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Andy Hug, The Freebirds and the Von Erichs: What Kickboxing is Missing Right Now

I want you to visualize what is one of the most iconic knockouts in the history of Kickboxing. Visualize Andy Hug landing that spinning back kick on Mike Bernardo’s knee in the K-1 World Grand Prix 1996 Finals and the gravity that came from that kick. It was a tremendous story; Andy Hug, the undersized fighter who had lost to Bernardo twice before had finally overcome the odds when everything was on the line. It was hard to not feel something from that knockout. 

The concept of sport at its best and most effective is when there is an emotional bond between the athlete and the spectator. Without a doubt there is a magical spark that happens when an athlete achieves a lifelong dream while a spectator, one that is emotionally invested in the athlete, watches on and cheers. In part it is due to living out a fantasy vicariously through the athlete; being able to see someone achieve their dream, to, if even for just a brief moment, be able to see someone reach those great heights that always seem out of reach. 

In combat sports, which are about the individual and not a team, the ultimate goal is usually to win a World Championship. It’s a story that writes itself, a story about climbing to the top of the mountain and becoming the best, then defending that title and continuing to be the best. When the fans have an emotional investment in the fighter it is just amplified and the journey is all-the-more satisfying.

It’s these things that make combat sports the most fulfilling ones to spectate in the world, but it is also what makes them so inherently frustrating to be a fan of. Conventional wisdom points towards acquiring the most talent, to toss them into the ring against each other and hope that not only a World Champion emerges, but that a star will be born as well. The problem with this is that the more names that are involved, the more individuals with their own stories, personalities, strengths and weaknesses are in play and after a while they begin to get lost in the shuffle.

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GFC 3 Featuring Badr Hari Internet PPV for $5

So Badr Hari will be fighting in just a matter of hours now (10:00am Eastern time) and yeah, we know, if you live in the United States there is absolutely nothing convenient about the timing for this event. It's early morning on a Thursday, not exactly the same thing as staying up for a K-1 or PRIDE event on the weekends like everyone was used to years ago by a long shot. That being said, if you can do it (or live in Europe), you'll only have to plonk down $5 USD to watch GFC 3 featuring Badr Hari, Peter Aerts, Peter Graham and Stefan Leko. 

It's building up to be an interesting show, at least. $5 for an internet PPV (which most of you hate anyway) isn't bad by a longshot. So check it out here. We'll have a full rundown of the event later on in the day.

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K-1 Postpones World MAX Show in Thailand

If the only news that you pay attention to is fighting sports you might not have known that there is currently a bit of political upheaval in Thailand right now. In fact, there was a military coup that went down just days ago, leaving some areas of Thailand under strict military presence. Not all, though, some areas are untouched. Pattaya, where K-1 is planning their K-1 World MAX Finals event, happens to be one of the places under strict curfew. 

K-1 has been monitoring the situation and along with their partners in Thailand have decided to postpone the event for the time being. It might not be until July, but two months for a nation to get itself in order after a government is overthrown is a bit quick and they will wait out the situation before booking another event there. Kind of a bummer, we know, but it seems like the right call for this one. 

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Jarrell Miller on Cro Cop: "I'm Gonna Knock His Head Off"

The biggest bummer in Kickboxing over the past few years was when Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller stopped fighting in Kickboxing after the controversial loss to Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in 2013. There was no big announcement, no big farewell, Jarrell just went back to focusing on what he does best; Boxing. Jarrell is big, he’s fast and he hits hard, which is incredibly valuable in the Boxing ring, but he also has that one extra thing that will make him a star; Jarrell Miller can talk.

So when I saw a message earlier today from Jarrell asking if I could talk for a bit, I knew what I was in for. We ran a series of interviews with Jarrell leading up to his K-1 debut in 2012 and ran a few more around the time of his fight with Cro Cop and there is one thing that we know for certain; Jarrell is a firecracker. Much in the way that Joe Schilling always talks and people listen, Jarrell has the same gift. When we were talking I found myself smiling or laughing more often than not. Why? Because everything that comes out of Jarrell’s mouth is honest, it’s real and it’s all gold.

In fact, I’ve bugged Jarrell a few times over the past year to feel him out if he’d think about returning to Kickboxing. It was always the same thing; if the timing and the money are right. So when he was heading into his last fight on May 15th against Joshua Harris there was already an offer on the table for Jarrell to return to Kickboxing to fight Cro Cop. “The motivation just hasn’t been there to fight Kickboxing again,” he explained. The Cro Cop fight was his biggest fight to date and for many they believed that he won, only for the Croatian judges to come out and talk about them enforcing their own rules about “holding” while ignoring Cro Cop’s headbutts.

Nobody can blame Jarrell for not being excited about Kickboxing anymore, not with his Boxing career taking off. We can’t tell you what kind of stuff that he’s been working on in Boxing, but it’s potentially huge for him. If you’ve heard him talk and seen him fight you know that this guy could be a star, what’s worse for those holding the money is that he knows it. So when Jarrell found himself sitting in the club after his round two TKO win over Harriss, it dawned on him, “Man, I gotta fight Cro Cop. This has to happen.”

That’s when the talks got serious and when Jarrell realized that this was going to happen again. “If there was going to be one thing to motivate me to come back to Kickboxing, it was going to be Cro Cop,” he stated. “Now I’ve got the chance to do that, and you know what? Main event on Spike TV. The timing is right, the money is right, the deal was right. The timing couldn’t be any more perfect. I’m at 89% right now already, after a few more weeks of training? Ha!” 

The motivation to Kickbox might not have been there for him over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been watching. In fact, he’s acutely aware of what to expect from Mirko Cro Cop on June 21st. “Are you kidding? He’s throwing what, like 40 punches a round and like five kicks? C’mon, man. I’m over here in training throwing 200 strikes a round and kicks? Forget about it, I’m going to kick him and he’s not going to know what hit him! I’m going to knock his head off! He’s slow.”

Although, he is willing to give Cro Cop his due. “You know, I thought that he beat Bonjasky. With Bonjasky, I saw that fight with Braddock Silva and he was getting beaten up, so then GLORY gives him a big sendoff, but they did it in the wrong place against the wrong guy. I thought that Cro Cop won that fight, you know? That’s why I can’t let it go to the judges again.”

For now Jarrell is just committed to this one fight with GLORY, but he seems open to the idea of more if the timing and money are right. One would have to think that it all depends on how this fight with Mirko goes, but it’s clear that GLORY sees him as a valuable name to bring in on short notice like this. 

 

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