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Badr Hari Publicly Announces Social Media Explanation

Badr Hari has finally made a video to publicly explain to everyone what has been going on with his social media accounts. I'm not sure how these fake accounts got verified without his consent but I can't help but feel there is more to the story. Anyway he has had all these fake accounts closed down and opened his own REAL accounts which he says he will have a team running for him. I wonder how long it will take for this team to do something he doesn't like and then these will become fake accounts as well, hopefully that doesn't happen, but only time will tell. His accounts have been quite active with videos and pictures, so if you're a Badr fan here is his FacebookTwitter, and Website which is coming soon.

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The Wonderful World of Kickboxing

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As those of us who’ve been around for a while might say, when it comes to the sport of kickboxing, no news is typically bad news. We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about Glory in the past few months--from murky accounts of an organization on dire straits to assurances by some of our professional kickboxing journalist pals that they have the exclusive scoop on BIG NEWS which has simply been embargoed by Glory for the time being. The fact remains that we haven’t heard anything substantive from Glory since July. There was talk of more SpikeTV content and of an event to be held at the end of October--we’re still waiting for any of these things to materialize. This behavior is worrisome for those of us who followed the scene as recently as 2012, when K-1 made promise after promise of a big comeback that ultimately never took place. It would be sad to see Glory succumb to the same fate as its ambitious predecessors, with K-1 and It’s Showtime telling the tale of how unforgiving the fight business can be.

Kickboxing in particular is a very strange industry, one that appears very active at a glance but which tells a far more sobering story beneath the surface. If we judged the scene solely on the number of events held annually, we might think that things look pretty good, with organizations like LEGEND, Global FC, Top King, A-1, and SuperKombat making news on sites like this one with fight cards featuring big name talent. While the accessibility of this content is highly variable, from robust TV broadcasts to mislabeled camera phone footage posted on YouTube, there are nevertheless fights happening all over the world and subsequently news and results which we can report to you.

But the difference between offering you a survey of sundry action from around the globe and a developing narrative that you can follow and become engrossed in is the difference between Kickboxing as a mere curiosity and as a sport in its own right. There are plenty of Kickboxing and Muay Thai videos that show up on MMA sites, but as much as their readers might appreciate them, they will never get the same first person experience of being there when iconic and spectacular moments unfold--memories of being glued to your TV when Andy Hug landed that spinning back kick or when Joe Schilling knocked Simon Marcus out cold. These moments were real, and they made us believe in this sport and dream about the possibilities. Call it a pet peeve, but I find it a little heartbreaking when brilliant retrospectives of great kickboxing moments wind up on MMA sites under “look at what this might teach us about MMA technique!” headings.

No one in particular is to blame for how things have turned out for kickboxing. Ultimately the success of any venture depends on the convergence of talent, a solid product, proper promotion, and a receptive market at an opportune moment in time. Kickboxing had various combinations of these things at different points in time, but the times and circumstances changed. The downfall of K-1 had as much to do with its management as it did with evolving trends in the Japanese entertainment market. Many factors came into play, but unfortunately, things ended for K-1 in an ugly way, leaving fighters with substantial outstanding earnings which they may never be able to fully collect. However, let us not kid ourselves about what it takes to build a real professional sport league. We’ve seen plenty of flamboyant millionaire playboys from around the world blow their money to party with celebrities and to book their favorite kickboxers for an evening of entertainment. Some of these mysterious rich dudes will even slap a label on their “organization” and take lots of photos with kickboxing bigwigs to make things look legit, but we all know that trying to produce a sustainable sports entertainment venue for the masses takes a lot more vision and tenacity than that. No matter how flashy their shows get, the playboys are not going to save Kickboxing, and neither will the small promotions like Top King (although we’ll give it a chance, just like we always do--that’s the story of Kickboxing, right?) that seem to come and go every year.

We really hope that Glory will actually make it. It seems like the formula’s been there--Glory had enough money, the right talent, the right TV deal, and an ostensible understanding of the business startup process (God knows there are enough smart-sounding former hedge fund/venture capital people on board--how many of them does it take to screw in a light bulb?). Where do things stand now? We really don’t know. We do know that there have been no shows in three months, and if it is indeed true that Glory is coming to Oklahoma on November 7, then that will make four months since its last show. We really hope that the lights will stay on at Glory because as kickboxing fans, we’ve looked forward for a long time to not living in the dark of the sports world. 

 

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Kickboxing and the Curious Case of Eternal Fatalism

We are, as they say, at a bit of an impasse in the sport of kickboxing right now. It’s difficult to avoid, difficult to make eye contact with and not look away. We’ve been at this place before, though, which is why it feels so awful this time around. Back in 2010 it looked like the sport of kickboxing was heading for imminent doom and destruction. FEG was a sinking ship and they were taking on water -- fast -- faster than they ever wanted to publicly admit. 

Things were looking bleak for the sport of kickboxing at that time, but there was still hope. There were still people who were passionate about the sport, who wanted to do everything that they could for it. You had Simon Rutz and Bas Boon at each other’s throats, but both men were passionate and willing to do what it took to keep the sport afloat. You had Romanian promoter Eduard Irimia ready to expand beyond Romania. You had men with vision. Followed by the men with money to go with that passion.

As I stated before, we are at an impasse at the moment. The Japanese fight market has shrunk, shrunk to the point of almost being dead, but not quite. It doesn’t exist like it did what feels like a lifetime ago. What exists now is a facsimile of the grandeur that we knew before. Simulacra, a copy of a copy of a copy with adjustments made for degradation. Europe and America were always the wild west for kickboxing; that was clearly where the money was, but would it be able to reach the great heights that were achieved in Japan and Asia? 

Enter GLORY. GLORY took a gamble, filtering millions of dollars into the sport that was on its knees after losing its king. Without a doubt the K-1 name held the prestige, it had done things that no one thought possible with the fringe sport of kickboxing. The rise of K-1 meant making the rest of the sport of kickboxing look silly in the process. The end result is that kickboxing rules aren’t kickboxing rules anymore, they are K-1 Rules. The name K-1 is intrinsically linked with the sport of kickboxing even to this day, for good or for bad. 

So GLORY was set to fill the hole that was left by FEG’s bankruptcy with big promises, fireworks and a roster of capable production crew and the best fighters in the world. Sights were set on America, on taking on the leviathan market where the UFC rose from obscurity into a sport appearing regularly on Fox programming and had weaseled its way into becoming a household name. This was kickboxing’s white whale and, for a while, things were looking good.

Spike TV was hungry for the next big combat sport after they lost the UFC to Fox Sports, scooping up Bellator and then K-1. K-1 withdrew their name from the hat to restructure, leaving Spike TV ready to accept GLORY into the fold. Kickboxing had finally made it, it was on cable television in the United States. The first show happened and the ratings were in. They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad, either. There was promise. 

Since then there have been the good times and the bad times, but what became increasingly clear was that there was no competition for GLORY anywhere out there. GLORY was doing things right, it was paying the fighters what they deserved to be paid, treating them with respect and doing everything right. Growing pains are real, though, especially when the anticipated growth doesn’t live up to the reality. Kickboxing was, for all intents and purposes, a new sport to many fans out there. It was a part of the whole that is Mixed Martial Arts, thus, it was fringe. There has been growth, but the growth is slow, it is costly and it is frustrating. 

GLORY’s last event was GLORY 17/Last Man Standing on June 21st, which, as of the time that I write this, was two months ago. Since then there have been rumors, whispers and public decrees from fans; GLORY is dead. If you read forums or comment sections on websites you’ll hear all about it, you’ll hear that so-and-so’s trainer said that the company is bankrupt, you’ll hear that shows have been canceled, that members of the board are ready to depart, that payments have been filtering in late. For the kickboxing faithful these are all triggers, things that will bring back that long-forgotten PTSD that came with the dissolution of FEG’s K-1 back in 2010 and 2011.

Then there are those that like to watch the world burn, who are calling for the end. These are the fatalists. We’ve had private assurances from many within GLORY that right now is simply a time of restructuring, of regrouping, of changing strategies. Yesterday’s announcement of a new CEO was the first step. But, let’s give in to hysteria, to fatalism. Let’s say that GLORY has a few shows left and then, just as quickly as they emerged, they disappear into the ether of kickboxing history.

Who is there to pick up the pieces this time? Where are the Bas Boons looking to find anyone, to compromise his own visions and brands, to make things work? Where are the Simon Rutz’s running the #2 promotion and ready to take on the financial burden of being the de facto #1? Where are the Pierre Andurands, Ivan Farnetis, Scott Rudmanns and others who are willing to take a risk with their own personal money to invest in the sport? Where are your GLORY replacements where these now out-of-the-job fighters have to find work with?

The market right now is a mess. In a way, you can blame GLORY for the mess. GLORY was looking to be the alpha and omega in kickboxing, which meant exclusive contracts, which meant paying what others couldn’t pay, treating fighters unlike they were used to be treated. So you’ll tell me LEGEND Fight Show, the same promotion that put on three events thus far, only one in 2014 with nothing scheduled yet. So you’ll tell me GFC, the guys that are paying Badr Hari a mint to compete for them, because you were able to watch that last show from your couch, right? Because outside of Badr Hari they are stacking cards with expensive talent, right?

So you’ll say Enfusion, K-1 or SuperKombat. I’ll say that all three are great promotions in their own right, each one growing in their own way, with their own unique business plans and markets. How many of them see a broad market as their audience right now? K-1 is focused on Asia, Enfusion is focused on the UK and SuperKombat is focused on Romania. You might say that if GLORY simply disappears like Criss Angel in a stunt that they’ll be able to bolster their rosters with big names, but where does that money come from? The end of It’s Showtime came from overreaching and hiring top talents. 

Right now nobody has what FEG’s K-1 had in a television partner that was willing to sink millions of their own money into each event and, realistically, we might never see that again. GLORY doesn’t even have that right now. Instead, GLORY has a good deal with Spike TV, but one that bears little fruit for either side right now and might take years to build up properly, to build an audience and really start making money. 

The rise of GLORY was both beneficial and detrimental to the sport of kickboxing. If GLORY ceases to be, then the sport of kickboxing is set back even further than when FEG’s K-1 ceased to be. If you consider yourself a fan of kickboxing then at this moment the sport will require something of you. The sport will require your faith. If GLORY says that they aren’t done yet, then, well, they aren’t done yet. In the meantime we can only hope that Enfusion, K-1, SuperKombat and others continue to grow and find themselves in better positions to provide stability for both fans and fighters alike.

For now, let's save our eulogies and instead focus on the sport that we all love. 

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LiverKick Throwback: Kohi vs. Nitta K-1 World MAX Japan Finals 2005

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.

Today we go back to 2005, we go back to a time when Japan was the undoubted home of kickboxing and K-1 was king. K-1's MAX division was on fire and K-1 had a legitimate star in Masato. The past few weeks I've been thinking about how much I miss the days when Japan was the epicenter for the sport of kickboxing and the best way to sum up what is missing is to look at the K-1 MAX Japan tournaments. Masato was K-1's MAX star, but there were a host of other Japanese fighters who got a big push from K-1 to be that big star. There was Kozo Takeda, Taishin Kohiruimaki, Yuya Yamamoto, Yuichiro Nagashima, Yasuhiro Kido and Yoshihiro Sato.

Each fighter had varying results, some showed more promise than others, while you had guys like Kozo Takeda who just went down swinging as a cult hero that nobody had huge expectations for in the end. If there was ever one guy who had that chance, it was Taishin (also known as Takayuki) Kohiruimaki. Kohi won the K-1 World MAX Japan tournament a whopping three times, in 2004, 2005 and 2009, but still failed to really catch on with Japanese fans. In fact, he was often-times booed by fans. 

Kohi had the look, the ability, but his personality and fighting style just weren't up to snuff when compared to Masato. Masato was exciting, personable and charismatic, while Kohi fit more into the mold of a Remy Bonjasky in the ring and he wasn't that great of an interview or public figure. 

All of this being said, Kohi was still an awesome fighter and while he may have "choked" a bit whenever he got to the big stage, he really was one of the kings of the MAX Japan tournaments. What better way to highlight that than his awesome, awesome fight against Akeomi Nitta in the K-1 World MAX Japan 2005 Finals?

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Malaipet Dominates at Lion Fight 17, Shows Power Still Left In Body Kicks, Right Hands

Heading to the ring for his main event rematch with Justin Greskiewicz at Lion Fight 17 Friday night, Malaipet Sasiprapa, the decision winner of the first encounter, strode easily and confidently. There was one thing for me to wonder coming in, if he was going to knock him out this time. I am not always clear on expectations.

Perhaps it was obvious.

Malaipet didn’t knock him out, though. He came close, for damn sure. A right hand landed in the first round that crumpled Greskiewicz. The punch did its part. Greskiewicz did not. He got up.

Then the body kicks worked themselves in.

The stakes for the fight were dramatized by “the Voice” Michael Schiavello who relayed Malaipet’s comments that following two consecutive losses if he lost three he would complete the final obligation on his Lion Fight contract and retire.

He won. Number 145.

The conversation then is not about retirement. Thank god! I don’t want to write that shit. The conversation isn’t about title contention, either.

He didn’t have much for Pinca past the second round. Kevin Ross paved over him, even in the earlier rounds when he wasn’t just backing up.

The conversation is about Malaipet, about those punishing kicks, about those right hands that can still put fighters down.

He looked good Friday night. There are still a lot of guys he can beat.

Upper level-elite fighters will put him on his back foot and work his defense. That was true years ago.

Come forward, leave space under your elbows and Greskiewicz did, Malaipet will open shop.

The Victor Saravia-Andy Singh was the high watermark of Lion Fight 17, though the Rami Ibrahim-Carlos Lopez and Cyrus Washington-Brett Hlavacek bouts were entertaining. Pedro Gonzalez could continue to win as long as his opponents don’t even try to counter him up the middle.

Saravia can be a contender.

Malaipet was a contender. Now it’s fun to just watch what he has left.

Sometimes it looks like a lot. 

 

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As Glory Content on Spike Expands, It’s Time to Start Thinking Bigger

Glory has long accumulated enough content to provide regular programming on SpikeTV, but the extent of its presence has largely been limited to 2-hour live or tape delayed events as well as 30 minute countdown shows. Ratings, while stable overall, have varied the most between long hiatuses with Glory finding it difficult to sustain the momentum generated by a successful event. This is why we’ve maintained that having Spike air Glory content on a more regular basis would help keep the product on the radar of combat sports fans.

Well, it seems like this may be coming to fruition. On July 25, SpikeTV aired a one hour-long special consisting of some of the best Glory fights and highlights thus far. If you tuned in, you might have noticed a small caption reading that the Glory Last Man Standing tournament will be airing Friday, August 8, at 10/9c. In case you missed it before, Glory and Spike are going to bring you the greatest combat sports PPV event of the year for FREE on August 8, filling a relatively quiet night of programming (unless Cops and Jail is your idea of quality prime time entertainment) with must-see TV. While we’re waiting to hear more about Glory’s plans for the second half of 2014, airing the historic LMS event on free TV is more than enough to satisfy Kickboxing fans in the meantime. By the way, if you have friends or know someone who would be interested in Kickboxing, this is the event they need to see.

Could these programming changes possibly signal deepening ties between Glory and Spike? While we don’t know for sure, it is likely. Consider that the once-known “First Network for Men” has lately struggled with its identity as more original programming has been replaced by syndicated content. Its association with the UFC once provided hours of original daytime programming as well as an exclusive live sports entertainment product for primetime. However, it has yet to convincingly compete in this space again, with Bellator achieving only a fraction of the UFC’s former presence. TNA, while not considered a leading brand, has provided steady ratings for Spike with an average of 1-1.2 million viewers every week (as reported on wrestling sites). However, by ending its relationship with TNA, Spike will need to rededicate its efforts to making its original sports programming successful. Bellator and Glory have yet to perform strongly enough on their own, but with the combined strength of these two brands in a co-promotional arrangement, Spike may able to reestablish itself as an outlet for combat sports.

What would be the next step for Glory and Spike? I would personally like to see the 17 or so unaired Super Fight cards that Glory has taped make their way to cable TV. This is ready-made content that could fill any weekend or weekday with solid combat sports action. While The Ultimate Fighter was a breakout promotional vehicle for Spike and the UFC, I would argue that the afternoons full of UFC Unleashed were equally as important because it gave casual and incidental viewers the opportunity to discover the product. The possibility of doing a reality show depends on the viability of the format today; for Glory, I see greater value in developing a television platform for Eldar Gross’s excellent documentary filmmaking than I do for a game show with an uninspired gimmick (Enfusion Reality included). If you doubt this, just consider the star-making impact of Eldar’s documentaries on Alistair Overeem and Tyrone Spong and imagine this in the format of a serious multi-part series with AMC/HBO-style marketing--there’s a chance to reach a wider audience here. This would be the type of promotion that Glory has been looking for with a cast of excellent subjects who have already been chosen.

We’re at a point now where the Glory product itself is in need of no further major refinement. The challenge now is making a connection with a television audience, and while this is a daunting task, there are a few things that we might consider. Let’s think about a time in combat sports when big fights made big news and big names mattered to little people. We talk about combat sports legends like the often-named boxers of bygone generations--men who became icons not only because of their accomplishments (after all, what cultural value do these accomplishments have if no one knows about or appreciates them?) but because of how they were sold to the public. The legend of Muhammad Ali had as much to do with the man as the people who promoted him and publicized him. Television in the cable era is far more fragmented than it was in the broadcast network era, but every now and then, when talent, interest, and marketing come together at the right time, a figure is able to transcend the boundaries of their medium. Far less well-spoken people who compete in sports more obscure than kickboxing get made into national heroes every Olympics; what stops our champions? Is the story of some dopy middle class suburban kid who spent all of their free time swimming more compelling than that of Zack Mwekassa? NBC sells the hell out of stories like that. Maybe it’s time to stop waiting for the mainstream to find us--let’s go after their hearts. This product and the people who compete are just as compelling as anything that could get sold on TV; it’s time to market the product with inspiration and creativity. It’s time to think bigger.

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LiverKick Throwback: Ramon Dekkers and Rayen Simson Double Knockdown

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. 

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Where Does Glory Go From Here?

I made a pretty big deal about PPV buyrates and their impact on the future direction of Glory, but in fact, I didn’t have lofty expectations as to how the Last Man Standing tournament would perform. Modest results were anticipated, although putting a number on that and interpreting its significance is hard to do. This event was a picture-perfect example of a combat sports PPV done right, but some might be wondering: in light of the projected numbers, where does Glory stand? I would argue that Glory stands on perfectly solid ground and in arguably a position better suited to take on the American combat sports market.

We’ve learned a number of important things from following the TV ratings and watching the fight cards themselves: 1) Glory is a consistent performer on SpikeTV, generating ratings on par with or slightly below Bellator and better than WSOF. 2) Glory has found a consistent formula for their 2-hour time slot, staging 4-man contender tournaments, co-main title fights, and a main event SuperFight--that’s a lot of quality kickboxing in one night. 3) Glory has developed a stable of marketable talent that could headline future events. Joe Schilling and Joseph Valtellini are superstars tailor made for SpikeTV with the skills to sell a fight and the exciting styles to deliver on fight night.

For the two and a half years that Glory has spent trying to establish an identity and a consistent product to deliver to American audiences, it seems like the end result has finally been achieved, and it is 100% solid. Each card features a couple of well-known headliners and a contender tournament with prospects who are still making their name. This keeps costs low by not breaking bank on a mega card full of 6-figure talent, and it allows Glory to book and sell-out smaller venues that it can continually revisit. This model has been successfully followed by Strikeforce, It’s Showtime, and now Lion Fight.

Does this mean that Glory won’t stage big PPV shows anymore? No, but it does mean that Glory will need to be strategic and creative in how it plans future events. The SpikeTV formula will work well in the United States when Glory must necessarily operate in 2,000 to 3,000 person venues, but if places like Istanbul can really put more than 10,000 butts in seats, then there are greater possibilities. Co-promotion with Bellator would also be a major boon to Glory. While Glory may not have the muscle right now to be a PPV success, it could easily enhance the marketability of a Bellator PPV. Bellator/Glory Dynamite 2014 on PPV, anyone? Bellator and Glory could not be in a better position to attempt something like this, especially with Scott Coker in the driver’s seat clearing the way to stable co-promotion. Having multiple smaller shows with only a couple of big shows per year is the right step to sustainability long-term.

Finally, let’s remind ourselves of where Glory truly stands. In terms of its success, Glory is nowhere close to being the UFC, and neither is it close to being Bellator. It is a big, international organization that does slightly better than or about the same as a regional fight promotion. It has shouldered substantial loss to get to where it is now. However, it is unequivocally gaining momentum. The combat sports community is interested in Glory and wants to see more, and every event is gaining more traction in the hearts of fight fans. The ratings, while not a skyrocketing success, are stable. The stage is set for Glory to have its breakthrough moment with the right talent, the right broadcast deals, and the right formula in place. Glory needs to keep putting itself on TV with more small shows while waiting for the right moment to bring out the big guns. It may not happen this year, but that moment will come eventually. Until then, it’s up to us to keep tuning in, to keep supporting the sport, and to keep spreading the word. Kickboxing is alive, and it is finally here.

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Liverkick Throwback: Changpuek Kietsongrit vs Ivan Hippolyte

This fight took place in Nagoya, Japan at the K-3 Grand Prix '95 Quarter-final, Ivan Hippolyte went on to beat Toshiyuki Atokawa and Taiei Kin to win the tournament. Changpuek was one of the first Thai's to go abroad and fight in all types of disciplines, he was often taken advantage of and put against much bigger fighters. He was only between 70 and 80kilos (154-175lbs) but yet he has fought most of the k-1 heavyweights like Ernesto Hoost, Branko Cikatic and Andy Hug.

Ivan Hippolyte is a Dutch kickboxing pioneer, as you can see in this fight he still has a very Muay Thai style stance but his hands were amazing. He is still known as one of the best kickboxers to come out of Holland. Hippolyte is now the trainer at Vos Gym, one of the best gyms in Amsterdam, Netherlands and has trained champions like Remy Bonjasky, Mirko CroCop, and Warren Stevelmans.

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Washing Away the Myth of the Eurocentric Kickboxing Machine

I want to preface this by saying that without a doubt the sport of Kickboxing owes a lot to its European roots. Without some of the pioneers in Europe the sport of Kickboxing would absolutely not be what it is today. That being said, I feel like after GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing we can effectively say that Kickboxing belongs to no one country or continent. Sure, some of the all-time greats are Dutch and yes, the original home of K-1 was without a doubt Japan, but it’s 2014 and the world has become a smaller place. Talent is no longer concentrated to secretive gyms or trainers, instead it is being spread out and being found across the world.

For the longest time fans had to hear that American Kickboxers sucked. The history that came with American Kickboxing, the fighters like Benny Urquidez, Don Wilson, Rick Roufus and the many other who cut their teeth across the world against the best of the best was somewhat washed aside. I mean, why not? Names like Rob Kamen, Ramon Dekkers and Cor Hemmers carry a lot of weight with them, as do the names of fighters like Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Semmy Schilt and many others. How could American fighters compare?

At GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing North America got to show the world just how seriously Kickboxers from this continent need to be taken and should leave fans open to talent from other nations as well. Joe Schilling once again found himself in a tough finals against Artem Levin, this time Levin walking away victorious, with North American fighters Wayne Barrett and Simon Marcus having incredibly strong showings as well. Joseph Valtellini showed the world what a kid from Canada can do when given a chance, bringing home the GLORY Welterweight Championship in a tough fight against Marc de Bonte. Then on GLORY 17 Canadian Gabriel Varga proved himself to be one of the best Featherweights in the world, ready to take on the best of the best and vye for the GLORY Featherweight Championship. 

At this point it’s hard to argue that America and Canada aren’t producing top talents, because both nations are producing some of the very best that the world has to offer. Is Europe still producing some of the absolute best talents in the world in Kickboxing? Absolutely. It’s impossible to argue against the talents we are seeing coming from the Netherlands, the UK, France, Germany and many others, but it’s no longer a monopoly. For a while Dutch Kickboxing was the alpha and omega and while Dutch Kickboxing is still very strong, it would be crass to ignore the talents coming from all across the world to prove themselves as the best of the best. 

Kickboxing is a global sport and the name on the gym or the prestige of the nation are no longer deciding factors alone. The amount of work put in, the quality of the training, the talent and the desire are what matter at the end of the day. I, for one, look forward to continue to watch fighters from all corners of the world stepping up their game on a regular basis.

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