If you’ve been following kickboxing this year you’ll undoubtedly remember the big fanfare and buzz when GLORY announced a partnership with NBA legend Yao Ming’s company Yao Capital and how GLORY would be heading to China in the “near future.” That near future has perhaps come and gone without any visible headway, at least not in public.
GLORY CEO Jon J. Franklin dropped a few fascinating nuggets about the promotion’s entrance into China in an interview with Michael Stets over at MMAPlus, with the topic at hand being Rico Verhoeven. One of Verhoeven’s goals is to defend his GLORY Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden, but when the promotion heads to NY next in July it looks like Verhoeven will not be a part of the card, instead the promotion is saving him for a fall debut in China.
“He’s a really appealing and attractive character, especially with our relationship with Yao Ming’s group [Yao Captial] in China. So, we want to get him going on some promotion over there, and we want to get them going on some promotion in America to help build the GLORY brand.”
Back in May Hemmers and Scott Rudman headed to China to scout out possible locations for their Chinese debut. China already has its own, notoriously elusive and now closed-off promotions like WLF and Kunlun Fight, both who have recently taken a turn away from Western audiences and left their programming more difficult for fans outside of China to view. Other promotions like Hero Legends, EM Legend and Glory of Heroes have kept a more worldwide audience in mind.
GLORY’s success in China will be interesting to keep tabs on. K-1 Global made its attempts at breaking into the Chinese market, holding events there that were viewed by a reportedly staggering number close to 100 million viewers, but were unable to come to terms on a deal with the Chinese government for a long-term relationship and have since been relatively quiet, focusing instead on European events again as well as amateur shows.
Update: We spoke with Scott Rudman who clarified that GLORY already has a television deal in China on LeTV, where they have scored up to 400,000 viewers on shows aired in the country.