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Zack Mwekassa vs. Saulo Cavalari for GLORY Light Heavyweight Belt Added to Dynamite

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After Gokhan Saki's talk about why things didn't work out with GLORY that included trashing GLORY's Light Heavyweight division on the way out as no-names that he'd destroy easily we move on and a new champion will be crowned at Bellator's Dynamite event on September 19th on Spike TV. The Spike/GLORY co-branded event is set to have at least three huge kickboxing fights, one of which will probably involve Paul Daley.

The feature attraction, though, will be for the vacant GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship between Zakk "The African Warrior" Mwekassa and Saulo "Cassius Clay" Cavalari. This is a huge rematch from GLORY 18 where Saulo Cavalari ended the storybook rise of Zack Mwekassa with a vicious headkick knockout in the third round. Both men will be fresh this time around and the biggest prize in the game will be on the line so I expect heightened levels of violence from these two.

Of course, what is interesting is that Zack Mwekassa seems to have taken Saki's comments personally and is going off on him via Twitter right now.



Gokhan Saki Issues Statement About GLORY Contract Negotiations

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It didn't take long for Gokhan Saki to want to share with the world his side of the contract dispute that has been ongoing with GLORY for the better part of a year and a half now. Earlier this week GLORY announced that the GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship was vacated due to Saki not defending it for well over a year, with them even extending that period to attempt to work out a deal between the two sides. They were unable to come to terms, which from what we've heard has mostly been about money. 

Saki was making in the range of $200,000 per fight before and GLORY simply didn't see the value in such a contract considering how their other stars are compensated. This isn't boxing and it isn't top level UFC, sadly. The money just isn't there to justify exorbitant contracts. Early on in GLORY many stars were signed to bloated contracts which simply don't reflect the current market for kickboxing. For Saki there is interest from GFC who is willing to pay him and has proven that they are willing to pay for name stars, as seen by Badr Hari's working agreement with them.

Saki released a statement through kickboxing blog Kickboxing Planet early this morning that attempts to explain his side of the story. What's clear is that Saki is very, very upset over this, but the statement itself is, well, a bit rough.

Bellator fans, the people in the USA are not going to see top quality kickboxing and this is bad for the sport. When you win the belt on Sept. 19 you can keep the price money but I expect the winner to hand the belt over to me and acknowledge that he didn’t beat the best. I mostly don’t talk like this and maybe there are a lot of emotions right now. But now that I offended anyone, I did that on purpose and I’m not sorry about it.

During this rant he describes his social media following as a point of value of him over the competition within the division, going as far as to make claims that the rest of the division are nobodies compared to him. This statement is... not a good look for a fighter in the public eye and chances are if there was an open dialogue between GLORY and Saki's camp that dialogue has most likely been shut down. 

It's easy to sympathize with Gokhan Saki as he is without a doubt one of the best fighters in the world and has worked extremely hard to reach that level. Before the market imploded he was without a doubt one of the more valuable stars. Hopefully he is able to make the money that he believes that he deserves and will continue fighting for his fans across the world. 


Gokhan Saki's GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship Vacated

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When we spoke with GLORY CEO Jon Franklin he told us that 95% of their fights had kept with them through the lean times. There were, of course, outliers, though. The biggest of which was Gokhan Saki, the GLORY Light Heavyweight Champion. He won the championship in a battle against Tyrone Spong that saw Spong's leg break in a freak accident and has left him in boxing and MMA since then. Saki, on the other hand, was not about to take a pay cut.

Saki has not competed for GLORY since GLORY 15 back in April of 2014. Instead he has competed one time for the UAE's GFC back in April against an overmatched Sebastian Ciobanu. The word on the street was that Saki was not happy with GLORY and while he was open to negotiations he would not return until his demands were met. GLORY has been negotiating with him ever since, acting on good faith and not vacating the championship, even after a year of inactivity. 

The final straw for GLORY was trying to negotiate for Saki to fight on September 19th in the Bellator Dynamite event to defend the GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship. They were unable to come to terms in time and GLORY has been forced to vacate the championship for the time being. They haven't given up on Saki just yet, but for now the title is vacant.

With GLORY's Light Heavyweight division being one of their deeper divisions it made no sense to hold up the title any longer. Hopefully this means that Danyo Ilunga and Saulo Cavalari can clash again, this time with the title on the line. Make it happen, GLORY.


Nieky Holzken issues challenge to Paul Daley

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Glory Welterweight champion Nieky Holzken has today challenged to Paul "Semtex" Daley to a fight at 77kg on the Bellator: Dynamite card in September. 

Holzken, the consensus #1 welterweight on the planet, is currently scheduled to defend his strap in a rematch with karate extraordinaire Raymond Daniels at Glory 23 on August 7th, but that hasn't stopped him from looking for additional opponents. 

Paul Daley is recognised by most combat sports fans for his achievements in mixed martial arts, however Daley has also found success in kickboxing too. The 32-year old from Nottingham fought six times last year inside the ring, earning five stoppage victories including one over the ranked #8 Alexander Stetsurenko. 

Soon after the video was posted by Holzken, Daley was quick to respond via his Facebook page:

"The best 77kg kickboxer Nieky Holzken has called me out to fight him on glory/Bellator dynamite. Very surreal. I'm a massive fan of Holzken, but I am a fighter that won't back down. If he wants it, it's the motivation I need. Let's make it happen, and if he wins in Vegas for the GLORY, let's make it for the GLORY CHAMPIONSHIP BELT. Ok Nieky?......." 

Whilst it would be a huge step-up in competition for "Semtex", a championship bout between these two would gain some serious attention, as well as undoubtedly providing fireworks. 


New Promo Video Goes Inside the Life of GLORY 23's Raymond Daniels

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On August 7th at GLORY 23 Raymond Daniels and Nieky Holzken are set to clash in a rematch from GLORY 19, only this time the vacant GLORY Welterweight Championship is on the line. There is a lot riding on this fight for both men, with Holzken looking to cement his legacy as the best at this weight and Daniels looking to prove that his success in martial arts can span over into kickboxing in a big way. 

We've already seen how Nieky Holzken is preparing for GLORY 23, now it's time to look at Raymond Daniels.


Check Out GLORY 23's Nieky Holzken Preparing for War

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While there are some grumbles about the card for GLORY 23, the price of admission is easily paid for by getting to see Nieky Holzken in action. Holzken is one of the top kickboxers in the world pound-for-pound and on August 7th he finally gets a chance to compete for the vacant GLORY Welterweight championship against co-contender Raymond Daniels. Daniels and Holzken met before in a contender tournament which saw Holzken pick up the win. Will he be able to repeat that win? He sure looks ready.


GLORY 23 Card Finalized for August 7th

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GLORY 23 will take place on August 7th live from the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, featuring a bout for the GLORY Welterweight Championship between Nieky Holzken and Raymond Daniels in a rematch from earlier this year. The title was vacated by Joseph Valtellini recently when it was revealed that he had suffered a concussion and was still dealing with the after effects of said concussion and wasn't sure when he'd be able to return to the ring. 

GLORY today released the finalized card (of course subject to change due to injuries, medical or visa issues as are prone to happen in this sport), which mostly just solidifies the fighters involved in the Qualifying tournament at Middleweight. Dustin Jacoby is the big name in this tournament with Casey Greene as the other GLORY veteran. The other two names are Quinton O'Brien and Ariel Sepuvelda.


GLORY Welterweight Championship: Nieky Holzken vs. Raymond Daniels
Xavier Vigney vs. Daniel Sam
GLORY Middleweight Contender Tournament: Casey Greene vs. Quinton O'Brien
GLORY Middleweight Contender Tournament: Dustin Jacoby vs. Ariel Sepuvelda

GLORY SuperFight Series

Anderson "Braddock" Silva vs. Jamal Ben Saddik
Murthel Groenhart vs. Chad Sugden
Matt Baker vs. Edward Hyman
Giga Chikadze vs. Anvar Boynazarav

Let's Relive GLORY 22

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GLORY 23 is less than a month away but that doesn't mean that we have to forget about GLORY 22, right? GLORY 22 France was one of GLORY's better events this year, featuring their Lightweight contender's tournament and Heavyweight title bout between champion Rico Verhoeven and Benjamin Adegbuyi. GLORY has put up a rewind show on YouTube highlighting GLORY 22 and it's a solid way to spend on hour on a sleepy Thursday.


Joe Schilling Hit With 90 Day Suspension After Bellator Loss

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If you were looking forward to seeing Joe Schilling in the ring wearing bigger gloves at the Bellator/GLORY Dynamite event in September it looks like you are out of luck. On Friday evening he competed within the Bellator cage against a Japanese karateka Hisaki Kato. Kato, who was a virtual unknown to most was thought to be simply a guy being fed to Schilling but he has an extensive history of competing within the world of karate and had racked up four knockouts for four wins in his MMA career prior in Japan. Needless to say the guy is no can and Schilling found out the hard way just how good he was, Kato scoring a brutal knockout over Schilling in the second round.

Schilling was originally scheduled for the September 19th Dynamite event on Spike TV but it came out today that the Kansas commission has handed out a 90-day medical suspension for Schilling, which takes him to the end of September before he's allowed contact. Clearly that means he won't be able to compete on the Dynamite card, which is a bummer. For now we still know that Paul Daley is scheduled to participate on the Dynamite card and he's been calling out recent-Bellator signee Josh Koscheck. I'm not sure that I want to see Kos's brain get scrambled in a kickboxing ring, but that could be interesting. 

Scott Coker also made mention of wanting to have a GLORY title fight on the card, so there is hope yet. 


GLORY Announces Hayabusa as Official Glove Provider

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There has been a lot of movement on the sports apparel and gear front over the last few months in the world of combat sports after the UFC struck an exclusive arrangement with Reebok that prevented other companies from having their usual pull inside of the octagon. From there we saw TapouT get partially bought out by the WWE and will be launching a co-branded initiative in 2016, Venum is sponsoring a kickboxing series in Europe called Venum World Series and now gear company Hayabusa will be providing GLORY with gloves for the next three years.

This is a switch from Leone, which provided gloves in the past for GLORY. Starting at GLORY 23 on August 7th Hayabusa's new World Class Competition Gloves will be used by GLORY competitors. The gloves are set to be unveiled during GLORY 23's fight week.


GLORY 23 Card Details Begin to Emerge

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GLORY 23 Las Vegas is GLORY's next big event happening on Spike TV and we'll see a new Welterweight Champion crowned on this night. Unfortunately due to ongoing effects from a concussion the champion Joseph Valtellini was forced to vacate the title and now Nieky Holzken will get his chance at the title against a man that he defeated just a few months prior in the ever-evolving Raymond Daniels. Daniels holds a rare knockdown over Holzken from their last fight and has been evolving and growing as a fighter steadily, making the rematch between the two in a five-round affair an interesting spectacle for both old and new fans.

The co-main event of the show has been announced as American Heavyweight hopeful Xavier Vigney taking on one of his biggest challenges to date in the UK's Daniel Sam. Sam serves as a gatekeeper to the realm of the international elite for Vigney and while a win over Sam won't thrust him into the top ten, it will help to legitimize his ascending the ranks and prove that he's ready to take a big step up in competition. 

The show will also feature a Middleweight Qualifying tournament and thus far we only have two names associated with it, which are Casey Greene on one side of the bracket and Dustin Jacoby on the other. We aren't exactly holding out hope for this tournament involving many bigger names, but it should serve the same purpose that the recent Heavyweight Qualifying tournament did, at least.

Perhaps one of the best fights on the card is on the SuperFight Series right now, which is Murthel Groenhart vs. Chad Sugden. 


Bellator Announces Dynamite!! September 19th in San Jose with GLORY Participation

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Yesterday there was a spark of this potentially huge event happening in September featuring Spike TV's premier combat sports brands of Bellator and GLORY. While there was some trepidation throughout the industry everything fell into place and today Bellator announced that Dynamite!! will happen on September 19th in San Jose at the SAP Center. GLORY's participation in the event will be a three-fight offering featuring fights from Joe Schilling, Paul Daley and more to be announced.

It will be interesting to have the Bellator cage set up in the arena as well as an area for a kickboxing ring as well, with Spike TV looking to present what should be their biggest combat sports card to date. In addition to the three-fight GLORY card there will be a lot of big stuff from Bellator, including a Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship bout between champion Liam McGeary and UFC legend Tito Ortiz. In addition there will be a one-night tournament at Light Heavyweight featuring King Mo Lawal, Phil Davis, Linton Vassal and Emanuel Newton, the winner challenging the winner of McGeary and Ortiz at a later event.

This should be a big deal for both MMA fans and kickboxing fans alike and is a very good thing for GLORY to be associated with Bellator like this. While Dynamite!! was a Japanese tradition that blended together DREAM and K-1, it will be interesting to see what a night of "Dynamite" featuring Bellator and GLORY can be.


Possibility of a Co-Branded GLORY/Bellator Event under Dynamite!! Banner on Spike TV

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In what I'd consider an interesting turn of events, there is a possibility of seeing the Dynamite!! brand revived yet again, only instead of being on New Year's Eve in Japan, in the United States in September on Spike TV. While Dynamite!! was synonymous with DREAM and K-1, this would be a co-branded event featuring Bellator and GLORY.

According to Ariel Helwani this is exactly the case and it will be announced tomorrow. What's interesting to note is that GLORY is reaching the end of their Spike TV deal which has some insiders a bit antsy, but cooperation on this level would mean a continued future with Spike TV and finally making use of the resources at Spike TV to help to push the GLORY brand front and center. More when we have it.


Catch Full GLORY 22 Fight Videos Here

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We are just a week past GLORY 22 but it is still fresh in our minds. A lot went down at GLORY 22 and if you somehow missed it, well, you are in luck. As GLORY is prone to doing, they released the entirety of the show on YouTube for the world to watch and you can catch it here. The playlist below features all of the fights in their entirety. So check it.


GLORY 22 Ratings Take a Hit From Afternoon Airtime

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By just about any metric GLORY 22 was a great event, both on paper and in execution. The Lightweight tournament featured some of the best and brightest in the Lightweight division and we walked away with Josh Jauncey looking like he's going to be a major player in the division for years and Sitthichai looking like he's marching to becoming a long-reigning champion. We also got some patented Zack Mwekassa violence and then we got to see Rico Verhoeven and Benjamin Adegbuyi stand toe-to-toe with Verhoeven walking away as champion still.

The issue, of course, came with GLORY 22 taking place in France. GLORY's main television contract is with Spike TV in the United States and while GLORY 22 did air on Spike UK, it aired on Saturday, when more people could be watching. One of the big complaints about past GLORY events emenating from Europe have been that Spike TV airs them on tape delay, which in a modern, internet-feuled age is liken to a form of self-sabotage. Spoilers are real and sporting events that you can DVR through the slower parts tend to lose the level of excitement that they bring when airing live. So Spike TV was going to make the "right" decision by airing GLORY 22 live. The problem here is that Spike TV opted not to air a replay of the event later on in the evening. 

The number being reported by SportsTVRatings is 152,000 viewers. This is of course excluding any possible DVR viewers that came afterwards, but is the raw, live number from Friday afternoon. It is, without a doubt, the lowest number that we've seen for GLORY programming on Spike TV. We spoke to GLORY officials who confirmed that while choosing France as the venue was their decision, when it aired on Spike TV was not under their control. GLORY was thrilled at the idea of airing the event live, but had begged for a replay later on in the evening due to 4pm Eastern and live at 1pm Pacific on a Friday seeming like suicide. 

One has to wonder why a network with the experience that Spike TV has with live combat sports and who seems dedicated to their Friday block of combat sports programming would make such an odd error. Spike TV has experience with the UFC, Bellator, professional boxing and now kickboxing to know how a show will fare at certain times and even the uninitiated saw 4pm Eastern as a bad time on a Friday. I have some serious questions here that there don't seem to be answers for as of press time and am starting to wonder if Spike has soured on the idea of partnering with GLORY or they are perhaps even looking to purchase the brand and "rehabilitate it" much like they did with Bellator years ago. 

GLORY 22 was a very, very good show that any combat sports fan should go out of their way to see. It's starting to look like Spike might not be overly enthralled with the brand that is still in its embryonic stages and if that is so, let's hope that GLORY does find a more commited partner in the future. 


Storylines: A breakdown of Glory 22

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Glory 22 in Lille, France was a fantastic event that showcased top-tier kickboxing action before an enthusiastic and receptive audience of fight fans. Featuring a 4-man lightweight contender tournament as well as a heavyweight title fight between champion Rico Verhoeven and top contender Benjamin Adegbuyi, this fight card delivered on stoppages as well as tense technical battles which had fans on the edge of their seats. New chapters were written in the storylines for many fighters which will have a big impact on their future trajectories. In this article, I’ll break down some of these emerging developments:

1. A star is born: Josh Jauncey establishes himself as a top-10 fighter.

Josh Jauncey has been putting on impressive displays of kickboxing technique in each of his Glory fights, but he is very much an emerging talent on the scene who is relatively new to the professional tier of competition. I first became aware of him after his brother, our very own Jay Jauncey, uploaded videos of Josh’s amateur fights onto Youtube a few years ago. His skill was immediately apparent and he seemed destined for great things, exhibiting a style and proficiency that closely resembled that of his idol Andy Souwer. It subsequently came as no surprise to learn that Josh was going to Holland to train with Team Souwer, and he has only improved since then. Yet, Jauncey has been brought along slowly by Glory, and for all of the growing hype, he had yet to draw a top-10 opponent. That changed at Glory 22 as Josh deftly handled the veteran Djime Coulibaly and went three hard rounds with Thai phenom Sitthichai, who months ago bested Souwer and Murthel Groenhart in one night and who finished former champion Davit Kiria inside one round in the tournament semi-final. To say that Josh has arrived is a massive understatement. I believe his performance places him firmly in the top-10, and I believe his style and personality will make him a crowd favorite in the future. If you don’t believe me, then listen to that French audience chant his name again.

2. Sitthichai finally has the platform he’s needed.

Sitthichai is a top-2 lightweight. When he chooses to come out aggressively, there is very little that his opponents seem capable of doing to stop his onslaught of kicks and knees. Davit Kiria is one of the toughest, most durable lightweights in the world, and Sitthichai’s knees put Kiria in a world of pain that left the former champion unable to continue. Despite the variety of Josh Jauncey’s techniques and his craftiness in evading the full power and aggression of the Thai, Sitthichai thoroughly handled the Canadian, relentlessly chopping away with his tree trunk-sized legs. Mauro Ranallo aptly compared Sitthichai to fellow Thai kickboxing legend Buakaw Banchamek, and much like Buakaw, Sitthichai’s flaws mainly stem from pacing issues and an occasional lack of aggression. However, when Sitthichai is on point, he is an unstoppable force and a clear-cut world-beater, and Glory has finally given him the chance to face the world’s best lightweights. His coming title fight against Robin van Rosmalen will be the caliber of fight that Sitthichai has deserved for years as well as one of the toughest fights of Robin’s career.

3. Rico Verhoeven proves the doubters wrong.

If beating Gokhan Saki and Daniel Ghita (twice) isn’t enough to prove that Rico is a top heavyweight, than a completely dominating performance against Benjamin Adegbuyi should hopefully silence the critics. It has been a tough road for Verhoeven, who has been around the scene for years but who has always stood in the shadow of fighters like Saki, Ghita, Badr Hari, and Errol Zimmerman. He has demonstrated great ability but has also suffered from consistency issues, dropping a decision to Andrei Gerasimchuk in a fight that as the world champion he really shouldn’t have lost. Indeed, his performance during the opening round of this championship fight was similarly troubling with Verhoeven letting Adegbuyi control the round with his stiff jab. He came alive as the fight went on, putting on the performance that a champion should—using his low kick to punish Benny’s boxing and dominating the Romanian in the championship rounds. Rico described his performance as “okay,” and his perception is understandable—he is arriving at his best years but has by no means reached his peak.

4. Mourad Bouzidi belongs at light heavyweight.

Mourad Bouzidi could be one of the most overlooked fighters in kickboxing, and it’s easy to see why: for years Mourad competed as an undersized heavyweight who was bullied by the likes of Daniel Ghita and other giants. In spite of this, he holds wins against the likes of Anderson “Braddock” Silva and Hesdy Gerges. His victory over Filip Verlinden firmly establishes the weight class he needs to compete in; it is one of the biggest wins of his career, and for the first time, it puts him in a serious title conversation.

5. Other stories.

Zack Mwekassa picked up another KO win here, but this match-up really did nothing to further his place in the division. I think his place as #4 on the Glory rankings is completely absurd (#3 is Brian Collette—even more so). Zack is a nice guy with a great story who has awesome KO power, but we really need to see what Zack can do as a kickboxer. Drawing any of the guys who rank below him on the Glory rankings (c’mon!) will be a good test for him, but in particular, I would like to see him face Michael Duut, a Dutch kickboxer in need of a comeback fight.

Jamal Ben Saddik: what can I say, the heavyweight division is going to need more fighters for Rico Verhoeven to face, especially if Rico beats Braddock Silva. But is Ben Saddik really the right guy? After unceremoniously dismissing him following his disqualifying ground attack against Hesdy Gerges, Glory has taken him back, giving him an opponent to KO for his trouble. I don’t think that Glory should give unsportsmanlike conduct a bye. We’ve been down that road before with FEG rewarding Badr Hari’s repeated misconduct with the lightest of wrist slaps. I think Glory is far better off giving Ben Edwards a call next time.

Overall, it’s good to feel engaged with kickboxing again. Glory is producing events consistently now, and the narrative momentum is very palpable. The anticipation over Nieky Holzken’s return at Glory 23 is already building—as it should. The Hard Rock in Las Vegas is a tested venue for combat sports entertainment and is the home of Lion Fight, which regularly draws enthusiastic supporters to its Muay Thai events. Glory is putting together events which feature the right fighters in the right setting, and I look forward to Glory 23 with great anticipation.


Rico Verhoeven Retains GLORY Heavyweight Championship at GLORY 22

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It was a monumental event for Heavyweight kickboxing at GLORY 22 when Rico Verhoeven defended his GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi. It was the first real Heavyweight title bout for the new generation of heavyweights, accentuated by Semmy Schilt, Ernesto Hoost and Remy Bonjasky in attendance and presenting the winner with the belt. It was the battle of the knockout artist against the cardio and combination machine and it cemented Verhoeven's spot at the top of the food chain.

Many have been critical of Verhoeven in the past and he was looking to prove that he wouldn't be satisfied squeaking out a win, but instead wanted to dominate. Early on Adegbuyi came at him with everything that he had and most men would have fallen to those blows, but Verhoeven held steady. The Verhoeven that came back at Benny in rounds two and three was an angry one, highly motivated to not just let Adegbuyi tire out. Instead Verhoeven came at Adegbuyi with his fists flying and we had a war on our hands for a while.

Benny began to tire, though, and as the fight moved into the deep waters it was clear that Verhoeven was in the better condition and that his combinations were flowing just as easily as they were in the early rounds. It became a thing of beauty to watch Verhoeven slip strikes and land eloquent combinations against the Romanian slugger. Adegbuyi came back in the fifth round but it simply was too little, too late against the technical brilliance of Rico Verhoeven.

Verhoeven retains but Adegbuyi put on a valiant performance and shows that he belongs in the pantheon of top heavyweights right now.


Rico Verhoeven Looks to Impress at GLORY 22

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At twenty-six he's on top of the world and not looking to step down soon. He didn't arrive there overnight, this achievement is the culmination of twenty years of hard work and dedication, not to mention the fact that it's in his blood. Rico Verhoeven, GLORY's current heavyweight champion is the son, of a black belt in karate, and no stranger to training and hard work. Today he reaps the benefits of those seeds that were sown so early in his life, but if you think that is all there is to Rico, that's where you're wrong. Besides maintaining his heavyweight champion status with GLORY, Rico is a father and a man who aspires to much more.

Currently Rico is set to face the Romanian Benny Adegbuyi at GLORY 22 in Lille, France. During the course of his career, however, he has faced a veritable who's who in kickboxing world among those names Aerts, Zimmerman, Ghita, Saki and Schilt are representative of the high level of competition he's faced. His career and rise to the top has not come without criticism. He has been criticized by people who say that his fights are not exciting and that the level of respect he brings to his opponents has also been lacking. This accusation has been especially prominent in his most recent fights with Daniel Ghita and Errol Zimmerman. Regardless, Rico has chosen to fight this battle in the ring by showing improvement in every aspect of his game and verbally with a maturity of man who truly embraces the term, 'sportsmanship'.

In his last bout at GLORY 19: Virginia, Verhoeven had less of an opportunity to showcase any improvements to his game. In this match, facing Errol Zimmerman a second round TKO stopped the match., the result of Zimmerman tearing his patellar tendon. In the ring, Verhoeven is best known as a highly technical fighter with strong boxing skills and a solid defense. In order to continue his eight fight winning streak in the face off against Adegbuyi, he will need those skills as Adegbuyi is well known for his aggression and heavy hands.

Whatever the outcome, the heavyweight championship at GLORY 22: Lille, promises to bring excitement with a clash of two titans.

If you're wondering about Verhoeven's other aspirations, I'll give you a clue... lights, camera, action, and I don't mean just inside the ring.


The State of Kickboxing: Glory’s Slow Crawl to Legitimacy

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What does it take to get over with fans? It’s the million dollar question that marks the dividing line between a gimmick of the moment and a product that has established its presence in the market—the continuum, in our case, that Glory finds itself inching along in its slow crawl to stability and legitimacy. There’s an expectation that ‘getting over’ amounts to finding a moment that will make its mark in the minds of fans—in the collective consciousness of the sports entertainment universe—and to seizing the opportunity to rocket the brand into orbit. Creating that moment is something that Glory has pursued relentlessly, putting its highlight-making fighters like Joe Schilling and Raymond Daniels on TV with regular frequency. For its trouble, the highlights are adding up, and Glory has amassed a fight library that could now fill dead airtime with countless hours of syndicated content (are you listening, SpikeTV?). There’s a sense that Glory’s efforts are adding up to something, but for many fans in the kickboxing community, talk is cheap and there exists a healthy skepticism about Glory’s future. After a very tumultuous 2014, one could be forgiven for continuing to feel let down by Glory, which is why I think it is important to take a step back and reevaluate Glory’s place in the kickboxing world during these last few months.

At this time, Glory is the only truly legitimate international outlet for high level kickboxing competition. Kunlun may be a rising product in China, but for now, its televised reach doesn’t extend far beyond its domestic borders. K-1 has the top-tier featherweight talent, but again, it’s strictly a Japan-only product. Other organizations have been promoting fights in Europe and China, but so far no other major international players have emerged. We’ve seen some activity in the Middle East with ‘family-friendly’ promotion GFC, but so far GFC hasn’t demonstrated that it will amount to more than yet another show that threw money around for a little while—with no international television distribution and questionable attendance, we can’t confidently speculate about its future.

This is not to say that my outlook on Glory is any rosier, but it so far shows the most promise out of the promotions comprising the kickboxing landscape at this time. That said, some fans, including me, hold Glory responsible for possibly damaging the market for elite kickboxing talent during the promotion’s initial days, more-so than anyone who has come before or since. While for obvious reasons there is no specific information out there, the rumored story is that the talent acquired by Glory after the fall of K-1 was signed to compete under contracts which allegedly paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars per fight. These huge payouts readily attracted K-1’s superstars but also had the effect of greatly inflating their value. Some of these fighters, like Tyrone Spong and Gokhan Saki, may be in a position now where they won’t accept a contract for market value because it would mean not earning the money that they now feel entitled to make. However, it doesn’t make sense for Glory to continue compensating them at such a high rate if they aren’t going to be huge television draws, especially now that Glory has made forays into developing grassroots talent. It puts fighters like Saki and Spong in the position where they must seek out promoters who are willing to meet their new asking price. What that usually amounts to when it comes to the business of kickboxing are more inexperienced promoters who will throw that kind of money around in an effort to quickly establish a presence but who will also more often than not quickly fold after realizing the magnitude of loss associated with having no plan to achieve sustainability. At one point I would have included Glory in that category, but they’ve made sacrifices and changes to their roster and production which I feel reflect a desire to become sustainable. They—specifically Pierre Andurand—could have cut their losses and pulled out a long time ago like so many before him if that’s what they wanted to do. Instead, the Glory of today is a scaled-down organization that is focusing on developing talent at market value and establishing a presence on television.

Some may tout the European market and its potential, but there has never been any indication that operating there is any more sustainable than operating in the United States. Sure, attendance has been traditionally high, but so far no organization has become a breakout success. It’s Showtime is no more, and the other organizations like Enfusion are strictly small-scale. SuperKombat is looking like the only potential exception, and to its credit it has outlasted many competitors while occupying a solid spot on EuroSport. Nevertheless, it has stayed out of the elite-level talent market, opting instead to cultivate local fighters in Eastern Europe.

The real challenge of promoting the sport of kickboxing is not merely limited to putting butts in seats or big fights on TV—it’s in actually recovering money from the whole enterprise. If there is any market where the potential exists to grow kickboxing into a legitimate business, it is in the Americas. This is very much New World vs. Old World: in the New World, kickboxing has the chance to find its own legs and grow as a sports entertainment product on its own merit. In the Old World, kickboxing is an attraction traditionally staged by people with no apparent entrepreneurial aspirations, and we’ve seen—time and time again—the promotion of the week come and go. This doesn’t mean that Europe doesn’t have the potential for an organization to build itself up as a self-sustaining business, but so far the European kickboxing world has been anything but focused on that goal. I feel like the difference here needs to be more widely understood. Kickboxing has never had a more important opportunity than it does now with SpikeTV and Glory. People may (rightfully) criticize some of the talent and matchmaking decisions at Glory 21, for example, but don’t lose sight of the big picture and what Glory is trying to accomplish. It is trying to make money out of a sport that doesn’t make money.

And for it’s trouble, the effort seems to be adding up. Ratings are stable, DVR numbers are up, and Spike has taken enough of an interest in Glory to broadcast its first live overseas event in Glory 22, going down June 5 at 4pm Eastern time. The promotion has attracted the attention of sports entertainment celebrities like Bill Goldberg, who is lending his talents inside and outside of the ring—and especially where it counts: in front of the cameras. Glory is being name dropped by the likes of Dolph Lundgren, and Goldberg’s involvement has even attracted the attention of the TMZ. For all of the false starts and missteps over the last few years, the ball feels like it’s finally beginning to roll, and 2015 may turn out to be a bright year for Glory—if we give it a chance. Because, as it turns out, there is no alternative.


GLORY 23 on August 7th to Feature Daniels vs. Holzken for GLORY Welterweight Title

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After the staggering news of Joseph Valtellini relinquishing his GLORY Welterweight Championship it was announced today via John Joe O'Regan at Sherdog that the title won't be vacant for long. On August 7th in Las Vegas Nieky Holzken will vie for the championship against Raymond Daniels in a rematch from the GLORY contender tournament that Holzken won. 

The event is GLORY 23 and is set for August 7th at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas and will be airing live on Spike TV. Raymond Daniels has had some solid exposure on Spike TV and it should make for an interesting bout for the ever-evolving Daniels against the consensus top dog in the division in Holzken. 


Crice Boussoukou Out Against Jauncey at GLORY 22, Djime Coulibaly In

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To say that GLORY cards end up as a game of musical chairs as the event approaches is an understatement at this point, GLORY 22 being no exception. What was originally slated to be Josh Jauncey vs. Niclas Larsen then turned into Josh Jauncey vs. Cris Boussoukou. Now Josh Jauncey is fighting Djime Coulibaly after some more reshuffling at the last minute. 

Niclas Larsen suffered from a severe infection in his foot that put him out of action and now it looks like there was an issue with a blood test for Crice Boussoukou that has forced GLORY to pull him from the fight. This left Marat Grigorian and Djime Coulibaly as the only fighters that they could grab for the spot and it looks like Djime Coulibaly won the lottery on this one. Marat will fight Serhiy Adamchuk in the reserve fight on this tournament while Coulibaly gets the chance of a lifetime in the GLORY Lightweight Contender's tournament here at GLORY 22.


GLORY Welterweight Champion Joseph Valtellini Vacates Championship

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It has been almost a year since we've seen "Bazooka" Joe Valtellini in action. At GLORY 17 Los Angeles Valtellini was victorious over then-champion Marc de Bonte securing the GLORY Welterweight Championship. Since then fans have been anxiously awaiting the rematch between Valtellini and Nieky Holzken, Holzken himself feeling rather impatient over how many times the bout has been pushed back.

Now we know why and it is pretty heartbreaking. According to our friend John Joe O'Regan over at BloodyElbow the GLORY Champ has been suffering from Post-Concussion Syndrome, which includes sensitivity to light or loud noises and has kept him on the shelf for a while now. According to Valtellini there is still no real timetable for him being able to start training again and return to the ring so he made the tough decision of vacating the championship. Valtellini notes that it could be a matter of weeks until he is better or it could be a matter of months, it's simply difficult to tell at this point. 

Here's hoping to a speedy recovery for Valtellini and we will hopefully see him vying for that GLORY Welterweight Championship again in no time.


Verhoeven vs. Adegbuyi is a Battle of the New Blood

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Heavyweight kickboxing is most likely the reason why we are all here. Sure, a lot of us grew to love and appreciate a lot of other weight classes, but chances are if you got into kickboxing you got into it because of big guys throwing bombs at each other. The K-1 World Grand Prix was the gold standard in kickboxing for a very long time and produced some of the absolute best and most entertaining fights imaginable. Things have changed, though, and the old guard is mostly retired or on the way out. Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Ernesto Hoost, Semmy Schilt, Jerome Le Banner and the other fighters that made Heavyweight kickboxing feel so special have had their time in the sun and rode off into the sunset.

Now is the time for a new generation to battle for Heavyweight supremacy. There have been fighters who have fought in the interim era, guys like Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki, Errol Zimmerman and even Daniel Ghita who were primed to take the throne but they either ran into roadblocks from the older generation or ran into the younger generation. Rico Verhoeven is the embodiment of this new era in Heavyweight kickboxing and his title defense against Benjamin Adegbuyi will be the first actual “new” Heavyweight title fight that we’ve seen in this era.

Stop and think about that for a minute. Rico was tied up with Daniel Ghita and Errol Zimmerman, two fighters who were involved in the tail end of the K-1 days and saw their primes during that era into the It’s Showtime and early GLORY days. While Rico Verhoeven did have a few fights under the K-1 banner, he never made it into the K-1 World Grand Prix due to his age and lack of experience. Now he is a fully formed fighter and champion. Benjamin Adegbuyi is a talent that was fostered entirely in a post-K-1 World Grand Prix era under the SuperKombat banner before entering into GLORY.

There have been some criticisms of GLORY throughout their tenure, some of it warranted and some of it unwarranted, but their desire and ability to create new stars has been a struggle for them. When GLORY launched the big stars from the K-1 era were on the way out and the fighters who came in at the tail end of the era (your Sakis, Ghitas, Spongs, Zimmermans) were deservingly expensive for their accomplishments but didn’t bring with them the same name recognition that an Aerts, Hoost, Bonjasky or Schilt brought with them. 

Rico Verhoeven rose to prominence in an unlikely field of top contenders. Rico had his shot against some of these bigger names previously and while he held his own and showed flashes of brilliance, there was still something missing. It wasn’t until his fight at the GLORY 4 Grand Slam Tournament with Semmy Schilt where he had an awakening that he could hang with the best in the world, that there was no reason to be tentative or concerned anymore; he had become one of the best. The Rico that we saw after that had a new fire lit under him that led him to a GLORY 11 Heavyweight tournament victory and then a GLORY Heavyweight Championship victory over Daniel Ghita. He went into his fight at GLORY 19 against Errol Zimmerman after a stumbling in China against Andrei Gerasimchuk with a renewed focus and was looking great until Zimmerman tweaked his knee. 

For Benjamin Adegbuyi his story is a bit different. Eduard Irimia of SuperKombat saw something in the Heavyweight and helped to foster his career under the SuperKombat banner. This meant that he was immediately thrust into the spotlight as one of their top Heavyweight prospects while given fights that were appropriate for his level. It’s hard to argue with that, although there was a lot of hyperbole surrounding Adegbuyi for years because of his highlight reel of knockouts against lesser opponents.

Simply stated, Adegbuyi’s growth stage was televised on a national platform in Romania and around Europe which led to him becoming and incredibly popular fighter that many fans saw as the next Heavyweight champion of the world. It took time, though, and Adegbuyi was capable and willing to put in the work to reach the level where he is at today. When he entered GLORY he worked his way up the ladder and now has his chance to prove how far that he’s come.

The fight itself is a fascinating one as well. Rico Verhoeven is a technical, kick-oriented fighter who is not afraid to trade but prefers a slower, more methodical pace. His defenses are great for a Heavyweight and he now pieces together strong combinations and is a lot more comfortable with his hands. Adegbuyi is fine technically, but he’s best known for how hard he hits and how he pieces together finishing combinations. If Benny can find a hole he’ll take advantage of it.

This leads to what should be an exciting fight. Verhoeven should have the edge thanks to his defenses and ability to score points like we saw in his fights with Saki, Zimmerman and Ghita. They all felt that Rico didn’t do enough to “beat” them, but he still won and in every case it was clear what he did to win. For Adegbuyi he will be looking for a knockout, which isn’t to say that he won’t be careful and technical, because he has grown as a fighter and has become more careful, but his best chance to avoid what happened to Zimmerman, Ghita and Saki is to do what they couldn’t; knock the Prince of Kickboxing out. 


Stream Information For GLORY 22 Lille

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GLORY 22 is Friday evening in France, airing live on Spike TV in the afternoon here in the United States. As always, there is going to be a deluge of people searching for streams and luckily for you, we have your back on this one. If you live anywhere but ex-Yugoslavia and are looking for a way to watch the SuperFight Series you can do so through us starting at 1:30 PM Eastern time. If you live outside of ex-Yugoslavia and the USA you can check out the full GLORY 22 stream starting at 4pm Eastern.

GLORY 22 SuperFight Series



GLORY Makes Its Debut on Spike UK With GLORY 22

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When GLORY and Spike announced that they'd be partnering up a few years ago it changed the kickboxing landscape forever in the United States. Not only was kickboxing being featured on American television, but the premier kickboxing league was being thrust to center stage on one of the most available cable networks in the United States. In fact, the UFC grew to where it is today through their partnership with Spike TV. Things were looking good for kickboxing.

Spike TV expanded to the United Kingdom recently, but it should be noted that the programming isn't 1 for 1, the deals that programming in the US have don't always carry over to the UK network. That meant that GLORY wasn't available on Spike UK, which launched on April 15th. But no more.

Today it was announced that GLORY will be airing on Spike UK starting with GLORY 22 on Saturday at 10pm. GLORY joins Bellator and BAMMA on Spike UK's combat sports lineup and the debut will be an explosive one with GLORY 22, featuring Rico Verhoeven vs. Benjamin Adegbuyi and a Lightweight contender tournament.


Crice Boussoukou In Against Jauncey at GLORY 22 and More

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GLORY 22 is this Friday and it's difficult not to feel excited in the buildup to the event. Rico Verhoeven vs. Benjamin Adegbuyi is perhaps the first real "new blood" Heavyweight championship fight in a great deal of years, we will be treated to some Zack Mwekassa violence and the GLORY Lightweight tournament is chock full of talent. Of course, Niclas Larsen was originally slated to meet Josh Jauncey in the tournament, but Larsen suffered from a rather painful looking infection in his foot that will keep him out of action.

We learned over the weekend that muay thai specialist Crice Boussoukou will be stepping in on late notice for Larsen and competing against Jauncey. This will be the GLORY debut for Crice, but we've seen him before in Thai Fight, Yokkao and competing against Sitthichai so we know that he's a very capable fighter ready to take this leap up in competition and prove himself. It should be an interesting fight for Jauncey, considering that there are some stylistic differences between the two fighters, but no matter what it should be an interesting fight. 

The added incentive for Crice is that he lost to Sitthichai back in February of this year and one would have to think that if he could make it by Jauncey and Sitthichai by Kiria that he'd relish the rematch under kickboxing rules. 

Another late replacement comes for B-Boy Karim Gajji who was forced to pull out of his bout with Yoann Kongolo. Filling in for him will be French slugger Cedric Doumbe. Doumbe might not be the wily veteran that Gajji is, but the man can throw some crazy punches and it should be an entertaining scrap to say the least.


GLORY 21 Sees Boost From DVR Numbers

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When it comes to tabulating ratings on television these days it is difficult to ignore the impact that DVRs have. Just a few years before the concept of a DVR and being able to record and watch a show at a later time was a luxury. Now it is fairly common on most cable and satellite providers to include some sort of DVR option. Ratings are now more than simply live viewers, but also include DVR viewings up to a few days later.

According to our friend John Joe O'Regan at BloodyElbow GLORY 21 has seen a significant boost from the DVR numbers. With the DVR numbers the show's viewership kicks up from 488,000 to 517,000 viewers. 

He also spoke to GLORY CEO Jon J. Franklin who talked about some of their difficulties last year, including show cancellations and the long gap between GLORY 17 and GLORY 18, but the promotion seems confident moving forward. He also noted that the next show is in France, which means that it will air on tape delay here in the United States. While that has been an issue in the past, they are still dedicated to their strong European audience and have no plans on abandoning them any time soon.


Andy Ristie's Trainer Barred From GLORY Ring After GLORY 20 Glove Mishap

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If you'll remember back to GLORY 20 Dubai there was a moment at the beginning of the GLORY Lightweight Title bout between Robin van Roosmalen and Andy Ristie where the referee pulled Ristie aside and was forced to replace his glove. Apparently the thumb of the glove was cut, which has been described as giving an advantage when it comes to dexterity inside of the glove. It was not clear if it was intentional or simply an accident, but according to MixFight GLORY has made a ruling on it and it has resulted in Ristie's trainer, Roberto Flamingo, being barred from ringside at future GLORY events. 

MixFight has been all over the story, including a joint statement from Ristie and Flamingo claiming that there was no intentional wrongdoing and that Ristie will remain with Flamingo. Black Label Fighting, a management company, released a statement as well supporting GLORY's decision in this matter.


GLORY 21 Draws Strong Ratings on Spike TV for Levin vs. Marcus II

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After a rather disappointing rating for GLORY 20 Dubai, thanks in part to tape delay, GLORY 21 shows the brand's durability by snapping back into line with a reported 488,000 average viewers on Spike TV. According to our bud Michael Stets over at MMAMania, Spike TV has disclosed that GLORY 21 drew an average of 488,000 viewers for GLORY 21, which is the fifth highest rating to date on Spike TV.

It's a solid rebound after GLORY 19 drew the second-highest with 542,000 viewers and for GLORY 20 to dip to the next-to-worst ratings with 359,000. A gain of 129,000 viewers is quite impressive for the brand on a Friday evening considering that the card was a bit underwhelming when it comes to star names outside of the main event between Simon Marcus and Artem Levin and the co-main event featuring Raymond Daniels in a feature bout. 

For now we will have to wait with baited breath for GLORY 22, which features a Lightweight tournament and a Heavyweight Championship fight in what many fans consider a very good card, and if the tape delay curse will strike again for GLORY. The peak numbers are not yet available, but we will update with them when it is available. 

UPDATE: Stets has the peak numbers now.


The Trial and Error of GLORY 21

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Photo (C) James Law/GLORY Sports International

Last night was of course GLORY 21, which has seen mixed reviews. A lot of hardcore kickboxing fans were upset with the card and of course the outcome to Artem Levin vs. Simon Marcus. A lot of MMA twitter seemed to be enjoying the event, though, which was an interesting contrast. While those are topics to take into account, I performed a bit of an experiment last night of my own. I had a good friend come over to watch the fights with me who had never watched kickboxing or GLORY before, but had seen his share of boxing and MMA to have a base level understanding of combat sports. 

Last night's GLORY 21 event was a further extension of the search for the homegrown GLORY kickboxing star. The first attempt was the Heavyweight Qualifying tournament featuring three American Heavyweights and the British Chi Lewis Parry. The tournament, originally announced as an all-American affair could have been an all-American affair, but the man known as "Chopper" had proven to be adept at promoting himself and was coming off of a knockout win, meaning that if he could back up his talk with more knockouts GLORY could have another star in Chi Lewis Parry. 

The tournament itself was perhaps best suited for the undercard, although I understand the logic of it being on the main card in hopes of big knockouts and building stars. I knew that I'd be able to see through certain things (like Maurice Jackson's 31-0 record that nobody can find much proof of), but would my friend? His comments on the tournament bouts were "most of these guys seem like amateurs, they just aren't impressive at all, is the whole sport like that?" There in lies the problem with promoting fights like this. While there will indeed be people who say "wow, lots of knockouts here! What action!" There will be people who compare the action to your average UFC event that they've seen and see telltale signs of fighters who aren't at the elite level and the entire affair will unravel.

Now, while Justin Baesman did not do much to impress, the feats that Raymond Daniels were capable of immediately caught his attention and he commented on how Daniels was doing things that you'd only see in movies. The main event was another story altogether, where he commented on how Levin and Marcus moved unlike anyone he had ever seen before and that they were clearly many levels above anyone else on the card that night. This was coming from a guy who spent time in Thailand last year and checked out some muay thai, so there was some recognition of the muay thai style that both bring over, albeit diluted and different due to GLORY's modified rules. 

I commend GLORY on looking to build up new stars on Spike TV, but the GLORY name comes with a certain level of prestige and history to it for a young promotion. That history and prestige involves the best of the best fighting in the ring for our collective amusement. A gimme fight or two is never going to hurt the product, but a card like GLORY 21, if we are brutally honest, was a one-fight card. I'm not attempting to take anything away from any of the competitors, but the truth is that as much promise as we see in Demoreo Dennis, Xavier Vigney and Chi Lewis Parry, they've yet to prove themselves on the big stage just yet. The level of competition that they faced was about right to help nurture their growth, but sadly, it was not the right level of competition for a GLORY television show while some of the best fighters in the planet are sitting by waiting for the phone to ring for their opportunity on a Spike TV main card. 

As an entertainment product it would be hard to call GLORY 21 a failure by any stretch. It delivered two hours of exciting, fast-paced action that was capped off by a fight between two of the very best fighters in the world. I could think of shows from the UFC within the past few years that have been endless marathons that tested my patience to a level that pushed me to just stop watching. I'm not sure that GLORY will ever be able to promote anything on that level. The result between Levin and Marcus was not perfect, no, but that was outside of the control of just about everyone involved and there is no way that I'll be able to complain about a rematch between the two.


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