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Artem Levin Talks About the Fallout From GLORY 27, the Future and More

On Friday, February 27th Glory returned to Chicago and headlining the event was the third installment of the epic battle between Simon Marcus and Artem Levin. Glory 27 did not disappoint from the first bout to the last, fighters electrified the crowd with stunning knockouts and hard fought battles. The main event was not without drama. The night ended with reigning champion Artem Levin being disqualified after he failed to continue fighting. In a statement he later released to the public, Levin apologized to his fans for letting them down, however, he revealed that he felt self respect was far more important than winning or losing. In a follow-up conversation with Levin, he expressed his view point and gave an idea of what is to come.

Levin: The refereeing was strange from the very beginning. There were thoughts after the fight, perhaps, I overreacted and ended the fight early, but after another time I’ve watched the fight, I realized that I was right about everything. The referee was charged-up from the start, beginning with the fictitious knockdown. They’ve taken way the belt for the second time using this referee. The 4-man tournament in Los Angeles in 2013 involved the referee beginning the count after a punch to shoulder in the extra round. Also during this event the referee began the count in the first round and took points from me in the next rounds due to mutual clinching. This referee has done the same thing each time refereeing my fights. I decided in the third round to exit and to stop the absurdness and nonsense. Some say, that I should have continued and fight until the final bell, but the referee would have taken a point another time and I’d be disqualified by him. So I thought I should make a decision. I rely on me only, I decide my fate myself, thus I made the decision! Numerous Americans, Canadians, and websites around the world supported me. I am sure that I’ve done the right thing!

As far as his immediate plans, Levin continued: I’ve got many suggestions, but I’ve signed with GLORY at the current time. The future is interesting, time will show whether I will be perfoming. I’d like to leave it without comment. I will say that one of my main aim is to perform in Russia I've been fighting abroad through all my career in foreign promotions, with foreign supporters, with foreign referees. Now I’d like to fight for my native fans in my country with the best opponents!

As I footnote to Levin's comments, I asked Glory CEO, Jon Franklin to give some of his feedback on the incident.

Jon Franklin: ISKA held a special session during the rules meeting to triple check that the athletes understood clinching and holding rules. The rules are available to the athletes and it is the responsibility of the athletes to know and understand all rules of competition. If an athlete has a question about the referee or judging, there is a proper procedure in place for review after the bouts. One of the rules is that refusing to fight will result in a disqualification. That is what happened.

It remains to be seen whether Levin will in some way attempt to appeal the disqualification on some ground or if he will just prepare himself for Levin-Marcus IV.

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WLF - Glory of Heroes Fight Card

On April 2nd, WLF will be hosting their Glory of Heroes event in Shenzhen, China. WLF is the biggest fighting promotion in China at the moment and they don`t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

For this card they had an interesting concept. They have 4 fighters (2 Chinese and 2 Foreigners) at the 63kgs, 67kgs, and 70kgs weight class and they allowed the fans to vote on the match ups. Pretty cool idea and it has made for some great match ups with the amazing talent they have.

Fight Card

Super Fight - Israel Adesanya vs Alex Pereira

70kgs - Enriko Kehl vs Yi Long

70kgs - Josh Jauncey vs Xu Yan

67kgs - Fabio Pinca vs Yinghua Tie

67kgs - Jomthong vs Qiujian Liang

63kgs - Yukiya Nakamura vs Wei Rui

63kgs - Emmanuel Lique Cañaveral vs Deng Zeqi

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Yokkao 17 and 18 Results

Yokkao 17 and 18 took place this weekend at the Macron Stadium in Bolton, England. As usual Yokkao packed the cards full of talent and had two world title fights.

Jordan Watson was able to avenge his TKO loss to Sanny Dahlbeck from last year and reclaim the belt that Dahlbeck had taken from him. Earlier in the night Liam Harrison was able to edge out Tetsuya Yamato for the 65kgs belt.

YOKKAO 18 Results

YOKKAO WORLD TITLE -70KG - Jordan Watson won by points vs Sanny Dahlbeck

YOKKAO Prestige Fight -72,5kg - Ben Hodge won by points vs Christian Baya

YOKKAO UK Ranking Revenge -72,5kg - Soloman Wickstead lost by TKO (referee stoppage round 4) vs Jake Purdy

YOKKAO Next Generation Female Fight -48kg - Amy Pirnie won by TKO (referee stoppage round 3) vs Fanny Ramos

YOKKAO UK Ranking -65kg - Danny Harrison-Little lost round 4 (retired) vs Jack Kennedy

YOKKAO Next Generation -80kg - David Sa lost by TKO (referee stoppage round 1) vs Darren Howieson

YOKKAO 17 Results

YOKKAO WORLD TITLE -65KG - Liam Harrison won by points vs Tetsuya Yamato

YOKKAO Prestige Fight -64kg - Manachai YOKKAOSaenchaiGym won in round 3 (retired) vs Luke Turner

YOKKAO UK Ranking -65kg - Dale Hughes won by KO (round 3) vs Dale Murray

YOKKAO Next Generation -79kg - Juan Cervantes won by points vs Danny Edwards

YOKKAO UK Ranking -61,5kg - Matty Mcguire lost by points vs Myk Estlick

YOKKAO UK Ranking -70kg - Luke Imeson lost by points vs Jackson Barkhouse

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Tiffany Van Soest and Lion Fight's Crumbling Walls of Perception

If you were to observe Lion Fight Promotions from the outside, it would look like a healthy promotion that’s on the up-and-up. Lion Fight airs on AXS TV, has aired some tremendous fights over that span of time including some of the biggest names in American muay thai as well as big, international names. Over the last few months they’ve picked up even more steam when UFC and comedy personality Joe Rogan started to get excited about Lion Fight and talking about it on the Joe Rogan Experience.

Suddenly Lion Fight went from this thing that hardcore fight fans maybe kinda sorta knew about to the mecca of “high level striking” in the United States. That’s the kind of pull and influence someone like Rogan has. While I can’t fault him for his own tastes and opinions, nor the pull that he has with a good portion of social media fight fans, the hyperbole has been palpable since then, leaving Lion Fight in the position of untouchable darling of the fight scene.

Cracks started to form on the veneer of Lion Fight in January, though, when word broke that the United States Muay Thai Association, the organization that had provided oversight for a total of three Lion Fight events, declared itself “done” with Lion Fight. The claim? Lack of payment as well as cooperation from the promotion. Lion Fight was quick to declare that the switch to IKF for Lion Fight 27 was decided in advance, but the story sort of tapered off into the ether as stories like this tend to do for promotions that aren’t huge and in the national spotlight.

Word was after the event that there were some outstanding payment issues that were bound to surface, only it took nearly two months for anything to bubble up and pour into the public eye. In a now-redacted tweet and corresponding Instagram post from newly-crowned champion Tiffany Van Soest, she claimed to still be owed money for her Lion Fight 27 performance, which the company hadn’t made good on. So she was auctioning off her Lion Fight championship for $500 to pay some bills -- or so was the implication -- and people seemed shocked. The USMTA/IKF bait-and-switch was quick and happened without much visibility, but non-payment for one of their world champions? That was something that would catch some eyes. And it did.

Along with the recent, quiet departure of longtime posterboy for the promotion in Kevin Ross, things might seem a bit off within the realm of Lion Fight. Joe Schilling has gone on record publicly talking down the home of some of his most notable fights before he signed with GLORY and Bellator, going as far as to dub the promotion “Lion Fart” and within some of the more hardcore muay thai circles there are a lot of “I told you so’s” floating around. Needless to say, while the promotion might be picking up steam and exposure, with that exposure has come an increased focus on every aspect of the promotion. There has been talk of a “uniform deal” that sounds a lot like UFC and Reebok’s much-maligned deal, but there have only been whispers of complaints thus far.

Van Soest’s decision to come forward and call out the promotion was a power play, if anything. A fan-backed GoFundMe was launched almost immediately and far surpassed the goal of $500, with many within the community quick to rally behind her to help cover any costs she needed help with an wanted her to keep the belt. Van Soest is a popular fighter who by all reports seems to be done with Lion Fight and should be heading off to greener pastures in the near future, so there shouldn’t be any doubts as to if she’ll be fighting again any time soon thanks to how marketable she is. If she needed to borrow some money she clearly could have, although that isn’t the point. The point here is that the only way that she saw that money was by going public and taking scrapes at Lion Fight’s public perception, which at this point is one of their most treasured assets.

It worked.

This afternoon they were quick to offer up an official statement claiming that there was an issue when the check was deposited, but that they have wired her the money this afternoon to clear up any sort of outstanding payment. But, the issue here feels more complicated than that. Lion Fight owed Van Soest money and the only way for Van Soest and her team to see that money was to make a statement on social media. The IKF, who sanctioned the event after USMTA dropped off, even has rules in place that are meant to avoid situations like this:

Promoter is required to pay to the IKF Representative or Associate directly after the event weigh-ins and before the Official event Rules meeting in CASH or CERTIFIED Checks ALL PRO Fighter Purses made out to each PRO Fighter.

The Official IKF Event representative shall hold all fight purses and distribute them to all pro fighters AFTER the event.

Lion Fight is, for many young fighters and fans, something to aspire to, the place where muay thai fighters in the United States can strive to fight and earn their fame in. Legends and heroes like Kevin Ross, Tiffany Van Soest, Joe Schilling, John Wayne Parr, Cris Cyborg Santos, Malaipet, Cosmo Alexandre, Artem Levin, Simon Marcus and many more have fought within Lion Fight’s ring and while there have been more options for those inclined towards kickboxing, the same can’t be said for muay thai. Lion Fight is pretty much the only game in town on a quasi-national level when it comes to clinching, elbows and knees, utilizing the full thai rules and this is a major blow to that perception that they are the best stand up striking organization in America.

For now they still are, the only problem is that not all fighters have the same sort of voice or platforms available to them like Van Soest does. For the good of the sport here's to hoping that stuff like this doesn't pop up again any time soon, or if it does that it's taken care of behind closed doors, not in the public view.

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