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Aleksandr Stetcurenko Replaces Murthel Groenhart in GLORY 19 Tournament

It looks like Nieky Holzken has a new opponent after Murthel Groenhart was stopped just this past weekend at the Kunlun event in China. That new opponent in the GLORY Welterweight Contender's tournament will be none other than Aleksandr Stetcurenko. Stetcurenko is 1-1 in GLORY, with a loss to Karapet Karapetyan and a win over Kharim Ghajji from GLORY 13 Tokyo. 

Stetcurenko remained active last year going 1-1 outside of GLORY, picking up a win over Sergey Parchinsky in Moscow back in September. 

This is a tough break for Murthel, who took the fight in China to remain active, but was knocked out and became an issue for him moving forward with the GLORY event next month. It should be noted that headliner Rico Verhoeven was on the same card and did lose his fight, being dropped twice, but was not knocked out like Murthel was.

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Glory: Analyzing the struggles

Now I'm sure as most fans and followers of Glory are aware things haven't been going too swimmingly for the worlds premiere kickboxing organisation. The promotion has seemed to be struggling ever since a failed attempt at venturing into the pay-per-view market last June. Whilst the event itself could be deemed as a success- a new middleweight champion was crowned and the fights on the night were superb- the pay-per-view numbers would clearly disagree with that assumption.

Since then things have gone from bad to worse. The promotion only managed to produce one event in the second half of 2014 in comparison to the four events held in the opening six months of the year. This significant decrease was likely a result of the financial losses caused by Glory 17, their debut pay-per-view event. 

After hosting Glory 18 in early November the promotion announced that the subsequent event would take place a little over six weeks later, only for the location never to be confirmed and the event consequently scrapped. Cancelling an event is obviously never a good sign and there were numerous rumours circling around on the internet that the promotion may have indeed been in a spot of bother. Representatives from Glory were quick to negate the rumours however, suggesting it was merely an issue with the location. Albeit seemingly out of the promotions hands, hosting one event in the latter half of 2014 is not the kind of tactic you'd recommend employing if you were an up-and-coming business looking to build your brand let alone an international organisation attempting to breakthrough into mainstream America. 

Due to their lack of events Glory allowed several of their fighters to compete on the Kunlun Fights 15 card this past week in China, where unfortunately things continued to worsen for the promotion. Current Heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven lost decisively to heavy underdog Andrej Herasimchuk and Murthel Groenhart- a recent addition to their upcoming Welterweight contender tournament- was thoroughly beaten and eventually knocked out by Sittichai Sitsongpeenong.

Now whilst neither loss will be particularly devastating to either fighters career- Herasimchuk albeit a relative unknown is  clearly very talented and Sittichai is regarded by most as a top 10 ranked competitor in his division- these results deeply hamper Glory's next event whereby both Verhoeven and Groenhart are scheduled to compete. Its quite unlikely the bulk of their viewers on Spike will be aware of the results due to the limited exposure kickboxing receives, however for the rest of us who are avid followers of the sport it just doesn't sit well. 

Whilst I am far from an expert on running an martial arts promotion let alone an international firm with the magnitude of Glory's, I can't help but thinks there's a few things that they could be doing differently.

Firstly the issue of having fighters competing for rival promotions could be solved with more consistency with their live events. Fighters would obviously not feel the need to compete in other promotions should Glory be able to provide them with enough fights annually to make ends meet and Glory's current yearly schedule just doesn't allow them to do that. 

Glory doesn't have a roster that's overflowing with fighters so filling cards could potentially be difficult for them, especially if they were able to churn out events on a monthly basis. We've seen on numerous occasions over the years that kickboxers have the ability and desire to fight in excess of three times per year and I can't imagine there'd be many fighters on Glory's roster that would turn down the opportunity to compete more frequently.

Venturing into the pay-per-view market was clearly a naive move on Glory's part and attempting to do so again could be financially catastrophic. I can't foresee the promotion attempting a second pay-per-view any time soon so its blatantly obvious this is something they should avoid completely for the time being.

I also believe focusing less on hosting events in America could be very beneficial to the promotion. Whilst Glory has worked endlessly to bring the sport into the mainstream in America through their influx of hosting of live events in several different states, it might be time for a change of tactics. Unfortunately Glory just doesn't have any American fighters currently capable of drawing in big gates like they've been able to internationally. 

Canada for example has a strong base of martial arts fans who take a passionate nationalistic approach to supporting their own. Currently, they have a decent contingency of Canadian kickboxers emerging through their ranks with 'Bazooka' Joe Valtellini being their current Welterweight Champion, Gabriel Varga is a likely challenger for their uncrowned Featherweight title and the likes of Robert Thomas and Josh Jauncey poised to be breakout stars in the future. The waters in Canada remain untested by Glory though. 

Whilst the support is ostensibly not as popular as some may think in the Netherlands, you can't help but think with the plethora of Dutch talent Glory has at their disposal that they'd be able to sell-out at least one event annually in kickboxing's second home. Out of the twenty-six events Glory have hosted none have been in the Netherlands.

Other countries like Turkey and Croatia have provided strong attendances previously for Glory and should the promotion return with their respective hometown favourites in Gohkan Saki and Mirko Cro Cop, the events would likely sell-out again. Even the UK should be viewed as a more viable market based purely on the success Muay Thai promotion Yokkao have managed over the past twelve months.

My suggestion is not to saturate the market as the recent criticism and backlash the UFC has received for its torrid schedule is a clear display of why that might not be the smartest move. I do think however increasing the number of events annually whilst reducing the number of events specifically taking place in America could be not only beneficial from a marketing standpoint, but financially too as revenue generated from ticket sales is one of Glory's primary sources of income.

These strategies would allow Glory to simultaneously continue to build their brand and fan base on Spike TV, but also by only keeping their roster happier by allowing them to compete frequently. Hosting more events would also give Glory more of an opportunity to nurture talent. It's no secret that mainstream success in America is the eventual goal, however with a clear deficit of talent emerging from America perhaps its time to go back to the drawing board for Glory with the reintroduction or adaptation of their Road to Glory series. 

I hope this comes as an innocuous message to Glory. I'm not trying to lament on the promotions recent struggles, however I'm merely trying to mitigate the potential issues they could be facing. I sincerely hope my analysis of Glory has been over-exaggerated and the promotion remains robust, having just decided to reduce the number of events as a means of recovering from the fallout of Glory 17. Unfortunately though as these obstacles continue to develop for our beloved Glory, I can't help but wonder whether or not my paranoia is justified and the promotions days could be indeed numbered.

 

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Joe Schilling Returns to Action Against Robert Thomas at GLORY 19

The past few months have been filled with rumors, upset fans and fighters looking for opportunities outside of the GLORY banner. The best example of that would have to be Joe Schilling, who made his return to MMA after years away competing in muay thai and kickboxing, to knock out Melvin Manhoef in one of the most exciting KO's of the year. Schilling was one of the stars of GLORY's Last Man Standing tournament back in June, making it to the finals where he rematched Artem Levin with Levin walking away the victor this time.

Afterwards it seemed that a rift had grown between GLORY and Schilling, which became public when Schilling publicly signed with Bellator. 

It seems that everything is in working order now, though, as it came out today that Schilling has a new contract with GLORY and will be fighting at GLORY 19 against Robert Thomas. This is a big move for GLORY considering that Joe Schilling was their most popular US-based fighter and that a rubber match between Levin and Schilling should be a major attraction in their 2015 schedule. First up is Robert Thomas at GLORY 19 on February 6th though, which should be fun.

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Videos: Kunlun Fights #15

Well, we had some very interesting results this weekend in China at Kunlun #15, that really mess with the kickboxing rankings. Glory's heavyweight champ and #1 ranked Rico Verhoeven lost a decision after getting two 8 counts in the 2nd round at the hands of Andrei Herasimchuk. So where does this put Herasimchuk in the ranks? is he #1 now? Rico never really got into a groove during the fight and the same can be said about Murthel Groenhart. He seemed to have nothing to offer his opponent Sittichai Sitsongpeenong, which led to the Thai fighter landing a perfect left head kick and ending the fight. Now without a doubt Sittichai deserves to be in the top 10 of the kickboxing rankings after beating Andy Souwer and Groenhart in one night.

Here are the videos thanks to our friends at http://www.fightstadium.com/

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