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Steven Banks on His Time in Kunlun Fight and How Phuket Top Team Transformed Him as a Fighter

  • Published in Interviews

Before GLORY came to America and helped to bring kickboxing back into the discourse of the average combat sports fan kickboxing in America was a very different beast. There was a small cluster of names that you'd hear all of the time who would be fighting throughout the country without a lot of fanfare, one of those was Steven Banks. Banks, a larger heavyweight was doing his best to capture the attention of bigger international leagues but it has always been a bit of a slow road for Banks.

This included fighting in shows in Europe on short notice for bad pay, taking fights that weren't going to be good for his career because it was worth a shot and everything else in between. Things finally seem to be turning around for Banks and a lot of that he credits to his time training in Thailand at Phuket Top Team. His time in China has helped to give him a new perspective on fighting and on October 31st he'll return to China for Kunlun Fight 33. We caught up with Banks to talk to him about the past, the present and the future.

LK: So you’ve done both MMA and kickboxing in your professional career, what is it about kickboxing and muay thai that has drawn you in as a fighter as opposed to focusing solely on MMA like so many fighters today?

SB: I love the art of striking. I enjoy every bit of it, the culture and the tradition... my 1st love was and will always be Muay Thai... I think the reason that I prefer to do Muay Thai or kickboxing over MMA is because alot of fighters will go out there and get a takedown, and cuddle for a win... I actually still train for MMA as well...I will be fighting in MMA again soon...

LK: You are an American living and training in Thailand right now. What prompted that move and what kind of results have you seen?

SB: When Phuket Top Team offered me the chance to train full time,  I had to take it! Best decision I have ever made... I have seen amazing results... it was really hard to try and train effectively while having a full-time job, competing against the best in the world is tough already... most of the guys I have been fighting were training full-time already... I decided that if I wanted to go out and become one of the best American heavyweights I needed to go and train with some of the best... training full-time and having a camp that pushes you to become better and better each day is incredible... my head trainer Neung pushes me everyday, Neung took me under his wing as soon as I got to PTT... no day is easy...its put all the effort in it... getting to train everyday with world class trainers is a great way to spend your time...

LK: You’ve gone through your share of a transformation when it comes to your body, from what I understand losing a great deal of weight. How has that impacted your career?

SB: Oh yes... since I have been training at PTT... I have dropped over 60 pounds... I have been told by promotions that I didnt look "pretty" enough for the sponsors of the show.  As a heavyweight, I have always been one of the heavier fighters... I'm a fighter, not a model... I love food... since dropping this weight I have noticed my cardio is 100 times better than ever... when I finished my last fight, I walked over to my coach and told him I felt like I could go a couple more rounds and that I felt great... my coaches at Phuket Top Team have made it a point to push me to become one of the best...

LK: I’ve gotta ask -- the fight with Lungu where you guys spilled out of the ring. What went through your mind at that moment and when the fight was declared a loss for you?

SB: Oh man... I wish I could get that changed on my record... that accident should have been called a no contest... we knew he was going to try and take me to the ground from the very beginning of the fight... just wasn't expecting the ropes to be so low...  the ropes were at the correct height, but when you have almost 700 plus pounds moving in 1 direction its hard to stop... I didnt understand why they gave Lungu the win. I have asked for several rematches to set the record straight... but to no luck...

LK: You’ve seen some success of late in Kunlun Fight in China and are currently preparing to fight in a few weeks time here, how has your experience fighting in China been thus far?

SB: Yes, I fight again for Kunlun Fight October 31st against another Chinese fighter...I absolutely love fighting in China... they treat every fighter with so much respect. I have fought in China 6 times... and every time I have, it has never been a bad experience...I got my nickname from fighting in China... I have so much respect for the fans. I will stay after the fights to meet as many fans as i can... I wamt them to know how much I respect them as a fighter...

LK: Your success in China has been interesting, with your only loss to the guy who beat Rico Verhoeven, do you see yourself as a threat to these guys on the top tier of the division?

SB: That loss was my 1st loss in China... he caught me with a great jumping knee to the ribs... I really believe I can beat many of the guys on the top tier of the division...  I was able to compete against top level guys with part-time training. Now its time to show everyone what I can really do... I see guys fight and I feel that I can trade with the best there is... I might not be pretty, but I will give the crowd a show they will never forget...

LK: Do you think that kickboxing or muay thai will ever really take off in the United States, especially after seeing China of late and how it’s growing there?

SB: I really hope it does take off in the United States... I know that it is currently growing... I think the reason more fighters choose to go to MMA rather than kickboxing or Muay Thai is because they have a background in wrestling... not like most of the dominant countries in the world of Muay Thai or kickboxing...

LK: You started off in football and transitioned to fighting, have you been able to take anything from your time in football with you into combat sports?

SB: One of the biggest things that I have been able to take to fighting from football has been the will not to give up. With all sports comes injuries... I played football for many years, I finally started to listen to my body on recovery and injuries...I think that has helped me to stay active in fighting over and over...

LK: What can we expect in the future from Steve Banks?

SB: Keep your ears and eyes open... I am planning on dominating the heavyweight division... I want to take on everyone... I will be fighting in Muay Thai,  kickboxing, boxing,  and MMA in the very near future...  to be the best, you got to take on the best... I'm here to do that... we make our own future... I'm here to show everyone that America does have great heavyweight Muay Thai and kickboxers... and we will be taking on all...


Wayne Barrett Ready to Return to Greatness at GLORY 24

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This Friday at GLORY 24 Wayne Barrett is set to return from an absence from the ring to fight recent GLORY tournament winner Dustin Jacoby. For many, Wayne Barrett is one of those raw talents in kickboxing who could easily become a major player for years to come, which is especially rare considering that he is an American. Perhaps the feather in the cap of his relatively young kickboxing career is a win over Joe Schilling. The Schilling win came at a time when many saw Schilling as unstoppable, putting a considering dent in the armor of the myth that was Joe Schilling at the time. The win over Bogdan Stoica that came at GLORY’s Last Man Standing tournament was purely academic at that point.

After that, though, things haven’t been all sunshine and happiness for Wayne Barrett. On a three fight skid right now, Barrett elected to take time off to get his head back into the game. “You know, they offered me fights, man. They offered me fights to get myself a win, to build my confidence up and everyone thought that I should do it, but I turned them down. What’s the point if I’m not the Wayne Barrett that I truly believe that I can be? I took time for myself,” he explained. “And let me tell you, I feel incredible right now. This fight is all about me, it’s all about Wayne and getting everything right.”

What he means is that during his time away from the ring he made sure that everything was in order in his personal life as well as his professional life. As a father it was important to him to feel that he was doing his best and to set the right kind of example. A lot of that had to do with how he was training, as well. “I went through so many coaches at this point, I’ve had coaches telling me what to do, trying to change me and make me more of an orthodox fighter. But that isn’t who I am. I’ve got, for lack of a better word, a sort of swagger to me and how I fight. I’m unlike anyone else in the world in the ring and that’s what I bring to the table, so I’m not trying to be someone else anymore, I’m just being me right now.”

I brought up a young Rico Verhoeven, who at the time was incredibly talented with a ton of potential, but if you would go back and watch Rico’s early fights you’ll see a stiff, rigid and uncomfortable Verhoeven. The confidence to be himself wasn’t quite there yet compared to the Rico Verhoeven of today. “Oh man, absolutely,” he was getting excited now. “I love Rico, man. He’s just incredible. He’s his own man out there. Does he honor the whole Dutch style? Of course he does, but he’s making it his own, what he’s doing is an evolution. That’s how I view myself. They wanted me to do this you kick-I kick thing and that wasn’t who I am so it just didn’t work.”

Barrett, while in his late 20’s, is still relatively fresh into his professional career. “My second professional fight,” he said, “that was in the GLORY ring against a guy like Mike Lemaire.” Indeed it was his second professional fight, that fight being a knockout of Lemaire. What is astonishing about Barrett’s professional career is that upon joining GLORY he was immediately thrust into the spotlight, fighting some of the biggest names in the world. He stepped into the ring for his fourth professional fight against Joe Schilling, arguably the top dog in the division at that time, and he didn’t only handle himself well, but he won. There was no carefully curated career here, Barrett was simply there, with a rocket strapped to his back going full steam ahead.

When it came time for him to step into the ring with the notorious Romanian slugger Bogdan Stoica he felt ready, although the more that we talked about how kickboxing worked overseas, the more he opened up about how different his career has been. “There is no padding on my record,” he laughed. “I remember looking at Stoica’s record and thinking -- as a fan -- that I had no clue who some of these people that he was crushing were. Even some of the guys who beat him I had never heard of before.” The fight ended with Stoica going down to a left hook, Barrett moving forward in the tournament only to meet Joe Schilling. When I brought up the decision and how there was controversy over it he quickly interjected, “You could say that again.” 

Even if his next two fights were indeed losses, one to Jason Wilnis and one to Simon Marcus, they were still against two of the top fighters within the division. While most would look at that, shrug and take an easy fight, Barrett decided to go back to the drawing board and wait for another opportunity down the line. Now, though? “I’m going full force now,” he said. “I want to fight again this year, as long as they’ll let me. I think they probably will. Then next year I want to stay as active as I can.”

Tournaments, though, don’t seem to be in the immediate future for Wayne Barrett. “Nah,” he said. “Just single fights for me right now. Too much is out of your control in those tournaments. In the future? Yeah, if there is a big tournament I’ll be a part of it, but I want to focus on one opponent for right now and I want to prove to everyone that Wayne Barrett really is as good as everyone thinks that he can be. Man,” he laughed. “Now I’m talking in third person about myself. I still can’t believe that I’m at that point where I can talk to people about myself in third person.”

What I took away from my time talking to Wayne Barrett is that he’s in a very, very good place right now. He’s both mentally and physically ready for the road ahead and understands that while it was sort of shocking to initially see himself on a list as a top middleweight that he has to keep proving himself and earn his top spot. We’ll see what he brings to the table against Dustin Jacoby at GLORY 24 on Friday night in Denver.


Joe Schilling Talks Once Again Chasing Artem Levin for Rubber Match and GLORY 24

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(C) Glory Sports International/James Law

Few names have become as synonymous with the American kickboxing movement within GLORY over the past few years like Joe Schilling. Schilling was originally a standout muay thai fighter who made a name for himself taking on all comers within his division and rising among the ranks until it was time to fight the top dogs in the world. There may have been some bumps, bruises and cuts along the way, but when it comes to Joe Schilling the word “pretty” isn’t often in the vocabulary. With a nickname like “Stitch ‘em Up” due to his proclivity for throwing lacerating elbows one can quickly understand why Joe Schilling rose up from being a cult favorite to one of GLORY’s American poster boys. 

This Friday evening at GLORY 24 he returns to the GLORY ring to face top middleweight Jason Wilnis. Originally Schilling was going to get his chance at a rubber match with career-adversary Artem Levin and his GLORY Middleweight championship, but an injury forced Levin off of the card and left Schilling with a tough, young and hungry Jason Wilnis looking to make a name off of one of the men who earned his spot on the Mount Rushmore of the division. For Schilling there is a lot riding on this fight outside of just another kickboxing fight, this is his first kickboxing fight since two back-to-back losses in Bellator, the latter being via knockout.

“You know, people have been talking a lot of shit, saying a lot of things, but really, I’m a multi-sport athlete,” he explained to us. “How many fighters can say that? I got caught in MMA, it happens, but now I have to show the world what I can and always have done in the ring and too bad for Wilnis, it’s going to be against him. I’m in demand right now, like they wanted me for the Dynamite show but the medical suspension got in the way of that happening.”

For a time the fight with Artem Levin was Schilling’s white whale, the one fight that eluded him. Scheduled and rescheduled a number of times in their respective pre-GLORY careers, their clash finally happened at GLORY 10 in the middleweight tournament that saw Schilling pull off the victory in an extension round of the finals. Once again Schilling finds himself frustrated with Levin pulling out of a fight with him. “I feel like I’m chasing him all over again. GLORY called me up and said they wanted me to fight Levin in Denver and, you know, this was the fight that I was asking them for, so I took it. Then a few weeks later they call and tell me that Levin was out and Wilnis is in and I was really pissed off.”

Schilling doesn’t seem certain that he’ll get that third fight with Levin any time soon, that he’ll be able to settle the score and have one man walk out victorious in their series, but he seems dead set on moving forward. As for where that future will be for Schilling, it seems to be on Spike TV for now. “I signed a new deal with Bellator, for MMA and kickboxing on Dynamite shows. I know not everyone loved that show, but it was incredible, a lot of vision went into that. There are going to be more and I’m gonna be fighting on them, be it kickboxing or MMA.”

The future within the GLORY ring seems to be less certain for Schilling, though, although he does seem open to more fights in the future. “Kickboxing is always my preference and if the offer is there and it’s the right offer I’ll take it without a second thought. The fights that I want are in GLORY right now.”

There has been a lot of talk about the future of kickboxing in America as well as GLORY’s future, which Schilling of course has had on his mind of late. His thoughts on the matter diverge from the common line of thought, though. “I never buy this line of bullshit about how you need an American champion to make it big here in the US. GLORY has been diluting their product in the name of finding this big American star and it has meant putting on weaker cards not featuring the top talents in the world. Put on big fights between the best fighters and the fans will react to that, who cares if they speak english or if they don’t? What matters is what happens in the ring, not the post-fight interviews.”

Schilling himself is of course one for leaving it all in the ring, with some of the most exciting fights in GLORY’s history under his belt, including the two dramatic fights with Artem Levin that have helped to define GLORY’s middleweight division. That doesn’t mean that he’s overlooking Wilnis on Friday at all, though. “Wilnis is a tough guy, he’s hungry and a win over me would mean a lot for his career. In no way am I overlooking Wilnis, though, I think that I’m on a mission here to prove those doubters wrong. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Joe Schilling makes his return to GLORY on Friday at GLORY 24 against Jason Wilnis live on Spike TV in the main event.


Prize Fighter Ben Edwards Ready for GLORY 24 Heavyweight Tournament

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GLORY 24 will see a new heavyweight contender crowned, the winner moving on to fight champion Rico Verhoeven for the top spot in the world of heavyweight kickboxing. Over the past year we’ve seen Verhoeven fight Errol Zimmerman and Benjamin Adegbuyi, defeating both to retain his title. Fans have been starved for a good heavyweight tournament from GLORY, the last one at GLORY 16 Denver.

Interestingly enough, a man that we last saw at GLORY 16 Denver will be making his return to the GLORY ring at GLORY 24 looking for another crack at the GLORY Heavyweight Championship. That man is Australia’s own Ben Edwards. We caught up with Ben Edwards as he finishes up his preparations for the tournament and will be heading back to the United States.

Edwards had announced that he was leaving kickboxing after his loss last year, but the return is a welcome one for fans of the Aussie slugger. For Edwards, it is about making a living. “With kickboxing the last 3 of my last 4 losses were to guys pretty much the top 3 in the world (Rico, Errol and Overeem the year he won) and they are the guys that were at least making a living. If I couldn't crack that top tier I couldn't make a living and kickboxing is very hard to train for in Canberra so I decided to concentrate on boxing which is easy to train for in my home town. I won the national title 2 fights in returning to the sport so it wasn't a bad decision,” he explained. The offer from GLORY took him by surprise, actually. “The offer from Glory was unexpected and appreciated and I am very much looking forward to making the most of this second chance.”

Heavyweight kickboxing has seemed to be less of a focus of late, with the lighter weight classes taking a lot of the spotlight and there being a lot of fighters -- much like Edwards -- looking for opportunities outside of kickboxing. “As a hard-core combat sport fan I really feel kickboxing is the most exciting format. Its sad the sport has lost some of the bigger names but I still feel the sport has a healthy future.”

As for this tournament especially, Edwards seems ready to finally show the world what he’s made of after what he considered disappointments before. “The main difference in training is I've been spending a lot of time in Sydney, I've don't 6 trips in 5 weeks to train with Stu McKinnon and the boys at Castle Hill Bulldog,” he explained. “It’s world class padwork and sparring there and for the first time in  long time I am excited to fight. I had a lot of personal problems going into the last fight and I have fixed every single one and I am looking forward to being back to my best. I'm sick of feeling disappointed and letting people down, being considered a journeyman etc. Those days are over.”

When it comes to the first opponent for the night, Jahfarr Wilnis, Edwards seemed more focused on himself and his preparations, instead. “I only ever watch a little bit of footage on my opponent when the fight gets signed, get a feel for them, come up with a game plan then I don't think about them anymore. He appears to be a busy fighter with not much power which should leave plenty of openings to land one of my ghetto whoppers.”

Edwards has been a busy guy of late if you follow him on Facebook, taking a few acting gigs and looking happy to be going outside of his comfort zone. He explained to us how he found himself in front of the camera without gloves on. “I trained a guy who ended up being a producer on a local film that ended up starring Billy Zane, they have finished filming but they were running short on money to finish the production. Blue World Order is the film's name and they have a website to visit. This latest project stemmed from people I met on that, this one is called Tech Noir and the director is attempting to get it into the aussie short film festival Tropfest. I had a great experience on both films and definitely look forward to participating in more projects.”

What does the future hold for Edwards? Only time will tell. Edwards has done it all from boxing to kickboxing to even dog walking, but will he keep fighting even if he loses? “There will be plenty of dog walking, I can't express how much I enjoy doing that and I am a prize fighter, whatever the rules if there is a prize I'll be there.”

Any man who loves dogs is okay by me. The same with any man who genuinely loves fighting and Ben Edwards fits that bill. Ben Edwards is participating in the GLORY 24 Heavyweight tournament, facing Jahfarr Wilnis in the first round.


Zack Mwekassa Promises That His Fight Will be Epic

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"It's going to be epic!" That is Zack Mwekassa's prediction for the rematch between he and Saulo Cavalari and at the event called 'Dynamite' .With an event name like that, it's only natural to expect to see some bombs being dropped in the ring. Zack Mwekassa promises you will not only get bombs but some drama as well! If you're curious about what bombs and drama means and the hashtag (#bombsanddrama) that has captivated fans of Mwekassa around the world, the originator explained, "A lot of people think my punches are like bombs and they believe the whole persona of Zack Mwekassa with the bombs just makes it spectacular and just brings the drama. Look at the fight with Pat Barry, when I walked in people booed me, I walked in the ring thinking what have I done to these people, they don't know me, but I stopped him and they played my entrance song, 'There is Power in the Name of Jesus', and that was the drama. I walked in with the bombs and that was drama. When Pat Barry walked in they all were shouting 'HD, HD, HD!' but booing me, but again that was drama too". In fact bombs and drama is one of Mwekassa's goals as a fighter, to give a spectacular performance to his fans during every fight. Mwekassa stated that he doesn't come to win fights, he comes to bring emotions. He makes a distinction between simply winning and trying to offer more. Mwekassa stated that trying to win fights is easy to do, but his overall goal, is to give fans something they can talk about, and that is the drama side of it. If his past is any prediction of his future Zack Mwekassa will definitely bring both bombs and drama to the SAP center.

Taking a look back, you will recall Cavalari and Mwekassa first met in November 2014 during the light heavyweight qualifying tournament in Oklahoma at Glory 18. Mwekassa's first opponent in the tournament was Brian 'The Lion' Collette. Mwekassa easily dispatched Collette with a devastating blow that left Collette dazed and down for the count. Phase two of the tournament brought together Cavalari and Mwekassa. In was beginning the bout seemed to be an unending slugfest but ended with Mwekassa getting caught and knocked out. Since that time Mwekassa has made a commitment to step up his level of training and stretch the boundaries of his performance as an athlete. Chiefly among the changes Mwekassa has made was his decision to spend time in Holland at Hemmers Gym to give himself exposure to different fighting styles, higher level sparring partners and other things that had been unavailable to him while training in Africa.

Mwekassa makes no excuses about his loss to Cavalari despite any training disadvantages he might have had prior to the bout. This however is the nature of Zack Mwekassa and the basis of his #Mwekassance. Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to talk to Mwekassa, fighters and fans alike, I'm sure can testify to his character and his desire to strive, on a daily basis, to be a better man. Mwekassa is both a fighter and a business man, at this time in his career seeing fights not just on the basis of what stylistically or intellectually makes sense but also as opportunities to continue to hone his craft and to build the means to give back to his family. Like most fighters, Mwekassa laments the grueling amount of time and energy the life of a fighter requires. It's however, a sacrifice he's willing to make for achievement of his ultimate goal, light heavyweight champion. Stylistically, Mwekassa mentions Gokhan Saki as an opponent with whom he could have had a very interesting and challenging fight. He is also, however, quick to add that he is willing to take on whoever Glory places in front of him and that he feels very fortunate to have arrived at his current place in life. For that he gives glory to God.

When it boils down to it both he and Cavalari are similar in nature. Both men arose from very humble beginnings in their respective countries and both had achieved a certain level of success in their combat sports careers prior to their Glory debuts. Both have made it their life's goal to be the best. Now both men have set their sights on the light heavyweight title which on Saturday, September 19th only one man can be victorious, but if nothing else we can all expect some bombs and drama until the end.


New challenges - An interview with Gábor Görbics

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For the first time in Muaythai Mania's history the event will not be at it's usual location of Szentendre but Budapest. Looking at the card fans can expect some great fights in a guise of women's and a man's tournament with four participants in each and some superfights.

In the female fights Irén Rácz, Alexandra Kovács, Tímea Bélik and Fruzsina Nagy will clash in 63,5kg (~140lbs) while Roland Berényi, Dániel Bodnár, Ádám Gaál and Krisztián Kovács will meet in the 71kg (~156lbs) category. The organizers are looking for a fourth member in full swing as aninjury left Daniella Éltető without an opponent.

As it was revealed earlier in the men's superfight freshly crowned Venum Fights world champion Gábor Görbics will meet none other than Phetsangkhat "Check Bin" Deo, a former Rajadamnern champion, Russian K-1 Grand Prix tournament champion thai fighter with nearly 200 muay thai fighst under his belt.

Without further ado Gábor Görbics on his last fight, trying muay thai, his preparation and more!

Q: - How was the Debrecen show from the inside? Can you talk about the fight and your opponent a bit?

A: - I knew that I'm going to go in there with a very confident, tough opponent who has solid skills, a nice record and that according to the books I'm not the favorite so I went in there with the underdog's calmness. I trusted myself although I knew that anything can happen. I have tons of experience against good fighters in boxing, K-1, so I have plenty of experience but this was certainly something different. I was really focusing on this one and managed to pull it out.

Q: - We knew that for some time now you've been thinking about giving muay thai a try but it has been quite a busy year for you so far. How did you get to the decision to jump into it right now with the Venum show just behind your back?

A: - You know I always try to get better, focus on my kickboxing a bit more and fill some gaps while boxing still remained my big love, because it is my base, where I'm coming from . If I'm on my phisycal and mental game, I'm ready for anything.

Q: - You have quite the dance partner for your debut. Did you want your hands that full yourself by picking a guy like Phetsangkhat "Check Bin" Deo?

A: - I look at muay thai as a brother to kickboxing and I really don't have anything to lose here. I want to test myself and obviously I'm going in there to win. It is an honor for me and I want to give fans a great fight!

Q: - How do you prepare for the fight? To what extent is it different than a usual fight camp? Do you visit muay thai gyms or bring in people to work with you?

A: - I have a number of days at our gym, Titan, but I try to visit a few guys who have plenty of experience and work with them. Also my head coach Gábor Juhász is trying to add his insights to the whole so I feel we'll bring an A game and make a fun fight for everyone.

Hereby I would like to thank Gábor Juhász, Gábor Kádár, Csaba Lelekács, Jenő Svasznek, Zsolt Erdei, Zsolt Bedák, Benji Bacskai, Norbert Szentkúti and everyone else who has added to my game, my training or results and helped ous out along the way. It would be way too much to mentione them all. This is a result of teamwork. And the team includes my wife and child as well, who always support me and endure when times are tough or when I'm cutting weight.

Thank you for the interview! Wishing you best of luck in your preparation and for the fight!


Raymond Daniels is Out to Prove Himself Against Nieky Holzken at GLORY 23

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At GLORY 23 Las Vegas there is a tall task laid out for Raymond Daniels, one that many fans and insiders have proclaimed to be impossible: defeat Nieky Holzken and take the GLORY Welterweight Championship home with him. Back at GLORY 19 during a contender’s tournament the two men met for the first time in a fight that Holzken largely dominated with his smart cutting off of the ring and use of his experienced hands to keep Daniels from getting comfortable and doing what he does best, which is kicking from a distance. Since then the champion Joseph Valtellini was forced to vacate the championship due to complications from a concussion and GLORY has placed Holzken against Daniels in a rematch, the winner taking home the title.

Many see it as a foregone conclusion for Holzken. To them he’ll clearly be walking away with the championship, but there is just one thing that they are forgetting in this equation: Raymond Daniels. Daniels is known throughout martial arts circles as one of the best competitive martial artists of all time. That isn’t an exaggeration, if you look through the worlds of sport martial arts you won’t find anyone quite like Daniels. His record is immaculate, his accolades could fill a warehouse, yet he still looks for further challenges and his ultimate challenge is in the GLORY ring right now, his ultimate challenge is taking on Nieky Holzken. 

Their first fight was a tough loss for Daniels, but he reflects on the fight as a positive learning experience for him. “It was a learning experience for sure,” he explained. “I get to watch that fight and see what I need to do to fix the holes in my game and to make myself a better fighter. That’s how you improve as a fighter and a person, by learning from your mistakes.”

When analyzing Daniels as a fighter and his game, it’s difficult not to see where his weaknesses lie. His background in Karate meant less of a focus on using his hands, but since turning professional in kickboxing there has been a marked improvement. “There’s always a learning curve, there’s always something that you can do better. I’ll never be perfect, even if I strive for perfection. You can see the maturity of myself as a fighter, you can see the evolution of my style over my last few fights. It’s a great feeling, I’m just so much more comfortable, so much more calm and collected in that ring now. I used to be really excited, hopping around a lot and trying to get things over quickly. Now I’m able to get my energy out in spurts.”

Daniels is a living legend in the world of sport karate, so the question has to be raised why he would even make such a transition to professional kickboxing. “I’ve been very fortunate in my sport. I’ve traveled the world, I’ve met great people but I’ve accomplished everything that I possibly could a few times over. The next realm with a similar system is kickboxing and GLORY is that vehicle that gets me out there, just like the World Combat League did before. Now GLORY is the biggest league on the planet, so they give me the opportunity to use my skillset. Everyone looks at my sport and says ‘oh it’s pitter patter, it’s Karate Kid, it’s Best of the Best’ or something. This gives me a chance to go out there and show that just because my sport is about control and technique, that I’m able to translate that technique into kickboxing and add speed and power to it. That’s what I love about this, I get to test my skills against guys with different skill sets and style and show them what my sport is capable of doing.”

The World Combat League, organized by Chuck Norris, was dismissed at the time for it’s relatively strange rules and team format, but it’s undeniable that they produced a ton of talent. WCL’s roster included not only Daniels but Uriah Hall, Jarrell Miller, Pat Barry, Anthony Njokuani, Lyman Good, Carlos Brooks, Rick Cheek, Felice Herrig and more.

“What was great was that my sport was dismissed in combat sports, written off as impractical or too old fashioned, but then you look at the WCL and some of the fighters that came from there,” Daniels said. “But you got to see the athletes from the WCL start to blossom afterwards.”

This quickly brought us to the topic of being dismissed and how Daniels has been dismissed by kickboxing fans and pundits almost across the board. “You know, I find it kind of comical in a way. I look at it like; the people that don’t understand a burning desire couldn’t understand what it is, what I want and how I feel. Just because you fail or you fall short on something that you want to accomplish doesn’t necessarily mean that your life is defined by those moments. I lost a fight, but that doesn’t define me. I see people who have that outlook as very close-minded individuals. Everybody has a setback in life. If this wasn’t challenging to me, why would I do it? If I wasn’t fighting world class athletes like Nieky why would I be doing this?

“This gives me an opportunity to grow,” he continued. “Not just as a fight, but as a person. It allows me to step outside of my comfort zone. It allows me to strive to be better, to learn more about myself. I see people who will dismiss a fighter as people that would probably give up as soon as they have a setback in life as opposed to finding a way to make it work, finding a way through and to persevere. I have a fire underneath me and am more motivated than ever. I have an opportunity to go out there and fight someone who has beaten me before, there aren’t a lot of people that can say that they’ve beaten me before in my career. With that being said, people that are overlooking me, I have that knock-it-out-of-the-park ability with every move that I throw. So I always find it funny. Don’t get me wrong, Nieky himself is a great fighter, but he’s a flawed fighter. He’s lost before and he has holes in his game -- just like I do -- that I can exploit. Nobody's perfect. I’m looking forward to going in there and being able to silence people. If you don’t believe, just watch. I want to show people what it is to have faith in myself, in my skillset and to prove these people wrong.”

There is another side to GLORY’s push of Raymond Daniels, though, one that is hard to explain. Daniels possesses a magnetism that many fighters don’t. His ability to do things in the ring that no one thought was practical and not only land, but score crazy knockouts with has earned him a reputation among fans as a can’t miss fighter. I got to see this first hand live at GLORY 16 where fighters like Rico Verhoeven, Errol Zimmerman, Andy Souwer and Ben Edwards were walking around throughout the night and went relatively undisturbed, but Daniels was a different story. He was being stopped for selfies, autographs and high fives throughout the night. He’s fought on some of the most-viewed GLORY cards of all-time on Spike TV and has been one of their featured attractions. 

“That’s my whole goal at the end of the day, outside of fighting, I want to give fans something to talk about. I want to be able to give back to them,” he explained. “I want them to look at something that I did and say ‘my god, I saw that in a movie last week and he did it,’ you know what I mean? I also want the die hard fans to say ‘that stuff doesn’t work in a fight, Nieky has this Dutch style that’s gonna light him up’ and say, okay, come watch. As long as people want to come to watch, that’s cool. At the end of the day I don’t believe my own hype. You know, that’s not who I am. I have a Martial Arts school and I don’t even advertise what I do. Most of my students don’t even know that I’m going to fight for the world title right now.

“Some of my students will see some of my fights later,” he jokes, “and they’ll be like ‘oh my gosh that’s my sensei in there? He’s not like that when he’s in the karate school.’ It’s a different persona, you know, like wrestling. Wrestling isn’t real, but how many people follow that, watch it -- I mean people have tattoos of it. People watch it because they put on a show.  What I’m doing is real, but it’s still entertainment. If I go out there and I can knock a guy out with a kick that you’d only see in the movies, how much entertainment value does that bring? That’s how I look at my fighting.”

Daniels brings all of this and more to the table, also bringing with him one of the gaping holes in the combat sports world of late by the way of traditional martial arts. Martial Arts are indeed about self-defense and technique, but are centered around improving the self and becoming a better person. “I feel that is missing from sports right now. The focus isn’t on that, the focus is on who is the best, who is the flashiest and who is making the most money. It’s absolutely missing from combat sports right now and I’m just glad that I can help bring some of those values with me into the ring.”

It is a monumental task for Raymond Daniels at GLORY 23 against Nieky Holzken, but Daniels seems ready for whatever might come his way. Tune in this Friday at 11pm Eastern time on Spike TV to witness Raymond Daniels vs. Nieky Holzken vying for the GLORY Welterweight Championship and see for yourself who comes out victorious. 


GLORY CEO Talks About Preparing for a Bright Future with GLORY 23 and Dynamite on the Horizon

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James Law/GLORY

GLORY’s next event is August 7th in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Las Vegas is known for being one of the fight capitals of the world and GLORY will finally make their debut there in the historic Hard Rock. The main event of the show is a GLORY Welterweight Championship bout between Nieky Holzken and Raymond Daniels, two men that have fought before and will meet for the newly-vacated championship. 

In a way, Daniels vs. Holzken is a perfect way to sum up GLORY as an organization at the moment. GLORY began with a bang, pushing out nothing but star-studded cards with fights between top names from K-1 and It’s Showtime, but things have changed quite a bit since then. Some would say the changes were unwelcome, while others would argue that the health of the organization and the sport in particular should come before glitz and glamour. Chief among them would be GLORY’s CEO Jon J. Franklin.

Franklin was involved with GLORY previously, but his role was in assisting them with television rights deals and not running the entire organization. After some reshuffling after GLORY Last Man Standing failed to deliver in PPV sales last year Franklin was placed into the unenviable position of the CEO of GLORY and basically just told, “fix it.” GLORY started off big, just as big as the shows it was replacing from Japan, but the problem was there was really no market for it anymore and the shows, while impressive, helped the organization to bleed money for the first few years. 

“You know,” Franklin explained to me when talking about the difficulties of taking over. “First thing I thought was that I was going to come in and trim the fat. Just come in and cut out everything that we didn’t need, make the whole operation leaner, more profitable and to ensure that we’ll still be running shows down the line. You can’t just cut everything, though, which I learned the hard way early on. There are contracts in place and if you don’t honor those contracts things can get messy in a hurry, even if those contracts were expensive for us at the time.”

That included some of the older, bigger name fighters who have now mostly retired or moved on to what they consider greener pastures for the time being. There was a marked change in direction for the organization after Franklin joined, which he is willing to admit wasn’t always perfect, but has been adjusted with some fine tuning. “Was the Oklahoma show maybe a bit of a stretch for us? Probably, in hindsight, yeah. That might have been a bit too far in the other direction, but if you look back at our recent shows I think that we’ve really found the right mix for us that keeps the fans in the arena happy and is enjoyable to viewers.”

Part of the change was removing some of the more costly aspects of the production, which meant cutting back on production staff that were attending events and even scaling back on travel expenses. “As cool as the ramp was to have, it was an expense and due to how tight our shows are on Spike TV, you’d never really see them anyway. On top of that, most of our more memorable entrances were fighters interacting with the crowd more, like Gokhan Saki at GLORY 15 Istanbul.” 

As for the travel? “I travel coach now, which a few of the older guys were kind of shocked by. ‘How does it look that our CEO is traveling coach?’ They asked me, just not understanding it, still worried about image. I think that it shows that we are very serious about our organization and for its longevity that we aren’t spending frivolously or concerned about things like that. I don’t mind doing it and I believe that it sets a good example for everyone else.”

In a way, Nieky Holzken vs. Raymond Daniels is the perfect GLORY title fight under Jon J. Franklin’s leadership, especially in the Hard Rock, a venue that as a boxing promoter he had worked to put on shows numerous times in the past. Holzken is one of the most renowned and revered kickboxers in the world while Raymond Daniels is an American fighter who might not have the same level of credentials as a professional that Holzken does, but has worked tirelessly to transfer his skills in karate to the sport of kickboxing. His work has resulted in some of GLORY’s most spectacular knockouts and for Daniels becoming one of the more viral and notable stars for the organization. 

“He’s incredible,” he said about Daniels. “I think that showcasing a fighter like Daniels helps to set us apart and really stand out. Nieky is an incredible boxer and Daniels is an incredible athlete who does things that nobody else does inside of the ring. The two-touch kicks, spinning back kicks, just everything that he does takes your breath away and leaves an impression.”

Many older fans see the fight between Daniels and Holzken as a forgone conclusion, but Franklin isn’t worried about a loss for either man hurting their image, instead noting that fighters with heart and personality tend to stand out. “I know that I’ll take some flak for this, but how can you not love a fighter like Dustin Jacoby? He’s still learning the ropes in our sport, but he entered the Road 2 Glory tournament on a day’s notice and won the whole thing, he fought Mourad Bouzidi on short notice and in Bellator stepped into the cage against King Mo on short notice. The guy is a fighter and he’s exciting to watch. I don’t think that losses define a fighter at all and I think that fans have certain connections with fighters and that doesn’t just fade away after a loss or two.”

GLORY is, of course, involved with the big Dynamite event in September that will showcase Bellator fights in a cage and GLORY fights inside of the GLORY ring. The event was in the works for quite a while and Franklin talks about how pleased he has been in the whole process. “How can you not like working with Scott Coker? I’d say he’s one of the top promoters in the world. He’s been a pleasure to work with and we are looking forward to putting on a great show. I mean, Bellator has an amazing platform that they’ve grown since Scott came in and we get to be a part of that with Dynamite.”

The inclusion of GLORY seems almost academic considering the caliber of events that they’ve produced in their short tenure and how Franklin and crew have been able to work miracles out in the previous few events with their reduced budget. Franklin does credit the fighters for sticking with them through the transition, as well. “What people don’t realize is that 95% of our fighters stuck with us through lean times. That is incredible, they really believe in what we are doing and believe that this is where they belong. Look at guys like Errol Zimmerman or Rico Verhoeven who stuck with us through everything and are just excited to get out there and fight.”

The card isn’t settled yet for Dynamite, but GLORY has promised to bring their A-game for this. There was talk of the event possibly happening without GLORY’s assistance, but the reality here is that GLORY’s stable of fighters are some of the very best in the world. The Dynamite event is a huge stage for kickboxing in general and GLORY has top talent in healthy supply to wow both old and new fans alike. It also speaks further for the health of the relationship with Spike TV, which Franklin feels strongly about.

“I was just out there at the Bellator show and I walked away from my meetings with Scott and everyone at Spike TV feeling very positive about it,” he explained. “We have a longterm deal with Spike with extension options and everyone who see GLORY programming feels strongly about it. Could the landscape change in the future, could our relationship change? It could, but that is the nature of television. We aren’t concerned, though, we have a healthy relationship and a lot more shows that we are planning right now.”

The market is ever-changing for combat sports but what is clear is that GLORY is in this for the long haul and is looking to help to grow the sport worldwide as well as the United States. While Spike TV is usually the hot topic, Franklin made sure to mention that they don’t plan on abandoning their international markets any time soon. They have healthy television relationships all throughout Europe and Asia and he notes how it is easier to fill up arenas throughout Europe with their top talent, like in Lille, France where Rico Verhoeven defended his GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi.

In a way, it is refreshing to speak with Franklin and to hear him be so candid about the past and future of the organization. They are very aware of their product and aware of any possible missteps that may have happened in the past and are always looking for ways to provide quality entertainment to all of their fans across the world, all while spending responsibility and ensuring that the company has a bright future. Because, as Franklin told me, having less opportunities for fighters to work and make money is good for no one, so all of the fighters are invested in the future of both the sport and the organization.

GLORY 23 is Friday, August 7th live on Spike TV from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.


Exclusive Interview with Mike Zambidis Prior to June 27th Retirement Bout

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On June 27th in Greece the K-1 legend that is Mike Zambidis will step into the ring one last time in his retirement fight. The 34-year old fighter will cap off a long and storied career by fighting one of the world's toughest Lightweights in Steve Moxon. In a way, Zambidis fighting Moxon for his retirement fight is a very Zambidis thing to do; he didn't have to fight someone as tough and relevant as Moxon. Zambidis is going out on his own terms, which is rare for many fighters, it also meant that he could choose someone that he could just easily plow through for a memorable knockout for his retirement. Instead Zambidis chose a challenge.

I think when we all look back on Mike Zambidis it should be that fighting spirit that we all remember. We had a chance to talk to Zambidis prior to his big fight this coming weekend and a reflecting Zambidis had a lot to say about his career, his fans and even his most memorable fights. Mike Zambidis fights Steve Moxon on June 27th in Athens, Greece under the Iron Challenge banner.

LK: First of all, thank you for all of the great memories in the ring. I'm not sure that there are many fighters out there as entertaining and full of heart like you. 

MZ: Thank you very much for your kindness.  It is very important for an athlete to be respected by the audience and especially by the insiders of his field with such great experience.

LK: After a successful 15-plus-year career you are retiring, what was the decision making process like for this? What finally pushed you to move into retirement?

MZ: I am involved in kick boxing for 24 years and in times that kick boxing was not popular in my country but I dreamed and looked up with my head down and after huge sacrifices and endless hours of training, I have achieved 178 fights, 155 wins and 87 Kos. I had the honor to compete during the golden years of kick boxing in major events and with the best athletes worldwide.

After all this wonderful and demanding journey , I feel enormous gratitude that I manage to finish my career healthy and in high competitive level. Now, I feel full inside so as to go on with the next chapters of my life. 

LK: How important is it for you to be able to retire in front of your friends, family and fans in Greece?

MZ: There is nothing better than to give my last battle in Greece, although there have been ​​several interesting proposals by others countries, but my decision was the only way.

The Greeks support me in many ways, either daily out on the street, on social media, or filling each stadium where my battles are organised and transfer their energy, which is very valuable for me.

LK: Reflecting back on your career, what was your favorite fight?

MZ: I have many favorite fights … But I will pick the first that came to my mind.  It was the first time I stepped my foot in Japan and my first battle there with the champion of K-1 in 2003. For a long time, I was dreaming to participate in K-1. I won the eight-fold in the K -1 Oceania Australia and John Wein Parr in the finals and so I found myself opposite to the Dutch Albert Kraus.  In the beginning of the second round, I managed to knock him out, diving in the deep sea of K-1. A shocking experience for a young unknown Greek athlete back then.

LK: What made you select Steve Moxon as a final opponent? Moxon is an incredibly tough, top-ranked opponent. Is this just the Mike Zambidis warrior spirit that wouldn't accept an easy fight for his retirement?

MZ: I respect Steve Moxon and he has provoked me many times in the past. As he said in the past, I was his idol due to the similar fighting style and I think that it is very interesting for the audience to see. The experts of martial arts predict a spectacular battle between two strong athletes that are chasing the knock out.  As you said, I could accept an easy fight at this moment but I love challenges a lot. I am not just an athlete, I am a warrior and I learned in my life to fight, aiming high. This is a challenge I would like to take, as I think it will be a Titans’ battle.

LK: What do you think that your legacy will be on the sport after you retire?

MZ: The fights I have given in K-1, my wins over the world’s greatest champions of kick boxing, my «iron» fists and my fighting style, I think will be my legacy. Also, the fact that I was a Greek warrior fighting alone in the biggest kick boxing events worldwide, I think is going to be a nice thing to remember about me.

LK: What kind of plans do you have for your retirement? Do you plan on working with fighters and training them, running events, running a business or are you just planning to relax?

MZ: In Greece I own two fighting clubs where I give kick boxing lessons, so I will continue to run them giving more time and train athletes. In parallel,  I plan to offer kids seminars for nutritional education, sports education, self-defense, in order to strengthen their self-confidence and any other important experience I can offer.

LK: Is there a fighter out there that you believe could help the Mike Zambidis legacy continue on, or do you think that you are retiring as a one-of-a-kind talent?

MZ: I believe that every athlete is unique; no one can be the same with the other. Of course nowadays, there are many good athletes in the world who can offer many things to kick boxing and achieve great things. On the other hand, I believe that the Golden Era of kick-boxing has ended and strong teams like the ones gathered in Japan or in heavyweights like Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hust, Le Banner, Bernado, Loginidis, Andy Hug and in K-1 max 70 kg with Masato, Kraus, Kyshenko, Drago, Buakaw, Souwer and many others won’ t exist again for 2 reasons: Firstly, it is rare to have good fighters in their best physical condition to compete in the same event and secondly the global economic crisis which dissolves dreams and shrinks everything. 

LK: Are there any regrets from your career, or are you satisfied with your accomplishments?

MZ: After 178 fights, 155 wins and 87 KOs, I would be ungrateful if I said that I am not satisfied with my accomplishments. Thank God,  I don’t have second thoughts and I am happy. I would be ungrateful if I was not happy with what I have accomplished. Definitely, there were a lot of difficulties, frustrations , injustices and  injuries during all this wonderful trip but I keep the good moments, that were definitely more and I am glad because I used all the bad ones to become more mature and get myself in the next battles more «angry» in a creative and investing way and complete human and fighter.  

LK: Is there anything that you'd like to say to your fans and supporters all throughout the world?

MZ: I would like to thank them personally, one by one. Their support, energy and love are precious for every step I take. I’ ve always felt very honored for the  people who supported me in my fights around the world. That’s why I was training and I gave 100% of  my soul and body in my battles so that I could please them.


Jason Andrada Dishes on Rematches, Lion Fight 22 and how Kevin Ross is the Keanu Reeves of Muay Thai

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Lion Fight 22 is on Friday evening on AXS TV, live from Las Vegas and as always, they are promising a night of high octane muay thai action. They’ve yet to fail to deliver since they’ve gone live on AXS TV and even though there was a last minute change to the main event, the show is still primed to deliver a lot of full rules muay thai action. A part of that action is Jason Andrada vs. Anthony Castrejon at 122lbs.

When it came time for me to decide who to focus on for this event, as much as I respect Kevin Ross and Tiffany Van Soest or the main eventer Jo Nattawut, it was hard not to be drawn to Jason Andrada. Andrada is not the most experienced fighter on the card -- even though he had a long, storied amateur career before turning pro -- but he’s been featured on Lion Fight events for a while now. He’s coming off of a tough loss to John Nofer that came via an elbow TKO but he was all smiles after that loss, showing more character in loss than most show in victory. 

Andrada is one of those guys that you might not see main eventing Lion Fight events, but more often than not you see him on the card and when you see him, you know to expect a fun fight and for him to leave it all in the ring. It’s not a coincidence, either, because his disposition is that of a laid back guy that is always looking to put on a show. Andrada sees himself as one of the many guys who is just trying to make an impression.

“You know, I think for some guys, guys like the ones that I’ve been fighting like Nofer, they’re all looking to make a name for themselves just like I am. There are a lot of guys out there that aren’t getting featured on TV like I am and they are clawing for those spots,” he explained. “All of these guys out there they go out there swinging, not many fighters that I’ve encountered are gonna take a shot and not want to go down swinging. Look at a guy like Pedro Gonzalez, for example. A lot of people in muay thai want to see someone demonstrating their perfect muay thai technique, but he’s more of a brawler, an MMA guy. I like watching him fight and so do a lot of other people, if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.”

He was quick to point out some of the more established names in the world of muay thai like Kevin Ross, Chad Mulkey, Joe Schilling and Tiffany Van Soest earned their spots through not only being skilled, but through their humility, personalities and experience. Andrada is quite accomplished in his own right, but he’s quick to point out those that have accomplished more than him and how he strives to be better and achieve what they have. 

Muay Thai might be a career for Andrada now, who spends most of his time at the gym training for fights or holding classes, but he likes to get some distance sometimes as well. “I love fighting, of course,” he said. “But sometimes I need time away from it, so I’m not one of those guys that has to watch every fight ever. I’ll watch my friends, you know? If Kevin, Chaz, Joe, any of my friends are fighting I’ll watch it and look, I could read off a pretty long list of fighters that I’m friends with and watch them fight, but I’m not a junkie for it anymore or anything. It’s nice to take time away. You know, I come home, I watch TV, watch Netflix, just relax sometimes and get some distance. It keeps the passion there.”

His fight on Friday is a rematch with Anthony Castrejon, the two of them meeting a few years back when they were both amateurs in a bout that Castrejon won via a head kick knockout. Andrada is open to any and all challenges, but was not really looking for this rematch. “I mean, we’ve fought before, he landed a nice head kick, which was good for him, but we are professionals now. A few of my recent professional fights have been rematches from my amateur days, which is fine,” he explained. “But look, like 1/3rd of my pro fights have been rematches from my amateur days. He’s been calling me out since before he fought Victor Saravia, so he’s wanted this for a while. I’m looking to grow as a fighter and be ready to challenge these international guys. I’m not saying that I’m looking past anyone,” he said. “I’m really not, I just want to be fighting guys from all over the world now. I want to be fighting guys from Japan, Europe and Thailand, I want to be ready to be able to go overseas and make a big impression. I don’t know if these rematches are going to really prepare me for that.”

He goes on to explain that it isn’t a great fight for either of them, considering that a loss for either guy could be the end of their Lion Fight careers. “I look at how UFC handles losses and you know, once you start racking up a few in a row they tend to cut a guy. I don’t want to be that guy and I’m sure that Castrejon doesn’t want to be that guy, either. Two straight losses wouldn’t be a good thing.”

Andrada is a guy that isn’t afraid to talk about his shortcomings, although he admits talking about losses can be tough. “Man, it sucks when I meet somebody new and they are like; ‘what do you do?’ I tell them that I’m a fighter and they ask about my last fight and it’s like, you gotta tell them that you came in second place,” he joked. “Nobody wants to have to say that, to say that you lost, but you gotta look forward.”

When it comes to Kevin Ross, it’s hard for Andrada to not talk about his friend and cohort with nothing but respect. “Kevin is a great guy, really. I mean, I learn so much from him still and no matter how much success he has, he’s always the same guy,” which spiraled into us discussing how Ross handles himself in the ring, how he’s always entertaining and composed, but always easy to talk to and deal with. “Yeah, I mean, he’s like the Keanu Reeves of muay thai in a way. He has all of this success and he hasn’t changed, he’s still the same guy. At the same time, he’s been through a lot of tough stuff in his life and he doesn’t let it drag him down. He’s always that guy that I like to be around.”

It should be noted that Andrada himself is heading down that same path right now; the amiable guy that seems always cool to be around. He loves to eat and is eagerly awaiting his favorite part of his post-fight life; feasting on some pizza. What struck me the most was that I was talking to him while he was gearing up to head out to the weigh-ins for Lion Fight 22, him just having stepped out of an epsom bath and he was not only in good spirits, but exhibited the same easy-going, friendly demeanor that Ross always projects while still focused and prepared for his fight. 

Becoming a star in any sport is difficult, there will be setbacks, there will be moments of glory and there will be those quiet, contemplative moments. Andrada has experienced many of these throughout the span of his professional and amateur career thus far and tomorrow night looks to be another in those collection of moments that will make up his career while he continues to strive for greatness and move up the ladder. What we know is that no matter what Andrada is looking to put his body on the line and to entertain us and that he’ll do it with a smile. Because he’s that ridiculous.

Lion Fight 22 airs tomorrow night, May 22nd on AXS TV at 10:00pm Eastern time.


Simon Marcus is Ready for GLORY 21 and the Responsibilities of Being a Champion

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"You're always training to fight someone who is training to fight you..."  That is a fighter's life according to Simon Marcus, and that's a very accurate portrait when you think of it. Simon Marcus, is not an enigma, he's not one for shadow games or deception.  Who he is however, is a man of ordinary means and on Friday, May 8th, a man with an incredible opportunity, the chance to become the middle weight champion of GLORY, the world's premier kickboxing association.  Ahead of this event, I had to opportunity to speak with Simon about what we can expect on Friday night as well as a peek into the life of the "Bad Bwoy".

For people who are unaware, Levin and Marcus have faced each other before.  During that bout that was conducted under Muay Thai rules, Marcus was the victor.  While he admits that a previous win over an opponent may inspire some level of confidence knowing that you have previously beat that person.  Today,  Marcus chooses to focus on the task at hand and what it will take to be victorious again. Marcus has also made the choice not to focus on the what ifs, especially 'what if he loses'.  He stated that in his life, he continues to strive and even in those instances when a fight does go his way he has a desire to continue to improve and get better as a person. Of the things that has striven to improve in the ring, Simon stated that he has upped his cardio which he demonstrated during open work outs at The Boxing Gym on Wednesday as well as during his hard fought victory during the middleweight tournament last month in Dubai.   Marcus also stated that he has challenged himself in improving his conditioning, strength and overall pushed himself to his limits in preparation for GLORY 21. He states that even on the winning side he is never satisfied with his performance and is always looking for ways he can improve. While he is highly critical of himself, Marcus also expressed that he is attempting to learn how to enjoy those successes.

Coming into the world of a disciplined fighter at age 18, as in the case of many other fighters, provided an outlet and an opportunity for him to turn a negative into a positive.  Instead of getting into trouble for fighting, it has now become his passion and something for which he now receives praise.  As for his personal road to GLORY, Marcus stated that he trained as hard as he could, fought as much as he could and believed in himself.  In addition to that Marcus stated that he travelled and made a lot of sacrifices.  He also stated that many times he fought for free and did everything he could to get experience, good training and anything he could to get better, not necessarily looking at the immediate pay out but his long term goal of getting to the top.

What does he bring to the ring?  Simon Marcus brings a warrior spirit and an intellectual mentality, not to mention a lot of power and heart.  Additionally Simon Marcus brings excitement and a willingness to pull out all the stops to get the win.

As for the future, Marcus plans to completely focus on GLORY and winning/defending the title.  His vision does not stop there.  Simon Marcus would like to be a person who will take GLORY to another level and having people interested and seeing what the best striking in the world is about. 

To anyone who might be interested in embarking on a journey such as this, Simon Marcus stated that he would not discourage anyone from pursing a fighter's life, but he quickly differentiated between having a calling vs. having an interest. He stated if a person is just interested in being a fighter for the accolades or whatever comes along with it, that might not be the way to go.  He added that if someone has a love for fighting or a person has fighting in them, and they feel that fighting brings out the best in them or develops them, then that would be a more satisfying path to take.  Fighting as a career and as a lifestyle is difficult emotionally and physically.

After retirement, which Marcus stated at this point he doesn't know when that will occur, his love of fighting, teaching and martial arts directs his future to remain on its current path, in the realm of combat sports entertaining options of possibly promoting or opening a gym and in that way continuing to pass the tradition on.  If we hadn't met Simon Marcus as the Muay Thai/kickboxing practitioner that we see today, Marcus stated that it's very difficult to guess where he'd be today as he was always fighting and getting in trouble doing it.  He admits that when he was younger he had an interest in basketball and was a good player in high school but didn't have the focus on school to continue on this path. From where he sits now Marcus appears to be happy, he is an accomplished fighter, a father and fighting in an organization that he feels is right on the cusp of becoming something huge!

Beyond Friday night, Marcus has no one in particular on his radar, stating that he believes his greatest fight is with himself because he has the belief that in anything you do, there is a constant inner battle to become the best version of you.

So while on Friday night at GLORY 21 we won't get to see Simon Marcus vs. Simon Marcus, we will witness a continuation of this young man's journey to champion status in a battle between two of the best middleweights in the world.  On Friday night, Simon acknowledges that he has tremendous opportunity and when it's one man's time, it's his time and critics can say what they like, but Friday is his time.  He feels he has done the things necessary to have earned this opportunity.  To his fans, Simon Marcus sends out a sincere and heartfelt thanks.  To those who have supported him and all the friends and family who have traveled to San Diego he expresses sincere gratitude.


A Look at Xavier Vigney Heading Into GLORY 21's Heavyweight Tournament

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Do you remember September 28th 2013? I remember that day, okay well I don't really, but thay sounded really good, didn't it? I actually do have a very vivid memory of one thing from that date, GLORY 10: Los Angeles and the impression one fighter left on me. Who is that fighter you might ask? The up and coming, Northern California heavyweight Xavier Vigney. It wasn't his first day on the job, but it was my first opportunity to witness a talent on the rise. The LA event was Vigney's debut with GLORY and by knocking out his opponent, Hyunman Myung, Vigney demonstrated that he had arrived and was ready to climb the ranks in the world's best kickboxing organization. Following GLORY 10 I anxiously awaited another opportunity to see more, at GLORY 19, I got my chance. At GLORY 19: Virginia, the 6'8" Vigney was matched against Everett Sims in a battle which would end with Vigney's TKO victory. Following this second GLORY win, I also had an opportunity to talk with Vigney, get a little history and find out what's next for him.

Hailing from Northern California, Vigney reports an early interest in boxing, but actually spent much of his youth on the football field. Naturally athletic and no stranger to spending hard days training, Vigney walks around normally at a svelte 109-113kgs. Making his pro debut in 2012 at a K-1 event, Vigney faced Seth Petruzelli. It was druing this event that Vigney proved that he was ready for the big stage as he repeatedly dropped Petruzelli throughout the first and second rounds. In K-1, Vigney also faced Zabit Samedov. While not victorious in this match-up, he has continued his pursuit of kickboxing glory. Vigney joined GLORY via their eight-man ‘Road to GLORY’ tournament. He took this tourney by storm, with three KOs in one night and thereby earning a coveted GLORY contract. he won by stopping three opponents in one night, one after another, earning himself a contract.

While he continues his rise in GLORY, Vigney has dabbled in boxing, a sport in which he's also had some success. He also voices no opposition to the prospect of MMA. And so at a youthful 24 years of age Xavier Vigney has gone from gridiron superstar to hot prospect in K-1 to rising star in GLORY. What's next? More hard work and GLORY 21: San Diego where he will face GLORY newcomer, Maurice Jackson. On Saturday, May 8th we will see what Xavier Vigney has in store for his opponent. Win or lose without a doubt those watching will be able to witness an exciting fight where Vigney will bring the strength, power and agility he has cultivated over the years.


A Look Behind the Scenes of the GLORY 21 Open Workouts

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Today we were granted a sneak peak of the firestorm to come this Friday, May 8th in San Diego, also known as GLORY 21.  The location was The Boxing Club, the current training home of  middleweight champion Artem Levin and the event was open workouts. 

The first participant on deck for today's event was one of GLORY's newest finds, Andre Walker.  Walker who is set to face another newcomer to the GLORY stage, Manny Mancha, exuded confidence in the ring demonstrating high energy with kicks and punches that may just surprise his opponent.  The second fighter up was the always exciting, "Human Highlight Reel", Raymond Daniels.  Despite having suffered a loss at GLORY 19 in Virginia, Daniels came to the ring to show that he remains in it to win it!  High flying as ever, Daniels demonstrated the determination to, if nothing else, make it exciting and keep his opponent guessing! The final two participants at the open workout event were the two men scheduled to bring the house down as the finale of GLORY 21 card in a battle for the middleweight title, Artem Levin and Simon Marcus.  Marcus, who was without his trainer, gave attendees a taste of what a work-out is like in his world! STAMINA is what he's obviously about in training.  Marcus took the crowd through a series of sit-ups, push-ups, kicks and other combinations that left us all sweating as we watched.  Levin then took center ring in the finale of the open workouts and gave the crowd a taste of his ever increasing agility, power and flexibility.  Levin also gave the crowd a sneak peak at some of his combinations as well as how he maintains his reputation for not only throwing a punch, but evading the strikes of his opponents. The outcome of this bout will be very interesting as it will not be the first time these two have faced off in the ring. Marcus has previously defeated Levin in a Muay Thai rules bout. So, may the best man win on Friday night!

While the event was short but sweet, Tim Hughes kept the crowd entertained with his amazing commentary and introductions. Also on deck for weigh ins was the newest member of GLORY's commentary team, Goldberg! 

Look out folks!! It's happening in San Diego, Friday, May 8th at the Valley View Casino Center!  Watch it on Spike or see the event live, GLORY always aims to please and match-ups feature here will keep fans satisfied!


Exclusive "Chopper" Chi Lewis-Parry Liverkick Interview

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We had the pleasure to interview none other than Mr. "Chopper" Chi Lewis-Parry today. Definitely one of the best interviews I've ever had the opportunity to do, his charisma and humor really makes our job easy. We spoke about everything from how he got his nickname to, wedgies, to what he likes to eat and I just had to add some of his voice notes because writing it out just doesn't do it justice. **sorry but audio won't play on mobile devices**

LK: Lets Start with Fight Stats. Height, Weight, Fight Record, Nicknames Etc?

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LK: How did you get your nickname or many names? 

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LK: When did you start martial arts/kickboxing and why?

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LK: Was that when you stopped basketball then and what made you stop and start knocking people out?

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LK: So, you used to bounce at nightclubs? Give us one of your best stories from those days.

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LK: How was the experience with Glory in Dubai?

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LK: What about the upcoming tournament? What do you think of your first opponent Everett Sims and also who you will face in the final?

Chopper: I'm stoked about the tournament! Really looking forward to showing what I have to offer & to get 2 more scalps to my name! Wooha! Everett looks the part but he ain't the part! There's only enough cash in the budget for 1 leading man in this epic motion picture and that's me! Whoever I face in the final is fine with me but I'd prefer to face Vigney so I can show him who's the boss man!

LK: What do you think of Maurice Jackson he says he's also 6 foot 9 but his record on the glory site is 31-0?

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LK: What do you like to do other than training and fighting? Like on your free time?

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LK: Food you say? What's your favourite food? How about before fights anything specific to eat?

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LK: How about after a fight once you win, what does the rest of the night look like?

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LK: I forgot to ask you about ethnicity, I've had probably 10 people ask me what your background was, so I figured this was a good time to ask.

Chopper: I'm like Perseus, the son of a beautiful mortal & a god, haha. My mother is Welsh/Israeli/English. My father is straight up Guyanese. So that makes me some kinda super shit!

LK: One last question and we are done but its 4 questions in one.

1. Hardest puncher you've fought? 

2. Hardest kicker?

3. Hardest fight?

4. Favourite fighter (can be anyone real or fake)

Chopper: 1. Alistair Overeem (technically it was sparring but it may aswell have been a fight lol he goes hard)

2. Alain Ngalani. The guy had rhino legs attached to a gorilla lol.

3. Probably my debut. I completely snapped my 1st & 2nd metacarpal in my hand in the first exchange so I had to fight with a completely fucked hand (haha still won tho)

4. Favourite fighter has gotta be "The Rock". It's fake and all but we all know it's fake yet we STILL watch it. The Rock just has that wow factor.

LK: HAHA perfect anything else you would like to add for fans, sponsors, other fighters etc?

Chopper: Shout out to you guys for having me! My very loyal supporters, nothing but love back at ya. My newly aquired haters, hahaha get used to me, I'm just getting started! My loving family & friends for unrivaled support. My sponsors Golds Gym, Hooligans United & I'm a beast apparel. If you hadn't heard.... "Chopper's Coming!"


Five Questions With Lion Fight 21's Tiffany Van Soest

  • Published in Interviews

This Friday evening on AXS TV Lion Fight 21 will be airing live from Los Angeles. The event is set to feature some of Lion Fight's top talents including a co-main event bout between Tiffany Van Soest and Chajma Bellekhal. We spoke with Tiffany during her busy week and got to ask her a few of the burning questions, from talk about the fight this weekend to her last fight in Enfusion.

LK: Women’s fighting has really taken off in a big way over the past few years thanks to the UFC, Invicta and even yourself in Lion Fight, how does it feel to be one of the more-talked about women in combat sports? 

VS: I really don’t feel that Muay Thai gets as much recognition as it deserves. MMA is HUGE and only getting bigger so it tends to cast a shadow over Muay Thai, however it is an honor to be considered one of the best at what I do. I don’t really think that I am talked about that much since I am a Muay Thai fighter and if I am talked about, it is usually about my transition to MMA. To be honest, it’s quite frustrating because although I have poured my heart and soul into Muay Thai. I appreciate that my skills are respected, but I wish people would appreciate Muay Thai for Muay Thai instead of thinking about how I would do in MMA.

LK: How important is it to you to get your rematch down the line for a shot to get your Lion Fight championship back? 

VS: I’m just taking it one fight at a time for now. I know Scott and Christine at Lion Fight will give me my title shot back when they feel the time is right. I know I have already earned it with 4 (soon to be 5) not only wins, but dominant performances since losing my title. It’s only a matter of time.

LK: How was your experience fighting Denise Kielholtz in Enfusion? They use really interesting and different rules compared to most Dutch kickboxing with there being a focus on throws, did it throw you off at all? 

It was a great experience. I got to kickbox in the mecca of kickboxing. And being of Dutch descent, it was really cool to see Holland and meet some of my extended family. The rules of Enfusion totally favored Denise’s style and judo background, but it made no difference to me. I went to her home country and fought under her rules. The throws did throw me off a little (no pun intended). I was hesitant to close the gap because I knew she would try to grab me and throw me when I got close enough. No losses though, just lessons. Of course i’m disappointed I walked away without the title or the win, but overall it was still a great experience. Denise is an amazing fighter.

LK: Where would a win over Bellekhal place you in the division right now, you think? 

VS: I already know I’m at the top of the division. A win will just solidify that even more.

LK: After your experience with Enfusion are you looking to try fighting outside of muay thai again any time soon in kickboxing or MMA, or sticking to muay thai for now? 

VS: Muay Thai it is. My commitment and contractual obligations are with Lion Fight right now.



Ten Questions with Lion Fight 21's Kevin Ross

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This Friday evening on AXS TV we'll get the pleasure of watching one of the biggest rematches in Lion Fight history at Lion Fight 21. Kevin Ross and Tetsuya Yamato had a knock down, drag out brawl at Lion Fight 11 and on Friday evening they will have a rematch that has the muay thai world buzzing. We asked Kevin Ross ten questions before his big fight and got his opinion on time off, the rematch and how Joe Schilling is doing.

LK: The first fight with Tetsuya Yamato saw a lot of action, a lot of blood and both of you looking fantastic regardless of who won or lost. Since the last fight you’ve both been on a winning streak, Yamato defeating Sagetdao and Masaaki Noiri, you Embree, Mauceri and Thompson. The big difference is that his fights were in kickboxing, do you think that gives you an edge?

Yamato has more of a kickboxing style anyway so it's not really that big a deal to go back and forth, although he does like to fling those elbows hahaha

LK: The Yamato loss ended 2013 for you as 2-2, but 2014 saw you go 3-0, was that important for you to have such a streak before fighting Yamato again?

KR: Not really, I don't dwell on wins/losses, I'm more concerned with the improvements I've made and the performances I've put on

LK: Who had the idea to fight again, was it you, Yamato or Lion Fight who pushed for it?

KR: I'm sure it was a bit of all 3. It was a great fight and good for everyone so we all want to do it again 

LK: Is it possible for this rematch to live up to the hype, or are you kind of hoping to have an easier time with this fight and less of a knock-down, drag-out, grueling affair?

KR: I want all my fights to be ones that go down in history as great, I always want people to be entertained and as long as they are than I'm happy. I don't think you can ever really compare fights, as they are so unique and different in their own ways 

LK: You’ve had some time off since your last fight, was it important for you to get some rest after being as busy as you were after you returned from your injury?

KR: No, I hate time off and never want it, it was out of my hands unfortunately. I'm sure that my body and brain were happy to have a break but I always want to be as active as possible 

LK: How does it feel to see one of your good friends in Joe Schilling having the level of success that he’s had both in the kickboxing world and MMA arena over the past few years?

KR: I couldn't be happier for him! I'm a Muay Thai purist and will always prefer it but seeing him active and doing so well is wonderful 

LK: Do you still have the itch to try out kickboxing now that it is taking off a bit more in the United States or are you focused on muay thai for now?

KR: I've been focused on Muay Thai since day one, it's my true love, it's my passion and will always prefer it to any other type of fighting but as long as I'm in there than that's good enough for me

LK: What’s the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned fighting over the past few years since your return from your knee injury and your profile being on the rise like it is?

KR: I'd say that no matter what struggles lay in front of you they can either be set backs or set ups for further progression, it's just a matter of how you look at them. When bad things happen I view them as tests to see if I really want something. You either overcome them or quit. They show you who people truly are. That's something I've always known, these last few years just instilled those things in me further. 



Exclusive Liver Kick Interview with Nieky Holzken

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Nieky Holzken has not only been an unstoppable force in Glory lately but also was a big part in the two most viewed Glory cards to date. So it seemed only natural that we should sit down and have a little talk with him about all his recent success.

LK: Hello Nieky, thank you for taking the time for this interview. How has everything been since we saw you last in Virginia?

NH: hello yeah I'm fine training is going well.

LK: Lets start from the beginning, what age did you start Kickboxing, where did you start and what made you start?

NH: i start when i was 10 because of the movie Kickboxer in a gym called Yamaneko.

LK: What are your Current fight stats height, weight, record, etc?

NH: im 183cm 77 kg 103fights/92/11/53ko's

LK: How and who gave you the Nickname "The Natural"?

NH: Mike Passenier from Mike's Gym after a fight in England.

LK: What do you like to do during your time away from the gym?

NH: gaming, watching movies

LK: Even though you had a few Pro boxing fights last year, and a kickboxing fight in December, you said you still felt a bit rusty against Stetsurenko can you explain this?

NH: yeah he was a strong guy and i keep in mind that i have to fight a final

LK: How nice did it feel to get back in the Glory ring after one year, not only once but twice in one night so you could totally knock off the ring rust?

NH: yeah it feel great, I did what I had to do.

LK: Give me your honest opinion, did Raymond Daniels get up from your knockdowns more times than you expected? Also how did you feel about the ref giving you an 8 count in that fight?

NH: yeah he has good heart to come up every, time respect for him. But I don't deserve the 8 count I slipped and stand up very fast and it didn't hurt me.

LK: I'm sure you heard that both the #1 and #2 most viewed Glory events are Tokyo, and Virginia which both included you, what do you think about this?

NH: its luck i'm guessing haha

LK: One thing i've been wondering lately about your career is what is the difference between the Nieky Holzken at 70kgs as opposed to 77kgs, I've always noticed you are much more dominant at the heavier weight, is it the weight cut?

NH: yeah its the weight cut that was my biggest fights

LK: We all know that your next Glory fight will be against Valtellini, we just aren't sure when yet. Do you have any other fights planned in the meantime?

NH: yeah two fights in boxing april 19 and 24 may

LK: Valtellini has been very outspoken about fighting you on social media since his close victory over Mark De Bonte even though you have already knocked him out. I spoke to some of your family about this in Virginia, but I think you should tell all the fans how you feel about Valtellini, don't hold back.

NH: yeah Valtelinni says hes the champ and that he expects more from the next time we meet so he will get more much more.

LK: How was training in America with the Blackzillians compared to training in Holland?

NH: yeah the same because I train only with my trainer.

LK: What does the future hold for "The Natural"? Possible Pro boxing career? have there actually been talks with Showtime signing you?

NH: I concentrate a lot on boxing. I didn't hear anything about showtime I wish haha.

LK: Last question is 4 questions I ask everyone, Hardest Puncher you've fought? 

NH: I don't now really i fought so much 

LK: Hardest Kicker you've fought? 

NH: Buakaw

LK: Hardest Fight? 

NH: It was a B class amatuer fight against Ali Mogtagari I won by KO but got two eight counts myself haha

LK: Your favourite fighter? 

NH: Ramon Dekker/Mike Tyson

LK: Thank you so Much Nieky for this interview is there anything else you would like to say to your fans, sponsors, etc?

NH: I want to thank all the fans for support, love you all and my family and sponsor they will keep me going ush.

LK: Well I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to watch your next fight for the Glory title and I wish you all the best for the future.


Exclusive Liver Kick Interview with Gabriel Varga

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We caught up with Glory's #3 ranked featherweight Gabriel Varga after a sparring session at WKX with fellow Glory fighter Josh Jauncey. He is deep into his training camp for his Glory featherweight title fight against Mosab Amrani at Glory 20 in Dubai and is feeling great. Gabriel is always a man of few words and attracts all his fans with his exciting style in the ring but it was great to hear him open up to us more than usual.


Lion Fight 20's Jorina Baars Talks Ughi Rematch and Life Post-Cyborg Win

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(C) Lion Fight/Bernie Palmore

This Friday evening on AXS TV we'll see Lion Fight return to Connecticut with Lion Fight 20. While women headlining major fight cards is still a bit of a misnomer in combat sports Lion Fight is unafraid to place their Women's Welterweight Champion Jorina Baars as their headliner. Baars will be fighting the tough veteran that is Chantal Ughi in what is a rematch from a few years ago. Both women are world-renowned and have fought the best of the best, but for right now Jorina is the woman to beat. 

We briefly spoke with Jorina heading into the fight this Friday about the American media coverage that has come from the Cris Cyborg Justino victory as well as how she feels about the rematch with Ughi.

You’ve fought Chantal Ughi before and it was a close fight, how do you feel that you’ve evolved since then and how different of a fight will this be?

I have evolved in different ways, I developed and gained more experience in Muay Thai, have become stronger physically and mentally. I still train and fight for SportsArt Den Helder and started training with Andre Mannaart from Mejiro Gym to assist in coaching me, he has been the trainer of many champions such as Rob Kaman, Remy Bonjasky, Peter Aerts, Andy Souwer there is a lot of talent at both Mejiro Gym and SportsArt and all my trainings partners at both these gyms have helped me evolve. I've also been training a lot with Marieke Post, she's a professional fighter as well and a friend, we battle together in the gym each day and she has pushed me forward and I gain lots of strength from her knowledge and passion to fight.

Chantal Ughi is a tough opponent who has made a name for herself by fighting in Thailand, while you have made a name for yourself by fighting in Europe. Do you consider this a clash in styles or traditions?

No I do not think it is a clash of styles and/or traditions, in Muay Thai there are more possibilities than in K1, Glory or Kickboxing rules, that means that this will be a more exciting fight. 

The win over Cyborg Justino was a huge one, how did it feel knowing that many fans saw this as an easy fight for her only to see you outclass her throughout most of the fight?

There was a lot of talk about the Cyborg fight and most fight fans thought that she was going to beat me, they were unfamiliar with me, didn’t know who I am.  But the talk after the fight is that Cyborg only had 2 Muay Thai fights and Jorina has 36.  Cyborg proved to be a great Sport and was honest about it, she stated that she fights anybody, anytime, she accepted the fight and knew where she was up against. I respect Cyborg for that !

Did you feel that you were perhaps being looked over by many people going into the fight against Cyborg?

I am sure some people overlooked me going into the Cyborg fight.  I never underestimated Cyborg, never underestimate any opponent that is put in front of me.  I knew where I was up against as well, Cyborg was a very worthy opponent and she came to fight, we both fought hard and I enjoyed that fight very much. I am always coming to fight, no ifs ands or buts it is what the Fans and Lion Fight expect me to do and it is what I do best.

Have you gotten a lot more attention since the Cyborg win, or has it only been in the United States, really?

I get attention through the Social Media and some Dutch Newspapers after the last fight, now for the upcoming fight against Ughi the newspapers have shown interests again and published some articles.  My day to day life is still the same, I work at a nightclub in Amsterdam as a Bouncer, its happens every once in a while that a guest at our club comes to me and says; “You are Jorina, right ?” it flatters me and respond “Yes, that’s me !”

You’ve dabbled in mixed martial arts before, is that something that you’d like to try again some time, or are you content sticking with muay thai?

I switched to MMA as it was impossible to find anyone to fight me on Muay Thai rules, I like MMA but for now, or at least for the time I am under contract with Lion Fight Promotions I will stay and remain focused on Muay Thai.

Do you feel that there are any specific challenges or hurdles that you have to overcome as a woman in fighting sports?

Women have to train just as hard as their male colleagues, it is easier to get fights as a man, there are just a lot more men fighting then there are women, it’s supply and demand, plain and simple.  Women are underappreciated in the fight business, but there are lots of improvements happening and I am happy to see that and be on the first row of experiencing it.

Is there any one fight out there that you haven’t gotten yet that you’ve really wanted to happen?

Yes there is, I would love to fight Germaine de Randamie. She is a very good and strong fighter. Before she fought in the UFC, both our teams were looking for a promoter who could let us fight at their event, as of today that has not happened yet.  Maybe and hopefully Lion Fight can make that fight happen and I will happily accept that opportunity.

What kind of responsibility do you feel as a World Champion for a sport?

Yes we are an example to all fans, kids and adults alike.  There is a tremendous responsibility with that and I enjoy having to deal with that, in matter of fact it is an honor.  I always like to inspire kids to take on Muay Thai as it not only helps them physically but also mentally, it builds their confidence that they will able to benefit from the rest of their lives. I like to portray the fighting sports and muay thai in a positive light, always have. There are still some misunderstandings for this Sport, especially in the Netherlands and I like to set that record straight and continue to do be righteous– Osu !



Joe Schilling Talks Success, Vinny Shoreman's Mind Coaching and Maturity Leading into GLORY 19

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On February 6th Joe Schilling makes his return to the GLORY ring after successfully making his Bellator debut back in November. In the past few months Joe Schilling has been everywhere, not just endearing himself to the kickboxing world, but also making a huge impact on the MMA world as well. His knockout of Melvin Manhoef was one for the record books and quickly became one of the most talked-about knockouts of the year. From there he went on to train with Nick Diaz to help him prepare for his UFC 183 bout against Anderson Silva.

It’s safe to say that things are different for Joe Schilling now in 2015 than they ever have been, even if it just comes down to the sheer amount of activity. “I was always kind of jealous of these guys that would fight like five or six times a year when I was always struggling to scrape up three fights. I mean, tournaments, yeah, but that’s still one night. This year is really shaping up to be a lot different and between both GLORY and Bellator I plan on being extremely active and making a name for myself in both sports.”

It’s not hard to imagine, either, with Schilling already having two fights scheduled for 2015. The first is on February 6th where he’ll enter the GLORY ring against the tough Middleweight prospect Robert Thomas in the co-main event on Spike TV. The other was just announced today as a fight in Bellator with MMA slugger Rafael Carvalho. A lot has changed for Joe over the past few years and he’s learned a lot about both himself and how to handle himself in the ring. 

“Yeah,” he joked. “You know all of these years I’ve been just trying to punch someone’s head off, but now I’ve actually been aiming at their chins. I think that’s something new that you’ll see from me; I’m actually aiming for a knockout now, not just to hurt my opponents.” Joe’s maturity and not fighting with so much rage has helped him out immensely, though.

“I used to into fights just raging mad, just boiling over,” he explained. “I was just trying to smash people. I’d get super tired by throwing these huge shots and then have nothing left. Look at the Eddie Walker fight, I could have cruised through that fight and won a decision, but there was so much pressure for me to finish him so I pushed too hard and lost focus. If I’m angry it’s not like I’m going to punch any harder or any better. Emotion is kind of a bad thing in a fight. If you look at Last Man Standing that was the first time that I went into a fight really composed, I got into the ring that night and I was 100% calm. I just thought, ‘It’s me, it’s Joe Schilling, I’ve worked hard to be here, let’s see what I have.’ It worked out really well for me and the same thing with the Melvin fight.

“Both of these situations,” he continued. “They just really helped my confidence out. I’m not just getting lucky, I’m not catching people with lucky shots or anything. I’m performing and using my skills. It’s a really good feeling to know that I really am as good as I always thought that I could be. It’s not a fluke, it’s not luck anymore, I’ve worked really hard. I’ve been doing this for fifteen years.”

His success is starting to become real to him now, like he mentioned, he isn’t getting lucky anymore, he’s executing what he wants to do and finding success. “I find comfort now when things go wrong. When I used to get sick before a fight I’d get upset, ‘Oh my god I’m sick, what am I going to do? My dad died three weeks before the fight, what can I do?’ I’ve found comfort in this stuff now, this is just a part of preparing for a fight. Of course my weight isn’t where I want it to be a few weeks out from a fight, it never is, but it works out because I put the work in. Going into the Melvin fight my dad passed away a few weeks out and I’m crying my eyes out with my family and I get, I’m having some drinks with my brother, my sister. My uncle calls while we are doing that, and I thought ‘well that’s nice, he’s upset about my dad.’ He’s balling his eyes out and he’s like ‘Cody,’ his son, ‘just fell off a balcony and died.’ It was hard having all of this stuff going on especially that I had to be in the ring with a killer in two weeks, but Vinny helped me get back on track a little bit.

“I said, ‘well, I’ve got two weeks to get back in shape because I was just not training at all,’ I had some really good sessions with Lorenz Larkin and in one session he kicked me and he hit me right in the hip and I thought, ‘I bet that hurt, you fucker,’ then my whole side from my ribs to my quad seized on me and my hip was messed up. I spent the last week of my camp unable to run or kick, going to therapy everyday. Then I went and had one of my best performances.”

It wasn’t just in the gym where he got beaten up, though. Joe went on to explain one of his sessions with Vinny Shoreman and how Shoreman was able to help break him out of his funk. “He was talking to me and was just really being mean, I thought. ‘Oh, your dad died. I bet you feel like shit, huh? Your cousin died, that’s awful, isn’t it? I bet you feel terrible right now, don’t you?’ I was starting to get pissed off, just giving him one word answers and he knew that he was getting to me, then he told me ‘Well now what? Well you are still alive and you’ve worked hard to get where you are, are you just going to give up?’ It all just clicked for me at that moment.”

These are the kinds of setbacks that would make anyone reel, but Joe was able to find peace with his father, with whom he had a rocky relationship for most of his life with, which helped him to be more at peace with the situation. He was also able to work through a lot of his frustration and anger that he held due to his strained relationship with his father, which he attributes as one of the reasons why he feels so mentally clear now; he’s finally been able to release that anger and to move forward with his life. “We were doing timeline therapy and he really didn’t know what he was uncovering, but it was all moments about my dad. Afterwards I literally couldn’t tap into that hatred or anger about my dad, it just wasn’t there anymore. Shortly after that I was able to really 100% forgive him, like no need for an apology, it just was what it was. I was happy that I got to see him and that he got to meet his grandchildren.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Schilling is starting to be more well-known and respected. He talked about how this past weekend at UFC 183 how he was cornering Nick Diaz and he had well-known UFC fighters coming up to him to take photos with him and how they all knew who he was, which was a strange moment. That being said, his high-profile friendships and newfound fame haven’t changed his focus, he’s still ready for Robert Thomas on Friday.

“He’s a tough kid with nothing to lose,” he said. “He reminds me a lot of myself at that age, I mean, his first fight in GLORY was against Artem Levin and he was swinging for the fences. If Artem didn’t duck at the right moment there a few times he would have been laid out by him. It’s going to be a tough fight for me, I never look past an opponent. He’s got a muay thai style and starts slow, but he hits hard and stuff like his spinning backfist is no joke and he can hit that from anywhere at any time, like it almost doesn’t make sense when he does it. I’m just looking forward to getting back out there and fighting.”


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