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Let's Relive Nieky Holzken vs. Raymond Daniels II

To many this fight was a forgone conclusion. Of course Nieky Holzken was going to win and finally capture the GLORY Welterweight Championship. Why wouldn't he? After a defeat of Raymond Daniels at GLORY 19 it all seemed academic. Holzken, who is a notoriously slow starter at times, was going into this fight with all of the momentum in the world it seemed. In his post-fight interview he talked about how his game plan revolved around letting Daniels do his thing early on and tire himself out.

Of course, what's interesting here is that Daniels didn't care about the ongoing narrative and he didn't care about Holzken's plan, he had one of his own. This was an almost entirely different Raymond Daniels than we've seen in the past who was keeping out of corners, mixing his kicks with his punches, piecing together combinations with his hands and actually scoring on Holzken, which was obviously not a part of Holzken's game plan.

Holzken of course looked great when he turned up the heat, but damn, this is quite a fight. So let's watch it again, shall we?


WFL Adds Chahid vs. Khamal Rematch for October 18th Event

On the 18th of October in the Netherlands we'll see WFL (World Fight League) toss their hat into the ring for a second time with "Unfinished Business." For fans of Dutch kickboxing this should be a big event, with there being talks of Melvin Manhoef (one of the people behind WFL) fighting in a retirement bout after a storied kickboxing career. 

As of right now there are three four-person tournaments planned as well as a few super fights. It was just announced that Chahid Oulad el Hadj will rematch Mohammed Khamal on this event as well, a rematch from their classic back in It's Showtime. Here's how the card breaks down thus far.

Light Heavyweight (95 kg)

  • Fred Sikking
  • Redouan Cairo
  • Michael Duut
  • Loren Javier Jorge

70 kg

  • Cedric Manhoef
  • Mohammed el Messaoudi
  • Edson Fortes
  • Tayfun Ozcan

Women's 61 kg

  • Ilona Wijmans
  • Orinta van der Zee
  • Salysa van den Bos
  • Sarah Debaieb

Super Fights

Sahak Parparyan vs. Ibrahim el Bouni

William Diender vs. Kevin Hessling

Chahid Oulad el Hadj vs. Mohammed Khamal


The Waning Relevancy of Heavyweights in a Changing Kickboxing Landscape

Throughout the history of modern professional kickboxing there has been one lynchpin holding it all together, that has been heavyweights. There has always been an odd fascination with two goliaths, larger-than-life titans, stepping into the ring and throwing giant shots at each other. Smaller fighters have risen in popularity, but under the narrative of a David vs. Goliath, not usually within its own division. That isn’t to say that there aren’t staunch fans of two fighters of the same weight competing, because there are, but heavyweight fights have always been the featured attraction and appealed to the widest audiences. But these days it seems like heavyweight kickboxing is less and less relevant, with lighter weight classes taking center stage. You still can't deny that heavyweights are an attraction, though.

We are living in the wake of K-1’s glory days in heavyweight kickboxing. Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt, Remy Bonjasky, Ray Sefo, Ernesto Hoost and Jerome Le Banner are all retired. This generation of heavyweights has been rather thin thanks to a downturn in business and the advent of a viable light heavyweight weight class that has attracted some of the lighter heavyweights that would usually just tough it out with the bigger guys. The lack of huge paydays and giant backing like FEG had with Fujii TV in Japan has meant younger stars turning their attention to boxing or MMA where there are more assurances. 

There was temporarily a glimmer of hope on the horizon when GLORY kicked into high gear, as we saw in GLORY 4’s Heavyweight Grand Slam tournament. Of course, four of those fighters went on to drop in weight (Jurkovic, Bouzidi, Verlinden, Saki), three have since retired (Schilt, Aerts, Bonjasky), some faded from view (Guidon, Raoumaru) while others just haven’t fought in a very long time in the spotlight (Ghita, Kharitonov). In fact, if you were to look at the 16 fighters involved in that tournament only four of them are still active in GLORY’s heavyweight division (Verhoeven, Zimmerman, Braddock and Jamal Ben Saddik).

From a narrow view those are without a doubt four of GLORY’s top heavyweights at the moment. When browsing through GLORY’s rankings the only top contender that has been added in the years following GLORY 4 has been Benjamin Adegbuyi. A cursory look through their rankings is actually kind of depressing. Ben Edwards has decided to focus on boxing, older gatekeepers like Freddy Kemayo and Mladen Brestovac aren’t about the set the world on fire, nor will the new additions of the monotone Xavier Vigney or the spirited but still not quite there Chi Lewis Parry.

Looking at our own top ten (which will be revised as soon as Jay is done with his Hollywood responsibilities), for fighters outside of GLORY there is Hesdy Gerges, Andrei Gerasmichuk, Zabit Samedov and Ismael Londt. Gerges just lost to Jahfarr Wilnis, who oddly enough hasn’t been seen in a GLORY ring in quite some time. Most of these fighters are competing wherever they can draw a paycheck from and fighting infrequently, hardly moving up the ranks of the division.

Other bigger name heavyweights out in the wild are the ever-unpredictable Badr Hari, the young, still not in shape Ismael Lazaar and SuperKombat’s stable of Heavyweights including the part time Catalin Morosanu and the recently-returned Raul Catinas. The picture that I’m painting here is that of a heavyweight landscape that does little to inspire. That isn’t to say that there aren’t good heavyweights out there, but there has been a disconnect between the generations where there was very little overlap between them. The last K-1 World Grand Prix Champion was Alistair Overeem, who quickly hopped back to MMA after the fall of FEG’s K-1 and the last big heavyweight tournament champion was Semmy Schilt, who never fought against after GLORY 4. 

Rico Verhoeven has had impressive performances and is without a doubt the dominant world champion for the division right now, but the GLORY 11 tournament being a four-man and lacking in older, more established stars only hurt everyone involved. There wasn’t much of a narrative of Verhoeven overcoming greats to claim his top spot, just questionable downs against Gokhan Saki and a disputed win over Daniel Ghita. Even in winning the championship at GLORY 17 it was in a rematch with Ghita where Ghita fans are still crying foul after all of this time that Rico didn’t “do enough.” To no fault of Verhoeven’s there are not many top contenders left for him. The Zimmerman fight had that big fight feel to it, but Zimmerman’s freak injury took some of the shine off of it, and the rise of Benjamin Adegbuyi happened largely on non televised undercards, giving fans little reason to believe in or care about him. 

Heavyweight kickboxing right now is at a crossroads, living in a post-FEG era that can only be defined as fragmented and getting worse. So I want to ask you a question; who do you think will be the next big heavyweight kickboxing star? Is Rico Verhoeven the star that is slowly growing, or will the relative lack of competition hurt him in the long run? Or, has the rise of the smaller, more technical weight classes made the heavyweight spectacle a relic of the past now?

Right now it feels like while there are solid fighters in the heavyweight division, some of the talent that would usually prop it up has been dispersed to light heavyweight and even middleweight. That being said, fans still want to see heavyweights rumble.


Glory 23: who will win?

August 7th will see one of the most anticipated events in this year’s kickboxing calendar, as a number of Heavyweight, Welterweight and Middleweight fighters do battle in Glory 23. The fight will be held in Las Vegas, which is considered the fight capital, and marks the very first time that the Glory World Series has visited this top location. There is no question that fans are eagerly anticipating this bout, with fights including Dustin Jacoby vs. Ariel Sepulveda and Xavier Vigney vs. Daniel Sam, but the main event is definitely the Welterweight clash between Nieky Holzken and Raymond Daniels.

This amounts to a title fight, and many consider Holzken the best Welterweight kickboxer – further adding to the excitement. His Glory record is seriously impressive: standing at 8 wins and no losses – with 7 KO’s amongst these. By comparison, Daniels has a record of 4 wins, two drawn bouts and no losses – which certainly do not count as poor stats. Nonetheless, it is not exactly surprising that most bookies have Holzken as the hot favourite – with odds of 1/6 showing just how highly rated he is. So you should just be putting your money on Holzken then? Well, not necessarily, with 7/2 odds for Daniels indicating that the bookies know he has a real chance.

Daniels has become noted for a kickboxing style that is really exciting (as anyone who has seen him live or watched his highlight reel can attest to), and this unpredictability could be his strongest asset against a superior opponent. However, there is no arguing with the stats which show that Holzken has landed 42 percent of strikes in previous bouts, compared with 16 percent for Daniels (the former’s punch and kick percentages are similarly superior). This is why the US bookmakers agree with the UK ones, making Holzken the odds-on favourite at -600 compared with Daniels at 350. Of course, Daniels has a lot less fights under his belt, but it is also important to bear in mind that one of Daniels’ two previous Glory defeats was inflicted by Holzken, in Glory 19, suggesting he has the edge on his opponent.

Whatever the result though, Glory 23 seems sure to be a humdinger of a fight, but if you can’t wait until August for your fix, why not try one of the fighting slots at like Fighting Fish. This five-reel slot has 30 paylines and a fishy flavour, with different kinds of fish vying to be crowned Deep Sea Boxing Champion – making it a pretty good casino option for kickboxing fans. Furthermore, it also offers a 5000-coin maximum jackpot, which makes it ideal for everyone.




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