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Video: Artem Levin vs. Kaoklai

  • Published in Kickboxing

Here is a fight from last weekend that slipped under the radar: It's Showtime 77kg champion Artem Levin vs. WBC Muay Thai World Light Heavyweight champion Kaoklai Kaennorsing.  The fight was 5 rounds, full Muay Thai rules for Kaoklai's WBC title and took place at an event in Russia.

Levin came in off a career best year in 2010 that saw him quickly rise up the ranks.  In the last year, Levin claimed both the It's Showtime title and the Gold medal at the SportAccord Combat Games. Along the way he defeated two men who could each make a solid claim for being #1 at 77kg: Yodsaenklai Fairtex and L'houcine Ouzgni.  He's on a 12 fight win streak, and has to be considered the top man at 77kg at this point.

Kaoklai is a Muay Thai legend who K-1 fans may best know for his surprising 2004/2005 K-1 Grand Prix runs.  He's in the twilight of his superb career, although he did put together a 5-0 record in 2010 and is not yet completely finished.

Analysis after the jump.

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GLORY 10 Los Angeles: Middleweight Tournament

  • Published in Glory

Glory 10

It feels like a great weight lifted off of my shoulders that GLORY have finally gone ahead and announced that GLORY 10 will be in Los Angeles, California (or at least in the area of Los Angeles). GLORY 10 will feature a one-night, four man Middleweight tournament with four of the best in the business going toe-to-toe. It is Joe Schilling, Artem Levin, Steven Wakeling and Jason Wilnis competing for being called the GLORY Middleweight Champion.

On top of that is the main event which is Jerome Le Banner vs. Sergei Kharitonov as well as a Super Fight between Robin Van Roosmalen and Shemsi Beqiri. There will be much more announced soon for the card.

It takes place September 28th at the Citizen's Bank Arena in Ontario, California.

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New It's Showtime Fights for March 6

  • Published in Kickboxing

Leroy KaestnerSome interesting updates to the It's Showtime Amsterdam card on March 6:

In an undercard bout, the #22 ranked Leroy Kaestner (pictured) faces Ramzi Tamaditi. Kaestner is a young fighter training under Peter Aerts, and is looking to move up the ranks. He's had a number of big fights, including wins over Gago Drago last year, and Marco Pique in the K-1 MAX Europe GP 2009, but he's not yet been able to put together a string of wins that really pushes him up to the next level. Still, at just 22 years old and only 5 years as a pro, he has time to develop, and remains one of the young fighters to watch. His last fight was a loss to Armen Petrosyan in December.

Ramzi "The Professor" Tamaditi is a lesser known fighter, though he has received some accolades, and is well regarded as an unknown prospect. He defeated Imro Main on an It's Showtime card last year, and has done some training at Chakuriki. A win over Kaestner would definitely elevate his status. Watch a video package on Tamaditi below, put together by the always great AFAV.

Also on the undercard: Warren Stevelmans vs. Mo Medhar.  Stevelmans is a K-1 MAX veteran who is always a tough opponent, although he has struggled a bit lately.  His last fights were at the K-1 MAX Madrid show, where he made the tournament finals before losing to Rafi Zouheir.  Medhar is looking to capitalize on his 2009 It's Showtime victory over Gago Drago.  Like Tamaditi, he has another opportunity here to really establish his name in the 70kg division.

Finally, It's Showtime has not yet made it official, but Fighting Stars, the company co-promoting the event, announced a bout between IS 77kg champion Artem Levin and Younes el Mhassani.  Their announcement indicates it will be a title fight, although it's also listed as 3 rounds, when IS does 5 rounds for title fights.  This would be Levin's first fight since winning the belt against Aussi in December.  The Russian fighter had a huge 2010, defeating two of the world's best in Yodsaenklai Fairtex and L'houcince "Aussi" Ouzgni, establishing himself as the clear #1 at 77kg.  Levin is currently scheduled to face Kaoklai on February 23 - not sure if this would impact that fight, as IS typically doesn't like having their fighters compete so quickly after another bout.

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Glory 17 and Last Man Standing: A Night to Remember (Part 1)

  • Published in Glory

June 21st, 2014 is a night that kickboxing fans will be talking about for quite some time. Glory 17, even though it ended up being a 6 hour event, at no point did I feel this was too much. They did a great job of making us look forward to the next fight even more than the last. Now, I am going to be brutally honest and give my opinions on all the things I enjoyed, and things I didn't on one of the most exciting 6 hours in combat sports.

So, the show started with the analyst desk consisting of Michael "The Voice" Schiavello, Stepen Quadros, and Remy Bonjasky. This is a very knowledgeable group of people but we barely heard from them, instead we had to listen to Duke Roufus and Ron Kruck constantly talk about either previous fights, history, or themselves. For some reason they always seem to ignore the fight that is happening and talk about the fighters past fights, or trainers and so on. I mean that is fine to do when there is a lull in the action to keep the viewers informed and educated, but when action is happening i would like the commentators to talk about the fight. I feel that if they could have maybe used the analyst desk as the commentators this event could have been pretty much perfect. I always favor Shiavello when it comes to kickboxing commentary, being that he is a true fan, knows all the fighters inside and out, talks accurately about what is happening in the fight, and he knows how to excite us and make us laugh. As for Remy Bonjasky this would have been the first time I've heard him commentate, but he is intelligent and well spoken, not to mention one of the best heavyweight kickboxers ever and usually its great when real fighters commentate, for example Roy Jones Jr. on HBO.

Enough about Kruck and Roufus, and more about the people that matter, the fighters. Everyone fought their heart out for Glory last night. The first fight on Spike TV was Canadian Gabriel Varga Vs. Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai from Thailand. Varga has been training with us in Surrey, B.C a little bit for the last few weeks so I know how good he is, and what he is capable of. When the fight started and Sitmonchai instantly interrupted Varga's combos with his own punches and Varga kept throwing very slow telegraphed spinning back fists, and back kicks, I began to get worried. But Varga did what Varga does best and kept grinding Sitmonchai down, until it seemed like the Thai was either tired or just lazy, he just stopped throwing anything even tho he had Varga's leg purple and swollen, thus earning Varga the win and moving onto the Finals of the Featherweight Contender Tournament.

Next fight put American Shane Oblonsky against Brazilian Marcus Vinicius, this was a strange fight because Vinicius actually threw zero kicks. He just tried to box Oblonsky's face off with big looping punches considering he was 7 inches shorter, he landed quite a few big punches, but Oblonsky's chin held up and he was constantly landing his big right hand leading to two knockdowns which moved him on to the Finals to face Varga.

Andy Ristie made short work of Ky Hollenbeck and honestly didn't even look like he was trying yet. He landed his signature step in right hand, then followed it with a stiff left jab/hook type punch then just watched as Hollenbeck wobbled and dropped his right hand, and landed a big left hook on the chin to end the fight in the first round. It was nice to see Ristie actually calm down and watch to land that last punch, he does hit ridiculously hard though, even without effort.

Now onto the Final of the Glory 4 man featherweight contender tournament and this fight was a war. Once again Varga came out with his tight defense and started wearing out Oblonsky, but Shane's technique was much tighter and cleaner in this fight than his last. Varga carried on pressing forward, keeping a high pace but he would sometimes break up the rhythm by throwing a spinning technique which really never landed, they were much too slow, every time he tried one I found myself hoping it was the last, and that he would use his energy into just beating on Oblonsky with leg kicks. In the last round both fighter's had very sore left legs, but neither of them decided to kick it nearly enough until Gabriel started smashing it in the last 30 seconds, which gave Gabriel Varga the hard earned unanimous decision victory, the Glory featherweight contender belt, and secured himself a spot in the Glory featherweight world title tournament.

Last fight on the Spike TV portion of the card was the 39 year old legend Mirko CroCop against the 274lbs, 24 year old Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller. I had high hopes for Miller in this fight, he has looked amazing in his last few professional boxing fights and I figured his hands would just be too good for CroCop. Truth is Millers hands very well may have been too good for the Croatian, if he actually threw them. Big baby decided he was going to kick, clinch, and knee the entire fight, which is basically CroCop's specialty. At one point Miller did land one knee that looked like it hurt CroCop but referee Big John McCarthy called it a low blow, replays showed otherwise in my eyes. It wasn't the most exciting fight, but still entertaining with the chance that Mirko could land his trademark left high kick at any point, and a few came very close to knocking Miller's head into the crowd. Mirko CroCop got the deserving unanimous decision putting an end to the controversy of his last fight with Big Baby.

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Weaknesses Opponents Can Exploit Against Artem Levin

  • Published in Glory

Frequently Saturday night, at Glory Last Man Standing, Artem Levin resembled an untouchable task for whoever he met in the 8-Man Middleweight tournament that centered the PPV. His high-wire hands down stance, out of which he toggled between thundering left hook body and head shots, quick jabs, and jumping knees, governed by his speed, accuracy, and great head movement.  

I personally had the opportunity to watch Levin fight last month, in Denver, at Glory 16, and I quickly gained a greater appreciation for his work. From my floor seat it was easier to catch his movement, the shifting of stances and various feints that precipitated and flowed into every move.  

Since 2009 Levin has lost to two opponents, Joe Schilling, who he beat in their rematch Saturday night, and Simon Marcus at Lions Fight 9. He is now the Glory Middleweight Champion, the best kickboxing organization in the world. Noted MMA writer, Jack Slack, pondered the possibility that Levin was the best fighter on the planet Monday in his breakdown of Glory Last Man Standing. 

But Levin has shown weaknesses that opponents have and could exploit better to now wrest the Glory Middleweight Championship from him:  

I. Can Start Slow and Sloppy 

The earlier rounds provide the best opportunities for opponents to hit Artem Levin, because he is feeling them out and has not yet committed to his hand-checking that enables him to punch and knee inside so well.  

Many of his Glory fights have followed a simple narrative: they either begin even or in favor of his opponent, then he picks it up in the second, and finally pours it on in the third. His match against Sahak Parparyan at Glory 7 Milan aptly encapsulates this gradual escalation of dominance.  

In the beginning of the fight, Levin left his head center and unguarded when he threw one of his favorite punches - the left hook to the body - and Parparyan would throttle him with a right cross. After taking a few more, he started checking Parparyan’s right hand but Parparyan then switched to his left, which while having to come farther to find Levin’s chin still landed.  

By taking advantage of Levin’s down hands, throwing him off when he tried to clinch, punching in combinations and sneaking in leg kicks in front or behind them, he won the round. Levin followed it nicely, though, taking the second on most judge’s cards and dominating the third and especially fourth.  

The biggest mistake Parparyan made was not carrying it into the subsequent rounds. This is a terrible error against Levin who is going to get better the longer the fight continues and who is capable of switching into a higher performance level if he feels he has to do more to win the fight.   

Robert Thomas also found early success against Levin at Glory 16. Stepping into a throw a lead left jab, Levin stood completely sideways, right hand down. Thomas capitalized and struck with a left hook. Then Levin crushed him the remainder of the contest, blasting him with a couple powerful left hooks of his own.  

Achieving first round does not presage success in the second or third against Levin (in these two cases, it obviously didn't), but it is opportunity to steal a round when he isn't jumping between front kicks, head punches, body punches, spinning back fists, etc. tearing you apart and clearly winning the fight.  

  II. Varied Attack 

Falling into a pattern against Artem Levin seldom churns positive results. Once he discerns a trend he exploits it. The first Joe Schilling fight concluded in a loss for Levin, the fourth of his professional career, but also showcased some of his particular brilliance. Using the superman punch, for instance, Schilling was able to get closer to his chin, since many of his punches were ducked or quickly countered.  

The second superman punch Schilling executed is indelible, the high water mark of one of Glory’s seminal events, yet it was the change in defense Levin made from the first superman punch that created the knockdown in the second round (and maybe Schilling’s leg). While Levin often counters his opponents’ punches, especially with a left hook, sometimes he does not make that his immediate priority. On these occasions he employs his size, speed, and athleticism rather than craft and angles. When Schilling first attempted a superman punch, Levin bent backwards, perhaps not expecting Schilling to be able to reach him.  

At 6’4’’ Levin can anticipate succeeding in analogous situations. The technique allows him to evade the strike and also gain position as his opponent’s momentum still carries him forward. If Levin continued using this technique, Schilling might have missed the second superman punch, but it also might have spared the viewer a special example of his in-ring intelligence.  

Following the knockdown, every time Schilling lifted his leg seemingly either to check a kick or set into motion another superman punch Levin lifted his leg, too, and turned into his body with a right hook. If he missed the right hook he would capitalize on the momentum and his opponent’s inability to see his back hand and flow into a spinning back fist. He also brilliantly once stepped outside of Schilling’s raised right leg and shot through a clean left straight.  

Part of Levin’s wider success, including this, was the limited versatility of Schilling’s attack. He could figure it out and quickly assume an appropriate response. Many of Levin’s opponents have shared this characteristic. Simon Marcus was one of the exceptions, which, along with his terrifying clinch game, caused Levin trouble in their Lion Fight 9 contest.  

It was also an example of how a varied attack can make his ability to implement his offense and start taking you apart difficult.

III. Hands Down

Levin’s penchant for keeping his hands low should theoretically tempt more head kicks. Against Schilling and Marcus, Levin took a solid kick to the jaw. Marcus’ was right up the middle, knocking Levin’s mouth guard out, and giving Marcus an opening to jump on him; whereas, Schilling’s caught him stepping back, his chin up and hands down, moments before the end of the round. 

That he hasn't incurred greater damage regularly, kicks or otherwise, further inculcates the deft of his footwork and defense. When he does get hit it is primarily due to his predilection for keeping his head in the same place. Levin was able to move inside well against Parparyan but he wouldn't always dip into his left body hook that he leads precariously with, and Parparyan would register a breaking right hand on his chin. 

Schilling didn't always make Levin pay for this in their first or second fight. To slow Levin down coming in, Schilling used his teep that did give him a chance to launch a 1-2 and maybe side step out, but Levin routinely came over top of it with a left hook. By keeping his hands low, Levin gives opponents the opportunity to hit him; however, they have to hit him, and predominantly they don’t.

IV. Himself

Levin can be a dominant fighter, as his Glory Last Man Standing PPV performances showed, but he has also been detrimental to himself. Against Parparyan in the first round, he repeatedly came forward and pressed his head through his guard. Despite the referee warning him to stop head-butting, he continued to do it, and had a point taken away from him. If he had recused himself from that, or matured to pulling his guard up earlier in the fight, he might have been able to win the fight in the third rather than the extra fourth round. 

Equally problematic is his habit to hug his opponent after he lands his strikes to stifle their offense and get out their range with the break. This is a different calculation in Glory than Lion Fight or another organization fought under Muay Thai rules, where the time allotted for clinches is more liberal. In Glory Levin doesn't have to worry about being held there if he facing a stronger opponent, and he can fit in his occasional knees to the body if he feels before and during the referee’s attempt to separate them.  

Conversely, outside of Glory, and particularly against Simon Marcus, it was not nearly as beneficial. Marcus was undefeated prior to Saturday night in large part due to his masterful clinch work. In the first round of their fight, Levin was able to pivot away and throw Marcus into the ropes. As the fight went on, though, Marcus was wearing on him with knees to the side body that he was trying to escape with and crossing and uppercut elbows.  

He suffers physically and on the scorecards in these instances, while he only suffers on the judge’s scorecards fighting in Glory when he might actually be dominating the bout. This is the problem, for he could theoretically lose a fight he was winning because he refused to sever himself from needless practices. Yet they are not needless to his strategy.  

They are his strategy. The objective of every fight is to win. Levin wins.  

The danger, though, these, along with the other weaknesses addressed in this article, pose cannot be ignored. They certainly are not by him and that is one of the reasons he has been successful and won the Glory Middleweight Championship last weekend.  

Maybe these are not weaknesses. Maybe they are his strengths, and that they occasionally falter is a mathematical normality. They could be the key to defeating him or the key to him defeating you. 

 

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Yodsaenklai Fairtex vs Artem Levin 2008

  • Published in Video

Artem's come a long way since 2008, but in this bout in Sweden, he was just starting to break out internationally. He's a tall, craft fighter who uses the advantages of his build well in the ring. He's got a fair bit of athleticism in his frame, too. He wears the blue gloves in this bout.

Yodsaenklai Fairtex at the time already was one of the most famous Thai nak muays on the planet. Before fighting internationally, he'd had a distinguished career in Thailand, winning a Lumpini title at 115 lb flyweight. He steadily moved up in weight in Thailand, fighting other highly ranked fighters like Sam-A Thor Ratanakiat, Orono Wor Petchpun, and Ponsaneh Sitmonchai, before moving from Petchyindee to Fairtex and fighting internationally at 70 kg, 154 lb.

Before this first match with Artem -- they would rematch at 75 kg, 165 lb, in the 2010 Sport Accord games in Beijing -- Yodsaenklai had met Farid Villaume and John Wayne Parr twice in the ring. The Contender Asia broadcast was drawing to a close and he was close to the height of his international regard, so a win over him would have definitely propelled Artem into the top ranks.

This bout is under K-1 rules. Yodsaenklai wears red gloves.

 

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Liverkick Exclusive Interview with Artem Levin

  • Published in Interviews

This week we had the pleasure of doing an Interview with Glory Middleweight Champion Artem "The Lion" Levin. Not only is he the best middleweight kickboxer in the world at the moment he is also a very humble, down to earth guy just like anyone of us. He's been doing martial arts from a young age and it shows in his fights by how confident he is and his ability to see attacks coming. We found it very interesting to hear what Artem had to say about certain topics. Here are both the English and the Russian version of the interview for everyone to enjoy.

LK: Hi Artem, just in case some people don't know can I ask your fight stats first? Height, Weight, Stance, Record and Titles (amateur and pro), and Age?

AL: hi. I’m glad to be interviewed. Height 190 cm, weight 85 kg, stance Orthodox, Professional kickboxing records : 50 Wins (33 (T) KO’s, 17 decisions), 5 Losses, 1 Draw Professional boxing record : 1 Win (1 (T) KO’s, 0 decisions), 0 Losses Professional.

TITLES - Pro: 2014 GLORY middleweight champion, Last Man Standing tournament winner (85 kg), 2011, 2010 current It’s Showtime World champion (77 kg), 2012, 2011 current WBC Muaythai World champion (79 kg), 2008 The Contender Asia Season 2 Russian qualifying tournament winner (72.6 kg), 2008 Battle of Champions tournament winner (72.6 kg), 2007 current WMC Intercontinental champion (76 kg), 2007 WMC EMF European champion (76 kg) * Amateur: 2014 Russian Muaythai champion (86 kg), 2013 SportAccord World Combat Games Muaythai champion (81 kg), 2012 IFMA World Amateur Muaythai champion (81 kg), 2012, 2011 IFMA European Amateur Muaythai champion (81 kg), 2010 SportAccord World Combat Games Muaythai champion (75kg), 2010, 2009 IFMA European Amateur Muaythai champion (75 kg), 2008 Busan TAFISA World Games IFMA Amateur Muaythai champion (75 kg) o 2007, 2006 IFMA Amateur Muaythai World champion (75kg), 2006 WMF Amateur Muaythai World champion (75 kg), 2005 WMF Amateur Muaythai World champion (67 kg), 2004 IFMA European Amateur Muaythai champion (67 kg), 2014, 2013, 2003-2011 Champion of Russia

LK: How did you get the nickname "The Lion" is there a good story about it? or did you just like it?

AL: Lev is a cognate word for lion in Russian. I was called that name since I’ve been a child. It has become a ringname when I’d got first professional titles. I’ve read and seen a lot of things about amazing lions. Now I am “The Lion”, at least I’ve got lion’s heart.

LK: What age did you start Martial arts, what did you start with, what got you into it, and did you ever imagine at 27 years old you would be Glory middleweight champion and have multiple world titles? Also I personally love your dancing entrances, they are one of my favorites, when did that start?

AL: I’ve started going in for muaythai since I was ten. My brothers always prepared me for boxing career, telling me that boxing is my fate. Thus I’ve always known I’ll become a champion. Even when first three years of practice I could win nothing. I appreciate my brothers’ work and talk raising me as a winner. I try to relax and enjoy the process. Movies with Van Damme led me to the gym. One of the best moments is his dancing in the bar from Kickboxer movie to sounds of Feeling So Good Today. I enter the ring with feeling so good and it will be a fine hunt for a lion. I’d be glad if somewhen Jean Claude will attend my fight.

LK: We have not heard too much from you since you won the last man standing tournament, what have you been up too?

AL: I won Russian National Championships in August. I’ve taken some rest after the great tournament. There were other things to get done. I’m in the game again, I’m hungry and I’m ready for the fights. And I’m excited to step in the ring. LK: Can you tell us the full Glory 17: Last Man Standing experience starting from arriving in LA to waking up next to your belt the next morning?

AL: I’ve been glad to see sunny Los Angeles after a very long trip. LA gives a sustained energy. I’ve been boxing here several times. But for the first time I was here with a large crew from Russia. Thanks to all my team. And other guys from US came to support me, from The Boxing Club of San Diego particularly. I’m on training camp here currently. There are my friends, so I haven’t been alone. I’ve walked on the ocean beach. The energy it gives. Nothing compares. I’ve taken power, force, strength from it to win the tournament. There were organizing issues, shoots, interviews and work outs each day. It exhausted me, but my team have made everything to make me feel ready and charged to the fullest by the start of the show. I’ve got no any powers after the tournament. I’ve gone out at the arena with no emotions. And couldn’t believe in that it’s real, it happens to me for a month.

LK: Also, this is a question I had to ask, What is your opinion of your first fight with Joe Schilling, especially the extra round and what did you adjust for the second fight to make sure nothing like that could happen again? Would you like to fight him one more time to show people the first time was lucky?

AL: It’s become the main motivation to the next fight. Everybody has seen what’s happened there. I’ve made a mistake in the second round, thought I’d won the fight already. And Joe punished me. It lead to extra round. Judges took away the victory, but it’s my fault actually. Scoring in GLORY is an interesting story. I can give out a point before the bell, because I know they will find a way to take it somehow. And again about the fight against Joe, I’ve been ready to everything, to Joe’s tactical and technical suprises, to judges’s surprises, that’s my aim was to come out and win undoubtely. Joe is a really considerable fighter, brave with strong heart. I support him always in other fights.

LK: I've always noticed that you also fight in the IFMA or SportAccord Muay Thai championships with headgear, shinpads and full gear, what keeps such an accomplished fighter like yourself going back to these tournaments every year?

AL: I have certain responsibilities before Russian Muaythai Federation. And I am the captain of Russian national muaythai team. I’m honoured to lead the team and to contribute to development of muaythai in Russia.

LK: Tell us about where you do most of your training?

AL: it’s my homeland, Prokopyevsk is a small town in Siberia. My coach is a man who made my first victory on local amateur championship at age of 13 and who was in the corner when I won prestigious world pro titles, including GLORY. He’s like second farther to me. I’m on training camp in San Diego’s The Boxing Club now.

LK: You have a new young talent Artem Vakhitov that you train with he is rated #6 in Glory right now, do you think he will become Glory Light Heavyweight champion this year? Also what happened with him no longer being in the Glory 18 tournament on Nov 7?

AL: It all depends on Artem. He’s young, hungry, ambitious and he wants the title. So, he’s able to achieve it. As far as I know he concentrates on health and recreation, not to worsen latest injuries. He will perform much better on the next events.

LK: Any talks with Glory about who you will be defending your belt against next? Or is there anyone that you want to fight next if you could choose?

AL: it doesn’t matter who is the opponent. You should win the strongest to be the best. There we no negotiations on the point. I don’t know what does the pause in sequence of events means. But as soon as the belt I mine, I’m opened for discussion with ace in my glove.

LK: Last question is one I like to ask every fighter:

  • Hardest Puncher you've fought? AL: Yodsaenklai Fairtex
  • Hardest Kicker You've fought? AL: Yodsaenklai Fairtex
  • Hardest Fight? AL: it’s yet ahead
  • Favourite Fighter? AL: Ernesto Hoost

Artem Levin about Manhoef vs Schilling on Bellator 131:

AL: It will be an amazing event. The advantage in the bout will be on Melvin’s side. He is more experienced and proficient in mixed fight. He will do much better in parter. Joe’s strong points are longer reach, he should keep distance and use knees. He should be self-reliant: be focused and maintain fight plan. Both fighters have a knock-out punch and this can result an interesting bout. I will support Joe and I will attend the event. If he needs any help in preparation for the fight I’m totally in. He’s congenial soul, he’s been around the block. I do respect Melvin though, if he’s fought

LK: Thank you so much for your time Artem, would you like to say a few things to all your fans, sponsors, trainers etc?

AL: Watch my fights. Follow me in instagram and twitter. Ask me. Let’s communicate. I thank my team, I appreciate your support. I enclose gratitude to my coach Vitaly Miller, to my manager Sergey Busygin, therapist Evgeny Startsev and my family. And I appreciate the support of Stroyservice company, which contribute to my career and development of muaythai in Russia.

LK: Thanks again Artem, all of us at Liverkick are huge fans of you and your style in the ring and are looking forward to you watching you defend the Glory title this year.

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ЛК: привет, Артем. Для тех, кто незнаком с твоей биографией, немного обзорной информации. Рост, вес, стойка, счет боев и титулы (любительские и профессиональные), возраст.

АЛ: доброе время суток !)рад отвечать на ваши вопросs !) рост 190, вес 85, правша. Счет профессиональных боев : 50 Побед (33 (Тех) Нокаутом, 17 Решением), 5 Поражений, 1 Ничья

Счет любительских боев: не ведет

Счет боев по проф.боксу: 1 Победа (1 (Тех) Нокаутом, 0 Решением), 0 Поражений

Титулы

Профессиональные

        2014 действующий чемпион GLORY, победитель 8-ки Last Man Standing (85 кг)

        2011, 2010 действующий чемпион мира It’s Showtime (77 кг)

        2012, 2011 действующий чемпион мира WBC Muay Thai (79 кг)

        2008 победитель отборочного турнира The Contender Asia Season 2 (72,6 кг)

        2008 победитель турнира Битва Чемпионов (72,6 кг)

        2007 действующий интерконтинентальный чемпион WMC (76 кг)

        2007 чемпион Европы WMC-EMF (76 кг)

Любительские

        2014 чемпион России (86 кг)

        2013 чемпион Всемирных игр боевых искусств (81 кг)

        2012 чемпион мира среди любителей IFMA (81 кг)

        2012, 2011 чемпион Европы среди любителей IFMA (81 кг)

        2010 чемпион Всемирных игр боевых искусств (75 кг)

        2010, 2009 чемпион Европы среди любителей IFMA (75 кг)

        2008 чемпион мира среди любителей IFMA на всемирных играх TAFISA в Пусане (75 кг)

        2007, 2006 чемпион мира среди любителей IFMA (75 кг)

        2006 чемпион мира среди любителей WMF  (75 кг)

        2005 чемпион мира среди любителей WMF  (67 кг)

        2004 чемпион Европы среди любителей IFMA (67 кг)

        2014, 2013, 2003-2011 чемпион России IFMA

ЛК: откуда твое прозвище Лев? Какая-то история за ним стоит? Или просто нравится так?

АЛ: вообще, на русском языке «лев» - это корень моей фамилии. С детства старшие товарищи и друзья называли так. Со временем, когда появились первые титулы, и я вышел на профессиональный ринг это само перетекло в рингнейм, но с детства я много читал о львах, смотрел передачи и восхищался им и теперь моя задача соответствовать ему. Сейчас я и есть "лев" или как минимум с сердцем льва!))))

ЛК: Во сколько лет ты начал заниматься боевыми искусствами? С какого вида начал? Что привело тебя в спорт? Думал ли ты, что в 27 лет ты станешь чемпионом Глори в среднем весе и будет столько титулов чемпиона мира? Лично мне очень нравится выход с танцами. Один из тех, что мне очень нравятся, как это появилось?

АЛ: я начал заниматься муайтай в возрасте 10 лет, но до десяти лет мои старшие братья вели со мной так сказать психологическую работу, что бокс это мое все, что я вырасту и стану чемпионом, поэтому я никогда не сомневался, что буду чемпионом. Даже когда в первые три года я не мог выиграть не одних соревнований. Спасибо моим братьям, которые так глубоко посеяли семя победителя в моей голове! Во время выхода на ринг я пытаюсь расслабиться и получать удовольствие от процесса. В тайский бокс меня привели фильмы Ван Дамма! И, естественно, я помню его танец в баре в фильме «Кикбоксер» под песню Feeling So Good Today)! И когда я выхожу на ринг, я чувствую, что сегодня должен быть хороший день и славная охота для льва!) Моя мечта, что бы Жан Клод присутствовал на моих боях когда-нибудь)))

ЛК: не было ничего слышно о тебе с тех пор, как ты победил в восьмерке «оставшийся в живых». Что у тебя произошло за это время?

АЛ: В августе я выиграл чемпионат России. Я отдыхал психологически после такого турнира. Плюс есть дела по мимо спорта. Сейчас я опять в деле, я голоден, я жду боев и мне не терпится выйти на ринг.

ЛК: Расскажи поподробнее про участие в турнире восьмерке ГЛОРИ начиная с приезда в ЛА до того как ты проснулся на следующее утро после боев чемпионом.

АЛ: После долгой дороги я был рад видеть солнечный Лос Анджелес. Опять он меня заряжает. Я не первый раз боксировал здесь. Впервые со мной приехала большая группа поддержки из России. Спасибо им огромное! Плюс много ребят со Штатов, в частности из клуба "The Boxing Club" в Сан Диего. Сейчас я провожу здесь сборы, и у меня много друзей в этом зале, так что во время боя я был не один. В обязательную программу входила поездка на океан. Его энергетика это нечто. Сила, мощь, могущество - это все я пытался взять себе в помощь на турнир. Ежедневно были организационные вопросы, съемки, интервью и, конечно, тренировочный процесс. Это все изматывает, но моя команда сделала все, чтобы к моменту начала турнира я был готов и заряжен на все 100. После турнира я был обессилен в первую очередь психологически. У меня абсолютно не было эмоций после того как я вышел из арены. На протяжении месяца я не мог поверить, что это сделал.

ЛК: еще один вопрос, который я очень хотел задать. Твое мнение о первом поединке с Джо Шиллингом, особенно по поводу дополнительного раунда. Готовился ли ты ко второму бою так, чтобы ничего подобного больше не произошло? Хотел бы ты еще один поединок с ним, чтобы доказать, что его победа в первом бое была случайностью?

АЛ: само собой это было одним из главных мотиваторов к бою. Вы все видели, что было в первом бою. Я допустил ошибку во втором раунде, подумав, что победа у меня в кармане, и Джо меня наказал. Это послужило поводом к допраунду. Судьи забрали у меня эту победу, но по большому счету это моя вина в первую очередь. А по поводу судей в ГЛОРИ это отдельная история. Я могу еще перед боем отдавать им по баллу, зная, что они все равно найдут повод снять его с меня во время боя. Возвращаясь к Джо, хочу сказать, что я был готов ко всему, к реваншу и к сюрпризам от Джо как в технике, так и в тактике, так и к сюрпризам от судей, поэтому моя задача была выходить и выигрывать, так что бы ни у кого не возникало сомнений. Что касается его, то это действительно достойный боец, храбрый с сильным сердцем. В других боям я практически всегда теперь болею за него!

ЛК: я хотел бы подчеркнуть, что ты участвуешь так же в чемпионатах ИФМА и СпортАккорда, где приходится одевать шлем, налокотники и другую защитную эпипировку. Что заставляет состоявшегося успешного бойца как ты участвовать в этих соревнованиях каждый год?

АЛ: У меня есть определенные обязанности перед федерацией тайского бокса России, и являюсь капитаном сборной России. Для меня честь поддерживать сборную и вносить свой вклад в развитие муайтай в России. ЛК: расскажи, где ты чаще всего тренируешься?

АЛ: Это родина моя. Маленький провинциальный город в Сибири – Прокопьевск. Мой тренер- это тот человек, с которым пришла моя первая победа в возрасте 13 лет на чемпионате города, и он же, с кем я завоевал все главные титулы в своей карьере, включая ГЛОРИ. Это мой второй отец. Сейчас я часто провожу сборы и тренируюсь в Сан Диего в "The Boxing Club"

ЛК: у вас появился молодой перспективный боец Артем Вахитов, с которым ты вместе тренируешься. Он 6 номер рейтинга ГЛОРИ сейчас. Как думаешь, станет он чемпионом ГЛОРИ в тяжелом весе в этом году? И что случилось, почему его нет в 4-ке ГЛОРИ18 7 ноября?

АЛ: Все в руках Артема. Он голодный, молодой, амбициозный, и он хочет этот титул. Думаю, что это вполне ему по плечу. Насколько я знаю, он решил уделить внимание своему здоровью, что бы не усугубить старые травмы и на следующих турнирах быть уже только лучше.

ЛК: обсуждали ли с ГЛОРИ кто будет следующим соперником на защиту пояса? Или кого бы ты сам выбрал на защиту?

АЛ: Мне без разницы с кем боксировать. Чтобы быть лучшим, нужно бить лучших. С ГЛОРИ мы не обсуждали. Я не знаю, куда они пропали, и с чем связана их пауза в турнирах. Но теперь пояс у меня, и я с удовольствием выйду на переговоры, но уже с козырем в своей перчатке.

ЛК: последний вопрос я задаю всем бойцам Самый сильный панчер из твоих соперников? АЛ: Йодсенклай Фейртекс ЛК: кто сильнее всех из твоих соперников бьет ногами? АЛ: Йодсенклай Фейртекс ЛК: самый трудный бой? АЛ: самый трудный бой еще впереди! ЛК: любимый боец? АЛ: Эрнесто Хуст

Это будет потрясающее событие. И думаю, в данном бою преимущество будет у Мелвина. Он более опытен и искушен в смешанных боях, и чувствовать себя в партере он будет себя намного лучше, нежели Джо. Что касаемо Джо, он крупнее, его конечности длиннее, он должен держать дистанцию и не подпускать Мелвина к себе, должен использовать колени. Я думаю, что все в его руках. Он должен быть сконцентрирован и делать свою работу, выполняя план на бой. Оба бойца могут ударить так, что велика вероятность нокаута, и этим уже бой будет интересен! Я буду болеть за Джо и буду присутствовать в зале. Если ему понадобится какая-нибудь помощь в подготовке, я сделаю все возможное. Этот парень мне близок по духу, он через многое прошел. Мелвина я уважаю, он достойный боец, и если бы он встретился в клетке с кем-то другим, мои симпатии были бы на его стороне. Обожаю его стиль. Он словно маленький бульдог, желающий разодрать своих соперников.

ЛК: спасибо, Артем, за уделенное время. В завершении беседы пару слов для твоих болельщиков, спонсоров, тренеров и тд.

АЛ: Следите за моими боями. Подписывайтесь в инстаграм и твиттер. Задавайте вопросы. Будем общаться. Спасибо моей команде, что они со мной, моему тренеру Миллеу В.В., моему менеджеру Бусыгину С.Ю., массажисту Старцеву Е.В. и моей семье. И большое спасибо компании «Стройсервис» за огромную помощь мне и развитию тайского бокса в России.

ЛК: еше раз спасибо Артем. Все мы в ливеркик твои болельщики и фанаты твоей манеры в ринге. Ждем с нетерпением защиты титула в этом году.

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Post-Glory 17 Matchmaking - Rematches galore

  • Published in Glory

As the dust settles after Glory's inaugural pay-per view event, I play role as matchmaker for the winners from this weekend’s epic night of fights.

Artem Levin vs. Joe Schilling III

Who honestly wouldn't want to see a third fight between these two? Levin was clearly the better man on Saturday however it was evident that Schilling was most definitely the most battle-worn going into the tournament final, after avenging previous losses over Wayne Barrett and Simon Marcus earlier in the night. A 5 round title fight later this year for the Glory Middleweight title seems like the perfect way to separate these two and would be a fitting end to a memorable trilogy for Glory. Expect to see it before the year is out.

Rico Verhoeven vs. Errol Zimmerman III

Verhoeven and Ghita’s rematch this weekend may not have been as exciting as the first meeting between the two, it finally cleared the air on who the number 1 heavyweight is as Verhoeven outpointed Ghita for a second time by Unanimous decision. Whilst many would argue that a third encounter between Verhoeven and Zimmerman would most likely play out similarly to their last fight, Zimmerman has since earned his right to fight for the belt by knocking out both Ben Edwards and Anderson Silva earlier this year to win the Glory Heavyweight contender tournament. It’s also worth noting that besides the champion Verhoeven and up and coming Romanian starlet Benjamin Adegbuyi, Zimmerman is the only other top 10 Heavyweight who is currently on a win streak. Zimmerman is owner of perhaps the most decisive loss of Verhoeven’s career, as he knocked out the champion in less than a minute back in 2012.

Joseph Valtellini vs. Nieky Holzken II

Whilst a few have disagreed with the decision, Joseph Valtellini became Glory's Welterweight champion this past Saturday with a split decision victory over now former champ Marc de Bonte. Valtellini controlled the first half of the fight by being the more active of the two fighters, with his best moment coming in the third as he sent De Bonte crashing to the mat courtesy of a right-high kick. De Bonte came alive after the knockdown though as the tide began to turn. De Bonte utilized his superb technical skills to pick away at Valtellini before an incredibly well timed step-in knee nearly separated Valtellini from consciousness. Although Valtellini recovered, it was clear he didn’t have much left in the tank, as de Bonte clearly won the last two rounds. Had it not been for Joe Schilling and Simon Marcus contributing a Fight of the Year candidate, the fight between De Bonte and Valtellini would probably have been most peoples pick for Fight of the Night. Although 'Bazooka' Joe will currently sit atop of Glory's stacked Welterweight division, most would argue that Dutchman Nieky Holzken is still guy to beat at 77kg. Holzken and Valtellini previously met last December, with Holzken finishing Valtellini with a crushing right-hook in the dying seconds of the fight.

Mirko Filipovic vs. Sergei Kharitonov

Kharitonov is still somewhat finding his feet in the Glory ring and has done relatively well in his short-stint thus far. Whilst a win over a 2014 Cro Cop doesn't do as much for Kharitonov's career as much as it would have a decade ago, Cro Cop is still 7-1 since returning to kickboxing in 2012 with the only loss coming consequence of controversial decision to the recently retired Remy Bonjasky. A victory for either guy will not likely propel them into title contention, it still allows to veterans of combat sports to finally do battle after years of competing on the same cards as each other.

Andy Ristie vs. Davit Kiria II

Like the other rematches I've listed above, this bout seems like a given. Ristie was cruising in their first bout before Kiria pulled off one of the upsets of 2014 with an incredible come from behind KO in the final round of their fight for the inaugural Glory Lightweight championship. Ristie put away No. 4 ranked Ky Hollenbeck, whom many thought would provide Ristie with one of the toughest tests of his career. Ristie passed the test with flying colors, destroying the American with a devastating left-hook a mere 30 seconds into the bout. Ristie seems as motivated as ever and will likely go into his rematch with Kiria as a substantial favorite.

Gabriel Varga vs. Mosab Amrani

Top Canadian featherweight Gabriel Varga cruised through his tournament field on Saturday night by handily beating Californian Shane Oblonsky and 19 year-old Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai, both by clear-cut Unanimous decision. Varga seemed to be in a league of his own at Glory 17, only losing a single round on one of the judge’s scorecards. Despite only being 5-5 in his last 10 kickboxing bouts, Moroccan Mosab Amrani has impressed greatly since signing with Glory last year, picking up victories over notables Liam Harrison, Marcos Vinicius and Yuta Kubo with his lone lose coming via a close decision to Masaaki Noiri in Tokyo last year. Not only does this bout make sense in terms of ranking and form, but also stylistically this bout would be a treat for the fans, as Varga would aim to utilize his speed and high output attack vs. Amrani's heavy-handed Muay Thai. This would be the ideal fight to crown Glory’s first ever Featherweight champion.

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Glory 17 and Last Man Standing: A Night to Remember (Part 2)

  • Published in Glory

The Last Man Standing PPV event started with the first tournament quarter final Artem Levin Vs. Alex Pereira. Let me just say how amazing it was to be able to watch a good kickboxing event in full HD on my TV without any hassle of hooking up my laptop, considering The Fight Network and Spike TV still don't have HD channels where I am. Levin basically had Pereira outclassed, he was doing whatever he liked, slipping and countering the very nervous looking Brazilian. When Pereira actually threw his punches like we've seen him do before he would either land or come very close, but he appeared to be to tentative and Levin's liver punches weren't helping. The Russian used his slick defense, counters and experience to coast to a (30-27 on all scorecards) Unanimous decision and moved onto the semi-finals with very little damage to his body.

The second tournament quarter final featured the always entertaining fan favourite Melvin Manhoef Vs. Filip "The Belgian Bull" Verlinden. As much as everyone I spoke to wanted Manhoef to get back to his violent ways and showcase one of his signature explosive knockouts, realistically we all knew it would not be easy. Manhoef was at a substantial height disadvantage, and Verlinden is a very technical fighter who really doesn't get hit very often. We were all on the edge of our seats because we know what Melvin is capable of, and he was stalking Filip and keeping him on the ropes waiting to pounce the entire fight. In the first round Melvin came in with a big overhand right and Verlinden moved left to avoid it and threw an absolutely beautifully timed head kick which caught Manhoef on the forehead and dropped him. Melvin seemed fine when he stood up, but hes lucky that kick didn't hit his chin, or else that fight would have been over. For the rest of the fight it was more of the same, Melvin stalking Verlinden as the Belgian moved, blocked and just won by having a much higher output and of course the knockdown in the first. One of the judges gave the fight 28-28 and the other two gave it 30-27 to Verlinden. Maybe that one judge was checking his text messages during the fight, because I don't personally see how he could have scored this fight a draw.

Joe Schilling Vs. Simon Marcus was the third quarter final match-up and the most exciting fight of the night. Most Joe Schilling fights have some sort of dramatic event and this time was no different. During the first round I felt Schilling was taking control of the fight but the referee was definitely giving Marcus an advantage by allowing him to clinch for longer than I thought was allowed. Nonetheless, the first round was for Schilling, the second round was more of the same, Schilling's hands are just much better than Simon's and he was putting them to use nicely, but what made this fight so exciting is that I wouldn't consider either man to possess the greatest defense. Simon finally pinned Joe in a corner and threw 4 straight punches as hard as he could and from what I could see his eyes appeared closed considering he is not used to throwing combos like this, the last straight right landed and dropped Schilling causing Marcus to win that round by two points. Schilling recovered well and won the third round the same way as the first and now of course they had to go to an extra round. As the extra round was starting Schilling looked the more fatigued of the two fighters, but about a minute into the round Marcus started dropping his mouth guard. This tactic is often used by a tired fighter to get a break or the mouth guard just doesn't fit well; however, it should be noted that this wasn't happening very often in the first few rounds. It seemed with every drop of the mouth piece Marcus looked more and more tired and Schilling seemed to just be maintaining his energy level. At this point Big John McCarthy had enough of the stalling and he took a point from Simon for dropping his mouth guard too many times. Therefore, Marcus now needed a knockout to win considering the extra round is judged as one single round and this is where Simon gained respect from a lot of people. He just went after Joe as hard as he could, Simon had 40 seconds to get a knockout and he was going to do everything in his power to do it but with only 20 seconds left he tried to repeat what he did to drop Joe in the second round but this time he got caught with a big right hook with his eyes closed and mouth open. The punch sent his mouth piece flying and  Marcus crashing to the mat stiff as a board. Joe Schilling moved on to the semi's avenging his 2 previous losses by knockout with 20 seconds left in the extra round and once again in dramatic fashion which had me jumping out of my seat, only thing was this was a war and there is a possibility of two more fights.

Fourth quarter final was American Wayne Barrett Vs. Bogdan Stoica from Romania. Barrett was keeping Stoica guessing with his foot work, boxing, and sometimes even randomly jumping straight into the air. Stoica, known for his flying knees, seemed to look a little more nervous than usual, this was his Glory debut after all. Not much was happening during the first two rounds, Stoica really couldn't get anything off because Barrett's footwork was too good. Early in the third round Stoica went for his signature flying knee but Barrett had already anticipated it and moved back the just the right amount while landing a perfect left hook counter on the chin of the airborne Stoica and crumbling him to the canvas. Barett moved on to the semis by 3rd round knockout and didn't take too much damage apart from a headbutt which gave him a nasty Rahman Vs. Holyfield like bump on his forehead.

While the tournament semi-finalists were resting Glory gave us two world title fights. They started with the welterweight title fight between current champion Marc De Bonte and Canadian "Bazooka" Joe Valtellini, this was a very close second place for fight of the night. Bazooka Joe started off controlling the pace and the ring by moving forward and throwing his usual combinations. De Bonte was covering up well, blocking most strikes and throwing counters which were landing, the first round was close but in my opinion De Bonte got it just for the cleaner strikes landed. Second round was all Bazooka Joe, he was throwing great combos, pushing the champion around and avoiding the few counters De Bonte threw this round. Third round Valtellini kept his momentum going with a beautiful hand combination consisting of both head and body punches which he followed by a quick head kick dropping De bonte flat on his back. De Bonte being the experienced fighter he is stayed down for the full eight count then stood up and amazingly seemed to have recovered to make it to the fourth round. Fourth round was big for the champion, it seemed like this was exactly what De Bonte had been waiting for the entire fight, he landed a perfect jumping switch left knee right on Valtellinis chin, he went down hard. Bazooka Joe doesn't have the experience De Bonte has so he tries to stand right away instead of taking his time and is still very wobbly on his feet while the ref gives him the eight count. De Bonte continued the onslaught and battered Valtellini around the ring for the rest of the round and the fifth and final round aswell, Valtellini stayed on his feet during the last round but he had zero offence as he was just barely surviving the whole round. If Glory judges were allowed give 10-8 rounds without a knockdown the fifth would have been one, but i do not think they are. Overall a very close fight, one knockdown and one dominant round for each fighter it all really depended on how the judges scored round 1 and all three judges saw it the same way 47-46 for the new welterweight champion "Bazooka" Joe Valltelini. Joe definitely has some serious work to do to keep the belt away from the man that knocked him out at Glory 13 in Tokyo, Nieky Holzken.

The Semi-finals of the tournament were much slower paced than the quarter finals, probably due to people being pretty beat up. Levin once again used his defense and slick style to not allow Verlinden to land anything while picking him off and winning a unanimous decision 30-27 on all cards. Joe Schilling met Wayne Barrett for a rematch and both fighters were a lot more cautious than they were in their first encounter. The fight was actually quite uneventful and close Joe Schilling won a split decision judges scores were 28-29 Schilling, 28-29 Barrett, and 30-27 Schilling, the last judge was out to lunch.

The heavyweight world title fight between Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita was far from exciting. It was much like their first encounter but with much less output from both fighters. To be honest I can barely remember anything significant from the fight, all that stuck in my mind was Ghita's Trainer Erik Van Warmerdam telling Daniel between rounds to keep waiting, or telling him that Rico was behind. It was very strange advice, something that I personally have never heard from a corner man. When the fight ended none of us watching could choose a winner, I would have hated to be a judge. Ghita did more visible damage with his body kicks, Rico's body looked all beat up and one of his ribs looked to be protruding, but Rico was busier and had much more output and looked to be controlling the pace for all five rounds. In the end the volume of strikes and ring generalship was more important to the judges and Rico Verhoeven kept his belt by unanimous decision, judges scores were 49-46, 49-46, 48-47.

The tournament final, another rematch for Joe schilling, he had already avenged his losses to Marcus and Barrett and now he had to beat Artem Levin to prove the first time wasn't luck. Schilling had been in two hard fights already and Levin was virtually untouched so this would not be an easy task. First round, once again Levin is controlling the fight by making Schilling miss, countering or smothering. Half way through the round Levin missed a right hook and came around with a perfect spinning back fist and dropped Schilling for a 10-8 round. The rest of the fight was just the Russian knowing he is the fresher fighter, ahead on the scorecards and the one with the superior defense. He won the next two rounds handily once again barely taking any damage and becoming the new Glory middleweight champion and $200,000 richer by unanimous decision, judges scores were 29-26, 29-26, 29-26.

Overall I enjoyed Glory 17 thoroughly, out of fifteen fights there was one lackluster bout. I'm really hoping that Glory continues with the PPVs and the under card on Spike TV so that fight fans can learn to appreciate kickboxing. As long as Glory fans keep supporting them, and Glory keeps putting on events like this I cannot see why it shouldn't become the next big thing in fight sports.

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GLORY Last Man Standing: Artem Levin Hype Video

  • Published in Glory

Artem Levin is one of those guys that when you mention his name, people who know Kickboxing have a full understanding that he's one of the best in the world and that when it comes down to it on June 21st, Levin is going to be one of the favorites in this tournament. He's run roughshod over the weight range for years in Muay Thai and Kickboxing and during his reign there have only been two men to ever defeat him; Simon Marcus and Joe Schilling. You'd have to think that Levin would be looking for revenge against either man, but will be happy no matter what with a win.

Of course, Alex Peireira has proven himself and maybe the world is overlooking him. 

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