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Francois Ambang's Struggles and Humble Beginnings

  • Published in News

If you've ever been poor it's a situation you will probably never forget. Especially as a child, seeing those around you take for granted the things that we look upon as basic is something that can have a tremendous effect on that individual. For most who have experienced any form of deprivation, generally one vows to make things different, to have a better future. All, however, are not successful for an escape, depending upon the route one may experience very detrimental consequences. In this situation sometimes, a beautiful flower can sprout in a field that was once thought barren. That flower is humility.

Humility is defined as the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people; the quality or state of being humble. The definition, however, is deceptive in that there is an implication of weakness, self-deprecation or meekness. In reality, however, someone who truly exhibits this quality embodies great strength. When I think of Francois Ambang, humility is one of the first qualities that comes to mind. He is a man who has known great adversity but through those times he has persevered. He has never forgotten from whence he came. His story begins in west Central Africa in Cameroon where he grew up in poverty with his parents and six siblings. Despite having certain disadvantages, Ambang has faced his challenges with confidence, a confidence that brought him to the United States with little knowledge of the language and/or customs. What Ambang did bring with him to the steps of the Combat Sports Center in Virginia was a natural athleticism and strength. He also has had a long held desire to constantly improve himself as a fighter and make not only his family but his fans proud as well.

Ambang cites that he first began his combat sports training in karate, boxing and savate. Following his move to the United States, Ambang expressed that his primary interest was in boxing. In short time, however, he was able to easily establish himself in the kickboxing arena, learning to throw the sharp combinations of punches and brutal leg kicks for which he is now famous. With an overall 12-5 record, Ambang continues to hone his craft now on the Glory stage where he currently is ranked at number 10 in the welterweight class with a 1-2 record. To date he cites as one his most memorable fights the bout with Joseph Valtellini at Glory 9 in New York.

One thing has been clear since his arrival on Glory's stage, Ambang's potential for greatness is ever present. Beginning with his participation in the ‘Road to Glory’ welterweight tournament in 2013, where he beat three opponents in one night to score a GLORY World Series contract. Ambang is confident that his time as a champion in this organization is sure to come. Those who watch the promotion should believe as well as this confidence is not braggadocio but a true love for his family and fans.

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A Look at "The Machine" Andy Ristie Heading Into GLORY 20

  • Published in News

GLORY 20 might already be in the books, but if you are waiting to watch it tonight on Spike TV check out this feature that Shar Williams did on Ristie before GLORY 20.

Is he man, machine or a little of both? To fans around the world, Andy Ristie is "The Machine", a man with a fighter's heart and who is guaranteed to leave you on the edge of your seat while watching one of his match-ups. Beginning with his Glory debut in 2012, Ristie has blazed up the lightweight ranks leaving a path of destruction in his wake.

Since 2007, Ristie has faced Hinata Watanabe, Gago Drago, Albert Kraus, Niclas Larsen and of course, "The Doctor" Giorgio Petrosyan. His match-up against Petrosyan left crowds stunned in New York's Madison Square Garden in 2013, as Ristie dethroned Petrosyan during the lightweight world championship tournament and gifted Petrosyan with his first knock out ever. This defense again Kiria in Zagreb ended his reign. Risitie however takes this loss in stride, indicating that there were some problems in his corner and with his coaching. What Ristie, however, does not make is excuses. By Glory 19 in Virginia, Ristie was renewed. Having meticulously examined his loss and preparing for the future, Ristie was ready to begin his ascension again. And begin again he did with a decisive TKO victor in the first round again Steve Moxon.

But who is Andy Ristie, some of you might ask? Who is the man, who in such a short time has taken the kickboxing world by storm and endeared fan to him across the globe? After sitting down with Ristie and his team, I'm not sure if I can even answer that question. Sitting down with Andy, he exudes a warmth but also a sense of determination. He easily states that he's not afraid to fight anyone and will address the matches as they are presented to him. He's reflective when speaking of his loss to Davit Kiria, but in that reflection is also an analysis of how that fight went wrong for him and what he can do better in the future. Ristie states that he normally walks around at approximately 75kg, so cutting weight is not an issue for him and finally he expresses a willingness to try to things and take on new opponents irreguardless of their styles and exprerience. One tidbit of infomation I was able to glean from my converstaion with Ristie was that he came into kickboxing far later than most. Goes to show you that whether you start at age four or age twenty-two, if it's meant to be so it shall be. And this is Andy Ristie.

On pure stylistic terms, Ristie is a force to be reckoned with. In addtion to being taller than most of his opponents he has extremely long legs and arms often giving him an advantage to him against his opponents. Ristie's style is unorthodox and while he mgiht face the same opponent more than once I have to wonder if even they know what to expect. Last, but not least, Ristie likes to go for the knockout and his play between offensive and defensive maneuvers is something that has frequently led to that end.

Now onward to Glory 20 in Dubai where he is set for his second meeting with Robin van Roosmalen. Who will be the victor? Some say van Roosmalen, some say Ristie. Of what I am certain is that both men will get in that ring and give the fans everything they have!

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StillWill Returns For An Official Badr Hari Documentary

  • Published in Kickboxing

If you've been reading the site for a while you are probably well aware of the name Will "StillWill" Prescott. Will has done some of the absolute best kickboxing and Japanese MMA highlight videos that there are in the world and probably ever will be. That has led to him getting a few pretty cool gigs, the latest of which is working with Badr Hari's team to present an unfiltered documentary about Badr Hari himself. The promise is that it will look at his career and his personal life, all playing out in an episodic manner much like "The Reem" or Spong's "King of the Ring."

This is just the trailer, but it has us pretty pumped up, that's for sure. 

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Pakorn vs. Greg Wootton Set for Yokkao 8

  • Published in Muay Thai

Yokkao

While Yokkao 7 is quickly approaching on the 19th of February Yokkao is still hard at work on March 8th's Yokkao 8 event, which is scheduled to take place in Manchester, England in cooperation with Supershowdown. The big bout announced so far for Yokkao 8 is Pakorn PKMuaythaigym vs. Greg Wootton. This is a huge fight as Pakorn is well known in Thailand and Greg Wootton has quite a following in the UK, making it an explosive bout for the fight-hungry fans of the UK.

Pakorn has also joined the Yokkao Fight Team along with countless other exciting Thais. Also scheduled to appear at Yokkao 8 is Rungravee Sasiprapa and many more. We'll have more information in the coming weeks.

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Relive GLORY 17/Last Man Standing with this Behind the Scenes Video

  • Published in Glory

GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing were two incredible events jam-packed into one of the best nights in kickboxing history. Now you can relive some of those moments while getting a backstage view of what went down that night behind the scenes thanks to this awesome video from 2.One.Fly productions. 

Glory 17 - Last Man Standing - Behind the Scenes from 2.One.Fly on Vimeo.

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Interesting Note on Tyrone Spong's Contractual Status with GLORY

  • Published in Glory

Over the weekend there was some commotion about the possibility of Tyrone Spong heading to the UFC. Of course, that didn't seem to be in the cards considering Spong's favorable status with GLORY, where he is one of the top fighters in the organization. That means that he's also one of the better-paid fighters in the organization, in case you missed it. So Spong showing up at the UFC event and asking Dana White for a contract was a bit of a shock, but seemed more of a heat-of-the-moment thing than a possibility.

Well, hold on a second. 

This video from Sherdog (featuring the dulcet tones of our bud John O'Regan asking the questions) gives us some new insight into the contractual status of Tyrone Spong. According to Spong he is currently done with his GLORY contract. If he had won the GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship there would be a clause that put his contract into perpetuity, but that did not happen. This means that Spong may indeed be a free agent at the moment. He seems willing to work out a new contract with GLORY and if I'm GLORY I make sure that Spong is happy, but this is truly an interesting new twist.

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GLORY's Spike TV Debut Tonight is a Huge Deal

  • Published in Glory

GLORY

I've been kind of lamenting upon this for a while now and what it comes down to today is that tonight something huge is happening for the sport of Kickboxing. Kickboxing has had a strange journey in the United States, with the sport, in various forms, appearing to the public over the years. You could argue that the fall of the PKA all of those years ago was the last chance that anyone would give Kickboxing here in the United States, but you'd be wrong. It sure looked that way for a long time, but tonight is just proof that the sport has a strange way of enduring.

It is impossible to imagine being here today without having K-1 as the flag-bearer for the sport for so many years. K-1 had two chances at appearing on Spike TV and two management teams were able to ensure that it never happened. For K-1 right now they are going through a rebuilding process and it looks like America is a distant memory, riddled with failures and missed opportunities. But tonight we get to see GLORY make its debut on Spike TV. Spike TV is without a doubt the biggest platform that Kickboxing has ever had within the United States and I'm just unsure of how to process this right now.

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Glory 17 Spike TV Ratings and Highlight Video

  • Published in Glory

Glory 17 scored an average of of 487,000 viewers and a peak of 862,000. The average number is slightly below Glory 16 and became the fourth highest rated show out of Glory Sports International's seven on Spike TV.

Here are the Glory ratings on Spike TV:

  1. Glory 11: 381,000 viewers
  2. Glory 12: 476,000 viewers
  3. Glory 13: 659,000 viewers
  4. Glory 14: 495,000 viewers
  5. Glory 15: 354,000 viewers
  6. Glory 16: 498,000 viewers
  7. Glory 17: 487,000 viewers

We do not have the PPV numbers yet so we are patiently waiting to find out how Glory 17: Last man standing really did, but in the meantime here is a really amazing highlight video of Glory 17 that captures the feeling and intensity of the fighters behind the scenes perfectly.

 

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Glory 17: Glory Prepares to Distinguish Itself As a Combat Sports Brand

  • Published in News

Glory 17 is a turning point for Glory in many ways, marking its entry into the American PPV market by staging the largest, most significant kickboxing tournament on American soil in decades. But even more noteworthy than that, this event signifies the opportunity for Glory to truly distinguish itself as a unique combat sports product that is capable of delivering where other brands may falter, particularly the UFC. The UFC’s present difficulties are well known: problems with a ballooning roster, complaints about “boring” fights, and problems marketing fighters have led to great inconsistency in the quality of UFC events. Glory, on the other hand, has experienced few to no difficulties in this regard--and for very interesting reasons. In this article, I will talk about some of the things that I think make Glory a fairly unique entity in the combat sports world.

1. Each Glory weight class has more elite fighters than a single card can accommodate.

The Last Man Standing tournament is essentially a display of the entire Middleweight division, and it is a scary division, featuring Artem Levin, Joe Schilling, Simon Marcus, Wayne Barrett, Filip Verlinden, and Melvin Manhoef as well as dangerous contenders like Alex Pereira--all of these men are either champions, former champions, or fighters who have distinguished themselves against championship-level competition. Whereas some promotions might struggle to fill fight cards with less accomplished talent, Glory has the unique problem of struggling to fill fight cards with overqualified talent, bumping the likes of Levin to the non-televised SuperFight Series. If you ever find yourself wondering why a fighter like Giorgio Petrosyan gets to occupy the fourth slot on the Glory main card, it’s frequently because any Glory card could offer you a choice of several main event fights.

2. Glory has complete control of the rules of the sport.

No matter how many three or four-letter-name sanctioning bodies Glory will claim accountability to, the fact remains that Glory, as an organization in today’s combat sports market, is unique because of the complete control that it has on the rules of the sport. By frequently changing its clinch rules, its knockdown rules, and its 8-count rules, Glory has crafted and refined a viewing experience that is more fast-paced and exciting, producing a high volume of memorable fights and highlight reel moments. This is an ability that neither the UFC nor any other MMA organization possess, and the end result for them is a perpetual struggle to reconcile the Unified Rules of MMA with the type of fights that UFC wants to sell. Glory, by contrast, can eliminate any rule that negatively affects the viewing experience.

The flipside is that we also don’t have to talk about drug testing in the sport of Kickboxing. Glory is in a peculiar position here as well, operating between the lines of an oversight structure that is very dated and arguably unequipped to handle a multimillion dollar professional sport. Indeed, WKA’s official rules, published in 2011, leave drug testing up to the discretion of the “WKA supervisor, tournament promoters, and the official doctor,” who “can and may perform tests” but don’t necessarily have to do so unless directed by local law, making WKA’s actual responsibility very unclear. The procedure, standards, and logistics of testing are either mentioned in vague terms or not outlined at all. Glory, for its part, hasn’t forced the issue, leaving us to enjoy the fruits of ambiguity. In other words: don’t ask, don’t tell, and Pride never die.

3. Glory is learning how to market its fighters.

This is an issue that we’ve discussed several times here on LiverKick and which Dave Walsh expounded on in his excellent piece comparing kickboxing to the history of regional pro wrestling promotion. Behind every fight is an evolving narrative with at least two central characters, and as viewers, we’re interested in not only the fight itself but also in how the fight will determine the next chapter of the story. The promoter’s job is to build anticipation and interest in the fight and to illustrate what it means in the grand scheme of the division. With Glory 17, Glory has been proactive in producing media which tells us the story, including an excellent video on the rivalry between Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita. The authenticity of this rivalry (for the critics’ sake) is as irrelevant as the authenticity of the 2009 rivalry between Badr Hari and Alistair Overeem--it felt real at the time and it electrified the atmosphere at the Saitama Super Arena. As Glory gains screen time on television and PPV, promotional efforts like this will be increasingly vital to its success.

While Glory got off to a rough start, it seems like the organization has found its identity as a kickboxing promotion and major combat sports brand. It is undeniably a unique presence in today’s sports entertainment market. If this event is a success and the Glory audience continues to grow, I think that Glory could become a leading company. Until then, you will have to join me in keeping fingers tightly crossed.

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Full Yokkao 9 Fight Card

  • Published in Muay Thai

On May 24th in Xinyang Stadium Yokkao will present Yokkao 9, a card that promises to bring some of the best Kickboxing and Muay Thai to China. Pakorn was forced to pull out due to illness, but has been replaced by Phiaphaeng Walchart and, if you'll notice, there are a lot of K-1 rules bouts on this card. That has to do more with the Thailand vs. China theme and how Chinese fighters perform better under Kickboxing rules.

The main bout is Sudsakorn vs. Yi Long in a bout billed as Muay Thai vs. Gung Fu.

  • *** YOKKAO 9 Fight Card ***
  • Saturday 24th May - Xinyang Stadium (China)
  • Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee (Thailand) vs Yi Long (China)
  • -72kg K-1 rules 3x3
  • N'Diaye Carl (France) vs Fang Bian (China)
  • -80kg K-1 rules 3x3
  • Imwiset Pornnarai (Thailand) vs Qiu Jianliang (China)
  • -67kg Muay Thai Full Rules 3x3
  • Calogero Palmeri (Italy) vs Yang Zhou (China)
  • -67kg K-1 rules 3x3
  • Ekapop Sor Klinmee (Thailand) vs Nu Er La (China)
  • -80kg K-1 rules 3x3
  • Runmai Mo Tammachat (Thailand) vs Ji Wenhao (China)
  • -58kg Muay Thai Full Rules 3x3
  • Igor Klimovich (Belarus) vs Li Ning (China)
  • -60kg K-1 rules 3x3
  • Kamel Meztani (France) Guo Xi Chuang (China)
  • -74kg K-1 rules 3x3
  • Philaphaeng Walchart (Thailand) vs Deng Ze Qi (China) ***Pakorn injured
  • -65kg Muay Thai Full Rules 3x3
  • Gustavo Ferreira De Oliveira Mendes (Brazil) vs Zhou Tao (China)
  • -70kg K-1 rules 3x3
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