There are very few modern kickboxers who command an audience anymore, but without a doubt one of those names is Gokhan Saki. Saki, with a passionate fan base, has been one of the top Heavyweights and now Light Heavyweights for a while now. After the generation of Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt and Jerome Le Banner were retired it was clear that Gokhan Saki was a part of the next generation of top kickboxing stars. Of course, things within FEG's K-1 fell apart and the kickboxing world fractured. It was then partially reassembled in the way of GLORY, where Saki competed until recently.
It's been no secret that GLORY has been restructuring and reevaluating their business and that fighters who were commanding hefty purses but weren't drawing ratings became quite a bit less valuable. Many fans see it as a slap in the face that GLORY no longer sees fighters like Gokhan Saki and Tyrone Spong worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per appearance, but the reality is that GLORY 15, which featured the two men in a Light Heavyweight tournament, drew the weakest ratings to date on Spike TV.
While GLORY has not abandoned their global audience, the dollars and cents boil down to the United States market being more profitable than anywhere else in the world for the promotion, which made the value of guys like Saki and Spong drop a bit. Understandably Gokhan Saki felt that he was worth more, which led to a rift between the promotion and the fighter, this ultimately led to Gokhan Saki fighting on an upcoming GFC event against Sebastian Ciobanu. While Ciobanu is a fine fighter, no one expects him to give Saki any trouble.
In a new interview (in Dutch) Saki spoke about what has been going on from his point of view and it's interesting, to say the least. According to Saki he is still willing to fight for GLORY, but it has to be at the right price. He says that he will only fight when he is being paid what he is worth and not a dime less. On top of that, he had some pointed criticism towards GLORY's management, believing that they are still the top promotion and that they always treated him well, but he believes that the "American influence" has tainted the company and that the Americans are clueless in regards to promoting the sport.
It's unfortunate that GLORY and Saki couldn't come to terms, but there is still hope for the future for fans. Of course, both sides have valid points in such a situation; the promotion shouldn't lose money on its fighters and should pay them what the market value is and for the fighters they should be compensated for their experience, talent and appeal. Fans have been bickering about who is right and who is wrong in this matter and the reality seems to be that everyone did what was best for themselves and that hopefully the situation changes in the future.