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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

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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."


A Lament for GLORY on Spike TV

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Some relationships were never meant to be.

GLORY and Spike TV is a perfect example of that. Spike TV’s decision to enter the kickboxing business dates back to before the GLORY deal, with them announcing in August of 2012 that they had come to a deal with K-1 Global to air their events in the United States. While we could write a whole hell of a lot about the failings and shortcomings of K-1 Global, they saw the writing on the wall when it came to Spike TV and pulled out of the deal after just streaming one event on their website with very little support.

By this point GLORY had officially transitioned from United Glory events run by Golden Glory officials largely as a showcase for fighters who they managed and trained to being folded into the new organization called GLORY Sports International. GLORY eventually scooped up It’s Showtime, along with the host of fighters under contract with them and by mid-2000 had begun to hit their stride as one of the premier kickboxing organizations in the world.

Spike was still hungry for kickboxing content, though, especially after they lost the rights to air UFC events exclusively.

By mid-2013 GLORY was well on its way to overtaking the former juggernaut that was K-1, with K-1 Global running less and less events, conceding to GLORY’s overtaking over the market. GLORY had its eyes on the American audiences and by the summer of 2013 were in talks with Spike TV. This, at the time, felt like the beginning of something big. For those of us on the inside in the sport it was clear that K-1 Global was not prepared to run events on American TV at the time, but GLORY seemed to have their ducks in a row when it came to production. An early working relationship with current CEO Jon J. Franklin opened up doors in television to get GLORY into conversations and by the time that we were all watching GLORY 10 on an internet stream we were doing so with the knowledge that GLORY 11 would be on American television.

Kickboxing’s return to American television felt like a big deal. HDnet (now AXS TV) had been airing K-1 events as of 2008, but their reach at the time was still not immense and didn’t reach beyond the core fans. HDnet/AXS’s handling of the sport was with respect and care, their broadcast teams working closely with K-1 in Japan to make everything seamless. That was the level of excellence that kickboxing on television in America would be held to, but only now it would be broadcast out to a much wider audience on a network like Spike TV. Spike TV was famous for being the network that was there when UFC finally became big.

The broadcasts would never reach that level of polish, though. Instead there was just a struggle.

If even a little bit of that “magic” could wear off on the sport of kickboxing it could finally take off. After covering the death of FEG, which included fighters publicly decrying the organization and demanding pay being the only kickboxing news stories that mainstream MMA sites had picked up in years, this felt like a win for the sport. Kickboxing needed this win badly and it felt like things had turned around with this deal. Part of what made K-1 thrive in Japan was its partnership with Fujii TV, who set aside a budget in the realm of $1 million per show (or more depending on the show), allowing for those huge, legendary events to happen.

At the time inside reports from GLORY had their shows losing money with each show, anywhere from the realm of $100,000 for smaller events to upwards of $500,000 to even $1m for big events. What was clear was that for kickboxing to exist on the level that we all knew it, the sport needed an advocate. Early GLORY was largely in part to healthy investments from Pierre Andurand, Ivan Farneti, Marcus Luer and Scott Rudmann who made up the core ownership of the promotion early on through various agreements and companies, but it was unrealistic to expect individuals to keep pouring money into a venture without any return. The Spike TV deal would hopefully open up the American market to GLORY and bring in more possible investors and sponsors. It did. There have been multiple investments and capital injections since the Spike TV deal, but everything all said it wasn’t enough.

Spike TV Simply Wasn’t the Network.

I vividly remember the night that GLORY 11 aired on Spike TV. For me, personally, I had taken a giant gamble back in 2009 when faced with pursuing a career writing about MMA I instead chose to veer off onto a path that included the more rough-and-tumble sport of kickboxing. At the time kickboxing was an afterthought, an exotic Japanese import that only the diehard “PRIDE NEVER DIE” fans were watching in the wee hours of the morning. Major MMA outlets were amplifying their coverage of major grappling events, but kickboxing shows were mentioned in passing or in a diminutive manner. I saw an opportunity to help the sport that I loved to be more accessible beyond trawling through message boards and blogs of varying languages for news. I was already doing this for myself, why not post about it for everyone?

Fraser Coffeen and myself ventured off onto this path and since then there have been many bumps in the road, such as Fraser having to make a tough decision in early 2011 to depart the site for the greener pastures of MMA after kickboxing looked to be on life support. The journey as a whole had twists and turns, from an MMA site we helped to co-found to a WordPress site dedicated to K-1 to an offer from SBNation to join their network, to leaving that network for the great unknown. All that culminated with GLORY 11, though. The gamble was looking to finally pay off; kickboxing was going to be reaching a broader audience.

The excitement that night was palpable. I still felt that GLORY 10 was the show that should have been live on Spike TV for their debut, that show featuring Joe Schilling winning the Middleweight tournament in heroic fashion, an American champion on a worldwide stage after years without, but you can’t win them all. Instead Rico Verhoeven’s coronation was the beginning of the relationship on Spike TV, which was hard to complain about. The event had a few minor hitches, but it still felt like a success. The ratings came in and they weren’t great, but they weren’t bad, either. There looked to be hope.

Rumors of the network’s pay being paltry started to swirl around almost immediately, with there already being skeptics that Spike TV wasn’t going to be the right fit for the promotion or the sport. Viacom, upon losing UFC, looked to immediately replace the newly-created gap by purchasing a controlling stake into Bellator MMA, which led many to believe that an independently owned and operated promotion like GLORY would see many hurdles in dealing with the network. Why promote the brand that they don’t own when they already had one combat sports league that was struggling? When the ratings didn’t skyrocket fears started to build that Spike TV might sour on GLORY.

Somewhere along the line the decision was made to “test the waters” on PPV for GLORY, with the promotion pouring money and effort into the GLORY 17 event to air on Spike with GLORY Last Man Standing to air on PPV immediately afterwards. The event was billed as their biggest show ever, but many feeling that GLORY’s attempt to make it onto PPV was far too early for the young organization, especially with only six months of being on American television without drastically increased ratings. Were American audiences ready to plonk down their hard earned money to watch GLORY’s biggest show ever? The answer was an emphatic no with Dave Meltzer reporting the numbers as 5,000 or less. GLORY officials confirmed it, claiming international buys more than doubled that number, but the damage was still done.

A long absence followed while the company decided on where to go next. What followed was a management shake-up and some restructuring, with Jon J. Franklin assuming the company’s helm and shows having a leaner budget all-around. Rumors started to circulate about top fighters departing due to contract disputes and fan opinion online had shifted from favorable to them looking for other promotions to pledge support to, like the Dubai-based GFC featuring Badr Hari. When GLORY relaunched it was with much leaner shows, lacking the big screens and jam-packed cards with an increased concern with the budget.

The ratings followed suit, fluctuating wildly as tensions rose between Spike TV and GLORY in the background. GLORY events changed from Saturdays to Fridays to accommodate for Spike’s new marketing of “Friday Night Lights Out” and their time slot never quite felt set in stone. Start times varied wildly and if you were a fan looking to watch kickboxing the distinct lack of marketing of the events on the network and elsewhere didn’t help to solidify when they’d actually air. Critical mass was reached when the decision came down that GLORY 22 would be aired live on Spike TV at 4pm in the afternoon but not replayed later on.

The decision seemed insane to many, with 4pm on a Friday being possibly the worst time to air an event. The results on previous tape-delayed events were mixed, at best. GLORY 13 in Tokyo pulled in strong ratings for the Welterweight tournament and Peter Aerts vs. Rico Verhoeven, while GLORY 15 featuring the Light Heavyweight tournament with Tyrone Spong vs. Gokhan Saki in the finals pulled in poor ratings after Spong’s leg break went viral, thus spoiling the result of one of the most-hyped tournaments in the company’s history. GLORY 22 live at 4pm felt like one of the final nails in the coffin for the relationship.

Sources on both sides were unhappy with the deal and fingers were pointed wherever they could be to help shift blame. Around this time there were whispers of Scott Coker looking to run his own kickboxing events on Spike TV. Things were in an embryonic state at that point, but the rumor was interesting, considering GLORY was Spike’s kickboxing show and to the best of everyone’s knowledge still had a contract with the network. The month of “October” kept coming up in conversations, with many believing that October would be the end of the arrangement for good, although it wasn’t clear where the organization would go from there.

Then Dynamite was announced, with Ariel Helwani breaking the news that there would be a “co-promoted” event between Bellator and GLORY on Spike TV. For those of us in kickboxing, though, that didn’t make much sense, especially after the debacle that was GLORY 22 and the relationship turning quite toxic. The more that I and others interacted with Bellator PR about the event, the more we were softly corrected on calling it a co-promotion. No, it was Bellator MMA Dynamite 1, not Bellator/GLORY Dynamite 1. Joe Schilling, while promoting his next Bellator fight and asked about the show was quick to claim that GLORY wasn’t invited, that they were crashing the party and had bought their way onto the event at last minute.

We were assured, at the time, that GLORY was happy to be working with Bellator and vice versa. In line with that we were told that it wouldn’t make sense for Spike TV to not use their official kickboxing show on an event like Dynamite, so of course GLORY was in the conversation from the start. While logical, things still felt off. The talk was that GLORY had their backs to the wall in regards to that event and when you analyze the matchmaking it was clear that GLORY had very little input as to what they could and couldn’t get on television for that show. Two of the three fights that aired under “GLORY rules” were with fighters contracted through Bellator with no relation to GLORY at all.

MMA fans that night made it very clear that GLORY had “blown it” all over social media, that they were given a chance to shine on a big Bellator event and had, for some strange reason, opted to book fights like Gilbert Melendez’s wife vs. some girl and Paul Daley vs. some Bellator guy. You know, because GLORY would totally use an opportunity like that to showcase Bellator fighters as opposed to their own, right? The one fight that GLORY was able to sneak onto television was the GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship bout between Zack Mwekassa and Saulo Cavalari, which failed to deliver the fireworks that everyone was hoping for, but still put on a solid display.

It was simply too little, too late.

By the time that GLORY 24 had rolled around it was incredibly clear that GLORY and Spike were through. Any talk of GLORY 25 did not include any discussion about where it would be airing and the promotional materials for GLORY 25 and 26 did not include mention of Spike TV at all. Both events were also mentioned more than a few weeks in advance of the show and fight cards were announced further in advance than we had ever seen on Spike TV. There was also a distinctive lack of B-string Bellator fighters on the lineups.

Jon J. Franklin, when prompted by Michael Stets of MMAMania on GLORY’s future in television, said that they would be announcing their new home on television when they were able to and that GLORY 25 would air on American television. That seemed like as good of a public acknowledgement of the deal being done as possible without just saying it in plain English. I’ve been asked why this wasn’t publicly discussed or the story “broken” before and the answer is quite simple; this is the world of television. Even if the relationship was not a strong one, Spike announcing in advance that they had “canceled” GLORY while GLORY was shopping for a new television deal could have led to panic and potentially stalling out discussions with other networks.

This closely mimics what happened between Spike TV and their former professional wrestling partner, TNA Wrestling. TNA’s ratings had been steadily decreasing and advertisers had been opting out of advertising during TNA programming. Spike decided to drop TNA and Dave Meltzer broke the news, leading to Spike’s silence and TNA publicly scrambling and inserting their foot into their mouth at every possible turn before turning up on Destination America where the same exact thing happened after a brief period of time.

I’m not willing to exclusively point fingers at Spike TV for GLORY’s shortcomings on the network because it takes two to tango. Decisions were made on both sides that were detrimental to the sport and the organization, leading to the relationship deteriorating to the point where it no longer exists. GLORY’s long absences from the airwaves for European-style vacations, inability to keep talent happy and eagerness to do anything to appeal to American audiences all helped to lead to where we are today, but Spike’s insistence on changing times, days, being inflexible and insistent on having some level of control over the content of the shows can easily be pointed to as reasons for the failure as well.

Whatever the reasons, that relationship has now come to a close, leaving Spike without kickboxing programming and GLORY without a television deal. Various sources have been telling us that GLORY has either secured a new deal or is in the process of doing so, but that it most likely won’t be in time for GLORY 25. Wherever they do land here’s to hoping that the relationship is more of a partnership and is better for the sport of kickboxing because, realistically, kickboxing deserves better. It deserves a whole lot better than this.


Spike TV Confirms What We Already Knew: No More GLORY on Spike

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GLORY will no longer be airing on Spike. The relationship between the two sides seemed like a great idea at the beginning but has been a rather toxic relationship for a very long time now, with the first real signs of tension pointing back to the decision to run GLORY Last Man Standing on PPV last June. We've known that the relationship was fated to end in October of this year since the beginning of this year, but early this summer it became clear that GLORY would no longer be airing on Spike TV after a certain date.

We've been about as subtle as a sledgehammer when it comes to this. If you are a longtime reader of LiverKick, you've known that this was coming, just like you've known that GLORY 25 was never advertised for Spike TV and that there was never a time slot for it. Luke Thomas got the final word from Spike TV, breaking their silence on the matter after months of the relationship heading nowhere. GLORY CEO Jon J. Franklin confirmed this news in a backhanded way back in September, and in said article we went as far as to say that GLORY would be landing somewhere else.

Basically, if you've been following kickboxing you knew this was coming. If you haven't, well, I can't say that I blame you but there are ways that you can support the sport. If you do genuinely love kickboxing and are alarmed by this news that should be a sign that you can always be doing more to support the sport. GLORY's tenure on Spike ended with a whimper -- as I stated after GLORY 24 -- because viewership had dropped off so steeply. Setting a DVR isn't difficult, nor, in this age of hyper-aggregation and news reading is it hard to follow the sport when sites like this one exist, posting news daily and, like I said before, being as subtle as a sledgehammer on certain news topics. 

As for where GLORY will land, that much isn't 100% just yet. GLORY was at the SportTel Conference in Monaco earlier this month and there have been talks with other networks. The worst case scenario for right now seems to be back to the online PPVs for live and CBS Sports on tape delay. Further proof from that can be posited by checking CBS Sports Network's current schedule that has GLORY Milan (misstated as 32, mind you) set for 12am Eastern time on November 8th. This could, in theory, be the SuperFight Series as they have been airing of late, but the description reads instead like the full event.

As always, we'll keep you updated with more.



Rico Verhoeven Victorious in MMA Debut

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Today GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven made his MMA debut at an event in Romania, picking up his debut win in dominant fashion in the first round. Verhoeven came into the fight with a lot of hype behind him over his pedigree in kickboxing and faced Viktor Bogutzki. Bogutzki has fought one prior fight in MMA and mostly has a kickboxing background, most recently fighting Raul Catinas in SuperKombat this August. 

Verhoeven didn't look entirely comfortable defending strikes with those small gloves, but didn't take any damage from Bogutzki, either. Rico clinched up with Bogutzki and much to the surprise of everyone watching, executed a leg trip and landed on top of his opponent. From there he was able to control him on the ground and rain down heavy shots before the referee stepped in and called the fight midway through the first round.

Rico Verhoeven's next fight will be at GLORY 26 where he is slated to defend the GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi for a second time this year.


Full GLORY 25 Card Shows Featherweight Title Fight, Welterweight Tournament and More

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GLORY is not messing around when it comes to GLORY 25 Milan. Imagine having a card so jam-packed that fights like Danyo Ilunga vs. Artem Vakhitov and a Featherweight title match between Gabriel Varga and Serhiy Adamchuk are on the SuperFight Series card. That's how big of a card GLORY 25 is. 

We already know that the headliner will be Robin van Roosmalen defending the GLORY Lightweight Championship against Sitthichai and that Giorgio Petrosyan will be returning to the GLORY ring against Josh Jauncey, but we now also know who will be included in the Welterweight tournament with the winner getting a title shot. The tournament is Yoann Kongolo vs. Karim Ghajji and Murthel Groenhart vs. Nicola Gallo.


Lightweight Title Headline Bout: Robin van Roosmalen (c) vs. Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong

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

Lightweight Co-Headline Bout: Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Josh Jauncey

Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout B: Yoann Kongolo vs. Karim Ghajji

Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout A: Murthel Groenhart vs. Nicola Gallo


Featherweight Title Headline Bout: Gabriel Varga (c) vs. Serhiy Adamchuk

Light Heavyweight Bout: Danyo Ilunga vs. Artem Vakhitov

Middleweight Bout: Samir Boukhidous vs. Vittorio Iermano

Welterweight Tournament Reserve Bout: Stefano Bruno vs. Hosam Radwan

Lightweight Bout: Anatoliy Moiseev vs. Teo Mikelic


GLORY Posts 283,000 Viewers on Spike TV for GLORY 24

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In what was supposed to be a triumphant return to Spike TV after being showcased on Bellator MMA's Dynamite 1 show GLORY instead found itself stuck in the morasses of Spike TV's endless runs of COPS and their ever-shifting time slot. The steady decline of GLORY ratings on Spike TV has been ongoing now with there being natural peaks and valleys. GLORY 13 still posted the highest ratings to date with the Welterweight tournament along with a heavyweight-heavy card featuring Rico Verhoeven against the legend Peter Aerts and Daniel Ghita against Errol Zimmerman. 

GLORY 21 showed a slight bump up from the previous show but then GLORY 22 being shown live at 4pm in the afternoon, dragging them down once again. GLORY 23 was and improvement, albeit still under 300,000 with 295,000 and now that SportsTVRatings has published Friday's ratings we can see that GLORY 24 saw a decrease from the previous show coming in at 283,000 viewers. 

While there hasn't been official word just yet, it is widely speculated that GLORY 24 was GLORY's last outing on Spike TV and if so they went out with a whimper instead of a bang. The show still delivered in solid action, although the main event did have a rather disappointing finish. Those kinds of things cannot be predicted. Jacoby/Barrett and the knockout-heavy heavyweight tournament delivered solid thrills there was just no one there to watch at 11pm eastern time, apparently.


Glory 24: Thin Air, Thin Ice, Solid Action

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(C) James Law/GLORY Sports International

How is kickboxing doing now? It’s a question many of us have had on mind lately. There’s plenty of product out there, but the industry is feeling a lot like it did in 2011—stagnant with no clear indication of growth. It’s pretty clear that Glory has failed to live up to its initial expectations as the next major combat sports phenomenon, which may have been unrealistic from the get-go, and that for all the news—such as it is—that we have to report on, nobody’s making any big promises. That said, despite major questions looming regarding its TV deals and with Bellator dipping its toes into the kickboxing waters, Glory marches on with a surprisingly full schedule of events for the rest of the year with its first stop in Denver, CO, for Glory 24. This event featured a heavyweight contender tournament between four legitimate hopefuls as well as a middleweight main and co-main event that saw Joe Schilling make his return to kickboxing and Dustin Jacoby test the division’s very harsh waters. Read on for my breakdown of this event and its storylines:

(C) James Law/GLORY Sports International

Ben Edwards. Let’s address this first. Ben was clearly not in shape to fight, less so in the mile high city. He looked completely deconditioned, more so than I have ever seen him before. He’s spent time away from kickboxing over the last year and tried his hand in boxing, but I don’t think he would have been successful in a boxing ring last night, not to mention kickboxing. He’s a supporter and friend of LiverKick, and I can only assume that he took the fight under difficult circumstances. We hope he’s well and that things get better for him because he’s an excellent performer and comes off like an even better guy.

(C) James Law/GLORY Sports International

Jahfar Wilnis. The heavyweights in general had a difficult task competing at altitude, but Jahfar was very game and brought incredible aggression and technical kickboxing to the table, finishing Ben Edwards with hard low kicks and going three relentless rounds with Benny Adegbuyi. The tournament final was very close, and while I think Wilnis was stealing rounds and deserved the nod in the end, the fight was close enough not to call the outcome a robbery. If this were K-1, I think the matter would definitely have been settled with an extension round, but the Adegbuyi rematch with Rico Verhoven is desirable and with performances like that, Wilnis will undoubtedly get a title shot in the near future. Heavyweight needs new faces at the top, and Jahfar Wilnis may have just secured his spot.

(C) James Law/GLORY Sports International

Benny Adegbuyi. Is it just me, or was the audience going crazy for Benny? I’m not sure how it happened, but the man legitimately crossed over with the Denver crowd! As a consistently entertaining and top performing kickboxer, Benny deserves it, and I’m glad to see him earn that recognition. His rematch with Rico has a lot of momentum going into it now, and I’m excited to see what kind of heat it gets in Amsterdam.

(C) James Law/GLORY Sports International

Dustin Jacoby. He was groomed as a rising American kickboxing star after he swept the Road to Glory tournament field two years ago, but he was thrown to the wolves in his subsequent fights, taking on veteran and elite fighters like Michael Duut, Alex Pereira, Mourad Bouzidi, and Danyo Illunga. He came up short in these encounters but demonstrated his grit, athleticism and improving kickboxing technique with every fight. His win over Wayne Barrett established both the weight class that he should compete in and his legitimacy as a kickboxer. Jacoby has worked hard over the last two years, spending time with Hemmers Gym in the Netherlands and learning the kickboxing game from the ground up, and he demonstrated that technique in this fight. Some will argue that Barrett’s performance diminishes the win, but let’s face it, Jacoby has needed to prove that he can be an effective technical kickboxer, not that he can take anyone’s shots. His presence provides additional depth to Glory’s formidable middleweight division.

(C) GLORY Sports International/James Law

Joe Schilling. This is a frustrating time for Schilling. He’s a bankable fighter in search of a stable platform that will allow him to make the money he wants, but he happens to dominate in a sport that’s not lavishly paying out anymore. Attempts to build him up in MMA were unsuccessful, which I suspect is a much larger setback than anyone has revealed—hence Bellator: Dynamite, a way for Bellator to apparently promote kickboxers without promoting kickboxing. As an aside, it’s really not clear to me what Bellator’s goal is with Dynamite, especially as it concurrently blocks attempts by Paul Daley and LiverKick friend John Joe O’Reagan to sell a legitimate title fight with Nieky Holzken. That said, it’s hard to guage Schilling’s position in all of this, but it seems that for the time being, he’s back on track with Glory and wants to be a center attraction, calling for a spot on the Amsterdam show and calling out Artem Levin again. Seeing more of Joe Schilling is something that will absolutely get no complaint from me.

The future: where are we going? Will Glory still be on TV? I wish I knew. We come to these crossroads time and time again, but I give credit to Glory for trucking on in spite of this. I suspect that something is in the works but that we won’t find out any time soon. Until then, we’ll keep enjoying the action as it comes.


Dustin Jacoby Proves Himself as a Kickboxer Against Wayne Barrett

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(C) Glory Sports International/James Law

The name Dustin Jacoby has been causing mixed reactions for kickboxing fans over the past few years. Sure, his first foray into professional kickboxing involved him winning a Road 2 Glory tournament, earning him a spot on GLORY's roster, but from there Jacoby struggled against some of the opposition that he faced within the GLORY ring. His never-say-die attitude and willingness to take any fight thrown out him led to a less-than-stellar win-loss record and fans were beginning to cry foul of the amount of opportunities within GLORY that he was receiving.

Jacoby, though, much to his credit kept persevering and moving forward. He took his training very seriously and worked on refining his skillset. Initially when Jacoby would step into the ring it was very apparent that he had come from the world of MMA, moving more like a plodding MMA fighter and throwing bombs as opposed to tighter combinations. He simply didn't handle himself like a professional kickboxer. 

Not many people were looking at Dustin Jacoby vs. Wayne Barrett as a fight that would see Dustin Jacoby emerge victorious. Barrett was a kickboxer through and through, dedicating himself to the sport and proving himself to be a top level middleweight. Sure, he had a few losses, but many saw this as a tune up fight for Barrett on his road back to the top of the division. What they weren't expecting was for Dustin Jacoby to not only bring the fight to Barrett, but for Jacoby to actually move, strike and defend like a kickboxer. The awkward MMA style that never quite transitions well to kickboxing wasn't there like it has been before, instead was a polished professional kickboxer who did exactly what he needed to do to mentally break Barrett in the ring leading to a knockout victory.

Many fans had simply written Jacoby off but he has proven that hard work and dedication can pay off. No longer is he that MMA guy wearing big gloves, instead he is a professional kickboxer and holding a win over Wayne Barrett is a huge feather in his cap. After this win now I want to see what else Dustin Jacoby could do, did Wayne Barrett just "break" and Jacoby was simply there, or has he really arrived in the sport of kickboxing? I'm leaning towards the latter and GLORY has the manpower within the middleweight division to test Jacoby's mettle when he's ready.


Live Stream Information for GLORY 24 and SuperFight Series

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Tonight GLORY 24 will be live from Denver, Colorado with Joe Schilling vs. Jason Wilnis as well as the SuperFight Series. As long as you aren't in one of the ex-Yugoslavia nations for $9.99 you can order the stream of the SuperFight Series at 9pm Eastern time. If you live outside of the US you'll be able to order the full GLORY 24 event for an additional $9.99.

So have at it. Join us later tonight for live results.

Read more...'s Glory 24 Predicitions

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With Glory 24 in Denver just around the corner we figured it was a good time to do some predictions on the show and find out everyone else's opinions as well. All the fights on the main card seem quite well matched which always makes predictions a little more difficult. For example the main event between Joe Schilling and Jason Wilnis you could look at 2 ways. First of all with Joe Schilling you know you can expect excitement but sometimes that comes at the expense of his chin which makes him unpredictable. Also Schilling has never really fought a true dutch kickboxer in a kickboxing match, so we don't know how he will handle the constant forward pressure. On the other hand with Wilnis he never really changes his game plan which works for him most of the time, until he faces someone tricky and different like Artem Levin. So the "safe bet" you could say is Wilnis, but then you can never count out Schillings power and unpredictability.

Now the tournament is also a tough one, lets start with Benjamin Adegbuyi vs Mladen Brestovac. First of all if you don't know much about Brestovac check out his fight with Jahfarr Wilnis at Glory 14 in Zagreb HERE. Those type of high kicks from a heavyweight can change the outcome of any fight so Adegbuyi will have to make sure to keep his hands tight and out box Brestovac all fight. Then we have Ben Edwards vs Jahfarr Wilnis, when I look at this fight I feel the biggest factor at the moment is activity. Wilnis has been fighting consistently in china and recently became the Kun Lun heavyweight tournament champion by defeating Hesdy Gerges in the final, where as Ben Edwards has been boxing a little lately but hasn't had a kickboxing fight since Glory's last time in Denver which is well over a year ago, but Edwards always has one punch KO power and a huge heart.


Joe Schilling vs Jason Wilnis (JJ - Wilnis / DW - Joe)

Wayne Barrett vs Dustin Jacoby (JJ - Barrett / DW - Barrett)

Benjamin Adegbuyi vs Mladen Brestovac (JJ - Adegbuyi / DW - Adegbuyi)

Ben Edwards vs Jahfarr Wilnis (JJ - Wilnis / DW - Edwards)

Tournament Winner ( JJ - Adegbuyi / DW - Adegbuyi)



Year-End Mega Show GLORY 26 Amsterdam Announced

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If your itch for a mega show just wasn't scratched by Dynamite you are in for some very, very good news. Today GLORY announced that on December 4th at RAI Amsterdam they will be throwing one of their biggest shows to date with GLORY 26. The event is to be headlined by two huge title fights featuring Dutch champions. The first is GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven vs. the winner of the GLORY 24 heavyweight tournament and the second is Nieky Holzken vs. the GLORY 25 welterweight tournament winner. 

For longtime kickboxing fans it is interesting to note that Amsterdam is notoriously difficult to book kickboxing shows in. In fact, this was one of the big reasons that It's Showtime had so many problems during their tenure, as did the Ultimate Glory events. Dutch fans and promoters still struggle with the restrictive laws placed by Mayor van der Laan to keep the "criminal element" out of sporting events within Amsterdam. GLORY has been working on this for a very long time now and finally Dutch fans will get exactly what they want in a huge kickboxing event featuring Dutch champions. 

GLORY 26 will also feature a featherweight tournament featuring Mosab Amrani, the winner fighting Gabriel Varga.

What I really like about this show is that there is continuity involved for once. There is cause and effect. There are tournaments on the next two shows and those tournaments have an endgame that is clearly in sight. There is no "future title shot" that fans will have to guess at. Instead there is a future title fight with a firm date. This is the kind of foresight that GLORY has been sorely missing and can only help them moving forward. 


Robin van Roosmalen Reveals More on Upcoming MMA Debut

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Robin van Roosmalen recently revealed that he'd be dipping his toe into the MMA waters after two years of training in the sport, all with the blessings of GLORY. Today, thanks to an interview from the Blackzilians website, there are more details on his pending debut. 

Van Roosmalen will be making his MMA debut on January 16th in Italy for the promotion FFC. FFC, run out of Croatia, runs events that are a mix of MMA and kickboxing. This seems like an interesting promotion to fight for considering they do have a kickboxing connection, but this is apparently all done with GLORY's knowledge. He had an exclusive contract with GLORY, but the promotion gave him the go ahead to pursue MMA as long as it didn't interfere with his GLORY obligations. 

As for the weight class? Robin fights at Lightweight in kickboxing but due to how much weight-cutting happens in MMA he has decided to fight at Featherweight in MMA. When asked about a possible future in the UFC, which doesn't allow for their fighters to participate in other sports, he said that he'd like to reach the highest level at some point, but that would be far down the line for him. There was a push to get van Roosmalen involved with Bellator (which we've known for a while), most recently a push for him to fight on the Bellator MMA Dynamite 1 card but Bellator didn't seem keen on it and those talks went nowhere. 


Robin van Roosmalen vs. Sitthichai Planned for GLORY 25

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The long-rumored for GLORY 25 battle for the GLORY Lightweight Championship has been confirmed today by none other than Cor Hemmers via his Facebook page. The GLORY matchmaker spilled the beans on one of the most hotly-anticipated GLORY title fights in a while pitting the Lightweight Champion Robin van Roosmalen against the tough challenger in Sitthichai. 

This is a solid contrast to the news earlier today of van Roosmalen looking to make his MMA debut in early 2016 and the usual fan panic that comes about fighters leaving kickboxing for MMA. Van Roosmalen faces one of his toughest tests to date in the young Thai who will be looking to take his place as the #1 Lightweight kickboxer in the world, which many believe he will do with relative ease. 

Van Roosmalen vs. Sitthichai adds to an already exciting card featuring a main event of Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Josh Jauncey and a welterweight contender tournament. GLORY's site also currently lists Danyo Ilunga vs. Artem Vakhitov, but as we've seen before that isn't always entirely accurate. 


Robin van Roosmalen Making MMA Debut in 2016

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GLORY Lightweight Champion Robin van Roosmalen has been talking about dabbling in MMA for years now, to the extent of it being rumored that he'd make his MMA debut a few times without it ever coming to fruition. Now it looks like van Roosmalen is ready to make his MMA debut and that it will be in early 2016.

Van Roosmalen will absolutely be prepared for this debut, having trained in mixed martial arts and judo for most of his life, even having earned his black belt in judo recently. Who he'll be fighting for is still not clear yet, but it will sure be interesting to see how he fares in another sport.


Josh Jauncey Chosen as Giorgio Petrosyan's Opponent on GLORY 25

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When we heard this one a few weeks ago it seemed pretty crazy. Everyone had assumed that the fight that Petrosyan would get upon his return to the GLORY ring would naturally be against Andy Ristie. Sadly, that fight is just not possible at this time due to Ristie's trainer being banned for life by the ISKA and Ristie refusing to fight under the ISKA's watchful eye without his trainer. Instead, we'll be seeing an entirely new matchup and one that could reshape the entire Lightweight division for years to come.

That bout is Canadian Josh Jauncey vs. Giorgio Petrosyan. Josh Jauncey has made quite an impression since he burst on the scene at GLORY 16 Denver. With wins over Warren Stevelmans, Jae Gil Noh, Max Baumert and Djime Coulibaly he has shown that he's a force within the Lightweight division. His lone loss in the GLORY ring is to GLORY Lightweight contender Sitthichai who should be fighting Robin van Roosmalen on an upcoming event. 

Since Petrosyan's loss to Ristie he has come back in force with wins over Erkhan Varol, Enriko Kehl and Xu Yan. Jauncey is a step up in competition over these names and a win over Jauncey would put Petrosyan right back in the running to be considered one of the best Lightweights in the world. On the inverse, a win over Petrosyan would undoubtedly be the biggest of the young Jauncey's career, making this an even more exciting fight.

This card will also feature a Welterweight contender tournament. As for the questions about where this will air, our bud Stets asked them today and this is the answer that he received.

We'll be paying close attention in the coming months to see where this will air in the United States if indeed the Spike TV contract is really up after GLORY 24. 


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