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Davit Kiria is the NEW GLORY Lightweight Champion

Photo (C) Dave Mandel / Sherdog

There was something in the air in Zagreb, Croatia tonight as Andy Ristie and Davit Kiria stepped into the ring. The swell of momentum was clearly behind Andy Ristie. Ristie had a night that would make anyone’s career in knocking out Giorgio Petrosyan and Robin van Roosmalen a few months ago, making him the top Lightweight in the world. Now all that he needed to do was go into a fight with the usually patient, defensive Davit Kiria and knock him stupid. Everyone was tossing their money onto Ristie for this fight and for good reason -- he is the best in the world.

Everyone was proven right early on in the fight, as Ristie was dominating round one, then knocking Kiria down early in the second round. Kiria fought back, but there was a feeling in the air that it was just a matter of time before Ristie found a way through Kiria’s air-tight defenses again and put him to sleep. Because that is what Andy Ristie does, he puts guys to sleep. The thing is, if this went into the deep waters beyond round three, what would that mean for Andy Ristie, who has been known to slow down even in three round fights?

Round four saw more of the same, with Ristie not slowing down. Kiria was landing a little bit more, but it was still nothing to be afraid of. A lot of people felt it was just inevitable, that we had to sit out two more rounds before Ristie was crowned as the first GLORY Lightweight Champion, adding to his tournament victory. Round five came and it was thick in the air; Kiria had to hit a Hail Mary to walk away with this, that everyone had started to celebrate Ristie’s win. Then something crazy happened; Kiria started landing and Ristie wasn’t going down, but was clearly hurt. The ref counted and the fans were in disbelief.

Now it came down to a matter of could Ristie hold on for the final bell, could Ristie just hold on and win his championship? Kiria came in like his life depended on it, landing a huge shot on Ristie that sent him down like a character from Mike Tyson’s Punchout into the ropes. This was insanity, Andy Ristie down for a second time in the fifth round! Ristie struggles to his feet and the ref lets it keep going, but Ristie can barely stand. Just a few more shots by Kiria put him onto the mat and the arena explodes as Davit Kiria is crowned the first ever GLORY Lightweight Champion.

The truth is that it was never impossible, that Andy Ristie always had these holes in his game, he just had risen to the top of the division and looked untouchable. Davit Kiria has always been a fighter that has looked great, but never seems to get started in three round fights, but when given five rounds against the best in the world, Davit Kiria overcame all of the odds and found himself as the number one Lightweight in the world.

Congratulations, Davit Kiria, you deserve it.

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Mirko Cro Cop vs. Remy Bonjasky: A Battle of Legends

Glory

This weekend at GLORY 14 Zagreb two legends will once again face off in a Kickboxing ring under very familiar terms one last time. The new generation of Heavyweight Kickboxers has helped to define the young GLORY organization, fighters like Gokhan Saki, Tyrone Spong, Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven, yet the old dogs are still huge attractions for longtime fans. There is no doubt why they are still popular with longtime fans, as you can look no further than Peter Aerts and the few fights that he’s held under the GLORY banner, with them being some of the most exciting fights in the company’s short history.

For us Kickboxing fans nostalgia still runs deep.

I’ve heard some complaints about the fight between Mirko Cro Cop and Remy Bonjasky since the fight was announced a few months ago. The complaints tend to be that there is a new generation of Heavyweights that deserve the spotlight, that both Cro Cop and Bonjasky had their time in the spotlight, that it is time to move on. I don’t disagree with that, yet the fight between Bonjasky and Cro Cop is still appealing, with GLORY handling the whole affair tastefully. We already know that Remy Bonjasky has plans to retire shortly and Cro Cop might not have a lot of fight left in him, but that is what this fight represents. GLORY isn’t trying to shoehorn either man into the already-crowded title picture, instead both men are fighting each other in a rematch that fans have been waiting to see for over 12 years now.

Mirko Cro Cop’s original K-1 run was short-lived and saw him never able to claim the grandest prize of them all, the K-1 World Grand Prix. Cro Cop moved on to what he saw was greener pastures of Mixed Martial Arts, which was picking up steam in Japan at the time, with the rest becoming history. Cro Cop finally made a brief return to K-1 last year to work his way through the K-1 World Grand Prix, finally winning the prize that had eluded him for all of those years, but it still felt a bit hollow without top contenders like Saki, Ghita and Verhoeven involved.

Bonjasky, on the other hand, was only getting his storied K-1 career started by the time he met Cro Cop in the ring in 2002. It was a tough loss at the time, but Cro Cop would only fight one more time under the K-1 banner before he moved to MMA full time, leaving the field wide open. Remy Bonjasky went on to win the K-1 World Grand Prix three times, cementing himself as one of the all-time greats in the sport of Kickboxing. It was something that Mirko Cro Cop was never able to attain, even having beaten Bonjasky on his way out the door.

The clash between Remy Bonjasky and Mirko Cro Cop at GLORY 14 Zagreb is a battle of what could have been and honestly should have been. The fans never got to see what Mirko Cro Cop could have done if he stuck around Kickboxing for a few years longer, which would have definitely included more epic battles with the likes of Bonjasky, Aerts, Schilt and Badr Hari. At least at GLORY 14 Zagreb we get a taste of that. Sure, both men have aged and might not be the same fighters that they were in 2002, but they are the same men with the same drive and ambition to always fight their hearts out. I, for one, am looking forward to this clash.

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Sports Heroes and Dark, Violent Places: Why we need to worry about a fighter’s mental health.

Badr

DBZ was one of my favorite shows growing up. Every week I would tune in to the epic showdown between good and evil, the final fight between the galaxy’s greatest warriors, the battle to determine the fate of the universe. The story was simple: you had the good guys and the bad guys. Yet, curiously, many of the good guys could also be pretty bad. Goku, the show’s daft yet undyingly good-natured protagonist, was once sent to Earth to destroy all life on the planet. Fortunately for us Earthlings, baby Goku was found by a kind-hearted old man who sensing Goku’s terrifying capacity for destruction, raised Goku to appreciate all forms of life while channeling his latent destructive impulses toward the pursuit of martial arts and friendly martial arts competition. And yet, as ludicrously nice a person as Goku became, he never lost his destructive impulses and bloodlust and instead had to use all of his discipline to suppress his violent urges. Indeed, what’s curious about DBZ and its ostensible heroes is that they were all at one time or another antagonists or outright villains, monsters who murdered millions of lifeforms before evolving motivations aligned them with Goku’s fight to protect the Earth. Yet that never made them champions of right and justice. Piccolo, Vegeta, Android 18, and Majin Buu all possessed an incredible capacity for violence combined with a sadistic or sociopathic desire to cause destruction, but if you ask a DBZ fan, everybody usually has a favorite hero. By the way, if this is spoiling anything for you, then you’re 20 years late to the party.

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Former K-1 Head Kazuyoshi Ishii Making Headlines in Japan Again

Ikumi Yoshimatsu

Former K-1 owner and founder Kazuyoshi Ishii is making waves in Japan again, only this time outside of the ring.

In December, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, the current Miss International, filed criminal and civil charges against one of Japan’s most powerful talent agencies’ executives for stalking her and attempting to ruin her career.

Yoshimatsu filed the complaint against Genichi Taniguchi, a powerful executive with the talent agency K-Dash and president of the firm Pearl Dash.

Ishii entered a meeting and demanded Yoshimatsu ride with him to the most powerful talent agency in Japan, Burning Productions. Ishii then introduced her to "the Don" of the Japanese entertainment industry, Ikuo Suho. Burning Productions has a tainted past and in 2007 was listed as a client company of the Yamaguchi-gumi.

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