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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...


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.


Joe Schilling Talks Once Again Chasing Artem Levin for Rubber Match and GLORY 24

(C) Glory Sports International/James Law

Few names have become as synonymous with the American kickboxing movement within GLORY over the past few years like Joe Schilling. Schilling was originally a standout muay thai fighter who made a name for himself taking on all comers within his division and rising among the ranks until it was time to fight the top dogs in the world. There may have been some bumps, bruises and cuts along the way, but when it comes to Joe Schilling the word “pretty” isn’t often in the vocabulary. With a nickname like “Stitch ‘em Up” due to his proclivity for throwing lacerating elbows one can quickly understand why Joe Schilling rose up from being a cult favorite to one of GLORY’s American poster boys. 

This Friday evening at GLORY 24 he returns to the GLORY ring to face top middleweight Jason Wilnis. Originally Schilling was going to get his chance at a rubber match with career-adversary Artem Levin and his GLORY Middleweight championship, but an injury forced Levin off of the card and left Schilling with a tough, young and hungry Jason Wilnis looking to make a name off of one of the men who earned his spot on the Mount Rushmore of the division. For Schilling there is a lot riding on this fight outside of just another kickboxing fight, this is his first kickboxing fight since two back-to-back losses in Bellator, the latter being via knockout.

“You know, people have been talking a lot of shit, saying a lot of things, but really, I’m a multi-sport athlete,” he explained to us. “How many fighters can say that? I got caught in MMA, it happens, but now I have to show the world what I can and always have done in the ring and too bad for Wilnis, it’s going to be against him. I’m in demand right now, like they wanted me for the Dynamite show but the medical suspension got in the way of that happening.”

For a time the fight with Artem Levin was Schilling’s white whale, the one fight that eluded him. Scheduled and rescheduled a number of times in their respective pre-GLORY careers, their clash finally happened at GLORY 10 in the middleweight tournament that saw Schilling pull off the victory in an extension round of the finals. Once again Schilling finds himself frustrated with Levin pulling out of a fight with him. “I feel like I’m chasing him all over again. GLORY called me up and said they wanted me to fight Levin in Denver and, you know, this was the fight that I was asking them for, so I took it. Then a few weeks later they call and tell me that Levin was out and Wilnis is in and I was really pissed off.”

Schilling doesn’t seem certain that he’ll get that third fight with Levin any time soon, that he’ll be able to settle the score and have one man walk out victorious in their series, but he seems dead set on moving forward. As for where that future will be for Schilling, it seems to be on Spike TV for now. “I signed a new deal with Bellator, for MMA and kickboxing on Dynamite shows. I know not everyone loved that show, but it was incredible, a lot of vision went into that. There are going to be more and I’m gonna be fighting on them, be it kickboxing or MMA.”

The future within the GLORY ring seems to be less certain for Schilling, though, although he does seem open to more fights in the future. “Kickboxing is always my preference and if the offer is there and it’s the right offer I’ll take it without a second thought. The fights that I want are in GLORY right now.”

There has been a lot of talk about the future of kickboxing in America as well as GLORY’s future, which Schilling of course has had on his mind of late. His thoughts on the matter diverge from the common line of thought, though. “I never buy this line of bullshit about how you need an American champion to make it big here in the US. GLORY has been diluting their product in the name of finding this big American star and it has meant putting on weaker cards not featuring the top talents in the world. Put on big fights between the best fighters and the fans will react to that, who cares if they speak english or if they don’t? What matters is what happens in the ring, not the post-fight interviews.”

Schilling himself is of course one for leaving it all in the ring, with some of the most exciting fights in GLORY’s history under his belt, including the two dramatic fights with Artem Levin that have helped to define GLORY’s middleweight division. That doesn’t mean that he’s overlooking Wilnis on Friday at all, though. “Wilnis is a tough guy, he’s hungry and a win over me would mean a lot for his career. In no way am I overlooking Wilnis, though, I think that I’m on a mission here to prove those doubters wrong. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Joe Schilling makes his return to GLORY on Friday at GLORY 24 against Jason Wilnis live on Spike TV in the main event.


Prize Fighter Ben Edwards Ready for GLORY 24 Heavyweight Tournament

GLORY 24 will see a new heavyweight contender crowned, the winner moving on to fight champion Rico Verhoeven for the top spot in the world of heavyweight kickboxing. Over the past year we’ve seen Verhoeven fight Errol Zimmerman and Benjamin Adegbuyi, defeating both to retain his title. Fans have been starved for a good heavyweight tournament from GLORY, the last one at GLORY 16 Denver.

Interestingly enough, a man that we last saw at GLORY 16 Denver will be making his return to the GLORY ring at GLORY 24 looking for another crack at the GLORY Heavyweight Championship. That man is Australia’s own Ben Edwards. We caught up with Ben Edwards as he finishes up his preparations for the tournament and will be heading back to the United States.

Edwards had announced that he was leaving kickboxing after his loss last year, but the return is a welcome one for fans of the Aussie slugger. For Edwards, it is about making a living. “With kickboxing the last 3 of my last 4 losses were to guys pretty much the top 3 in the world (Rico, Errol and Overeem the year he won) and they are the guys that were at least making a living. If I couldn't crack that top tier I couldn't make a living and kickboxing is very hard to train for in Canberra so I decided to concentrate on boxing which is easy to train for in my home town. I won the national title 2 fights in returning to the sport so it wasn't a bad decision,” he explained. The offer from GLORY took him by surprise, actually. “The offer from Glory was unexpected and appreciated and I am very much looking forward to making the most of this second chance.”

Heavyweight kickboxing has seemed to be less of a focus of late, with the lighter weight classes taking a lot of the spotlight and there being a lot of fighters -- much like Edwards -- looking for opportunities outside of kickboxing. “As a hard-core combat sport fan I really feel kickboxing is the most exciting format. Its sad the sport has lost some of the bigger names but I still feel the sport has a healthy future.”

As for this tournament especially, Edwards seems ready to finally show the world what he’s made of after what he considered disappointments before. “The main difference in training is I've been spending a lot of time in Sydney, I've don't 6 trips in 5 weeks to train with Stu McKinnon and the boys at Castle Hill Bulldog,” he explained. “It’s world class padwork and sparring there and for the first time in  long time I am excited to fight. I had a lot of personal problems going into the last fight and I have fixed every single one and I am looking forward to being back to my best. I'm sick of feeling disappointed and letting people down, being considered a journeyman etc. Those days are over.”

When it comes to the first opponent for the night, Jahfarr Wilnis, Edwards seemed more focused on himself and his preparations, instead. “I only ever watch a little bit of footage on my opponent when the fight gets signed, get a feel for them, come up with a game plan then I don't think about them anymore. He appears to be a busy fighter with not much power which should leave plenty of openings to land one of my ghetto whoppers.”

Edwards has been a busy guy of late if you follow him on Facebook, taking a few acting gigs and looking happy to be going outside of his comfort zone. He explained to us how he found himself in front of the camera without gloves on. “I trained a guy who ended up being a producer on a local film that ended up starring Billy Zane, they have finished filming but they were running short on money to finish the production. Blue World Order is the film's name and they have a website to visit. This latest project stemmed from people I met on that, this one is called Tech Noir and the director is attempting to get it into the aussie short film festival Tropfest. I had a great experience on both films and definitely look forward to participating in more projects.”

What does the future hold for Edwards? Only time will tell. Edwards has done it all from boxing to kickboxing to even dog walking, but will he keep fighting even if he loses? “There will be plenty of dog walking, I can't express how much I enjoy doing that and I am a prize fighter, whatever the rules if there is a prize I'll be there.”

Any man who loves dogs is okay by me. The same with any man who genuinely loves fighting and Ben Edwards fits that bill. Ben Edwards is participating in the GLORY 24 Heavyweight tournament, facing Jahfarr Wilnis in the first round.


The 20 Greatest Kyokushin Karate Fighters of All Time: #16-13

The 20 Greatest Kyokushin Karate Fighters of All Time was first published by Liver Kick in 2013, with #20-17. It has taken us some time to get around to completing that list, but finally we have done it!

As mentioned in the first installment, Kyokushin Karate was founded by Masutatsu “Mas” Oyama, and considered to be the first and most influential style of full contact karate, and one of the most hard-hitting, brutal, and intense forms of organized combat in the world. A style that has spawn fighters the likes of Andy Hug and Georges St. Pierre, to name just a couple. But aside from the big name kickboxers and mma stars there lays an array of combat sports athletes whose neither names nor accomplishments often see the light of day. This is the reason the "Top 20 Greatest Kyokushin Fighters of All-Time" was first started.

As stated before, this is by no means the definitive list, and I am sure there are names missing, but I have done my best to complete the list with fighters based mainly on impact, achievement, quality of competition and technical skill. The list is in no particular order, as it’s next to impossible to select one fighter over another, and further, it is something that no one would agree on. But I am sure we can all agree that the names on this list deserve recognition.

A little information on the different types of tournaments before we begin: A World Tournament includes every weight class. There are no divisions and no upper weight limit. Any Weight Tournament splits fighters into one of three weights: Lightweight (Under 70 kg) Middleweight (70 kg to 80 kg) and Heavyweight (Over 90 kg). That's it. Pretty simple, right?


So without further ado, here are #16 - 13 on our list....

#16: Makoto Nakamura

Nationality: Japanese


  • 3rd World Tournament – 1st place 1984
  • 2nd World Tournament – 1st place 1979
  • 13th All Japan Tournament – 2nd place 1981
  • 12th All Japan Tournament – 2nd place 1980
  • 11th All Japan Tournament – 1st place 1979
  • 10th All Japan Tournament – 3rd place 1978
  • 9th All Japan Tournament – 3rd place 1977

Makoto Nakamura is the only winner of two Kyokushin World Open tournaments and was known for his power style of karate. He is the epitome of “power karate” and truly represented the old guard of Kyokushin. At 110 kg (245 lbs) he was large man be any accounts, let alone against usually much smaller Japanese. He used his size and power to full advantage.

After competing, winning or always placing in the top 3 in the All Japan Tournaments, Nakamura was selected to be on the Japanese team for the 2nd World Tournament in 1979, where he would win first place, but not without controversy.

In that 2nd World Tournament he would face 18-year-old Dolph Lundgren from Sweden. Then only a green belt, Lundgren had to borrow a brown belt (one level higher) to be able to fight. As he recounts, "Full-contact-karate was something new at the time. Nobody really knew a lot about it, and neither did I." Held at the Japan Metropolitan Gymnasium, Nakamura was the favourite to win. When he faced Lundgren, who weighed 93 kg (205 lbs) Nakamura (a 2nd degree black belt at the time) attacked immediately and Lundgren caught him with a mawashi-geri (roundhouse kick) to the head. It is reported the crowd gasped and Nakamura probably thought he had more on his hands then he had bargained for. The fight went the distance; plus two extensions and Nakamura was awarded a controversial decision. This proved to be the eventual world champions hardest fight.

Nakamura would go on to compete in the 3rd World Tournament 1984 and win 1st place as well.


#15: Sam Greco

Nationality: Australian


  • K-1 World Grand Prix 3rd Place1999
  • W.A.K.O. Pro World Muay Thai Super Heavyweight Champion1999
  • The Best of the Best Tournament Champion1995
  • W.K.A. World Muay Thai Super Heavyweight Champion1994
  • Karate World Cup Champion1994
  • Commonwealth Karate Champion 1989-1991
  • 6 time Australia Full Contact Karate Champion

Sam "Slam 'em" Greco trained in Kyokushin Karate from a young age and started competing in full contact karate tournaments at age of 21. He is a retired super heavyweight fighter, who fought in Kyokushin Karate, Professional Kickboxing, K-1 tournaments and MMA. To put it simply, Sam Greco is a legend. He was an aggressive fighter who epitomized raw physical power and technical precision. Greco was an absolute dream to watch in the ring, as he would bring punishment forward and raining down. 

After winning the Australian Full-Contact Karate title six times Greco would meet the founder of Kyokusin, Mas Oyama and eventually the founder of Seidokaikan Karate, Kazuyoshi Ishii. Ishii himself was a student of Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin under Hideyuki Ashihara. 

Greco would go on to have an impressive career, 147 fights overall, and holds notable victories over many of the greats of kickboxing, like Branko Cikatic, Ernesto Hoost, Mike Bernardo, Stefan Leko, and Ray Sefo.

Greco is quoted as saying "My biggest achievement to date was taking on all the best fighters in the K1 world. Fighters that I would only read about and thought one day I will get to fight them. I never took a back step on anyone."


#14: Takashi Azuma

Nationality: Japanese


  • 1st place at the 9th All Japan Tournament 1977
  • 3rd place at the 8th All Japan Tournament1976
  • 6th place at the 1st World Tournament1974
  • 2nd place at the 6th All Japan Tournament1974

Azuma Takashi was born in 1949, began martial arts through the practice of Judo and in 1971 discovered Kyokushin Karate. He became a student of the founder, Mas Oyama. Azuma was a fiercely dominant fighter in the early days of Kyokushin and stood out among other fighters not only because of his physical strength, but also his strength of spirit, which never accepted defeat. A true warrior in every sense of the word, who encompassed Budo, or the Japanese Martial Way.

Azuma Takashi is the founder of the martial art Daido Juku, also known as "Kudo", and the President of the Kudo International Federation. Daido Juku is a martial art group practicing Kudo, a strike-based Mixed Martial Art/Budo. Noticeable by the use of a helmet that sort of looks like a space helmet, which allows fighters to strike to the head and not impede vision. Daido Juku introduced "Kakuto Karate (Combat Karate)" a safe, practical and popular form of tournament karate using the face protector and allowing attacks to the head level attack, throws, grabs, joint locks and chokes. Essentially, it’s like Japanese Budo MMA. 


Photo Credit WKO Shinkyokushinkai

Photo courtesy of WKO Shinkyokushinkai

#13 Norichika Tsukamoto

Nationality: Japanese


  • All Japan Weight Division Tournament: The 11th all Japan weight division heavy weight 4th place, The 15th all Japan weight division heavy weight 1st place, The 21st all Japan weight division heavy weight 1st place, The 25th all Japan weight division heavy weight 3rd place
  • All Japan Tournament: The 28th all Japan 1st place, The 29th all Japan 1st place, The 34th all Japan 3rd place, The 36th all Japan 6th place, The 38th all Japan 1st place/Mas Oyama Award, The 41st all Japan 1st place, The 42nd all Japan 1st place
  • Karate World Cup: The 1st karate world cup heavy weight 1st place, The 3rd karate world cup heavy weight 4th place, The 4th karate world cup heavy weight 2nd place
  • World Tournament: The 6th world championship 1st place, The 7th world championship Japan national member, The 8th world championship 7th place, The 9th world championship 7th place, The 10th world championship 1st place/technique award
  • Tsukamoto was part of the new breed of Kyokushin fighters, known for his innovative and progressive fighting style. 

In the earlier days of Kyokushin, fighters were recognized for their “stand and bang” style of fighting. Pitting strength and brawn against one another. As the sport evolved you began to see fighters becoming more intelligent in their training practices and fighting. Fighters probably began to realize the old style of training and fighting would not have much longevity on the body. So, as fighters became smarter with their conditioning, the styles of fighting became smarter as well. Tsukamoto was one of the first in Full Contact Karate that began to apply new ways of thinking and new performing techniques, and we began to others changing and adapting. Marius Ilas is another one of this new breed of fighters.

Tsukamoto has proven that his unconventional way of fighting works, based on the many championships he has won, and the way fighters have a hard time dealing with and defending his approach. From unorthodox kicking methods to his use of hiza geri jodan (knee kick to the head) to KO opponents, Tsukamoto has influenced a whole new generation of Kyokushin fighters.

Tsukamoto is now part of the World Karate Organization - Shinkyokushinkai, the Kyokushin offshoot led by former world champion, Kenji Midori. We’ll be visiting him on the list shortly! 

Click here for #20-17 and tune in soon for fighters #12-09. 


Zack Mwekassa Promises That His Fight Will be Epic

"It's going to be epic!" That is Zack Mwekassa's prediction for the rematch between he and Saulo Cavalari and at the event called 'Dynamite' .With an event name like that, it's only natural to expect to see some bombs being dropped in the ring. Zack Mwekassa promises you will not only get bombs but some drama as well! If you're curious about what bombs and drama means and the hashtag (#bombsanddrama) that has captivated fans of Mwekassa around the world, the originator explained, "A lot of people think my punches are like bombs and they believe the whole persona of Zack Mwekassa with the bombs just makes it spectacular and just brings the drama. Look at the fight with Pat Barry, when I walked in people booed me, I walked in the ring thinking what have I done to these people, they don't know me, but I stopped him and they played my entrance song, 'There is Power in the Name of Jesus', and that was the drama. I walked in with the bombs and that was drama. When Pat Barry walked in they all were shouting 'HD, HD, HD!' but booing me, but again that was drama too". In fact bombs and drama is one of Mwekassa's goals as a fighter, to give a spectacular performance to his fans during every fight. Mwekassa stated that he doesn't come to win fights, he comes to bring emotions. He makes a distinction between simply winning and trying to offer more. Mwekassa stated that trying to win fights is easy to do, but his overall goal, is to give fans something they can talk about, and that is the drama side of it. If his past is any prediction of his future Zack Mwekassa will definitely bring both bombs and drama to the SAP center.

Taking a look back, you will recall Cavalari and Mwekassa first met in November 2014 during the light heavyweight qualifying tournament in Oklahoma at Glory 18. Mwekassa's first opponent in the tournament was Brian 'The Lion' Collette. Mwekassa easily dispatched Collette with a devastating blow that left Collette dazed and down for the count. Phase two of the tournament brought together Cavalari and Mwekassa. In was beginning the bout seemed to be an unending slugfest but ended with Mwekassa getting caught and knocked out. Since that time Mwekassa has made a commitment to step up his level of training and stretch the boundaries of his performance as an athlete. Chiefly among the changes Mwekassa has made was his decision to spend time in Holland at Hemmers Gym to give himself exposure to different fighting styles, higher level sparring partners and other things that had been unavailable to him while training in Africa.

Mwekassa makes no excuses about his loss to Cavalari despite any training disadvantages he might have had prior to the bout. This however is the nature of Zack Mwekassa and the basis of his #Mwekassance. Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to talk to Mwekassa, fighters and fans alike, I'm sure can testify to his character and his desire to strive, on a daily basis, to be a better man. Mwekassa is both a fighter and a business man, at this time in his career seeing fights not just on the basis of what stylistically or intellectually makes sense but also as opportunities to continue to hone his craft and to build the means to give back to his family. Like most fighters, Mwekassa laments the grueling amount of time and energy the life of a fighter requires. It's however, a sacrifice he's willing to make for achievement of his ultimate goal, light heavyweight champion. Stylistically, Mwekassa mentions Gokhan Saki as an opponent with whom he could have had a very interesting and challenging fight. He is also, however, quick to add that he is willing to take on whoever Glory places in front of him and that he feels very fortunate to have arrived at his current place in life. For that he gives glory to God.

When it boils down to it both he and Cavalari are similar in nature. Both men arose from very humble beginnings in their respective countries and both had achieved a certain level of success in their combat sports careers prior to their Glory debuts. Both have made it their life's goal to be the best. Now both men have set their sights on the light heavyweight title which on Saturday, September 19th only one man can be victorious, but if nothing else we can all expect some bombs and drama until the end.


Steven Wright's New Tiffany Van Soest Highlight Shows Timebomb at Her Best

Our pal Steven Wright is at it again, once again doing more than his part for the striking arts with his new highlight reel of none other than Tiffany Van Soest. This new highlight of the Timebomb showcases her unique skill set while showing her heart and struggle while she has clawed her way to the top of the sport. 


New challenges - An interview with Gábor Görbics

For the first time in Muaythai Mania's history the event will not be at it's usual location of Szentendre but Budapest. Looking at the card fans can expect some great fights in a guise of women's and a man's tournament with four participants in each and some superfights.

In the female fights Irén Rácz, Alexandra Kovács, Tímea Bélik and Fruzsina Nagy will clash in 63,5kg (~140lbs) while Roland Berényi, Dániel Bodnár, Ádám Gaál and Krisztián Kovács will meet in the 71kg (~156lbs) category. The organizers are looking for a fourth member in full swing as aninjury left Daniella Éltető without an opponent.

As it was revealed earlier in the men's superfight freshly crowned Venum Fights world champion Gábor Görbics will meet none other than Phetsangkhat "Check Bin" Deo, a former Rajadamnern champion, Russian K-1 Grand Prix tournament champion thai fighter with nearly 200 muay thai fighst under his belt.

Without further ado Gábor Görbics on his last fight, trying muay thai, his preparation and more!

Q: - How was the Debrecen show from the inside? Can you talk about the fight and your opponent a bit?

A: - I knew that I'm going to go in there with a very confident, tough opponent who has solid skills, a nice record and that according to the books I'm not the favorite so I went in there with the underdog's calmness. I trusted myself although I knew that anything can happen. I have tons of experience against good fighters in boxing, K-1, so I have plenty of experience but this was certainly something different. I was really focusing on this one and managed to pull it out.

Q: - We knew that for some time now you've been thinking about giving muay thai a try but it has been quite a busy year for you so far. How did you get to the decision to jump into it right now with the Venum show just behind your back?

A: - You know I always try to get better, focus on my kickboxing a bit more and fill some gaps while boxing still remained my big love, because it is my base, where I'm coming from . If I'm on my phisycal and mental game, I'm ready for anything.

Q: - You have quite the dance partner for your debut. Did you want your hands that full yourself by picking a guy like Phetsangkhat "Check Bin" Deo?

A: - I look at muay thai as a brother to kickboxing and I really don't have anything to lose here. I want to test myself and obviously I'm going in there to win. It is an honor for me and I want to give fans a great fight!

Q: - How do you prepare for the fight? To what extent is it different than a usual fight camp? Do you visit muay thai gyms or bring in people to work with you?

A: - I have a number of days at our gym, Titan, but I try to visit a few guys who have plenty of experience and work with them. Also my head coach Gábor Juhász is trying to add his insights to the whole so I feel we'll bring an A game and make a fun fight for everyone.

Hereby I would like to thank Gábor Juhász, Gábor Kádár, Csaba Lelekács, Jenő Svasznek, Zsolt Erdei, Zsolt Bedák, Benji Bacskai, Norbert Szentkúti and everyone else who has added to my game, my training or results and helped ous out along the way. It would be way too much to mentione them all. This is a result of teamwork. And the team includes my wife and child as well, who always support me and endure when times are tough or when I'm cutting weight.

Thank you for the interview! Wishing you best of luck in your preparation and for the fight!


VIDEO: A Return to Form for Petrosyan vs. Xu Yan

\When talking about Giorgio Petrosyan it is difficult to not devolved into hyperbole at times. Petrosyan is one of the most astounding talents that we've seen in the sport of kickboxing yet and back in 2013 we were reminded that he's human. Since Petrosyan's return to the ring from that knockout he's looked good but many had wondered if Petrosyan had perhaps lost a step or some confidence in himself. After last night's performance against Xu Yan at Hero Legends in China I believe that any of those doubts need to be washed away.

The Petrosyan that we saw last night was a return to form in many ways. Everything from his movement to how he would utilize angles to slip strikes and avoid Xu Yan's offense was exactly what we've come to know and expect from a Giorgio Petrosyan fight. Xu Yan is an absolutely formidable opponent and proved as perfect vehicle for Petrosyan to show just how "back" he really is. Anyway, without further ado, here is Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Xu Yan.


August 2015 LiverKick Rankings Update

(C) GLORY Sports International/James Law

It's August heading into September and the time felt right to give the Official LiverKick Rankings an overhaul. There has been movement in quite a few weight classes while some of the others (Light Heavyweight and most of Featherweight) have seen no real movement at all. The first thing to mention is that there was a bit of housecleaning on the rankings, which happens when fighters have been inactive for over 12 months. The two big omissions this round are Daniel Ghita at #3 in Heavyweight and Joseph Valtellini at #2 at Welterweight. Both have been inactive for a year and we were forced to drop them from the rankings. 

For them to be re-included in said rankings can be a long road. That means beating someone else on the top ten or winning a tournament featuring top ten fighters to get back near the top. 

So let's get down to some of these changes then, shall we? Heavyweight has seen some movement, some of which was the removing of Ghita, the rest of due to stuff happening. Jamal Ben Saddik returned from his suspension with a win earlier this year, but not a top ten win. Beating Braddock Silva, though? That's huge and secures him the #4 spot. Jahfarr Wilnis makes his way to the Heavyweight top ten with his Kunlun tournament victory, the win over Gerges front and center. Gerges beat Gerasmichuk, which bumps those two around. Sergei Kharitonov is no longer with GLORY and seems focused on MMA. It hasn't been a year yet but it seems safe to remove him for now. 

No movement at Light Heavyweight for now. Saki was a tough call, but simply leaving GLORY does not disqualify him from the rankings. He had one fight this year which was at Heavyweight, but he's still active. If he plans a full-time move to Heavyweight then he will leave the Light Heavyweight rankings. Middleweight saw very little movement. Sahak Parparyan's poor performance in the A1 World Cup pushed him out in lieu of others and Dmitry Valent makes his debut on the rankings in a tough decision. This is a very tough division to rank and Valent has faced some of the top names in the division and just barely fallen short while picking up wins over everyone else. Bogdan Stoica was considered, but losses to unranked competition sent him to the back of the line. 

Welterweight saw a new GLORY Champion crowned in Nieky Holzken, but he was already the top ranked fighter. Hicham El Gaoui returns after a long absence on the LiverKick rankings with a win over Karapetyan and Bai Jinbin from China earned his way into the number eight slot with a crazy win in Kunlun over Stetsurenko. There was some movement at Lightweight, but most of it makes a lot of sense. Sitthichai won the contender tournament, bumping him up further while everyone else dropped down to accommodate that. Petrosyan might still be the most talented, but neither wins over Varol or Kehl were going to push him up any further. Yodsanklai decides to confuse us even further by competing in Kunlun under kickboxing rules, making him a must-rank fighter. Oh yeah, and Dzhabar Askerov is back after a win over Kehl. Big congratulations go to newcomer to the world rankings in Josh Jauncey for his performance in the GLORY contender tournament.

Featherweight only saw movement within the top three thanks to K-1 Japan's awesome shows. Kaew is back to being king again and Soda drops down to a more comfortable 3. 

Heavyweight (Per 8/15)

1 Rico Verhoeven
2 Errol Zimmerman
3 Benjamin Adegbuyi
4 Jamal Ben Saddik
5 Anderson Silva
6 Jahfarr Wilnis
7 Hesdy Gerges
8 Andrei Gerasmichuk
9 Zabit Samedov
10 Ismael Londt


Heavyweight (Per 8/15)

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

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

1 Nieky Holzken
2 Artur Kyshenko
3 Hicham El Gaoui
4 Karapet Karapetyan
5 Raymond Daniels
6 Karim Ghajji
7 Paul Daley
8 Bai Jinbin
9 Alexander Stetsurenko
10 Jonatan Oliveira
Lightweight (Per 8/15)

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 8/15)

1 Kaew Fairtex
2 Minoru Kimura
3 Yasuomi Soda
4 Massaro Glunder
5 Masaaki Noiri
6 Yuta Kubo
7 Gabriel Varga
8 Mosab Amrani
9 Hiroaki Suzuki
10 Zakaria Zouggari
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