved waiting long periods of time for retail tapes to be released or for events to air on television. Things go easier when DVDs became all of the rage and everyone had a DVD burner, but it was still a pain. Hell, even when internet streams first came about it got easier yet.

Things now are almost laughable. You have streaming video that you can watch on mobile devices, you have promotions releasing their own fights for free and guess what? We have GLORY on Spike TV. There has never been this much access to high level kickboxing in the United States. Hell, GLORY even runs a lion's share of their events here in the United States, so you can go and see these fights live. That's insanity, even the best American kickboxers had to go overseas to fight before, now they have a home in America.

We can lament on the fact that GLORY's inaugural PPV event wasn't a UFC beater, we can make predictions and excuses, but the truth is; that isn't going to help anyone. GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing were tremendous events and they were available to us -- one on Spike TV for free, the other on PPV -- live as they happened. Hell, if you were in the LA area you could have picked up some cheap tickets and gone there yourself. 

There's a good chance if you are watching this that you probably live in North America (our stats tell us that, although we have tons of great readers from around the globe), there's also a great chance that you are a fan of kickboxing (why else would you be here?). If we look back at how the UFC grew in popularity it's easy to realize that it was as unscientific as it gets. It was almost random, it was the right elements at the right time making a perfect storm. It was fans talking about it, telling their friends about it, calling their friends to say "hey you gotta watch this fight." It was having that infectious passion that other people caught onto.

If you want kickboxing and GLORY to succeed here, watching it and supporting it is a great start, but maybe it's time to let people know about it. Maybe it's time for it to be more than just a hobby that you share with a few fight fans on Twitter. Let the world know about this, tell your friends, support local events and fighters, post stuff on your Facebook, your Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Be that annoying guy that everyone sees and says, "man, he's really into this." Why? Because people will remember it. They'll remember you talking about it, they'll know something about it and they might even check it out for themselves.

The product sells itself, it just needs those eyeballs. You and I, we can help with that. We might not be able to get into the ring at this level, we might not be able to get ESPN to cover it, but with time, anything is possible.

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

  • Published in News

GLORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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GLORY Last Man Standing PPV Sales Disappoint

  • Published in Glory

From a critical standpoint, it's hard to be down on GLORY's Last Man Standing PPV. The show was a resounding success if you are a kickboxing fan who tuned in to watch the show. Featuring some of the world's top talents vying for a whopping three GLORY World Championships it was hard not to be excited about the show. The only issue was that GLORY Last Man Standing was on American PPV and American PPV is tough. 

I had been critical of GLORY's decision to move to PPV this soon because it simply didn't feel right. There have been arguments as to the viability of PPV right now as it is, with UFC's last PPV event, UFC 174 drawing their lowest in a very long time at sub-100,000 (with reports that it could be as low as 50,000). There was a possible silver-lining with Spike TV and Viacom's Bellator 120 drawing over 100,000 buys, but it also featured two well-known PPV draws in Tito Ortiz and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. 

GLORY's biggest star was Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic who was on the Spike TV portion, GLORY 17, not the PPV portion, with Cro Cop never being much of a domestic draw. GLORY has been on US television for less than a year at this point and is having to basically establish the sport as brand new, educating fans not only on the rules but the names involved as well. It would be difficult for the UFC to sell an event with these names on it, even if they are the best kickboxers in the world. The other issue was the cost of the event, marketed as $35, but that was for SD, HD was $45, which many fans were openly complaining about. It was simply too steep of a cost considering this would be many fans' first time having to pay money to watch kickboxing. 

According to Dave Meltzer from this week's edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter there are no hard numbers on it yet, but in his own words, the PPV "bombed." According to Meltzer it did considerably worse than both the recent TNA and ROH wrestling PPVs, which is both surprising and disappointing. He even joked on a radio program that it did "World Bodybuilding Federation bad." For those unaware, the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF) was Vince McMahon of WWE (then-WWF)'s vision for "sports entertainment bodybuilding" in the early 90's that attempted a PPV and drew a paltry 3,000 buys, leading to McMahon disbanding the organization after the disappointing buy rate. 

Seeing as though we don't have hard numbers for either the TNA or ROH PPVs, either, TNA gets an average of about 8,000 buys on PPV and I can't imagine Ring of Honor's PPV debut doing better than that, so that leaves us in the 5,000 range. The truth of the matter is, PPV is on the way out and for a relatively new sport (in the eyes of casual fans) it felt almost impossible to make an impact. The Spike TV numbers were steady, though, showing that GLORY has made an impression on the viewers that it has reached.

It might be time for GLORY to buckle down, build themselves a home base like Las Vegas was for the UFC or San Jose was for Strikeforce, attract some solid crowds and focus on growing their Spike TV audience. Globetrotting and PPV are clear indicators of a successful organization in this realm of combat sports, but it seems unfair for GLORY to be holding itself to these standards after only being on Spike TV a handful of times and only running a small number of shows in the United States. 

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

  • Published in Glory

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

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

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

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

  • Easy Money
  • Jarrell Miller ($4500) - Sure, there were some out there that felt in their first meeting that Cro Cop might have somehow won that fight. I wasn't one of them and if we are real, you shouldn't be either. Jarrell controlled where the fight took place, was landing cleaner strikes and that was the biggest fight of his career at that point. Since then he's had experience -- lots of experience -- and been scouted by some of the biggest names in Boxing. Cro Cop's dirty boxing-centric style is not going to cut it against Jarrell this time and Jarrell knows better than to get in range for that and eat headbutts. Without Croatian judges and referees this is an even playing field and that favors the man who calls himself Big Baby.
  • The Underdog
  • Joseph Valtellini ($4600) - Marc de Bonte is the defending champion, which gives him an advantage, as does his long career. But you know what? There is a tidal wave forming right now and it's forming behind Joseph Valtellini. Styles make fights and de Bonte's style is more conservative compared to Valtellini's, which is usually fine, except for one thing. Valtellini held his own against Nieky Holzken and was able to not only defend, but break through Holzken's defenses. Holzken is just about untouchable at this weight and is able to sneak by strikes through the best defenses. Holzken had problems with Valtellini. I think that de Bonte is an incredible fighter, but I'm not sure his defenses are as tight as Holzken's and he's gonna play the counter-puncher game, which means Joe will pick him apart. 
  • Too Close to Call
  • Daniel Ghita ($4700) vs. Rico Verhoeven ($4900) - Perhaps the most exciting single fight on paper for Last Man Standing, it is also really tough to call. Verhoeven absolutely has a win over Daniel Ghita, but this is both men, fresh, against the best version of each other. Verhoeven reminds me of Daniel Ghita back in 2012, when Ghita was just getting comfortable in the ring and broadening his horizons. Verhoeven used to be stiff and gunshy, now he's confident and using all of his tools in a fluid manner, which is great, but Daniel Ghita has been through it all now; wins, losses, a trip to the top only to get shot back down. There's a good chance that Verhoeven looks the best he's ever looked and wins a close fight, there is also a chance that Daniel Ghita pummels Verhoeven enough to take the win. 
  • The Long Shot
  • Alex Pereira ($4300) - If you look at the odds, Alex Pereira is the man least likely to win the tournament, when, in fact, for being relatively inexpensive in this Kountermove tournament, he's a tremendous value. He's shown us a ton in his past few fights and we all already know what Artem Levin brings to the table. That being said, knowing what Artem brings to the table, it means that he's going to be himself. He's going to be slipping strikes, working the clinch a ton and maybe even losing a point for it. Moving in close on Alex Pereira is a suicidal move and one that someone as confident as Levin might not be afraid of trying. There's a chance that Pereira even wins this whole damned tournament. You can quote me on that, because I said chance, not will, okay?
  • Stay Away From
  • The entire GLORY 17 Featherweight tournament - This is beyond too close to call, this is insanity. If you are into taking risks then go for it, I'd say your best bets are Shane Oblonsky ($4800) or Gabriel Varga ($4800), but that being said, daaaamn. That is a great, great tournament and some stellar matchmaking by Cor Hemmers. 
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Glory 17 and Last Man Standing: A Night to Remember (Part 1)

  • Published in Glory

June 21st, 2014 is a night that kickboxing fans will be talking about for quite some time. Glory 17, even though it ended up being a 6 hour event, at no point did I feel this was too much. They did a great job of making us look forward to the next fight even more than the last. Now, I am going to be brutally honest and give my opinions on all the things I enjoyed, and things I didn't on one of the most exciting 6 hours in combat sports.

So, the show started with the analyst desk consisting of Michael "The Voice" Schiavello, Stepen Quadros, and Remy Bonjasky. This is a very knowledgeable group of people but we barely heard from them, instead we had to listen to Duke Roufus and Ron Kruck constantly talk about either previous fights, history, or themselves. For some reason they always seem to ignore the fight that is happening and talk about the fighters past fights, or trainers and so on. I mean that is fine to do when there is a lull in the action to keep the viewers informed and educated, but when action is happening i would like the commentators to talk about the fight. I feel that if they could have maybe used the analyst desk as the commentators this event could have been pretty much perfect. I always favor Shiavello when it comes to kickboxing commentary, being that he is a true fan, knows all the fighters inside and out, talks accurately about what is happening in the fight, and he knows how to excite us and make us laugh. As for Remy Bonjasky this would have been the first time I've heard him commentate, but he is intelligent and well spoken, not to mention one of the best heavyweight kickboxers ever and usually its great when real fighters commentate, for example Roy Jones Jr. on HBO.

Enough about Kruck and Roufus, and more about the people that matter, the fighters. Everyone fought their heart out for Glory last night. The first fight on Spike TV was Canadian Gabriel Varga Vs. Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai from Thailand. Varga has been training with us in Surrey, B.C a little bit for the last few weeks so I know how good he is, and what he is capable of. When the fight started and Sitmonchai instantly interrupted Varga's combos with his own punches and Varga kept throwing very slow telegraphed spinning back fists, and back kicks, I began to get worried. But Varga did what Varga does best and kept grinding Sitmonchai down, until it seemed like the Thai was either tired or just lazy, he just stopped throwing anything even tho he had Varga's leg purple and swollen, thus earning Varga the win and moving onto the Finals of the Featherweight Contender Tournament.

Next fight put American Shane Oblonsky against Brazilian Marcus Vinicius, this was a strange fight because Vinicius actually threw zero kicks. He just tried to box Oblonsky's face off with big looping punches considering he was 7 inches shorter, he landed quite a few big punches, but Oblonsky's chin held up and he was constantly landing his big right hand leading to two knockdowns which moved him on to the Finals to face Varga.

Andy Ristie made short work of Ky Hollenbeck and honestly didn't even look like he was trying yet. He landed his signature step in right hand, then followed it with a stiff left jab/hook type punch then just watched as Hollenbeck wobbled and dropped his right hand, and landed a big left hook on the chin to end the fight in the first round. It was nice to see Ristie actually calm down and watch to land that last punch, he does hit ridiculously hard though, even without effort.

Now onto the Final of the Glory 4 man featherweight contender tournament and this fight was a war. Once again Varga came out with his tight defense and started wearing out Oblonsky, but Shane's technique was much tighter and cleaner in this fight than his last. Varga carried on pressing forward, keeping a high pace but he would sometimes break up the rhythm by throwing a spinning technique which really never landed, they were much too slow, every time he tried one I found myself hoping it was the last, and that he would use his energy into just beating on Oblonsky with leg kicks. In the last round both fighter's had very sore left legs, but neither of them decided to kick it nearly enough until Gabriel started smashing it in the last 30 seconds, which gave Gabriel Varga the hard earned unanimous decision victory, the Glory featherweight contender belt, and secured himself a spot in the Glory featherweight world title tournament.

Last fight on the Spike TV portion of the card was the 39 year old legend Mirko CroCop against the 274lbs, 24 year old Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller. I had high hopes for Miller in this fight, he has looked amazing in his last few professional boxing fights and I figured his hands would just be too good for CroCop. Truth is Millers hands very well may have been too good for the Croatian, if he actually threw them. Big baby decided he was going to kick, clinch, and knee the entire fight, which is basically CroCop's specialty. At one point Miller did land one knee that looked like it hurt CroCop but referee Big John McCarthy called it a low blow, replays showed otherwise in my eyes. It wasn't the most exciting fight, but still entertaining with the chance that Mirko could land his trademark left high kick at any point, and a few came very close to knocking Miller's head into the crowd. Mirko CroCop got the deserving unanimous decision putting an end to the controversy of his last fight with Big Baby.

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Meltzer Gives One Last Update on GLORY Last Man Standing Numbers

  • Published in Glory

This is probably the last that we'll speak of this because, well, it's time to move on, but Dave Meltzer in the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter gave a tangible number for GLORY Last Man Standing's PPV buys. That number was an estimated (read: estimated, not official) 6,000. GLORY took a gamble on American PPV and that gamble didn't seem to be at the right time or the right conditions to work out for them.

That being said, before anyone goes into a tailspin over this, think of it like this; sure, this was a big show for GLORY and they put together a bigger card and had to spend a bit more to promote the PPV. That is absolutely true, but they've put on shows like this before that were not supported by any PPV income, so while this probably means that GLORY is not going to continue forward in the PPV business, there was an additional stream of revenue for the event and this was a worthy experiment. Honestly, 10,000 buys would have been a "win" for GLORY, so falling short of that in a respectable manner is not bad, not bad at all.

American audiences are not ready for kickboxing on PPV just yet, or if they are, it just came at a bad time in the summer where we've seen even the UFC's numbers lower than previous years. For now the Spike TV numbers have been consistent, which is a good sign of GLORY attracting and maintaining an audience, now we just have to wait for their breakthrough moment to happen to start pushing things further.

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Joe Valtellini: GLORY's Own GSP in the Making

  • Published in Glory

When it comes to conventional wisdom how to make Kickboxing take off in the United States everyone always says the same thing; you need an American star. You need an American star, that is what everyone thinks, so therefore that is what it needs. That is sound logic, but the only thing is, when we look at the recent history of breakthrough stars in combat sports, we don’t see just Americans. Sure, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is American and Oscar De La Hoya is American (but he associates as Mexican for many), but Manny Pacquiao is definitely not American, nor were many of the big UFC Champions.

So of course, you can’t talk UFC champions without talking about Georges St-Pierre, the Canadian former Welterweight Champion who was one of the UFC’s few “big” stars. Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and a few others were important, sure, but GSP proved to be a real, tangible draw for the company and he wasn’t American. GSP was from Canada, he was also responsible for their biggest live gate in history.

GLORY continues its search for their breakthrough star and the feeling that I’ve been getting over the past few months is that as much as conventional wisdom tells me that it’ll be Joe Schilling or Wayne Barrett, the evidence has been pouring in that Canada’s Joseph Valtellini might indeed be that guy. Joe Valtellini might be the guy to break through and become a big star. 

It’s difficult not to make parallels to the UFC’s own Georges St-Pierre, the humble Canadian fighter who was educated, well-spoken, personable, marketable as well as incredibly talented. If you were to tick off boxes in favor of Valtellini you’d be able to tick off every single one of those boxes. It isn’t crazy to think that GLORY’s big breakthrough star could be a Canadian fighter who is marketable, talented, educated and everything that you’d want in a fighter.

While speaking to Valtellini this week we even discussed how he’s never fought in his home country of Canada as a professional, in part due to that the Toronto area has yet to legalize professional Kickboxing. They were late to the game with legalizing MMA, but when they did and promoted a GSP fight they found themselves packing 55,000 fans into the Roger’s Centre in the UFC’s biggest gate to date, with it looking like the record won’t be broken for a very long time. Valtellini wants to be not only important to the sport of Kickboxing, but to his home of Canada as well. One would have to think that Canada could potentially be for GLORY what it has been for MMA in creating stars and passionate fight fans.

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but Joseph Valtellini is popping up everywhere. Interviews, television shows, all over social media and is being discussed by not only fans of Kickboxing, but fight fans everywhere. There is a general feeling that he’s going to take off and very soon. GLORY definitely needs that sharp, articulate fighter to present to the world and if Joseph Valtellini can do the work in the ring against Marc de Bonte on June 21st it’ll be interesting to see what the response is, because he hasn’t fought in a few months, but everyone is still talking about him already. If he becomes champion I only imagine it’ll be intensified. 

It’s not a far stretch to imagine that Joseph Valtellini could be for GLORY what GSP was for the UFC.

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Liverkick Staff's Glory 17 and Last Man Standing Predictions

  • Published in Glory

We are less than one week away from Glory 17, the first high profile 8 man kickboxing tournament for quite some time. This tournament is in the Middleweight (187lb/85kilos) division which gives us the best of both worlds since they have speed and knockout power. Each fighter in this tournament as the ability to end a fight with one punch, kick or knee which makes this tournament very unpredictable.

Here at LiverKick we like challenges so we are going to post our predictions to the whole event and would like everyone to join us and try to post your own.

Legend: (JJ - Jay Jauncey, DW - Dave Walsh)

Glory 17 Feather weight tournament Live on Spike

Gabriel Varga Vs. Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai - JJ: Varga(decision) - DW: Varga (decision)

Shane Oblonsky Vs. Marcus Vinicius - JJ: Vinicius (decision) - DW: Oblonsky (decision)

Featherweight Tournament Final - JJ: Varga (decision) - DW: Varga (decision)

Andy Ristie Vs. Ky Hollenbeck - JJ: Ristie (KO) - DW: Hollenbeck (decision)

Mirko Crocop Vs. Jarrel Miller - JJ: Miller (TKO) - DW: Miller (KO)

Last Man Standing PPV card

Melvin Manhoef Vs. Filip Verlinden - JJ: Verlinden (decision) - DW: Manhoef (Destruction)

Artem Levin Vs. Alex Pereira - JJ: Pereira (KO) - DW: Levin (decision)

Joe Schilling Vs. Simon Marcus - JJ: Schilling (KO) - DW: Schilling (KO)

Wayne Barrett Vs. Bogdan Stoica - JJ: Barrett (decision) - DW: Barrett (KO)

Semifinal #1 - JJ: Verlinden (decision) - DW: Levin (decision)

Semifinal #2 - JJ: Barrett (KO) - DW: Schilling (decision)

Final - JJ: Verlinden (decision) - DW: Schilling (decision)

Marc De Bonte Vs. Jospeph Valtellini : JJ: De Bonte (decision) - DW: Valtellini (KO)

Daniel Ghita Vs. Rico Verhoeven : JJ: Verhoeven (decision) - DW: Ghita (KO)

 

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For Joe Schilling Last Man Standing is About His Legacy

  • Published in Interviews

This weekend at GLORY Last Man Standing Joe Schilling has a date with a second GLORY tournament. The first one was a victory for Schilling at GLORY 10, putting him atop of the heap of GLORY’s stacked Middleweight division. At least for that night. We can easily say that GLORY 10 was a great night for Schilling, but GLORY 12 was not a great night for Schilling, although he’ll be the first one to tell you that it wasn’t his best night.

Heading into GLORY’s Last Man Standing tournament Joe is faced with three past opponents in Wayne Barrett, Artem Levin and Simon Marcus, each of which are involved in the tournament in different parts of the bracket, with there being a chance of him meeting each one on Saturday if things turn out that way. Revenge doesn’t seem to be on the mind of Schilling this time, though, nor does calling out a round for a knockout. Instead, he seems refocused.

At Last Man Standing Joe Schilling’s night starts off with not only a rematch, but a third meeting with an old adversary in Simon Marcus, but that is the furthest thing from his mind right now; “You know, everyone is asking me about rematches, they are all really excited about that. I guess there is more of an emotional connection to the previous fights than even I do. Rematch with Simon, rematch with Barrett, rematch with Levin, and I’m not thinking about that at all. It doesn’t even cross my mind, I’m a different fighter and I don’t expect them to be the same fighter. I’m really just focused on winning the tournament.

“Gotta go through Simon Marcus first, then I gotta go through Barrett, but if it’s Barrett I’ll beat Barrett, if it’s Stoica then I’ll be Stoica. Who even knows who comes through that other bracket. It’s crazy. I’m really focused I’m being the best Joe Schilling that I can be that night. I’ve made some changes in my game, in my lifestyle and the mental side of it. I feel like I’ll really be able to express what I’m capable of on the 21st. I’m really excited to show everybody what I’m capable of, but also show myself what I’m capable of. The rematches, though? They really mean nothing to me. At the end of the night, when I’m holding my belt, I’ll probably be laughing like, ‘Oh I knocked out Simon,’ but it’s not what I’m focused on right now.”

GLORY 12 was a tough night for Joe, but it wasn’t the first time that he’s had to face a loss in his career. “Yeah, when I lose a fight I really get very internal; why I lost the fight, what I was thinking, what I was doing. There are a lot of mistakes that I’ve been making for a long time in my career, stylistically, and we’ve really been focused on changing those things. The sparring has worked out really well and I’m really excited about it. After the Eddie Walker knockout I came back stronger, after I lost to Simon the second time I had to go to Thailand to fight Karapet on short notice, so I really look at my losses as big chunks of experience.

“I mean, look at the records of some of these other guys in the tournament. Sure, I have a much bigger record than Wayne Barrett, but for the most part I have less than everybody else in the tournament. Any and all experience that I can get I gotta take advantage of, but these losses are big for me, they are learning experiences. I’m humbled by my losses and it forces me to take a good look at me and it’s a good thing for my career.”

This brought about the topic of pressure and what kind of pressure that Joe feels going into this tournament. If you remember going into GLORY 10 Joe felt that he had to win the tournament to make a statement about Americans in Kickboxing, but now he sees more and more fighters from America stepping up and this is more about himself and his legacy. Joe is looking for not only a win, but a legacy like that of some of Kickboxing’s legends with back-to-back tournament wins.

“I’ve always put so much pressure on myself that I don’t really see other people’s pressure. I hold myself to a very high standard. In the past I’ve said stuff like, ‘well I’m gonna knock him out in this round’ and put even more pressure on myself, but for me there’s a ton of pressure on this fight for myself. I want to prove and really cement my legacy in Kickboxing. It means the world to me that I was the first American to win a global combat sports tournament like this and it’s really important for me to do it twice in a row. I want to go down in history with like Peter Aerts and Semmy Schilt, that’s the pressure that I feel. I don’t want to be in the back shaking my head and apologizing like I was after the Barrett fight and I have 100% myself to blame for that. I took him too lightly and I just,” Joe paused for a few seconds, searching for the right words. “I screwed up. I didn’t fight my fight, that wasn’t the best Joe Schilling.

“That won’t happen again,” he added, in regards to his frustrations in the fight with Barrett. “I was in there and I was frustrated, not even with Wayne, but I was frustrated with myself. Things picked up in the third round but even then it was sloppy, it was careless, it wasn’t me. So there is a ton of pressure for me not to do that again in this fight, but I feel like with the changes we’ve made there’s no chance of that happening again. There’s a lot less pressure knowing that I’m fighting the best fighters in the world. No one has ever watched a K-1 World Grand Prix and thought, ‘well that guy sucks.’ Everybody in there belongs in there, seven of us, the best Middleweights in the world, are gonna lose on Saturday. It’s gonna be a tough night, I’m not gonna be dancing afterwards. I have the utmost respect for all of the guys in the tournament, but it’s gonna be my night. It’s in my home city in front of my family and my friends, it’s gonna be epic.”

It’s also interesting to note that Schilling does have the homefield advantage going into this tournament, something that he had for the GLORY 10 Middleweight tournament as well. It was something that he was missing at GLORY 12 when he fought Wayne Barrett in New York, though; “Yeah, you know, I walked out and was getting booed. It’s happened twice in my career and both times it’s taken me out of my game. Actually, both times it was on the East coast, maybe I need to not fight on the East coast anymore?” He joked. “But for sure, I’m a lot more comfortable when I fight at home. No one wants to lose in front of their friends.”

So for Joe Schilling at GLORY Last Man Standing there isn’t revenge on his mind, instead it’s his legacy and taking his place as one of the greats in Kickboxing by winning consecutive tournaments. It is without a doubt a tall order considering the talent involved, but Schilling seems just as excited to watch the fights at Last Man Standing and GLORY 17 as he is to compete. He’s a kickboxing fan first and a fighter second and it’s very clear that this Joe Schilling is humbled and mentally prepared for what is before him.

Will it be his night again? Tune in on Saturday night at 10pm Eastern time on PPV for GLORY Last Man Standing, immediately following GLORY 17 on Spike TV at 8pm Eastern time. For more information, head to http://www.gloryppv.com

 

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