When it comes to conventional wisdom how to make Kickboxing take off in the United States everyone always says the same thing; you need an American star. You need an American star, that is what everyone thinks, so therefore that is what it needs. That is sound logic, but the only thing is, when we look at the recent history of breakthrough stars in combat sports, we don’t see just Americans. Sure, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is American and Oscar De La Hoya is American (but he associates as Mexican for many), but Manny Pacquiao is definitely not American, nor were many of the big UFC Champions.
So of course, you can’t talk UFC champions without talking about Georges St-Pierre, the Canadian former Welterweight Champion who was one of the UFC’s few “big” stars. Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and a few others were important, sure, but GSP proved to be a real, tangible draw for the company and he wasn’t American. GSP was from Canada, he was also responsible for their biggest live gate in history.
GLORY continues its search for their breakthrough star and the feeling that I’ve been getting over the past few months is that as much as conventional wisdom tells me that it’ll be Joe Schilling or Wayne Barrett, the evidence has been pouring in that Canada’s Joseph Valtellini might indeed be that guy. Joe Valtellini might be the guy to break through and become a big star.
It’s difficult not to make parallels to the UFC’s own Georges St-Pierre, the humble Canadian fighter who was educated, well-spoken, personable, marketable as well as incredibly talented. If you were to tick off boxes in favor of Valtellini you’d be able to tick off every single one of those boxes. It isn’t crazy to think that GLORY’s big breakthrough star could be a Canadian fighter who is marketable, talented, educated and everything that you’d want in a fighter.
While speaking to Valtellini this week we even discussed how he’s never fought in his home country of Canada as a professional, in part due to that the Toronto area has yet to legalize professional Kickboxing. They were late to the game with legalizing MMA, but when they did and promoted a GSP fight they found themselves packing 55,000 fans into the Roger’s Centre in the UFC’s biggest gate to date, with it looking like the record won’t be broken for a very long time. Valtellini wants to be not only important to the sport of Kickboxing, but to his home of Canada as well. One would have to think that Canada could potentially be for GLORY what it has been for MMA in creating stars and passionate fight fans.
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but Joseph Valtellini is popping up everywhere. Interviews, television shows, all over social media and is being discussed by not only fans of Kickboxing, but fight fans everywhere. There is a general feeling that he’s going to take off and very soon. GLORY definitely needs that sharp, articulate fighter to present to the world and if Joseph Valtellini can do the work in the ring against Marc de Bonte on June 21st it’ll be interesting to see what the response is, because he hasn’t fought in a few months, but everyone is still talking about him already. If he becomes champion I only imagine it’ll be intensified.
It’s not a far stretch to imagine that Joseph Valtellini could be for GLORY what GSP was for the UFC.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His first novel, the Godslayer, is available now.