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Joe Schilling on Kato: 'This Time It's In My Ring'

American kickboxing has been hurting for stars since the original rise and fall of the sport in the 70’s and 80’s. Names like Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Rick Roufus, Benny Urquidez and “Superfoot” Bill Wallace might ring a bell for purists, but the style of kickboxing from yesteryear went out of fashion, fell off of the map and very few made the transition to the K-1 style (out of those names only Roufus, really). Since then we’ve been hurting for stars to help to sell the sport to American audiences. 

Sure, there have been attempts and muay thai has gained cult popularity among fight fans, but there hasn’t really been anyone that has connected on a mass level yet. The one name that people will kick around who seems primed to break through on that level is Joe Schilling, though. Schilling had initially moved out to LA thanks to their booming interest in muay thai where he initially made a name for himself. When kickboxing came knocking he answered, though, and for the past few years Schilling has been one of the few Americans that promoters can feel confident putting on their banners without a show completely bombing. 

Over the span of multiple contract disputes with GLORY he found himself fighting in MMA for Bellator, with one of the biggest knockouts of 2014 under his belt against Melvin Manhoef before he waded deeper into the waters of MMA that involved bad decisions based upon grappling and then a showdown with karateka Hisaki Kato. Kato was still a virtual unknown at the time, all of his professional fights happening in one of Japan’s minor leagues called HEAT when he was called up to fight Schilling. Karate vs. kickboxing, what was there to lose?

It was a Joe Schilling fight through-and-through, with him being aggressive, but MMA always seems to hinger his aggression. “Yeah, I mean, people were saying all this stuff like ‘oh, you are a kickboxer and this guy knocked you out,’ well yeah, it happens. In kickboxing you don’t have to worry about someone shooting in for a takedown on you, keeping your hands up is a part of the game, in MMA there’s so much going on. It was a superman punch, he threw a hail mary and it caught me,” Schilling explained. 

Kato went on to lose to Melvin Manhoef, clouding the waters of Bellator’s Middleweight division even further. So after Schilling had fulfilled his duties to GLORY, he was eager to step into the Bellator Kickboxing ring as soon as he could. “I really don’t know what happened with GLORY. Things were going great, I was their marquee guy for that pay-per-view that nobody bought, you know? That was just one of the many stupid decisions that they made, but anyway, I was their guy for it, then it was radio silence. I had to do something, so I went to Bellator. I thought that I was their guy, but apparently not. I re-signed with them and nothing got better, so when it came time for Bellator to launch their kickboxing I wanted in. 

“GLORY all of a sudden wouldn’t let me go, so I fought two more times for them without a contract in place and here I am now. I’m so happy to be with Bellator and Spike. I didn’t have an option before, it was just MMA, but now that I can fight kickboxing for Bellator? It’s just perfect.” 

So on June 24th he’ll be stepping into the ring with Hisaki Kato once again, but this time it’s under kickboxing rules and there is no cloud hanging over Joe’s head. He’s with Bellator, he doesn’t have to do MMA anymore and he gets to fight Kato under the rules that he’s not only good at, but he’s one of the best. “This time it’s in my ring, my realm. This is where I made a name for myself, this is what people know me from. I’m not gonna take anything away from him, but will he be comfortable in kickboxing? I doubt it. He gets to fight the best Joe Schilling, the one that can be aggressive without having to worry about takedowns. I feel bad for him.”

As for MMA, while he isn’t ruling it out, he also doesn’t seem to feel like there’s a reason to fight in MMA when kickboxing is right there. “Now that Bellator has kickboxing I can be their star. You know, they were all about being in the Joe Schilling business after that win over Melvin, then I had those two losses and I thought, ‘shit, that’s it for me.’ But it’s nothing like that, they are still very happy to be in the Joe Schilling business. Scott Coker, everyone at Bellator and Spike have been great to me and they still see me being a star for them, so I’m going to prove them right. Will I fight MMA again? Maybe, but kickboxing is where I want to be and I think where they want me to be.”

Bellator still haven’t exactly filled out their divisions just yet, though, so the question is for a guy like Schilling, is he comfortable just being the number one guy in Bellator while his career-long rivals in Simon Marcus and Artem Levin are still out there? “Let me tell you about Artem Levin, man. I respected that guy once, you know? We had some stuff go down before, but after the second fight we had a mutual respect and all of that is gone now. Cancelled fights and then that shit that he pulled against Simon? I have no desire to ever fight him again, he’s proven the kind of fighter that he is. As for Simon? Look, Simon’s a great guy and he deserves that championship, but I’ve proven that I can beat him. I’m fine with us not fighting again. He can do his thing, while I’ll do mine. I’m the number one kickboxer at Middleweight right now and he’ll have to live with that, not me.”

 

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Van Roosmalen vs. Sitthichai II: A King and His Potential Usurper

(C) GLORY Sports International

For many years the Lightweight (70kg/MAX) division was one of the most competitive in all of professional kickboxing. For good reason, too; K-1 was the world’s largest kickboxing organization and they opted to go with 70kg as their big, second weight class, built around a handsome young talent named Masato. For years fans got to watch as fighters like Masato, Andy Souwer, Buakaw Banchamek, Mike Zambidis and Giorgio Petrosyan wowed crowds with their amazing fights and dominated the landscape of the packed division. 

The division was richer than K-1’s heavyweight division, which tended to be the same 12 or so fighters competing each year with another four fighters swapping out periodically. When everything changed back in 2010 it was promotions like It’s Showtime that were the vanguards for a change in kickboxing by highlighting multiple weight classes and establishing champions across all of them. It was there that Robin van Roosmalen got his first chance to show the world what he was made of, all during a time when the climate was perfect for a new champion to rise.

Giorgio Petrosyan was the undisputed king of the 70kg division at the time, with back-to-back K-1 World MAX championships and a nearly spotless record that went along with his slick style he looked unbeatable. The only thing that could stop Petrosyan was a recurring hand injury that left him sidelined. When It’s Showtime was planning their 70kg MAX Fast & Furious tournament it was going to highlight all of the best talent in the world, with Petrosyan as the showcase. Many had predicted an Andy Souwer vs. Giorgio Petrosyan showdown, with the winner settling the score once and for all as to who really was the king of the division.

Yet none of it worked out that way.

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Bellator Kickboxing 2 In Focus With Joe Schilling

This weekend Bellator puts forth their second kickboxing effort in Bellator Kickboxing 2, immediately following Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2. Joe Schilling vs. Hisaki Kato II will be kicking off Bellator Kickboxing 2 as the main event, this being a showdown a year to the day after Kato knocked Joe Schilling out in the Bellator MMA ring. This featurette takes an in depth look at Joe Schilling and why he's one of the biggest names in American kickboxing.

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Raymond Daniels is Chasing Another World Title in Bellator Kickboxing

(C) Bellator

This weekend Bellator presents Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2, a hybrid MMA and kickboxing event followed by Bellator Kickboxing 2. At Bellator Kickboxing 2 Raymond Daniels will be one of the banner fighters, taking on Stefano Bruno during the telecast. Whenever Daniels is in the ring you can expect something spectacular and in his first Bellator bout Daniels delivered exactly that. In just 30 seconds he was able to finish Francisco Morrica with a spinning back kick, the move that has become a pro wrestling-like finisher of sorts for Daniels.

But the thing is, Daniels has been working incredibly hard on rounding out his kickboxing game and he’s rarely getting to show it. “Yeah, you know,” Daniels told us, “it’s funny because we do all of these things in training camp and have plans to try them out, but the openings are there, so I take them and I knock guys out.”

Raymond Daniels is acutely aware that he provides what nobody else in professional kickboxing currently can in spectacular knockouts. He’s even got a signature kick that is credited with many of his knockout victories. Does it bother Daniels, though? “Not really. I know what I’m capable of, I know what I train and people will get to see it eventually. We always plan on showing off what I’ve learned, but I’ve mastered certain techniques -- and when I say master I mean that I’ve been practicing them for years -- and it’s like what Bruce Lee said; ‘I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.’ There are just certain techniques that I know when to set up, I know how I’m going to land, what happens if I miss. So yeah, when I see that opening I’m going for it.”

As Daniels continues forward in Bellator and becomes more and more synonymous with crazy knockouts and one of the more recognizable names in kickboxing, the question comes of what does Daniels look to do with his future. Does he stay humble and teaching karate, or does he have to move on? “I’ll always find time to teach,” he explained. “It’s a part of me and it’s so important to me. I think about what it did for me growing up, how it helped to shape and mold me. You don’t have to go on to become a world champion for martial arts training to be important in your life. When I was a kid I thought that I had it all figured out, but now that I’m older I realize that while I’m in a better position, I’m still not perfect. I’ve got an 18 year old son that just graduated from high school and he’s trying to figure his life out, it’s funny because he has these plans and he thinks that he’s got it figured out, now it’s his time to learn that he can be wrong.”

When it comes to fighting, though, Daniels does have his eyes on the prize. While he’s not overlooking his opponent this weekend, he will be looking for another spectacular knockout. “That’s just what I do. Against that traditional kickboxing and muay thai style I’m able to really frustrate guys, to make them move like they aren’t comfortable, to be aware that I hit from different angles. It keeps them on edge.” 

But for the future? “Karim Ghajji won that title on the first show and I’m not that guy, I’m not gonna call out the champion before he has a chance to settle in. Let him have his moment, let him be happy with his accomplishments, but I’m coming for him. I’m a world champion, that’s what I do. I’m not looking beyond this next fight, but the way I see it, if I win this fight and get another big knockout I’ve got a pretty good claim to challenge for that title. Then I can make my way to another world title. That’s just what I do.”

Daniels does make a point, I can’t imagine anyone else challenging Karim Ghajji at this point. We’ll have to tune in this weekend to see what Daniels brings to the table and if we get another spectacular knockout. Bellator Kickboxing 2 airs directly after Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 on Friday, June 24th.

 

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Badr Hari Reportedly to be in Attendance for GLORY 31

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.

(Source)

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GLORY Parting Ways with Former Champion Artem Levin

(C) GLORY

In a move that should surprise no one, GLORY has opted not to be in the Artem Levin business any further. Artem Levin's last bout for the organization was against Simon Marcus in a bout for the GLORY Middleweight Championship that ended in controversy when Levin simply walked out after feeling that the referee was being too harsh on him while being lenient on Marcus. This has rustled feathers of some, claiming that Levin walking out was unprofessional, while others saw what he saw in that the referee completely decided who was going to win the fight and wanted nothing to do with it. 

To us, that looked like the last time that we'd see Levin in a GLORY ring and thanks to words from Jon J. Franklin over at MMAMania, it's official. Artem Levin's contract has expired and GLORY has opted not to negotiate with him or prevent him from looking elsewhere. Essentially, Levin is free to go as he wishes and won't be competing for GLORY anymore. 

Simon Marcus and Artem Levin are not a good pairing, the fights that we've gotten have always been a mess and I'm not sure what people expected of this last fight. Levin was a solid champion for GLORY and is, without a doubt, one of the best fighters in that weight class. Recent shifts over the past few months meant that the top three fighters in the division; Marcus, Levin and Schilling, will now not be competing under the same roof. 

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Glory 31- Super Fight Series Fight Breakdown

Glory 31 super fight series will be airing live on UFC fight pass next saturday morning at 10:30 am PST/1:30 pm EST. Since its coming up quick I figured it was about that time to breakdown the fights a little.

Zack Mwekassa vs Mourad Bouzidi

The main event puts power punching, South African Zack Mwekassa against a real kickboxing veteran Mourad Bouzidi. I feel like the biggest thing in this fight is Bouzidi has to really avoid being hit cleanly. Bouzidi has the experience, and the kicks but his chin doesn't always hold up to big punches. If Bouzidi can keep his hands up, feet moving and keep consistent low kicks he will have a good night. As for Mwekassa he needs to use his jab to set up his big left hook, uppercut, or right hand. I don't think just throwing big haymakers will work on someone with the experience Mourad has, but if he can set something up and land a clean punch his power will hurt Bouzidi.

Saenchai vs Eddy Nait-Slimani

First of all I want to mention how excited I am for Saenchai to be kickboxing for Glory but Nait-Slimani will not be an easy fight by any means. In his Glory debut Slimani put on a masterful performance against Maykol Yurk, he showed beautiful spinning back kicks, front kicks to the face, and great timing. These are all techniques that Saenchai uses, plus many more. There have been many times I thought Saenchai was in for a hard fight and he made it look easy, but he has also done the opposite and had a little trouble in fights I expected him not to. Slimani needs to push the pace on Saenchai and not allow him to get a rhythm. Saenchai is not young anymore and I think Slimani can tire him out with lots of pressure and fast combinations followed by low kicks. Saenchai well, he will just be himself as always and entertain us no matter what happens, he will just have to be aware of Glory's clinching rules.

Isis Verbeek vs Irina Mazepar

This is an interesting fight in Glory's new female bantamweight division. Isis Verbeek is the faster fighter with more combinations and higher pace. Irina Mazepa is the harder hitting fighter who plods a little and finds good, hard shots to land. Mazepa has been focusing a little on MMA having two fights in One Championship last year, in my opinion this takes away from a fighters overall kickboxing game as they now have to focus a lot on their ground game plus training 5 minute rounds for MMA all the time is a much slower pace than 3 minute kickboxing rounds. If Verbeek pushes the pace I can't help but feel that Mazepa will be in rough shape by the last round, but Mazepa has the power so Verbeek will have to make sure she doesn't run into something as she tends to keep her chin quite high.

Josh Jauncey vs Anatoly Moiseev

Well I am not going to go into too much strategy for this fight since Josh is my brother and ill end up giving away game plans, but I can say that this could easily end up being  a candidate for fight of the night if not fight of the year. Both of them are young, hungry fighters with amazing technique, speed, and power. Moiseev suffered his first pro loss ever at the hands of Marat Grigorian earlier this year but since then has scored a huge KO over Serginio Kanters at Kunlun so his confidence should be back up. Jauncey is coming off two of his best performances ever, a TKO win over Johan Tkac and a head kick KO over Xu Yan. To say I'm excited about this fight is an understatement.

Maximo Suarez vs Eyevan Danenberg

Maximo Suarez is looking to rebound from his loss to Harut Grigorian where he just stood and traded which eventually led to his demise. Against Danenberg he will need to fight smart, Danenberg is a very tall, lanky fighter with good skills. Hes had some Pro boxing fights so his hands are good and he sets up his knees and low kicks well. Suarez will need to get inside and throw his fast combos or else he will get jabbed and kneed all night.

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Bellator Adds Don 'The Dragon' Wilson to Stable of Legends for Fan Fest

The upcoming Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 card, followed directly by Bellator Kickboxing 2, is set to be a huge event for the company. The newfound focus on kickboxing includes Kevin Ross and Denise Kielholtz fighting on the Dynamite card and Schilling/Kato headlining the kickboxing card afterwards. Bellator's Scott Coker has always been in touch with his martial arts roots and it looks like things will be no different with their extended push into kickboxing.

Their fan fests have always included MMA legends, but now they've added martial arts and kickboxing icon Don "The Dragon" Wilson to their line-up. Wilson is perhaps one of the greatest American kickboxers of all-time, especially for his time, and moved on to a career in movies, starring in the Bloodfist series as well as doing stunts and producing his own films later on.

Bellator's fan fest is set for June 23rd at Dave & Busters in Maryland Heights, MO.

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Fights Announced for Bellator Kickboxing 2: Daniels, Ross, Melendez and More

On June 24th in St. Louis, Missouri Bellator will be holding their second Bellator MMA: Dynamite event, but instead of running kickboxing fights during the show, there will be a second event directly following the MMA portion of the card on Spike TV featuring the kickboxing card. Officially titled Bellator Kickboxing 2 it will be headlined by the Joe Schilling vs. Hisaki Kato rematch, only this time contested under kickboxing rules. What's unique is that riding the wave of Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2, Joe vs. Kato will open the card in a way to immediately grab the attention of Bellator MMA viewers.

While the card is not complete yet, the fights that are signed and ready are as follows. Kevin Ross is expected to fight on Bellator Kickboxing 2, as should Denise Kielholtz.

Joe Schilling vs. Hisaki Kato

Raymond Daniels vs. Stefano Bruno 

Keri Melendez vs. Sarah Howell 

 

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