In perhaps one of the more interesting developments for GLORY of late, Badr Hari will be in attendance at GLORY 31, as will Rico Verhoeven. Verhoeven will be there for Spike TV Netherlands, being an on-air personality for Spike TV in the Netherlands. Rumor has it that he'll be attempting to interview Badr Hari live on air as well, which would be immensely interesting.
This would serve as a great opportunity to announce Badr Hari vs. Rico Verhoeven, live from the Netherlands, but don't get your hopes up just yet. Until we've heard that the fight is official a ton of stuff could happen in the meantime.
The year 2013 was a tremendous year for the sport of Kickboxing as we saw GLORY take aim at America as one of its home bases and really made some strides that I honestly thought we’d never see for the sport here. GLORY not only ran shows, but they ran a bunch of shows and those shows were attended by a good number of paying customers. Then, to top it off, GLORY moved from CBS Sports Network and internet PPVs to Spike TV, picking up steam and viewers with every show. That was a big deal.
GLORY wasn’t the only organization to make moves, either, as we saw another season of the SuperKombat World Grand Prix, the birth of LEGEND in Russia and K-1 starting to get the gears in motion by running both a Heavyweight World Grand Prix and a World MAX tournament within the same year. But which company did what doesn’t really matter, what matters are the fights and the fighters.
Throughout the coming week we’ll be looking at the best of 2013 throughout multiple categories, but first we kick things off with LiverKick’s 2013 Fighter of the Year, which was probably the most competitive category of them all. Just about every GLORY tournament winner deserved a spot as Fighter of the Year and the decision between the last two was incredibly difficult, but a decision was rendered. First, let’s look at the runner-up.
LiverKick 2013 Fighter of the Year - Runner Up: Andy Ristie
Man, what a year for Andy Ristie. The man was a wrecking machine with a five-fight win streak in 2013, including two wins that eclipsed the rest. Ristie’s wins were over Alessandro Campagna, Albert Kraus, Niclas Larsen, Giorgio Petrosyan and Robin van Roosmalen. The last two were by knockout to claim the spot of #1 in the 70kg division across the world, which is a herculean feat.
If it wasn’t for the guy who claimed the top spot having as great of a year as he did, Andy Ristie would have been a shoo-in for Fighter of the Year.
LiverKick 2013 Fighter of the Year: Tyrone Spong
Andy Ristie’s 2013 was incredibly impressive, but Tyrone Spong’s 2013 started off with a complete annihilation of a three-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion in Remy Bonjasky before heading into the GLORY 9 Light Heavyweight tournament. GLORY 9 was unique in that it was an 8-man tournament, not a 4-man tournament, meaning that Spong had to win three fights in one night, which saw him knock out Michael Duut, pummel Filip Verlinden for three rounds and then stop the reigning king of the Light Heavyweight division, Danyo Ilunga, in just one round.
What followed after that was Tyrone Spong making up for one of the few strange points of contention on his record with a rematch against the legendary Nathan “Carnage” Corbett. Carnage has been the king of 95kg Muay Thai for what seems like forever now, remaining unchallenged. Carnage was on a seven-year win streak (with a random No Contest to Spong in the mix, even though he had knocked Spong out) before he met Tyrone Spong and not only did Spong look good against Carnage, but he looked incredible. No one has been able to make Carnage look that lost in the ring, which is what set Tyrone Spong apart and made him the LiverKick 2013 Fighter of the Year.
Legendary kickboxing promotion K-1 has announced a new date for their K-1 World MAX Final event in Pattaya, Thailand. Originally scheduled for July, K-1 ran into issues due to the recent political coup in Thailand. Part of the issue was being a foreign promoter looking to enter into a climate that is not usually friendly to outside promoters during a period of turmoil and so many internal changes. K-1 has worked with the local Thai government to acquire the proper licensing and the K-1 World MAX Finals will happen on October 4th, 2014 in Pattaya, Thailand.
The event will feature the K-1 World MAX Finals, crowning a new champion in their 70kg MAX division between Buakaw Banchamek and Enriko Kehl.
Let's all be honest with ourselves here; if you are a fan of Kickboxing or Muay Thai in the US, you know the Can't Stop Crazy guys and follow what they are up to. There are a ton of reasons for it, but the first one is probably that they are some of the best fighters from the US to make an impact across the world in Muay Thai and sometimes Kickboxing. Joe Schilling is perhaps one of the most vocal of the group, and seen really as the godfather.
Jeff Dojillo is the star photographer and videographer responsible for the Inside the Fight series, and is back this time covering Joe Schilling's trip to Thailand from this summer to the Battle of the Belts event. It was originally slated to be Joe Schilling vs. Artem Levin after Simon Marcus pulled out of the fight with Levin, but then Levin dropped out as well. Follow Schilling through his adventures in Thailand leading up to the fight and the aftermath from it as well.
So GLORY 13 is in the books now, where Nieky Holzken held onto the top spot in the Welterweight division, Peter Aerts showed that at 43 he's still one of the most exciting guys in the world to watch and two Heavyweights proved that they are without a doubt the two best Heavyweights in the world; Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven. Rico Verhoeven kept his composure as Peter Aerts kept applying pressure and looking for the big knockout in a fight billed as his "Japanese retirement," able to land cleaner shots and pick up the decision victory. Earlier in the night Daniel Ghita met an old foe by the way of Errol Zimmerman and made shorter work than he did of him the first time.
For those who follow Heavyweight kickboxing, well, this all won't surprise you, but it does segue into what is the most logical match to make in the Heavyweight division right now; Daniel Ghita vs. Rico Verhoeven II. Rico Verhoeven is perhaps the fighter of the year for 2013, with wins over Jhonata Diniz, Errol Zimmerman, Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita and Peter Aerts, with Saki and Ghita being on the same night. It wasn't that no one believed that Verhoeven would ever reach such heights, it's that no one expected it to be this year, yet, that is exactly what happened.
For Daniel Ghita there has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for him, including a heartbreaking loss to Semmy Schilt in the finals of the GLORY 4 Grand Slam last year, followed by a poor performance against Gokhan Saki. Ghita's personal life was beginning to get in the way of his professional life and there were a lot of changes for him, both in his family and in who he was training with. Ghita bounced back and the GLORY 11 Heavyweight tournament was going to be his shot at redemption, the only thing was that nobody told Rico Verhoeven that this was the narrative for the night.
For both men they are at the top of their respective games right now and the third man in the GLORY Heavyweight universe, Gokhan Saki, is most likely dropping down to Light Heavyweight or testing out non-GLORY waters once his contract is up. Then add in the imminent retirements of Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky and Semmy Schilt. This leaves Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven as the lone goliaths atop of the Heavyweight Kickboxing world and with them only having met once before, which for Heavyweight kickboxing is incredibly rare. While seeing both in another tournament would be great, a single rematch to crown a king of the division seems like a more refined way for them to meet, as would bumping up the number of rounds to 5 or even 7 to really see who walks away as the winner.
It has to be tough to be a Japanese heavyweight kickboxer and not have the ability to fight for the hometown K-1. For the smaller fighters, KRUSH, RISE and a few other promotions run big tournaments that keep them busy year round, but for poor Kyotaro, his options seemed to be limited. So limited, in fact, that he decided to try his hand at professional boxing, where he would have more opportunity than on the non-existant K-1 circuit. After making his debut in December, it appears that Kyotaro will once again step into the boxing ring.
According to Nightmare of Battle, Kyotaro is set to do battle with Jae-Chain Kim, a Korean Heavyweight who is currently ranked ninth by the OPBF. The two will meet on March 6th at the legendary Korakuen Hall. [source]
The world of kickboxing has a rich history to fall back upon so we here at LiverKick figure, why not? Why not give a glimpse into some of the fights from the past that have made up this wonderful sport and tie it all in to the present. The kids on the Instagram and Twitter like to call Thursdays "Throwback Thursdays," I'm just going to say that this is a LiverKick Throwback.
This week we head back to 1997 when "The Diamond" Ramon Dekkers was already over ten years into what would be one of the most storied careers of any Dutch Kickboxer and he went against the very tough Dutch fighter Rayen Simson. Simson was on the rise at this time, qualifying for the 1997 Shoot Boxing S-cup, which he went on to win after his bout with Dekkers, but that's neither here nor there. What we are talking about now is Dekkers vs. Simson.
This was a classic Dutch style fight with both men showcasing stylistic nuances that we see to this very day. Of course, it is no shock due to Ramon Dekkers training with Cor Hemmers for many years, but it's still interesting to note how his style has led to so many other fighters' utilizing a similar style to his and seeing great success. Most of this fight is Dekkers in control, but when things get wild, well, they get really wild. This fight is perhaps best known for the crazy double knockdown that happens, with Simson fighting to his feet first.
Dekkers was forced to stop fighting due to an eye injury and the corner stopping the bout, but damn, what a slugfest.
It's Showtime 55 blew everyone away this weekend, putting on the biggest combat sports event in the world after fans watching UFC on Fox 2 fizzle out. We saw some huge finishes from Errol Zimmerman, Daniel Ghita and Badr Hari and the landscape of the Heavyweight Kickboxing world was re-written. This next weekend in Italy we see yet another big event from what has felt like a rather active Italy, this time it is Thai Boxe Mania 2012, with the big bouts using Fight Code rules in association with Oktagon.
The big bout of the night is Artur Kyshenko taking on Roberto Cocco at -75kg. This is a warm-up bout of sorts before Kyshenko faces down Giorgio Petrosyan in March, also in Italy, and is a tough challenge. Roberto Cocco is a very tough veteran fighter with over 138 fights under his belt, he also fights at 75kg normally, while Kyshenko falls between 70 and 73 usually. Kyshenko was well on his way to winning the It's Showtime Fast and Furious 70kg MAX tournament before Robin van Roosmalen quickly finished him off before moving on to defeat Yodsanklai Fairtex at Sweden's Rumble of the Kings in what many voted as the fight of the year for 2011.
Another big feature bout is at 72.5kg between Gago Drago and the 2011 Fight Code Dragons tournament champion, Yuri Bessmertny. This is a good test for Yuri and a good measuring stick for where Drago is at in 2012 after having a tough 2011. For the full fight card, check it out here.
This weekend's GLORY 12 New York was a very important event for the partnership between GLORY and Spike TV, as the first event pulled in an average number that was just shy of 400,000 with a peak that was around 800,000 (coming in the first quarter hour, obviously from the COPS lead-in). That meant that they lost viewers who had left their television tuned into Spike after they got their fix of trashy, intoxicated people stumbling about while being arrested.
So how did GLORY 12 do? According to Spike TV there was an improvement for this show, with 476,000 viewers on average for GLORY 12 with a quarter hour peak of 665,000. According to Spike this is a 25% increase from the last event's average and they seem happy with it. It's not clear which quarter hour was the peak, but an educated guess will say that it was once again the first quarter hour, you know, the one that had the severe audio issues.
The numbers are at least better than Spike TV's "Rampage 4 Real" documentary created to hype up Rampage Jackson's Bellator debut, which is a good thing. GLORY 12 was probably a lot cheaper to produce.