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GLORY 28 Lightweight Contender Tournament Names Revealed

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One of the more exciting parts of the announcement of the GLORY 28 card was the Lightweight Contender's Tournament. GLORY's Lightweight division is perhaps the most stacked division on their entire roster at the moment, with Robin van Roosmalmen running roughshod over that division. Many have been calling for a rematch between van Roosmalen and Sitthichai after the controversial decision in their last fight, but the announcement of this tournament proved that Sitthichai will have to win another tournament to get there. 

According to a press release from Glory's French partner, Team 21, the GLORY Lightweight tournament will feature Sitthichai, Davit Kiria, Marat Grigorian and Djime Coulibaly. The match ups have yet to be announced and yes, Djime Coulibaly sort of feels like the obligatory French guy in that tournament, especially after losing in the last Lightweight tournament to Josh Jauncey. From what we understand Jauncey could be fighting on this card as well, although that hasn't been announced yet, either. 

Also notably absent is Giorgio Petrosyan, whom is fighting on the Oktagon/Bellator/Venum event in Italy in early April.


GLORY Announces GLORY 28 with Three Title Bouts

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Today GLORY announced that on March 12th in Paris they will be presenting GLORY 28. First thing to get out of the way here is that Gokhan Saki will not be fighting Saulo Cavalari on this card. That bout was scheduled to headline this show, but Saki pulled out of the fight due to an injury, the nature of that injury we've yet to hear anything about just yet. Instead there will be a whopping three world title fights to keep the fans happy. Those title fights are as follows;

GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship: Saulo Cavalari(C) vs. Artem Vakhitov

GLORY Heavyweight Championship: Rico Verhoeven(C) vs. Mladen Brestovac

GLORY Featherweight Championship: Serhiy Adamchuk(C) vs. Mosab Amrani

Also on the card will be Cedric Doumbe vs. Murthel Groenhart as well as a Lightweight tournament featuring Sitthichai.


GLORY 28 Clash Between Saki and Cavalari in Danger Due to Injury to Saki

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In what the world thought would be one of Glory's best match-ups of 2016, the bout between Brazil's heavy hitter, Saulo Cavalari, and Gokhan Saki will most likely not be happening at Glory 28 in Paris.  Yesterday on social media it was reported that Saki is potentially out with an injury.


This leaves us with a veritable who's who in the list of opponents who can take Saki's place. Most formidable a among his contenders are Mourad Bouzidi, Danyo Ilunga, Zack Mwekassa and Artem Vakhitov.  Also within the same division are Filip Verlinden,  Brian Collette and Aleksandr  Stetcurenko.  How it will all hash out in Paris is any body's guess, but it will be an exciting ride.

We've reached out to GLORY for further comment.


GLORY Announces Full Line-Up for GLORY 27

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On February 26th at the Sears Center from Chicago GLORY will be presenting GLORY 27. The show, headlined by Artem Levin vs. Simon Marcus, has a co-headliner in a Featherweight rematch between Giga Chikadze and Anvar Boynazarov. The two met at GLORY 23 in a bout that saw Boynazarov walk away with the decision, but both men are looking to climb the ladder in the Featherweight division and this is the place to do it. 

Also announced is the American Middleweight tournament. Dustin Jacoby vs. Mike Lemaire and Wayne Barrett vs. Robert Thomas is on tap, with the winner getting a shot at the winner of the headliner between Artem Levin and Simon Marcus. 

The show is set to air live at 10pm eastern on ESPN3 on the 26th and will replay on ESPN2 on Sunday, February 28th.


Middleweight Title Headline Bout: Artem Levin (c) vs. Simon Marcus

Middleweight Tournament Final Bout: Winner of Bout A vs. Winner of Bout B

Featherweight Co-Headline Bout: Giga Chikadze vs. Anvar Boynazarov

Middleweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout B: Dustin Jacoby vs. Mike Lemaire

Middleweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout A: Wayne Barrett vs. Robert Thomas


GLORY 27 Announced for Chicago on February 26: Levin vs. Marcus Rematch

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Artem Levin and Simon Marcus have been locked into a battle for what seems like forever, two of the biggest names in their weight class, always vying for that top position. Their last meeting was a controversial draw at GLORY 21 San Diego, which left fans frothing over an immediate rematch. Joe Schilling was in that mix as well, initially getting a shot at Levin again, only for Levin to fall prey to an injury and for Schilling to close out his GLORY contract in a fight with Jason Wilnis before taking departing the company to focus on Bellator.

On top of this, GLORY has promised a one-night tournament at middleweight containing North American fighters, the winner gaining a shot at the champion in the future. No names have been announced yet, but a cursory glance at their rankings would hint at Dustin Jacoby, Wayne Barrett, Robert Thomas and, well, I don't know. This is, of course conjecture on our part, but logical conjecture at that.

The show will be at the Sears Centre, much like their last trip to Chicago, which means Hoffman Estates, and also note the ESPN logo in the corner. So never fear, it seems that GLORY and ESPN will continue their relationship moving forward. 


CBS Sports Airing Six Hour GLORY SuperFight Series Marathon on New Year's

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New Year's has a strong tradition of bringing fights to the world, letting us all say goodbye to the year with some violence while welcoming a new year. This year will be no different and while tonight may be Rizin FF's second show, plus there will be a KID vs. Masato exhibition in Japan as well, that doesn't mean that there won't be fights to watch in the US, either. CBS Sports Network will be airing a six hour marathon of GLORY starting at midnight Eastern (9pm Pacific) on January 1st.

CBS Sports will be airing the SuperFight Series from both GLORY 25 and GLORY 26 in succession, so if you haven't checked those shows out yet and aren't going to be standing out in the cold for New Year's this seems like a thing to do, doesn't it?


GLORY 26 on Sunday Night Ratings Hurt by the NFL

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GLORY 26 was perhaps one of the best combat sports shows of the year, that much shouldn't be surprising, just like the GLORY 26 replay having a tough time going against the NFL. Everything has a tough time going against the NFL these days. ESPN currently doesn't release any numbers outside of quarterly accumulations of viewers for their web-based ESPN3 platform, so it's nearly impossible to know how many people in the US were watching GLORY 26 live.

According to the numbers, GLORY 26's replay at 8pm on ESPN2 this Sunday pulled in 168,000 viewers, which isn't counting DVR numbers. That's a bit of a drop off from GLORY 25, which aired in a late night time slot almost 12 hours later. To contrast, GLORY 26 aired a full two days later and was competing against the NFL, which drew a monstrous 20 million viewers on Sunday night at the same time. 

It should be noted that MMAPayout has the number at 184,000, although it's not clear where this came from.

Once again, it's hard to really gauge these numbers right now, especially considering there wasn't much lead time for promoting the event. Hopefully ESPN and GLORY come to a longer term agreement for 2016 and get a time slot nailed down so that we can really see where the promotion stands on the network. Until then it is very gracious of ESPN to find a spot for the promotion while they negotiate. 


Rico Verhoeven is no Longer the Prince, But the King of Kickboxing

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James Law/GLORY

The career trajectory of Rico Verhoeven has been nothing but up, but for many years there were detractors who saw the young Dutch fighter as a mere shadow of the past Dutch champions that ruled the sport for years. Names like Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts and Ramon Dekkers all stood out as all-time greats that created such a huge legacy for a champion like Rico to live up to. Verhoeven has not always been the most confident fighter, which has led to a lot of narrow decision victories and a lot of criticism from both past opponents and fans alike. 

There was never any point in denying Verhoeven's talent, though. Verhoeven got into the game at a young age and turned a lot of heads quickly. Rico is tall, muscular, quick and skilled. Knocking out opponents never seemed to be something in Rico's repertoire, though. He'd win most of his fights, but he was never doing so in a fashion that felt dominating or exciting. The thing is, he was always evolving and growing as a fighter and tonight at GLORY 26 we saw the culmination of the years of hard work against Benjamin Adegbuyi.

Adegbuyi was able to control the early rounds in their first meeting before Rico's technical skills and Adegbuyi's fatigue were too much for him to handle. This was the Verhoeven that we all had grown to know and love. Without a doubt Rico was a great fighter, but many wanted to see more from him, that wanted to see those flashes of brilliance turn into tangible, epic moments that would go down in history.

That is exactly what they got when Rico's right hand landed flush on Adegbuyi's jaw and flattened him to the mat. This was the full realization of Rico Verhoeven, this was the man that was going to help bring the heavyweight division in kickboxing into the next generation with style. What a knockout.


GLORY Announces Return of Gokhan Saki to Challenge Saulo Cavalari in 2016

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During the live broadcast for the GLORY SuperFight Series at GLORY 26 GLORY made a huge announcement that in 2016 we'll see the return of the Rebel when Gokhan Saki returns to the GLORY ring in hopes of regaining his GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship. There was no specific date given, but we do know that GLORY's projected return in 2016 is for February, although it's unclear which event this will be on.

GLORY also announced that in 2016 we can look forward to the rematch between Artem Levin and Simon Marcus after their draw at GLORY 20. Those are two big fights and GLORY is looking to show the world that they plan to deliver in 2016. The return of Saki is huge, just huge.


Danyo Ilunga's Eyes are on the Prize at GLORY 26

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The terms humble and ferocious are difficult to equate, however, they are two of two of the first words that come to mind when describing Danyo Ilunga. Although still quite young by industry standards,  Ilunga has already fought the best of the best in his weight class and strives to, in the end be the best. Conversations with Ilunga are philosophical,  at times existential, but very well grounded, shaped largely by his past trials and the visions he intends to mold into future realities.  

His current reality is a rematch with Mourad Bouzidi who he is scheduled to face at Glory 26 in Amsterdam at the RAI arena on Friday, December 4th.   2015 has been filled with triumphs and losses for Ilunga,  but he plans to end the Glory combat sports year on a high note.  Improvements in his overall skill levels are what Ilunga states will make the difference in his match with Bouzidi and in 2016. At this moment the light heavyweight belt is in Brazil,  in 2016, who knows. Ilunga's eye is on the prize. 


Murthel Groenhart Looks for a Chance at the Ultimate GLORY in Rematch with Holzken

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Funny how quickly the tide turns in the world of combat sports.  Just just a mere four months ago I spoke with current welterweight title contender,  Murthel Groenhart prior to his fight with Chad Sugden at Glory 22. Among our topics of conversation were his desire to become the top fighter in his division as as well as his strong desire to avenge a prior loss to the current title holder, Nieky Holzken.  Now on the eve of  Glory 26: Amsterdam, Groenhart is poised to do just that.  After a year out of the Glory ring prior to his bout with Sugden,  Groenhart has come back to the Glory stage with a vengeance, skillfully demonstrating to the combat sports community why he deserves a shot at being the number one welterweight champion. Last month in Milan, Groenhart took on Nicola Gallo and Karim Ghaji, electrifying the crowd with TKO and decision wins respectively.  He is  known as "The Predator," but could equally be called "Lionhearted" as he is confident in his skills as a fighter and his manner of  approaching each opponent stealthily and with deadly determination.  At not even thirty years of age, Groenhart has had over eighty fights and sees his reign in the division as just beginning.

A long time trainee at Mike's Gym, Groenhart varies his training, practicing a variety of disciplines including MMA and boxing.   His focus, however, remains chiefly on becoming the champion in his weight class in Glory. Groenhart has achieved his dreams in other arenas such as K-1 and now has a plan of attack in Glory.  On Friday,  December 4th at the RAI Arena in Amsterdam,  Groenhart will have the chance to have either a dream fulfilled or deferred.  Like many of his peers, Groenhart thanks his fans for support and even the haters for the attention. At the end of the day,  he encourages fans around the world to continue watching him as some surprises are sure to be in store. At an event that promises to be a night of action packed match-ups.  It also promises to give fans some of the rematches they've longed to see as well as to offer second chances.  Such is the case for Murthel Groenhart, for here he has a shot at not only a rematch, but redemption and an ultimate shot at Glory.


Benjamin Adegbuyi is Ready for a Second Shot at Rico Verhoeven

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It's not always when you start the race, but when you finish.  Only five years into the professional fight game,  Benjamin Adegbuyi has taken the Glory ring by storm.  In his second shot at the heavyweight title he takes on current champion,  Rico Verhoeven,  for part deux on Friday, December 4th at the RAI arena in Amsterdam.  Ahead of this event I had the opportunity to meet with  Benny and learn more about his past, present and his vision for the future.

Prior to becoming a professional, Benny expressed having a good understanding of the dedication and commit required to becoming a fighter and ultimately a champion in his field. Before his formal induction,  Adegbuyi worked as a bouncer in Italy and Romania and was never far from the gym, even spending some time kickboxing although not professionally. After constant urging by friends to give the sport a try he decided that he was willing to make all the sacrifices required to become a dominant force in the field. Adegbuyi now commits to the full-time demands of clean eating,  rigorous training, a rather subdued social life and his roles as a partner and father. 

In his first meeting with Verhoeven,  Adegbuyi gave the crowd a demonstration of how and why he had such a meteoric rise in SuperKombat and subsequent rapid transition to contender status in Glory.  In the end, however,  dreams of Glory gold evaded him as he appeared to tire during the final round, leaving the ring with a unanimous decision loss to Verhoeven.  Even in the face of this loss, Adegbuyi demonstrated several things: fearlessness, power and the ability to defend himself against a far more experienced opponent.   Today, Adegbuyi can objectively evaluate his past performance and states that he has trained even harder in preparation for this rematch.   While Verhoeven is known for his boxing, powerful inside low kicks and in and out style of movement,  Benny too has taken on the challenge of sparring with professional boxers, improving his overall cardio and defensive technique. This  includes his ability to block and more effectively counter Verhoeven's style of movement 

Not known for trash talk, Adegbuyi promises to give his best at Glory 26 and undaunted by any thoughts of losing he  is committed to becoming the best heavyweight in the world.  Taking the heavyweight gold Friday night would mean "everything," states Adegbuyi.  He added, however, that no matter what happens on Friday he would like to thank his family, friends and fans for believing in him and urges us all to keep watching him and Glory for the best fights in the world!  On Friday,  December 4th, the world will indeed be watching to find out if the heavyweight title bout will end with either the phrase, "and still...." or "the new heavyweight champ!"


Your GLORY 26 Preview and Kountermove Game Guide

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On Friday, December 4th GLORY returns with their last show of 2015 in GLORY 26 Amsterdam. GLORY 26 Amsterdam marks the promotion’s first visit to it’s spiritual home of the Netherlands and are primed to host the biggest kickboxing event inside of the city of Amsterdam since It’s Showtime’s last big event in 2012. This show will feature a Featherweight Contender tournament featuring Mosab Amrani, Shane Oblonsky, Chibin Lim and Maykol Yurk with the winner getting a shot at the newly crowned Serhiy Adamchuk. The meat of the show, though, will be the two GLORY title fights, featuring their two popular Dutch champions. At Welterweight Nieky Holzken will defend the Welterweight title against Murthel Groenhart and at Heavyweight Rico Verhoeven will defend the GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi in a rematch from earlier this year.

For the second time GLORY will be airing on ESPN platforms, live at 4pm eastern this Friday on ESPN3 (ESPN’s web platform), then on tape delay on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes on Sunday.

Kountermove, as always, is on top of things with two big games, one with a $500 prize pool and another with $25. You want to get in on these and I’m here to help. So let’s look at the card and the outlooks for these fights.

Easy Money

Errol Zimmerman ($5400) -- Imagine this scenario; you are challenging for the GLORY World Heavyweight Championship against Rico Verhoeven and you are holding your own. It’s a close fight, but it really could still go either way, then, your knee gives out. Not only that, but it gives out and there’s no way you can keep fighting. Imagine the pent up aggression in Errol Zimmerman right now. Back in February, after a long process to rebuild himself over the past few years, Zimmerman was finally getting a shot at the title that he rightfully deserved only for his knee to give out mid-fight.

Zimmerman is aggressive, powerful and he’s a guy that went from not taking fighting that seriously to taking it very seriously. Thomas Vanneste is making his GLORY debut and it feels like he’s being fed to the wolves here. Vanneste is a big heavyweight with power of his own, but from the footage that I’ve been watching I’m not sure that Vanneste has the tools to beat Zimmerman at this point. The only way that Vanneste takes this is if Zimmerman’s confidence in his knee is next to nothing or if he didn’t train at all. I’m pretty sure he trained for this, so yeah, Errol is pretty expensive, but the chances of him winning are your best bet on this show.

The Underdog

Mourad Bouzidi ($4400) -- Mourad Bouzidi is a guy that has been overlooked for most of his career now. These two met at the GLORY 9 Light Heavyweight tournament in a fight that saw Ilunga pick up the win via decision, but a lot has changed since then. Ilunga, in my eyes, is a guy that fights to his opponent’s level and rarely lives up to his immense potential. Bouzidi, on the other hand, is a guy that was forced to fight at Heavyweight to get opportunities throughout his career with mixed results.

Bouzidi -- at heavyweight -- holds wins over Anderson “Braddock” Silva, Errol Zimmerman, Hesdy Gerges and Peter Aerts. He also has a bunch of losses that were perhaps his most public fights, losses like to Brice Guidon, Errol Zimmerman, Ismael Londt, Badr Hari, Daniel Ghita and Gokhan Saki. A lot of these losses made fans lose hope in ever seeing Bouzidi truly shine, yet his current run in the Light Heavyweight division has been interesting to watch.

He holds wins over Randy Blake, Dustin Jacoby and Filip Verlinden now -- three in a row -- and heads into this fight with Ilunga prepared both mentally and physically. A win over Ilunga would no doubt be an ace in his cap, especially with Ilunga coming off of a tough loss to Artem Vakhitov at GLORY 25. The Mourad Bouzidi that we’ve seen has been collected, skilled and prepared for all of his fights and there is a good chance that Ilunga won’t be fully prepared for what Bouzidi brings to the table.

Too Close to Call

Benjamin Adegbuyi ($4800) vs. Rico Verhoeven ($4800) -- They met at GLORY 22 and Rico Verhoeven did walk away with the victory, that much is certain, but what was also certain is that Adegbuyi looked very good against Rico until his conditioning gave out. While his conditioning didn’t look stellar in the contender’s tournament that he won, one would have to think that he’d be focused on getting himself into peak shape for a rematch against Verhoeven, especially because his conditioning was his downfall the first time around.

Then again, who knows, right? He looked strong against Mladen Brestovac, but the fight with an equally-gassed Jahfarr Wilnis wasn’t much to write home about for Adegbuyi. When fighting Rico Verhoeven you need to bring not only your A-game, but the best version of your A-game available. He didn’t do that last time and the Adegbuyi that I saw at GLORY 24 might not be that guy to beat Rico. Then again, it was in Denver where the elevation has been known to make heavyweights in all combat sports look sluggish. Amsterdam sits at a comfortable 23 feet above sea level compared to Denver’s 5100+ feet above sea level.

As long as Rico is focused he shouldn’t be in too much trouble, but being best pals with the new heavyweight champion of the world in boxing and having his first MMA fight in October could be enough to distract even the most focused on champions.

The Rest

Featherweight Tournament -- Now, look, this should be Mosab Amrani’s tournament. In fact, the way this is being advertised it more or less is his tournament. That being said, Amrani lost via TKO less than a month ago in China to Qiu Jian Liang. Usually when someone loses in China to a Chinese fighter the line of thinking is, “well, you let it go to the judges, of course they picked the Chinese fighter.” That didn’t happen here, this was a clear-cut TKO loss for Amrani.

The other favorite in this tournament is Shane Oblonsky. Oblonsky hasn’t exactly had the easiest life, dealing with loss at a young age and suffering another loss in late October that forced him to pull out from a fight at GLORY 25. To say that he might be distracted would be an understatement. Oblonsky is a strong guy and a great fighter, but nobody would blame him if he had a rough night at GLORY 26. Then again, fighters often find inspiration through tough times.

This isn’t underestimating Chibin Lim or Maykol Yurk, either, as anything can happen in these one-night tournaments, but there are a lot of factors in play here for the favorites that makes this tournament almost impossible call.

GLORY Welterweight Championship: Nieky Holzken ($4800) vs. Murthel Groenhart ($4800) -- Man. See, the second title fight of the night is also a rematch, this one, though, is from a long time ago. Murthel Groenhart fought Nieky Holzken back in 2010, which being five years ago a lot has changed since then. Both men were sort of lost without a place to showcase their skills. Murthel jumped around in weight classes for years just to find fights and Nieky’s team had to really scrape anything they could together to keep Nieky busy. Fighting at Lightweight didn’t work out for Holzken and unlike fighters who now reside in middleweight and light heavyweight, the jump to heavyweight was simply too large for him.

We always knew that Nieky was a special talent, but until he had a weight class to himself with a solid division it wasn’t clear just how damned good he really is. Murthel, on the other hand, has been up and down throughout his career. He has a lot of power for a lightweight and at welterweight he has speed. He seems to have settled into welterweight now and once again he’s on a collision course with Nieky Holzken. Things for Murthel have looked rather up-and-down over the past few years, where for Holzken he seems to be in the prime of his career and difficult to touch.


I like Holzken for this fight. He’s technical, in fact, one of the most technical boxers in the entire sport, and he’s patient, something that you can’t say for a lot of kickboxers. Murthel did win that last tournament, but just before then he lost to Sugden and throughout that last tournament I’m not sure that I felt overly confident in Murthel. Holzken should win this, but Murthel’s power, ring prowess and fight IQ are all big variables. What I do know is that this should be the most entertaining bout on the card.


GLORY Confirms Air Times for GLORY 26 on ESPN Platforms

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Earlier this month we reported that GLORY 26 would once again be airing on ESPN platforms, which included airing live again on ESPN3 and delay on ESPN2. GLORY confirmed those dates with us last week and today released a press release with all of the official times. What's interesting is that GLORY will, for the first time, be airing on ESPN Deportes with a Spanish-language broadcast. 

This is a previously untapped market for kickboxing and while there are those who believe that the GLORY/ESPN deal is taking too long or that the fact that there isn't a solid deal in place yet is an omen of bad things, the fact that the replay is during prime time on ESPN2 should be enough proof of a goodwill gesture from ESPN, and if that wasn't enough, space on ESPN Deportes is just further proof of that. 

Officially GLORY 26 will air on ESPN3 at 4pm eastern on Friday, Sunday at 4pm eastern on ESPN Deportes and Sunday at 8pm on ESPN2.


Danyo Ilunga in Against Mourad Bouzidi at GLORY 26 SuperFight Series

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At the GLORY 26 SuperFight Series on December 4th in Amsterdam the main event was originally slated to be a Heavyweight showdown between Mourad Bouzidi and Michael Duut, but today we learned that Duut will not be competing at GLORY 26 and in his stead will be top Light Heavyweight contender Danyo Ilunga. This bout will be contested at Light Heavyweight and is coming hot off of the heels of Ilunga's hotly contested bout with Artem Vakhitov that saw back-and-forth action and Vakhitov just narrowly walking away with the decision.

Bouzidi has been angling for a title shot for a while and a win over Ilunga here could be what he needs to break into that top echelon of the Light Heavyweight division. For Ilunga he'll be looking to get back on the winning track after the loss to Vakhitov and to turn his rather disappointing 2015 around with his second win over the year.


GLORY 26 Airing Live on ESPN3, Two Day Delay on ESPN2

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There has been some speculation online about the future of GLORY and if the ESPN deal was a "one and done." GLORY CEO Jon Franklin discussed that there was a verbal agreement between GLORY and ESPN to air GLORY 26 as well while they continued with negotiations and now, today, according to ESPN's WatchESPN website, we know when it will be airing on ESPN platforms. 

GLORY 26 will air live on ESPN3 once again, this time at 4pm Eastern. Much like the previous event, it will air on ESPN2 via tape delay, only this time it won't be 1:30am in the morning. Instead it will air on Sunday, December 6th at 8pm Eastern time. This is a two day tape delay, but on prime time. Airing on a Sunday during football season seems like a hard win for kickboxing, with the Packers vs. the Lions airing at 6:30pm eastern on the same evening. 

We'll have to see how it turns out, but it is good to see that GLORY and ESPN have gotten things ironed out for the next event. 


GLORY 25 on ESPN2 Pulls 198,000 Viewers

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The GLORY 25 ESPN deal came together at the very last moment, as in, the deal and time slots were not announced until Thursday afternoon. The slot that ESPN was able to give to GLORY on such short notice was, if anything, a miracle, to say the least. Even finding a spot on a cable network on such short notice is a very big deal, even if that slot was 1:30am on a Saturday morning/Friday night. 

So when the numbers came in and we found out that the GLORY 25 replay at 1:30am pulled in 198,000 viewers it was nothing to scoff at. Yes, that number is down from the previous outing on Spike TV, but when you consider that GLORY 24 was on "late" on Spike TV at 11:00pm and still pulled in 283,000 viewers, pushing 200,000 seems like an incredible feat. The facts are this; with no lead time, no promotion and a late night time slot GLORY was able to push 200,000 viewers.

When I spoke with GLORY officials last week about expectations I was told that -- considering the late time slot -- 200,000 to 250,000 would be considered a big win. This number easily rounds to 200,000 and sets an interesting precedent for the company moving forward. Compared to other ESPN2 programming this isn't even that far off. The college football game average over 1 million viewers, SportsCenter directly following it had 538,000 viewers. The SportsCenter following that had 389,000 viewers. NBA Tonight at 1am had 306,000 viewers and the NBA repeat that aired after GLORY 25 had 153,000 viewers.

By looking at those numbers and considering the time slot, I'm not sure that they are anything to turn you nose up at. 

Imagine a GLORY program on ESPN2 at an earlier time slot with weeks of lead time and promotion behind it. There could be room to grow yet. [source]


Sitthichai vs. Robin: A Second Viewing

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GLORY 25's main event will go down in history as one of the most disputed decisions in GLORY history, without a doubt. What many saw in the main event was the younger Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong attacking van Roosmalen at will throughout the five rounds of the fight, with Robin relegated to throwing desperate combinations whenever the Thai would lock up with him near the ropes. 

Yesterday after the fight we made use of Twitter's new poll system to see what fans watching at home thought. The answer was a staggering 78% saw Sitthichai winning.

But, as that poll shows, there is a minority of folks who felt that van Roosmalen picking up the win was justified, even if the live crowd, the announcers, fans and pundits alike saw the fight as a clean sweep for Sitthichai. Making use of WatchESPN's feature to rewatch past content I decided to sit down again with Sitthichai and Robin van Roosmalen in an attempt to see the fight again with fresh eyes, on the lookout for things that van Roosmalen was doing that could win him the fight. 

The key argument that I've seen over the past day is that Sitthichai was kicking nothing but glove. The smoking gun, if you will, for those supporting van Roosmalen's claim to the title is that van Roosmalen was blocking just about every strike that came flying at him and that Sitthichai, under the rules, did not throw strikes that score. Through a second, careful viewing it is clear that throughout the later points in the fight van Roosmalen is bringing his left hand over his chest to his right side to help deflect these shots, at times that hand coming in before the kick and able to deflect the shot down or away.

Earlier on in the fight many of Robin's attempts to block these kicks were to bring both his hands up in a defensive position around his face, then to bend down so that his elbows were covering his midsection. Later on he began swatting at these strikes a bit more. Only a handful of times did van Roosmalen bring his knee up to defend the kick, which is seem as a common defense for body kicks throughout muay thai and kickboxing. This argument that van Roosmalen blocked all of Sitthichai's shots depends on the interpretation that because Sitthichai's strikes did not connect on either the midsection or the head and neck of van Roosmalen that they should not be scored as connecting shots. Looking at GLORY's own rules leaves the subject up to ambiguity here.

"Kicks – striking with the foot or lower leg to a legal target: i.e. front kicks, low kicks inside and outside the leg, middle kicks, high kicks, sidekicks, back kicks, ax kicks, spinning kicks, jumping kicks;"

So, according to GLORY's rules, any kick to a legal target is a scoring strike. If one were to argue that Sitthichai's target of choice was van Roosmalen's ribs or head then yes, Sitthichai did miss a lot of those shots. Why? Because he was clearly aiming for the shoulder and upper arm of van Roosmalen. When Sitthichai wanted to land a lower shot that connected with the midsection, he threw his kicks a lot lower. Believing that someone with the power and accuracy of Sitthichai, while throwing strikes from a safe, unopposed distance, was somehow mistiming and miscalculating all of his shots seems like a long shot.

Let's look at the official Strike Stats from after the fight.

By outward appearances, it seems that Robin's punch flurries from inside of the clinch left a bigger impression that Sitthichai's kicks did, with Sitthichai given credit for only 47% of his kicks.

The redness of van Roosmalen's right arm told the story of the fight; Sitthichai was taking care of one of van Roosmalen's strongest weapons by kicking at his power arm. What's funny is that it worked, with van Roosmalen not throwing any real power combinations from a distance throughout the fight. In fact, the only time that van Roosmalen was really scoring was when either man had his opponent pinned up towards the ropes, where van Roosmalen would let his fists fly with his accurate uppercuts and hooks. But most of the bigger shots were coming with his left hand, not his right. 

These shots from van Roosmalen were landing, though. They appeared to be accurately scored by the on-screen statistics throughout the fight. Let's get something straight here; Robin's work when he did throw those combinations were incredible and he was landing clean with just about every shot. Even then, it is difficult to look at the above stats as well as the fight itself and come to the same conclusion that all three judges did.

From outward appearances it seems that the judges simply wrote off all of those kicks to a legal target. Returning to GLORY's rules on how this fight was scored, we see the breakdown and hierarchy of how judge's score the fight.

A. Number of knockdowns.

B. Damage inflicted on the opponent.

C. Number of clean strikes with spectacular techniques (flying and spinning techniques, etc.)

D. Number of clean strikes with normal techniques.

E. Degree of Aggressiveness or Ring Generalship (whichever has greater impact on the round)

It should be noted that in assessing the general impression, attack is valued higher than defense.

Neither man was able to score a knockdown and as for visible damage, neither man was cut or really damaged in the facial region. Van Roosmalen did show more signs of wear, with his midsection and right arm clearly taking a brunt of the attacks. When it comes to aggressiveness Sitthichai would have to be the winner here. You could make an argument for round five going to Robin, where he seemed to realize that his title reign was in danger and he turned up the heat, but outside of maybe round two it's difficult to assign another round to Robin.

Did van Roosmalen really win this fight? That is for you to decide, but what was clear to me in the case of this fight is that the biggest discrepancy was how to score Sitthichai's kicks to the arms. The outcome of the fight seems to hinge on whether you give credit to Sitthichai for carefully targeting Robin's arm, or if you credit Robin's arm for being in the way of those strikes. 

Even the scorecards from the judges don't seem to line up, at all.

If you are willing to look at those score cards and tell me that those judges rendered the correct decision, I don't even know.


Programming Note: GLORY SuperFight Series Tonight at Midnight on CBS Sports

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If you didn't tune in to the GLORY SuperFight Series live yesterday you can watch the replay tonight at 12:00am Eastern/9:00pm Pacific. This time around the SuperFight Series was a can't miss affair, featuring Anatoly Moiseev in the opener, the match of night between both shows in Danyo Ilunga vs. Artem Vakhitov and the controversial GLORY Featherweight Championship bout between Gabriel Varga and Serhiy Adamchuk.


Jon Franklin: Plan is for GLORY 26 on ESPN, Longer Deal Possible in 2016

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After Friday's awesome GLORY 25 CEO Jon Franklin spoke with media in Italy about a wide variety of topics, but it felt like television was the key that everyone wanted to talk about. The first question, right off the bat, was about ESPN. The answer seems quite positive, as many were upset about GLORY 25 being possibly a one-and-done on ESPN, but according to Franklin the plan for now is for GLORY 26 Amsterdam to air on ESPN as well while they try to hash out a deal for 2016.

"Yeah, the plan is to have Amsterdam on ESPN," Franklin explained, "and then looking at ultimately signing a long term deal through 2016. We were working at that direction when they had some management changes over at ESPN and then the goal just became to get this fight on and to bring it to the fans on the best sports network in the world. We've done that and now we'll move forward to hopefully bigger and better things."

So for those that were concerned, it looks like we can look forward to more of GLORY on ESPN for the time being. [source]

UPDATE: Stets received further confirmation that GLORY was given the verbal go-ahead for GLORY 26 on ESPN3 and ESPN2.



Awful Decision Mars GLORY 25 Lightweight Championship Bout

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Very rarely am I speechless after watching a kickboxing bout, yet after GLORY 25's main event between Robin van Roosmalen and Sitthichai? Speechless.

Robin van Roosmalen is one of the greatest lightweights in the world but tonight in Italy it wasn't his night. Not even close. Sure, he landed punches, but I can't imagine anyone watching Sitthichai vs. Robin and somehow believing that Robin had done enough to secure himself a draw in that fight, never mind a victory. Sitthichai spent the entire fight slamming his left leg into Robin's ribs and arm, alternating with his knee at times and using his jab and teep to keep van Roosmalen at bay.

Never was Sitthichai ever hurt or in any danger at all. Robin landed punches on the rare times when they were close, but none of them made any difference, never mind that his right arm was so banged up from all of the kicks that there was no way that he could throw those punches with any real power. 

Robin didn't win a single round, on just about any metric. All due respect to him, but he was completely dominated and outclassed in that fight. If GLORY doesn't demand an immediate rematch I don't know what they are thinking. Sitthichai deserves better. Their championship deserves better. The fans deserve better. 


Has the Lightweight Division Passed Petrosyan By?

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Whenever someone – probably more likely an athlete than a postmaster – disappears for an extended period of time (via injury or otherwise), they inevitably face on their return directly or indirectly questions of whether they still have it, has the competition passed them by, were they really as good as we thought they were.

After Petroysan’s last Glory appearance concluded with him in perfect position for a snow angel, it is difficult not to contemplate, especially since he veered so close to invincibility. It is the breeding ground of speculation - as soon as things tumble out of an order, the gates open up.

Yet, behind these questions seems to be more than just the usual hysteria. Dave elucidated several key observations in his article Wednesday, “the Return of the King.” In his first two bouts back, the basic framework of Petrosyan’s genius was present, except the speed and rhythm that once governed it did not reflect its previous form, giving his opposition an unusual opportunity, to hit him. 

Regression rarely does one wonders and if he is not just working his way back, it is reasonable, not outrageous, to consider Petrosyan potentially assuming a different role in the new iteration of the lightweight division rather than the kingpin.  It may not even matter with the emergence of Josh Jauncey, his opponent tonight, and Sittichai Sittsongpeeong, van Roosmalen’s opponent tonight for the Glory Lightweight Championship, who are unique and pose challenges unlike many of his former foes. 

They’re also younger and witnessed the dissolution of the myth; the fatal uppercut that felled him like a tree cleared to make room for another suburban oasis that may be replanted somewhere else but could hardly be expected to be the same again. In their eyes, he is not the fighter van Roosmalen or Kiria battled, whether he actually still is or not. 

He never will be. 

Questions have to be asked because they’re the only way to the answer. 

At some point, though, they become like annoying contest winners who get the chance to walk the red carpet or escort their favorite artist onstage and they get caught within the crossbeams of excitement and acting as if they do this every day, to the point they almost detach themselves from the experience of living it.

Does Petrosyan still have it? Has the lightweight division passed him by? Was he ever as good as we thought he was?

Giorgio Petrosyan, formerly of the awe-inspiring 71-1-1 record, will return today at Glory 25 against Josh Jauncey, with the questions assuredly in tow, probably dancing off-beat to his entrance music. 

With luck they will get too handsy with someone at ringside and have to leave, at which point we can just enjoy the fight.

It is Giorgio Petrosyan.


Kountermove Your Best Bet for GLORY 25

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GLORY 25 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting GLORY events of the year, featuring a top-to-bottom stacked card headlined by the GLORY Lightweight Championship being on the line between champion Robin van Roosmalen and challenger Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong. Oh yeah, and the co-headliner? That’s Giorgio Petrosyan returning to the GLORY ring to take on GLORY’s up-and-comer from Canada in Josh Jauncey.

Oh yeah, and ESPN will be playing GLORY 25 live at 4pm on ESPN3 and airing it on ESPN2 later on at 1:30am thanks to a last minute deal that GLORY was able to put together with ESPN this week. Pretty cool, right?

So of course Kountermove is getting in on this. How could they not? Those two Lightweight battles alone are a huge deal, then there is the Welterweight contender tournament where the winner gets a shot at Nieky Holzken at GLORY 26. Even the undercard is stacked, the SuperFight Series headlined by GLORY Featherweight Champion Gabriel Varga facing tough challenger Serhiy Adamchuk in what should be a tremendous battle.

Let’s get down to brass tacks here; Kountermove is running a bunch of games for GLORY 25 and you are looking for some insight into these fights. Here’s how I’m seeing it right now.

Easy Money

Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong ($5000) -- What is this? Betting against the champion, especially one like Robin van Roosmalen who has proven himself time and time again, including a win over Andy Ristie? On the surface this might seem like blasphemy, especially for fans who have seen van Roosmalen fight before. He is, without a doubt, one of the best in the division, so betting against him should never be easy money.

The thing here is that Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong is not only really good, he’s downright incredible. He made former GLORY Lightweight Champion Davit Kiria look like a chump in a tournament bout, knocking Kiria out with a knee to the body that put him down and out. Davit Kiria had literally never been knocked out before. Ever. Kiria is known as being one of the toughest guys in the division and win, lose or draw not the type to go down to anything, but he went down to Sitthichai’s knee and body-kick heavy style.

Simply put, Sitthichai’s style is the type that gives Dutch style fights a lot of trouble and Robin van Roosmalen is the posterboy for the Dutch style in the division right now. Sitthichai’s ability to sneak knees through defenses and to throw aggressive, heavy body kicks until his opponent’s arms are sore enough to be unable to defend with them anymore is enough to cause anyone problems.

The Underdog

Artem Vakhitov ($4400) -- Danyo Ilunga is great fighter and he’s proven himself time and time again. The thing is, I’m never quite sure that Danyo Ilunga is living up to his full potential in the ring. Somewhere along the way he showed amazing skill, technique and ring awareness throughout his career, but outside of a few bouts he’s never really been able to piece it all together to become the champion that he could be.

Both Ilunga and Vakhitov have recent losses to the newly-crowned GLORY Light Heavyweight Champion, Saulo Cavalari, but Vakhitov showed a lot more against Cavalari and some even saw him winning that fight. Vakhitov has fought against some of the best in the world and his only losses are to the likes of Simon Marcus, Artem Levin, Alexander Stetsurenko and of late, Saulo Cavalari. Each one of those names is one of the bigger names in the kickboxing world right now, all but Cavalari choosing to compete in Middleweight as opposed to Light Heavyweight. Vakhitov has simply shown more in the past few years and feels like the more complete fighter than Ilunga does at present time.

Too Close to Call

Giorgio Petrosyan ($4800) vs. Josh Jauncey ($4800) -- Petrosyan vs. Jauncey is a battle of youth vs. experience and everything that comes with that. Petrosyan ruled over the Lightweight division with an iron fist for many years before Andy Ristie knocked him out back in 2012. Petrosyan has been riddled with injuries over the past few years, most notably his right hand. That right hand seems to get injured in just about every fight and many are wondering if Petrosyan’s day might have come and gone by now.

Jauncey has shown a lot of fire, skill and that he is a very adaptable fighter. His lone loss inside of the GLORY ring is to Sitthichai, but in a tournament setting preparing for a fresher Sitthichai is a tall task. Jauncey was the one who called for this fight, so it seems that he feels ready for the challenge that Petrosyan brings to him -- especially in Italy of all places.

Petrosyan hasn’t looked exactly the same in his three bouts since his return earlier this year, but that could have just been ring rust. The reality here is that whomever wins this fight will hold an immediate claim to challenge for the title. The pressure is all on Petrosyan here, who is in front of a hometown audience looking to prove himself to the world once again and show that he’s still the same fighter that won three huge, prestigious tournaments to become the most dominant fighter of this generation.

The Rest

Welterweight Tournament -- I almost placed Karim Ghajji ($4900) as my underdog pick for this card here because I feel that he’s my early favorite heading into this tournament. His first fight is against Yoann Kongolo ($5300) and Kongolo’s GLORY debut is still fresh in the minds of many. Yeah, he looked good and yeah, Ghajji’s three previous GLORY fights are all losses, but you know what? He went back to the drawing board and he’s on a crazy seven-fight win streak right now outside of GLORY, including a win over one of the top fighters in GLORY’s Welterweight division in Alexander Stetsurenko, the last man that he lost to at GLORY 13 back in 2013.

Murthel Groenhart ($5200) seems to have himself a clear path to the finals against Nicola Gallo ($4700), but he just didn’t look great in his last fight against Chad Sugden and while I see him getting past Gallo, I’m not sure how he handles Ghajji. That being said, either Ghajji or Murthel could easily take this tournament without much surprise.

Featherweight Championship -- Gabriel Varga ($4900) is the favorite here against Serhiy Adamchuk ($4700) but not by much. This fight is pretty close to being “too close to call,” but at the same time Varga has shown very little holes in his game. Adamchuk has been incredibly impressive in his last two GLORY bouts, but Gabriel Varga’s style is the kind that can give any fighter trouble.


Further Details on GLORY 25 on ESPN2/3 and the Future

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When the first rumblings of GLORY landing on ESPN came across my desk a few weeks ago it seemed improbable. As the weeks leading to GLORY 25 withered away the talk started to clarify and it appeared that all of the viable options had been ruled out, leaving ESPN as the winner in the lottery to help save kickboxing in the United States. Even now it feels a bit surreal. The UFC has been running twitter campaigns for years to try to get replays shown on ESPN SportsCenter, many call ESPN the "kingmaker" in sports, the network that could make or break a sport just by paying attention to it.

That's why kickboxing, the fledgling little sport that it is felt so distant from that world. ESPN is no stranger to kickboxing, airing it throughout its infancy, first airing PKA kickboxing from a stretch of 1979 until 1986 when PKA moved on to other networks. ESPN also aired some K-1 from time to time, but there wasn't a concrete broadcast deal in place, the footage simply jammed in at random times at night on the weekends without much warning. There wasn't anything tangible to follow. 

ESPN is taking another chance on kickboxing with GLORY 25, albeit a much more calculated risk this time around. GLORY 25 will air on ESPN's ESPN3 platform live at 4pm Eastern on Friday. ESPN3 is ESPN's web based platform where they get a bit more experimental. On there you'll find traditional sports as well as some of the less traditional stuff like World of Warcraft and StarCraft II. If GLORY 25 was airing on there alone it wouldn't feel too great. Instead, they'll be re-airing GLORY 25 early Saturday morning in the east coast at 1:30am Eastern. That is not the greatest time slot in the world, but it will be following their late night SportsCenter.

The future is not as certain. When this deal was described to me over the past few days there was never a feeling that it was "one and done," that this would be a new television partner for GLORY in the United States. Stets spoke to ESPN this afternoon and for right now the plan is to air GLORY 25, look at the results and move on from there. 

An eventual, live spot for events taking place in the United States on ESPN2 would be considered a pretty big win for GLORY, but considering how late of notice this whole thing was this deal should be considered a success no matter what.

UPDATE: The MMA community seem to be a bit confused by this deal. We've gotten confirmation from multiple sources inside of the company that this was not a time buy. This was a good faith effort deal on the part of both sides done on very short notice. ESPN and GLORY are currently negotiating a longer term deal at the moment. Is this a "one time" deal for GLORY 25? Yes. Does that mean that this is the end of their dealings? Not by a long shot.

If anything, GLORY and ESPN hustled to ensure that American fans would have a way to watch GLORY 25. Not only that, but they are airing it live on their web platform and on tape delay for those without access to said platform.


Live Stream Information for GLORY 25 and SuperFight Series

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GLORY 25 will be going down this Friday live from Monza, Italy. Now, look, I know that everyone is waiting with baited breath over what GLORY's new television deal will be and how it will impact this event. For now, just like previous events, the GLORY SuperFight Series is available to purchase and view within the United States. GLORY 25 will not be. The same restrictions in ex-Yugoslavia nations as always, you know who you are. 

So take that as a sign, people.

The SuperFight Series begins at 1:30pm Eastern time. GLORY 25 is 4pm Eastern. The price is $9.99 USD per.

GLORY SuperFight Series

GLORY 25 Milan


GLORY 25: The Return of the King

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In just two days time GLORY will be hosting GLORY 25 Milan. The two big featured fights of the evening are in GLORY's packed lightweight division, one fight will decide the GLORY Lightweight Championship, while the other hosts a returning hero in Giorgio Petrosyan against a young upstart of Josh Jauncey. One bout will declare the king of the division, at least in theory, while the other fight is set to just be another fight within the division.

Many see van Roosmalen vs. Sitthichai as a foregone conclusion, which is astounding considering just how good van Roosmalen is and how much he's proven himself over the past few years. If anything, that speaks to just how skilled Sitthichai is and where the division is at today. Media throughout Italy is regarding Petrosyan vs. Jauncey as the main event -- and for good reason.

Giorgio Petrosyan was the undisputed king of the division for years. In fact, he looked unbeatable for a very long time. The first time that there was any sort of dent in his armor was at GLORY 12 when he was staring up at the lights for the first time in his career, with Andy Ristie standing over him in celebration. Before then he was the king and now, almost three years later, Petrosyan is looking to reclaim his throne in the division.

Two K-1 World MAX Championships, the 2012 GLORY 70kg Slam Champion, Petrosyan was the best of the best and his hit list showed that. Souwer, Askerov, Kraus, Stevelmans, Khem, Zambidis, Sato, Yamamoto, Sudsakorn, Cosmo, HINATA, Roqueni, Kyshenko, Kiria, Pinca, Hollenbeck and van Roosmalen are all on Petrosyan's hit list over his epic reign in the division. Every last one couldn't figure out the puzzle to defeating Giorgio Petrosyan. 

FightLand's Jack Slack has been quick to dismiss the fights that Petrosyan has taken since his comeback this year and while I understand looking at Erkhan Varol and saying that he isn't on Petrosyan's level, but Enriko Kehl, the last K-1 World MAX Champion, has been rising to prominence over the past few years, and Xu Yan has been a formidable name in the world of 70kg for a few years now. Wins over them has given us an idea of where Petrosyan stands.

Maybe my eyes have been playing tricks on me, but Petrosyan has looked... mortal against Kehl and Xu Yan. 

Television cameras don't always pick up everything that Giorgio Petrosyan does because he's a man who operates within the subtleties of the sport. At times he has completely parried a shot only for a bad camera angle to make it look like it grazed him, but Xu Yan seemed to be finding the mark on occasion on Petrosyan, which is very not Petrosyan. Was Petrosyan simply getting his sea legs back after so long of an absence, or has the King fallen from grace?

In a way, this fight with Jauncey is incredibly important for the division as a whole. For right now we know where Josh Jauncey stands. Josh Jauncey is an incredibly talented fighter who has proven himself to be one of the very best. Against Sitthichai there were some holes, absolutely, but from what we've seen of Jauncey he doesn't make the same mistake twice. A second fight with Sitthichai things would look different, at least they should. When GLORY came to him with a few different fights there was almost no question about which one he'd take; he'd fight Giorgio Petrosyan... In Italy.

On the surface, that is insanity. No judge in front of a hometown crowd that will be cheering for Petrosyan will give Jauncey the nod, especially not against someone with such a pedigree and legendary status. Yet Jauncey jumped on the fight. Did they see those same holes in these last few fights that I saw? If so, they are going to be looking to capitalize on them and once and for all dethrone the king. 

Sitthichai becoming champion feels like an inevitability. If van Roosmalen is able to fend off the hungry young Thai this time will he be able to hold out again in the future? Sitthichai has a rocket strapped to his back and he won't stop until he's at the top, that much we are all sure of, but who will be there to challenge him at the top? That is the question and that question could be answered at GLORY 25 in Petrosyan vs. Jauncey. I feel like Cor Hemmers is overlooking Petrosyan right now and his importance within this division. The winner of this fight is, without a doubt, in my eyes the #1 contender for the GLORY Lightweight Championship and I'm pretty sure that most agree with that. There doesn't need to be a disappointing tournament missing one or both of these guys to declare a contender, the winner here has a built-in narrative heading into a fight with either Robin or Sitthichai.

Giorgio Petrosyan is looking to reclaim his crown and Josh Jauncey is looking to prove that not only should he not be overlooked anymore, but that he's the new generation within this division and that he's ready to carry it for the next few years. 


A New Network Should Bring New Changes for GLORY

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Everyone is waiting with baited breath for the big announcement from GLORY that should be coming as soon as Monday now as to their new home on American television. A lot has been said about GLORY on Spike TV and while that relationship is best left in the dust, buried deep in our subconscious for the time being, there are still some important topics to talk about. We can all agree that GLORY on Spike TV was not positioned for success. Fingers can be pointed in many different directions, but at the end of the day GLORY can only control what they as an organization do. 

Over the past few months I’ve spoken with everyone from fans to industry insiders and fighters to get an idea of what GLORY was missing that could have held them back. While I have a lot to say on this subject, as well as the attitudes that have held the sport back here in the United States, I do feel that while we are all riding this wave of anxiety and excitement towards the future that it would be a good time to evaluate what changes GLORY could make to their programming to make it more accessible.

Change That Intro

I know at the time GLORY needed something -- anything -- to serve as a show opener. Combat sports are known for their shitty intros, with the UFC’s awful gladiator intro coming to mind as well as their less-shitty (but still infinitely mediocre) intro featuring classic moments with rocks crumbling all around said scenes. 

Feature your fighters. Hell, better yet, feature your current champions. GLORY has an impressive roster of six world champions right now and the intro video features guys in good shape all oiled up flexing and throwing strikes over floating geometry and clouds. One of the biggest complaints about GLORY on Spike was the limited television time for each show, but honestly, shouldn’t that mean to utilize every last second to promote your product? Not everyone turning in will know everything about GLORY or the sport of kickboxing, but highlighting your world champions with brief highlights and name placards for each makes those champions look as important as they are. 

Fighter Intros

This is going to be one of those divisive things, because the hardcore internet fan is going to say, “I don’t care about that, I only care about the fights.” Sure, the fights are great and the main reason that everyone is tuning in to the show. The thing is, anticipation and build are just as important. You can tell a lot about a fighter by their choice of walkout music, their demeanor and who they choose to walk with them. Josh Jauncey at GLORY 22 running down to the ring to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” singing along was a tremendous image and something that we’ve missed out on with GLORY broadcasts on Spike.

I understand, I really do. Two hours on Spike TV isn’t a ton of time and there needed to be time for commercial breaks as well. That being said, after two years on Spike TV I’m not sure that there are many fighters that have been given enough time to show who they are to the fans. Any fighter on any given card will be able to knock their opponent out. That’s the name of the game, it’s also not under anyone’s control. You can put Zack Mwekassa and Saulo Cavalari together and in theory they should knock each other’s heads off, but reality can be an entirely different outcome than what the original intent was. 

The crowd at GLORY 16 Denver was not an educated kickboxing crowd, they just liked fights so they were there. I had to turn around and tell the guy behind me who Errol Zimmerman was and why he was a big deal when he came down to the ring, but you know what? Errol Zimmerman sprinted down the ramp and leapt over the top rope, which received an audible “oooh” from the live crowd. He then went out there and put big Ben Edwards down and out. When he came out for his second fight of the night? They all damned well knew who Errol Zimmerman was. They expected his leap over the ropes and they expected his heavy hands.

Those two aspects of him melded together to build an impression of who Errol Zimmerman was. He was cocky, he was big, he was strong and he could back it all up with his fists in that ring. 

Video Packages

When fans reminisce on the glory days of Japanese fighting you’ll always hear about the VTRs. Why shouldn’t you? These short, exciting hype videos did a lot to pull the audience into the fights. Every fight had one and thusly, every fight had a story. K-1 and DREAM in particular created narratives for each fight, cobbled together from personal-feeling interviews with each fighter where they’d either be vulnerable or arrogant, depending on the situation, while talking about the upcoming fight. No doubt done under supervision and coaching from the production teams, the fighters were able to build up the anticipation for their fight, even if on paper the fight was anywhere from fair.

These videos can make anyone into a sympathetic character. You want proof? Fire Harada from K-1.

Fire Harada did not belong in K-1 at the time. Fire Harada was not a great fighter, he was not the culmination of skill, desire and greatness. Oh no, he was all desire, wrapped up with self-deprecation and immense, addictive passion. They literally filmed him jogging on a beach and falling over multiple times. There was no way that Fire Harada actually fell over whilst jogging for a minute or two for a camera, but that moment is still on video and was brilliant marketing. 

Fire Harada became a star for K-1 in FEG’s death throes, showing that they could take old, moldy oranges and make it into orange juice that they could still market to the world as top notch, premium orange juice. 

GLORY has fresh oranges and will have a brand new juicer when they have their shiny, new TV network. Go make some orange juice, already, and market it for what it really is.

Give Us a Road Map

While I understand wanting to focus on the upcoming show exclusively, often times the next show isn’t marketed -- at all -- until the current show is live on the air. UFC has been doing this for a while now and while some might call it smart, I call it ludicrous. Near the end of my tenure in writing about MMA I found myself completely and utterly unable to remember when the next UFC show was or who was fighting on it. There was never any hype or anticipation because expectations were simply that there would be another UFC event the next Saturday and that it’d all take care of itself.

GLORY and kickboxing don’t have this sort of luxury. Right now we have a road map for the rest of the year and we did before GLORY 24 hit the air; GLORY 24 hosted a Heavyweight tournament and the winner fights Rico at GLORY 26. GLORY 25 hosts a Welterweight tournament and the winner fights Nieky Holzken at GLORY 26. Was that so difficult? I understand that signing fights in advance isn’t easy, that fighters get injured or something from their personal lives can get in the way, but how many contender’s tournament have we sat through now without there being immediate talk as to where this leads to? How can fans get excited for a fight if there is no timeframe down it? Talking “down the road” is fine, but how many fans are going to make a mental note to be excited for “down the road” and to periodically check in to see if a fight has been booked yet?

Only the hardest of the hardcore are going to do that. The rest will forget. But if you say, “Fighter X who wins tonight will fight Champion X on Show X” and you’ve just marketed that show. The fans can walk away from that show with something tangible in their minds; Fighter X fights Champion X at Show X.” That is a lot better than “Fighter X will probably fight Champion X at some point.”

Don’t Take a Vacation Without Assurances of a Future

Multiple times now, under a few different circumstances, GLORY has gone radio silent for extended periods of time. That has proven to be the best way to get message boards buzzing about how the promotion was dead. This has happened just about every year now without fail and while I understand after Last Man Standing there was some restructuring and heavy stuff going on, this simply can’t happen again. 

The UFC doesn’t simply go radio silent without another show announced to the public, nor does any major sport. GLORY 26 is the last show that we know of and while I’ve heard talks of GLORY 27 taking place in February after taking January off, make sure that the people know. I get it, coordinating with television, fighters and venues can be difficult, but that is the promotion’s job, just like keeping fans informed. Your communications to the public shouldn’t have to be vague and assuring that the company is still in business, it should be about upcoming events or about the fighters. 

People are understanding to a degree and are willing to overlook certain things as long as you are forthcoming with them. Don’t have a concrete date or venue locked down for GLORY 27 yet? Just tell people that it’s happening, give a timeframe. Will it be February, then say February. I understand wanting to have everything 100%, but 50% still keeps the public confidence up and keeps people from forgetting. 

Chill with the Tournaments

This, for me, is the big one. This will also be a divisive thing among people in the industry as well as fans. Some people love the tournament format while others hate it. What I do know for certain is that most fighters hate fighting in tournaments and that without a clear road map they are essentially worthless. Xavier Vigney won a tournament a while back and who the hell knows what that meant. The talk at the time was that he would get a spot in the next contender’s tournament, but he wasn’t there. Was he injured? Was he just not included? Who knows.

Chad Sugden just beat Murthel Groenhart, why is Murthel in the Welterweight tournament but Chad isn’t? Nobody has really said anything about it, but I’ve heard that he might be injured. 

Kickboxing has been linked with tournaments for over 20 years now thanks to K-1, but the thing is, K-1’s tournaments became a yearly fixture. K-1 became well known for this yearly tournament format and part of what made the whole thing work was -- not just that it was a tournament -- but that there was an entire year of build towards it. 

K-1 for the first half of the year was largely nothing, which, in retrospect, could have really been tinkered with and given value, but by the time the late summer hit it was time for the K-1 Final 16. The Final 16 featured the top 16 fighters (at least in theory) vying for a spot in the K-1 World Grand Prix tournament that would take place later on in the year. The next day there would be a tournament draw and the Final 8 would be set for the end of the year. K-1 would then spend the next few months marketing that tournament. Everything was clear, set in stone.

Sure, there were regional feeder tournaments, a Final Elimination show where an 8-man tournament went down for a spot, but everything was planned out way in advance. Also, 8-man tournaments are where that sense of drama comes from. The 4-man tournament feels haphazard and cheap. There isn’t that feel that the winner just conquered the field of battle in a massive feat, instead it just feels ho-hum. I get it, athletic commissions don’t like letting guys fight forever, but one 8-man field a year with some build will always trump was feels like a random procession of 4-man tournaments.

That, or, you know, just don’t do them.

Two hours on Spike TV featured eight fighters on average; four tournament fighters and four fighters in either super fights or title fights. Without a one-night tournament per show another two fighters could be fit onto the card and no, there isn’t that same “natural drama” of a one-night tournament, but I’m really not sure that these 4-man tournaments have done much for the sport, made any stars or pushed anything forward. Instead it just reminds old fans that there used to be bigger tournaments and confuses newer fans. 

Also, please, never, ever do that one-night, sixteen-man thing ever again. Please. I’m begging.

Kickboxing is Kickboxing

Kickboxing is its own sport, it’s unique, fun, interesting and features some truly tremendous athletes and personalities. Don’t try to be the UFC, don’t try to be Bellator, don’t even try to be K-1. GLORY needs to forge its own, unique identity, which is something that it hasn’t done yet. The early shows were a messy ode to European kickboxing with an attempt at Japanese-style production. Everything was weird, from Bas Boon’s shiny suits to the rapping ring announcer.

Since then GLORY has sort of found its identity, but it feels like they are once again searching for that identity in the face of trying to please American audiences. Just keep pumping out quality fights, keep the broadcast team of Mauro and Quadros, keep Tim Hughes and let the fighters sort out who belongs where. 

You have the talented roster, use it. Things will happen.


Take Notes: Joe Valtellini's Sobering Rant on Why Fighters Aren't Connecting with Fans

  • Published in Glory

In the brief amount of time that GLORY was airing on Spike TV many were critical that there weren't more stars born from the organization, or that the fighters never really connected to their audience. This, of course, is true to an extent, but where should the blame lie in such a situation? Many point to Spike TV's lack of support and marketing. There was no real "shoulder programming" on the network to promote the events or the personalities. On the other hand, GLORY has been doing YouTube videos hyping up their events and while the production is slick and up to industry standards, without these fighters been more well known they were simply set dressing that didn't tell a story.

Former GLORY Welterweight Champion Joseph Valtellini might be on the sidelines thanks to concussion related issues, but that doesn't stop him from having an opinion on these matters. If you were to reflect on GLORY's run in America thus far it would be safe to say that Valtellini has been one of the few names that has stood out from the rest of the crowd. Obviously a talented fighter inside of the ring, what made him so popular were the things that he did outside of the ring. His personality stood out, without being too over the top, and fans responded in kind. 

Today he aired some of his frustrations via Twitter on how other fighters, media and fans have been pointing fingers everywhere but towards the fighters themselves, who are, in the end, responsible for their own lives and careers. His take is, in the least, sobering while also being educational to some fighters who are struggling to capture the hearts and minds of audiences like Valtellini was able to do in a short period of time. The secret? Don't be afraid to be yourself, even if that is slightly amplified to be more visible. 

Think pro wrestling.

Not everyone will agree with Valtellini, but his success within the sport is beyond reproach. He's a smart guy and he has done a lot for himself, maybe it's time for people to listen to what he has to say.


GLORY CEO Comments on Spike TV Deal and Assures Future Events Will Air on US TV

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The news of Spike TV and GLORY's rift hit the internet today and while many of us had been talking about it for a while now, there was never an official word that came down. That was, in part, due to the fact that there was still a possibility for GLORY and Spike to work out a last minute extension and remain in business together. As we saw today, that was not to be. Instead Spike TV commented publicly on them no longer being in business with GLORY.

We reached out to GLORY for comment and CEO Jon Franklin passed this along;

"Spike was a solid platform to introduce GLORY and kickboxing as a whole in the US. We of course leave the door open to working with Spike again, but for right now, the fit isn't perfect.

GLORY needs a partnership with a dedicated sports broadcaster, an established destination for the world's greatest athletic events.  With more original content, shoulder programming, and a view to brand building for the organization and our athletes coming up, GLORY will be able to take its next step as a global sports property. 

We want to elevate the sport further and moving from a men's entertainment network to a dedicated sports network with broadcast affiliates will best serve this goal.

Since we began, GLORY has delivered the most exciting stand-up fighting available and our fans worldwide will not miss that opportunity. Our next card, GLORY 25 Milan will air on US television, as will every card after that. We'll have an update on where to watch shortly. Stay tuned."


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