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Kickboxing Roundtable April 14th - GLORY 29 and Bellator Kickboxing Preview

This weekend is a big one for kickboxing and combat sports as GLORY 29 comes at you live on Saturday afternoon and Bellator Kickboxing makes its debut on Saturday in Italy. The Bellator event won't be airing until next week on Spike TV, but the MMA portion will be airing on Saturday. That doesn't mean that we can't talk about it, right?

MMAMania.com's Michael Stets and myself have been talking about putting together some sort of podcast thing for a while now, usually trying to include BloodyElbow's Fraser Coffeen and John O'Regan, but trying to organize four busy schedules has led to it never happening. Last night Stets decided to set things up and I was around, so this meeting of the minds is setting up this weekend's events with a lot of talk and insight into what to expect from GLORY 29 and Bellator Kickboxing.

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Artem Levin Talks About the Fallout From GLORY 27, the Future and More

On Friday, February 27th Glory returned to Chicago and headlining the event was the third installment of the epic battle between Simon Marcus and Artem Levin. Glory 27 did not disappoint from the first bout to the last, fighters electrified the crowd with stunning knockouts and hard fought battles. The main event was not without drama. The night ended with reigning champion Artem Levin being disqualified after he failed to continue fighting. In a statement he later released to the public, Levin apologized to his fans for letting them down, however, he revealed that he felt self respect was far more important than winning or losing. In a follow-up conversation with Levin, he expressed his view point and gave an idea of what is to come.

Levin: The refereeing was strange from the very beginning. There were thoughts after the fight, perhaps, I overreacted and ended the fight early, but after another time I’ve watched the fight, I realized that I was right about everything. The referee was charged-up from the start, beginning with the fictitious knockdown. They’ve taken way the belt for the second time using this referee. The 4-man tournament in Los Angeles in 2013 involved the referee beginning the count after a punch to shoulder in the extra round. Also during this event the referee began the count in the first round and took points from me in the next rounds due to mutual clinching. This referee has done the same thing each time refereeing my fights. I decided in the third round to exit and to stop the absurdness and nonsense. Some say, that I should have continued and fight until the final bell, but the referee would have taken a point another time and I’d be disqualified by him. So I thought I should make a decision. I rely on me only, I decide my fate myself, thus I made the decision! Numerous Americans, Canadians, and websites around the world supported me. I am sure that I’ve done the right thing!

As far as his immediate plans, Levin continued: I’ve got many suggestions, but I’ve signed with GLORY at the current time. The future is interesting, time will show whether I will be perfoming. I’d like to leave it without comment. I will say that one of my main aim is to perform in Russia I've been fighting abroad through all my career in foreign promotions, with foreign supporters, with foreign referees. Now I’d like to fight for my native fans in my country with the best opponents!

As I footnote to Levin's comments, I asked Glory CEO, Jon Franklin to give some of his feedback on the incident.

Jon Franklin: ISKA held a special session during the rules meeting to triple check that the athletes understood clinching and holding rules. The rules are available to the athletes and it is the responsibility of the athletes to know and understand all rules of competition. If an athlete has a question about the referee or judging, there is a proper procedure in place for review after the bouts. One of the rules is that refusing to fight will result in a disqualification. That is what happened.

It remains to be seen whether Levin will in some way attempt to appeal the disqualification on some ground or if he will just prepare himself for Levin-Marcus IV.

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World Fighting League Promo Video

World Fighting League, promoted by Melvin Manhoef has a massive card coming up on April 3rd in Almere, Netherlands. It will include 3 tournaments and 7 super fights.

The Main event of the card will feature 2x K-1 Max Champion Andy Souwer against the very technical and dangerous Mohamed Khamal. The other fights have not been announced yet but names like Murthel Groenhart, Zakaria Zouggary, Chahid Oulad el Hadj, Ibrahim el Bouni, Fred Sikking, Luis Tavares, Redouan Cairo, Marco Pique and Ilona Wijmans will be included.

They recently released an amazing promo video for the event featuring many of the cards fighters plus a hooded Joop Ubeda wielding a flaming glove, if that isn't epic then I don't know what is. These type of videos really make me wish all promotions would put this kind of effort into their videos, Well done WFL.

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Artem Levin Talks Marcus Rematch, Vaseline and What Went Down Leading Into GLORY 25

To many he's an enigma, quiet, stealthy and calculating. A man of few words outside the ring where afterall, he's let his knees, fists and elbows do most of his talking.  On the other side of the ropes Levin is relaxed with the disarming smile of a school boy and someone who would seem incapable of the brutality he often inflicts upon his opponents. With the precision of some of his idols, Artem Levin has taken the world of kickboxing and muay thai by storm and is preparing to indelibly leave his mark on the sport. Currently Levin is top man in the Middleweight division, a title he earned in 2014 and one which he is determined to maintain for years to come. On Friday, February 27th Levin will again defend his title as he for the third time faces Simon Marcus. In what is bound to be one of the most exciting face-offs of the year, Levin and Marcus will participate in an extremely emotional battle which most recently erupted at Glory 21 in San Diego. Ahead of this trilogy, I had an opportunity to pose some questions to Levin and find out what beats within the heart of "The Lion".

On his beginnings:

I was born in a small provincial town of Prokopyevsk. It’s a mine town. There were no other good professions other than coalminer in the 1990s. There were three ways to make living: be a coalminer, a criminal or a sportsman, so I joined my brothers at the gym. They were going in for boxing and then muay thai became my sport. My influence was the fact that there had been some muay thai fighters with world and European titles and golden medals at that time in town, and not any boxing champions.

What was your family's response to you pursuing kickboxing as a profession?

Definitely my parents and my family are my main fans, my support, my base of power. They support me and make me comfortable. My mother is distressed for me as any mother would be. She always waits for the ending of this “nightmare”, but at the same time she understands my choice and that it’s useless to dispute with me. I’m really proud of my family. They had waited for me to quit during the first years of my sports experience, but everyone knows that it’s my life choice now.

Had you not pursued a career in combat sports what other kind of career would you have chosen?

It’s hard for me to say. I’ve been in sports since I remember myself, I began with muay thai when I was 10. I always have seen myself with a career in sports. I see myself as comprehensive person: I read books and I have many hobbies. All that happens through sports. I guess, nothing good can come without sport, but I haven’t known another life.

Describe a typical training day when you are preparing for a fight.

It’s not exciting. My usual routine: wake up, have a breakfast, go to morning workout for an approximately 1.5-2 hour session of drills and techniques, speed or strength endurance exercises.  It depends on preparation stage but then lunch, sleep and on to a second workout which usually includes an intensive 3 hour session of sparring and using special equipment.  After training I usually take a walk, have dinner, do some reading before bed and then sleep and it all begins again.

You are becoming widely known for your boxing and defensive strategy, what do you feel are some of your other strengths as a fighter?

I don’t focus narrowly on one thing. Perhaps, I act instinctively in a fight and I’m training in all aspects. I try to become comprehensive. My work is based on defense firstly. I appreciate my health, that’s why I don’t want to join in an exchange of blows or to let a punch get through. It's my goal to keep being healthy during my entire career  so as to take more fights with sober mind, without injures, with fresh body.

Who inspires you as a fighter?

I’m inspired by legendary athletes, even though not martial artists, such as Mike Tyson and Muhammed Ali – they became iconic for thousands around the world. I admire Michael Jordan, Usain Bolte, Michael Phelps and others who became a hero in their sport. Those who proved that nothing is impossible.

Aside from fighting Joe Schilling and possibly Simon Marcus again, are there any other fighters with whom you'd be interested in being matched up against.

It doesn’t matter who’s the opponent. If you want to be the best, to leave a mark in kickboxing or muay thai history, it doesn’t matter who you fight against. You don’t choose opponents, you just defeat the best and prove that you are the best. The question: who I’d be interested in fighting against? I don’t have any preference. I want to fight no matter against who.

How many years have you've been living in San Diego? How did you choose that city? Has the transition between the two countries been difficult?

Well I can’t say I’ve moved here yet. I still live in Russia. One of my training camps is here and there are valuable opportunities here to develop and work on my career. The transition was quite easy, my friends from The Boxing Club in San Diego have helped. I chose San Diego as it is a warm city by the ocean with a mild climate and beautiful places to live in. It’s a simple choice after cold Siberia.  

Your fight with Simon Marcus in San Diego was a bit controversial. Both of you felt that you had won the match. Additionally during the post-fight press conference, you expressed a concern that he had not been called on excessive holding. Can you talk more about that fight from your perspective in terms of the calls by the referee and how the match was scored. How do you feel it should have been scored.

Definitely I won the fight. As for Simon Marcus, he played foul. He was slippery with vaseline. I guess it was a trick to rub on the vaseline a few hours before the fight, for skin to dry and then to become slippery with sweat. We are not allowed to apply anything besides vaseline to our face. As for points, I wonder why a point was reduced from my score and none from Simon’s, the clinch was mutual. Thus I think I won three rounds undoubtedly at least. If I gave away two rounds to him, I still don’t think that I lost them.  A draw is a gift to him from the judges and referees. From the referee especially, I’d say. He can thank the referee personally.

Also you have been highly criticized by Joe Schilling. Most recently following the Glory 25 event Schilling stated that he feels that you are in fact avoiding him. You were set to face Schilling for the third time in Denver this year but had to withdraw due to injury. Can you talk about what happened and where you are with your recovery?

I was injured during training camp before the amateur world championships in Thailand in August. The injury was not severe but it was such that it could keep me from proper preparation for the fight.  I was informed about the fight six weeks before it was scheduled and it was to be held in a high mountain region. I am the champion of the promotion. It would be foolish to go on with that risk and to demonstrate disrespect in that way to Schilling. If I took a fight as insignificant and began preparation within 6 weeks, and taking into account that I had  been to Thailand at that time, then - 5 weeks, and I could take normal proper workout sessions in a week after then perhaps. That’s why I did not and I also saw the prospect of coming to a fight with an injury and without proper preparation as disrespectful to GLORY’s executives. I won a WKN title bout recently and I am recovered and  motivated.  I’m ready to fight anywhere. I’d rather watch Joe Schilling fight outside  the USA. Is he able to fight outside California or USA? He needs helpful judges.

I know that continuing to defend your title is a priority for you in the coming year. Do you have any other plans for 2016?

The main priority is my title defense obviously, but also to fight more, in any promotion, even if it would be not GLORY.  I took the WKN muay thai belt and now my aim is leave a mark in muaythai and kickboxing, for people to remember me even after the my career is finished.

Any message to your fans?

Enjoy spectacular fights. Thank you for your support. Follow me on Instagram and watch my career. I will try my best to reward you with my victories.

Reminiscent of the Thrilla in Manila, Glory 27 is expected to bring the drama from which only one man can walk away victorious.  Levin has the confidence and the experience -- Marcus, the determination and the desire to bring to fruition a lifetime of dedication.  Friday night at the Sears Centre it will be time.  

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Video: Masato vs. KID Yamamoto II From Kyokugen

Rizin FF has come and gone, there was some insanity there for sure, but there are always other New Year's Eve shows in Japan and one of those shows was Kyokugen. Kyokugen was a variety show on TBS in Japan that decided to throw together a dream fight. That dream fight was Masato vs. KID Yamamoto. Masato has been retired for a while now and KID Yamamoto is under contract to the UFC still, so the chances of them having an actual fight was slim-to-none.

Instead they had an exhibition, which was legal under KID's contract. KID, who has taken on quite a few new tattoos since his last appearance fighting on Japanese television, was forced to fight with a rash guard on due to Japan's broadcast laws against such yakuza-ish things. That being said, this still happened and damn is it cool to watch. 

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Steven Wright's Newest Highlight Shows How Valentina Shevchenko is Great at Everything

Consider my surprise this weekend when I saw the name Valentina Shevchenko showing up on my Twitter feed and not just from the usual kickboxing people, but from your run-of-the-mill UFC fans. Apparently Shevchenko has made it into the UFC and not only that, she just beat up Sarah Kaufman this past weekend. Damn, right? Shevchenko has been a well-known quantity in the world of kickboxing and muay thai for quite a while now, one of the premier female talents anywhere.

Our pal Steven Wright is celebrating this by delivering one of his absolutely best highlights to date, this time showcasing "The Bullet" throughout her storied career. Don't miss it.

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December 2015 LiverKick Rankings Update: Badr Hari Returns to the Rankings

Yes, it's that time again. That time is for the official LiverKick Rankings to be updated. The last major show for the year has happened in GLORY 26 and while we prepare for 2016 Jay Jauncey and myself took a look at the rankings and spent hours hashing out who goes where. The LiverKick rankings date back to 2010 when Fraser Coffeen and myself began ranking fighters across multiple divisions, with the only way to move up the rankings (or being added to them) being defeating a ranked opponent. Therefore, these rankings are based upon who beats who, not talent, potential or anything else. They are also current, meaning that past wins or losses are not taken into account when ranking a fighter. 

Heavyweight is, for a lack of a better term, a mess. Rico Verhoeven is firmly at the top, but everything after that feels like an amorphous blob of traded wins, confusing losses and strange additions. The first thing is, yes, for the first time since his incarceration, Badr Hari returns to the LiverKick rankings. His recent victory over Ismael Londt secured his spot for the time being. Adegbuyi, after two unsuccessful title challenges, moves up to #2 without much of a hope of moving up for a while. Jahfarr Wilnis, after a tournament victory in Kunlun and a second place finish in a GLORY tournament jumps up to #3. Everything from there is an existential nightmare. Jamal Ben Saddik lost to Brian Douwes, who enters the rankings for the very first time in the unthinkable spot of #4 and, well, not much else changed, although I get the distinct impression that Gerges might go inactive at some point.

Gokhan Saki's stranglehold on the Light Heavyweight division continues with the announcement of his return to GLORY. The one fight he had this year kept him from being expunged due to inactivity and hopefully we'll have some order at the top of that division soon as the #1 and #2 are set to meet in early 2016. Artem Vakhitov and Mourad Bouzidi picked up wins over Danyo Ilunga, seeing both of them bump up and Jorge Loren's win over Andrei Stoica earned him a spot on the rankings.

Middleweight has seen very little movement of late, with Dustin Jacoby earning the #7 spot after a win over Wayne Barrett and Barrett dropping down to #10 with his future looking doubtful at the moment.

Welterweight sees Holzken hold onto the division via a controversial decision while Groenhart gets the coveted #2 spot. Yoann Kongolo made a splash on the division while Karapet faced a tough loss that sent him down.

Nothing changed at Lightweight. Seriously.

Featherweight saw the usual reshuffling that we tend to see, with Glunder rising in the face of a loss in muay thai and a few strange wins at way higher weight classes, but still doing well at his home weight of 65kg. Noiri moves up, Soda moves down and Serhiy Adamchuk earns that #7 spot by defeating Gabriel Varga for the GLORY Featherweight title, continuing the trend of the GLORY FW champion not being near the top of the division due to the depth of talent in Japan and the lack of depth in GLORY's division. Zouggari holds onto his spot on the rankings amidst all of the shifting by finally booting Suzuki out of the rankings and all is right with the world.

Heavyweight (Per 12/15)

1 Rico Verhoeven
2 Benjamin Adegbuyi
3 Jahfarr Wilnis
4 Brian Douwes
5 Jamal Ben Saddik
6 Anderson Silva
7 Hesdy Gerges
8 Andrei Gerasmichuk
9 Zabit Samedov
10 Badr Hari

Light

Heavyweight (Per 12/15)

1 Gokhan Saki
2 Saulo Cavalari
3 Artem Vakhitov
4 Mourad Bouzidi
5 Danyo Ilunga
6 Michael Duut
7 Jorge Loren
8 Andrei Stoica
9 Zack Mwekassa
10 Reduon Cairo
Middleweight (Per 12/15)

1 Artem Levin
2 Simon Marcus
3 Joe Schilling
4 Filip Verlinden
5 Jason Wilnis
6 Alex Pereira
7 Dustin Jacoby
8 Israel Adesanya
9 Fang Bian
10 Wayne Barrett
Welterweight (Per 12/15)

1 Nieky Holzken
2 Murthel Groenhart
3 Artur Kyshenko
4 Hicham El Gaoui
5 Raymond Daniels
6 Yoann Kongolo
7 Karim Ghajji
8 Karapet Karapetyan
9 Paul Daley
10 Bai Jinbin
Lightweight (Per 12/15)

1 Robin van Roosmalen
2 Sitthichai
3 Davit Kiria
4 Andy Ristie
5 Giorgio Petrosyan
6 Yodsanklai Fairtex
7 Marat Grigorian
8 Dzhabar Askerov
9 Enriko Kehl
10 Josh Jauncey
Featherweight (Per 12/15)

1 Kaew Fairtex
2 Minoru Kimura
3 Massaro Glunder
4 Masaaki Noiri
5 Yasuomi Soda
6 Yuta Kubo
7 Serhiy Adamchuk
8 Gabriel Varga
9 Mosab Amrani
10 Zakaria Zouggari
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Steven Banks on His Time in Kunlun Fight and How Phuket Top Team Transformed Him as a Fighter

Before GLORY came to America and helped to bring kickboxing back into the discourse of the average combat sports fan kickboxing in America was a very different beast. There was a small cluster of names that you'd hear all of the time who would be fighting throughout the country without a lot of fanfare, one of those was Steven Banks. Banks, a larger heavyweight was doing his best to capture the attention of bigger international leagues but it has always been a bit of a slow road for Banks.

This included fighting in shows in Europe on short notice for bad pay, taking fights that weren't going to be good for his career because it was worth a shot and everything else in between. Things finally seem to be turning around for Banks and a lot of that he credits to his time training in Thailand at Phuket Top Team. His time in China has helped to give him a new perspective on fighting and on October 31st he'll return to China for Kunlun Fight 33. We caught up with Banks to talk to him about the past, the present and the future.

LK: So you’ve done both MMA and kickboxing in your professional career, what is it about kickboxing and muay thai that has drawn you in as a fighter as opposed to focusing solely on MMA like so many fighters today?

SB: I love the art of striking. I enjoy every bit of it, the culture and the tradition... my 1st love was and will always be Muay Thai... I think the reason that I prefer to do Muay Thai or kickboxing over MMA is because alot of fighters will go out there and get a takedown, and cuddle for a win... I actually still train for MMA as well...I will be fighting in MMA again soon...

LK: You are an American living and training in Thailand right now. What prompted that move and what kind of results have you seen?

SB: When Phuket Top Team offered me the chance to train full time,  I had to take it! Best decision I have ever made... I have seen amazing results... it was really hard to try and train effectively while having a full-time job, competing against the best in the world is tough already... most of the guys I have been fighting were training full-time already... I decided that if I wanted to go out and become one of the best American heavyweights I needed to go and train with some of the best... training full-time and having a camp that pushes you to become better and better each day is incredible... my head trainer Neung pushes me everyday, Neung took me under his wing as soon as I got to PTT... no day is easy...its put all the effort in it... getting to train everyday with world class trainers is a great way to spend your time...

LK: You’ve gone through your share of a transformation when it comes to your body, from what I understand losing a great deal of weight. How has that impacted your career?

SB: Oh yes... since I have been training at PTT... I have dropped over 60 pounds... I have been told by promotions that I didnt look "pretty" enough for the sponsors of the show.  As a heavyweight, I have always been one of the heavier fighters... I'm a fighter, not a model... I love food... since dropping this weight I have noticed my cardio is 100 times better than ever... when I finished my last fight, I walked over to my coach and told him I felt like I could go a couple more rounds and that I felt great... my coaches at Phuket Top Team have made it a point to push me to become one of the best...

LK: I’ve gotta ask -- the fight with Lungu where you guys spilled out of the ring. What went through your mind at that moment and when the fight was declared a loss for you?

SB: Oh man... I wish I could get that changed on my record... that accident should have been called a no contest... we knew he was going to try and take me to the ground from the very beginning of the fight... just wasn't expecting the ropes to be so low...  the ropes were at the correct height, but when you have almost 700 plus pounds moving in 1 direction its hard to stop... I didnt understand why they gave Lungu the win. I have asked for several rematches to set the record straight... but to no luck...

LK: You’ve seen some success of late in Kunlun Fight in China and are currently preparing to fight in a few weeks time here, how has your experience fighting in China been thus far?

SB: Yes, I fight again for Kunlun Fight October 31st against another Chinese fighter...I absolutely love fighting in China... they treat every fighter with so much respect. I have fought in China 6 times... and every time I have, it has never been a bad experience...I got my nickname from fighting in China... I have so much respect for the fans. I will stay after the fights to meet as many fans as i can... I wamt them to know how much I respect them as a fighter...

LK: Your success in China has been interesting, with your only loss to the guy who beat Rico Verhoeven, do you see yourself as a threat to these guys on the top tier of the division?

SB: That loss was my 1st loss in China... he caught me with a great jumping knee to the ribs... I really believe I can beat many of the guys on the top tier of the division...  I was able to compete against top level guys with part-time training. Now its time to show everyone what I can really do... I see guys fight and I feel that I can trade with the best there is... I might not be pretty, but I will give the crowd a show they will never forget...

LK: Do you think that kickboxing or muay thai will ever really take off in the United States, especially after seeing China of late and how it’s growing there?

SB: I really hope it does take off in the United States... I know that it is currently growing... I think the reason more fighters choose to go to MMA rather than kickboxing or Muay Thai is because they have a background in wrestling... not like most of the dominant countries in the world of Muay Thai or kickboxing...

LK: You started off in football and transitioned to fighting, have you been able to take anything from your time in football with you into combat sports?

SB: One of the biggest things that I have been able to take to fighting from football has been the will not to give up. With all sports comes injuries... I played football for many years, I finally started to listen to my body on recovery and injuries...I think that has helped me to stay active in fighting over and over...

LK: What can we expect in the future from Steve Banks?

SB: Keep your ears and eyes open... I am planning on dominating the heavyweight division... I want to take on everyone... I will be fighting in Muay Thai,  kickboxing, boxing,  and MMA in the very near future...  to be the best, you got to take on the best... I'm here to do that... we make our own future... I'm here to show everyone that America does have great heavyweight Muay Thai and kickboxers... and we will be taking on all...

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Wayne Barrett Ready to Return to Greatness at GLORY 24

This Friday at GLORY 24 Wayne Barrett is set to return from an absence from the ring to fight recent GLORY tournament winner Dustin Jacoby. For many, Wayne Barrett is one of those raw talents in kickboxing who could easily become a major player for years to come, which is especially rare considering that he is an American. Perhaps the feather in the cap of his relatively young kickboxing career is a win over Joe Schilling. The Schilling win came at a time when many saw Schilling as unstoppable, putting a considering dent in the armor of the myth that was Joe Schilling at the time. The win over Bogdan Stoica that came at GLORY’s Last Man Standing tournament was purely academic at that point.

After that, though, things haven’t been all sunshine and happiness for Wayne Barrett. On a three fight skid right now, Barrett elected to take time off to get his head back into the game. “You know, they offered me fights, man. They offered me fights to get myself a win, to build my confidence up and everyone thought that I should do it, but I turned them down. What’s the point if I’m not the Wayne Barrett that I truly believe that I can be? I took time for myself,” he explained. “And let me tell you, I feel incredible right now. This fight is all about me, it’s all about Wayne and getting everything right.”

What he means is that during his time away from the ring he made sure that everything was in order in his personal life as well as his professional life. As a father it was important to him to feel that he was doing his best and to set the right kind of example. A lot of that had to do with how he was training, as well. “I went through so many coaches at this point, I’ve had coaches telling me what to do, trying to change me and make me more of an orthodox fighter. But that isn’t who I am. I’ve got, for lack of a better word, a sort of swagger to me and how I fight. I’m unlike anyone else in the world in the ring and that’s what I bring to the table, so I’m not trying to be someone else anymore, I’m just being me right now.”

I brought up a young Rico Verhoeven, who at the time was incredibly talented with a ton of potential, but if you would go back and watch Rico’s early fights you’ll see a stiff, rigid and uncomfortable Verhoeven. The confidence to be himself wasn’t quite there yet compared to the Rico Verhoeven of today. “Oh man, absolutely,” he was getting excited now. “I love Rico, man. He’s just incredible. He’s his own man out there. Does he honor the whole Dutch style? Of course he does, but he’s making it his own, what he’s doing is an evolution. That’s how I view myself. They wanted me to do this you kick-I kick thing and that wasn’t who I am so it just didn’t work.”

Barrett, while in his late 20’s, is still relatively fresh into his professional career. “My second professional fight,” he said, “that was in the GLORY ring against a guy like Mike Lemaire.” Indeed it was his second professional fight, that fight being a knockout of Lemaire. What is astonishing about Barrett’s professional career is that upon joining GLORY he was immediately thrust into the spotlight, fighting some of the biggest names in the world. He stepped into the ring for his fourth professional fight against Joe Schilling, arguably the top dog in the division at that time, and he didn’t only handle himself well, but he won. There was no carefully curated career here, Barrett was simply there, with a rocket strapped to his back going full steam ahead.

When it came time for him to step into the ring with the notorious Romanian slugger Bogdan Stoica he felt ready, although the more that we talked about how kickboxing worked overseas, the more he opened up about how different his career has been. “There is no padding on my record,” he laughed. “I remember looking at Stoica’s record and thinking -- as a fan -- that I had no clue who some of these people that he was crushing were. Even some of the guys who beat him I had never heard of before.” The fight ended with Stoica going down to a left hook, Barrett moving forward in the tournament only to meet Joe Schilling. When I brought up the decision and how there was controversy over it he quickly interjected, “You could say that again.” 

Even if his next two fights were indeed losses, one to Jason Wilnis and one to Simon Marcus, they were still against two of the top fighters within the division. While most would look at that, shrug and take an easy fight, Barrett decided to go back to the drawing board and wait for another opportunity down the line. Now, though? “I’m going full force now,” he said. “I want to fight again this year, as long as they’ll let me. I think they probably will. Then next year I want to stay as active as I can.”

Tournaments, though, don’t seem to be in the immediate future for Wayne Barrett. “Nah,” he said. “Just single fights for me right now. Too much is out of your control in those tournaments. In the future? Yeah, if there is a big tournament I’ll be a part of it, but I want to focus on one opponent for right now and I want to prove to everyone that Wayne Barrett really is as good as everyone thinks that he can be. Man,” he laughed. “Now I’m talking in third person about myself. I still can’t believe that I’m at that point where I can talk to people about myself in third person.”

What I took away from my time talking to Wayne Barrett is that he’s in a very, very good place right now. He’s both mentally and physically ready for the road ahead and understands that while it was sort of shocking to initially see himself on a list as a top middleweight that he has to keep proving himself and earn his top spot. We’ll see what he brings to the table against Dustin Jacoby at GLORY 24 on Friday night in Denver.

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