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Remy Bonjasky Deserves Better

  • Published in News

Bonjasky

Remy Bonjasky deserves better. He deserves better from the fans, he deserves better from his fellow fighters and he deserves better from GLORY.

Last night at GLORY 14 Zagreb we saw Remy Bonjasky’s career end in a fashion that would have made Harmonica from “Once Upon a Time in the West” feel uneasy. Remy Bonjasky’s career has cemented him as one of the all-time greats in Heavyweight Kickboxing, with three K-1 World Grand Prix victories under his belt. That puts him in the same category as fighters like Peter Aerts and Ernesto Hoost and Sem Schilt, as multi-time K-1 World Grand Prix champions who have nothing left to prove to the world. He belongs in the same breath as those fighters, yet it feels like he’s not taken as seriously by many.

Peter Aerts had a huge retirement ceremony at GLORY 13, with lots of fanfare and respect thrown his way, while Remy Bonjasky’s retirement was far more subdued, with Remy standing in the ring after his fight with Cro Cop being assailed by boos from the Zagreb crowd. There was no ceremony, no balloons, no post-fight interview on the broadcast, and there was no confetti, just a chorus of boos both in the arena and around the world from fans of Mirko Cro Cop who felt that Cro Cop was robbed. All of this while a three-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion stood in the ring for the last time with tears in his eyes.

This wouldn’t be the first time in Remy Bonjasky’s career that things wouldn’t go his way, in fact, it would be one of many incidents where things went horribly wrong for the Flying Dutchman. This is the same Remy Bonjasky that Saduharu Tanikawa, Stefan Leko and Badr Hari had dubbed as an “actor” in the ring. In the fight with Leko in 2007 there were multiple low blows delivered to Remy Bonjasky, who then took time to recover, leading to Leko and Tanikawa believing that he was faking his injury in the ring and that he wasn’t good for K-1. Then came 2008 where Badr Hari became frustrated in the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals, pushed Bonjasky over and stomped him on the head, leading to a disqualification in the biggest fight of the year.

Bonjasky would never live that moment down, which sounds ridiculous, Bonjasky had done nothing wrong. He was an actor for taking that DQ win, he was a fraud and he was afraid of Badr Hari. His family received multiple death threats after the incident in K-1 from both fans and alleged friends of Badr Hari. After running into Semmy Schilt in the K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 Bonjasky was forced into retirement by a recurring eye injury, a detached retina, that left his vision in question. With limited peripheral vision it would be difficult for Bonjasky to be able to participate in such a tough sport as Kickboxing, making it hard to see strikes coming at him, but he still came back. He still fought with limited vision.

For years he had discussed wanting to have a retirement fight, one last fight to go out on, but with Kickboxing in the state that it was, no one was willing to give Bonjasky a big payday for his retirement, as they felt his retirement was simply not worth the attention or the budget, that fans wouldn’t care. Things started to turn around when GLORY started booking events and that they wanted the Flying Gentleman to help bolster their Heavyweight division, seeing the addition of Bonjasky as instant-credibility. Things were alright for Bonjasky in the beginning, but it was clear that things had changed in those years off.

After last night’s win over Mirko Cro Cop Remy Bonjasky will walk away from GLORY with a record of 3-3, his storied career ending with a whimper, not a bang. Regardless of who you thought won between Cro Cop and Bonjasky, isn’t it safe to say that it is unfair to Bonjasky to boo him out of the arena for his last fight? This was known to be Bonjasky’s retirement fight for a while, why was it kept under wraps like that? Where was the big ceremony for Bonjasky? Why did he have to fight Mirko in his last fight in Mirko’s home town?

Remy Bonjasky has worked hard to earn the respect of the Kickboxing world, but it seems like it never came, even in his last fight. I hope that the years remember Remy Bonjasky for what he was; a dynamic fighter with great defenses, better kicks and the ability to feel a fighter out and to catch them off guard with a flying knee or kick from out of nowhere. He was one of the few men who would not only win the K-1 World Grand Prix once, but to win it multiple times and he has wins over some of the toughest Heavyweight Kickboxers to ever walk this earth. Last night felt like the Cro Cop show when it didn’t need to be just about Cro Cop.

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UPDATE: GLORY 14 Zagreb Ratings on Spike TV

  • Published in Glory

Kiria

GLORY 14 Zagreb this weekend was an awesome show for all that tuned in, Kickboxing fans old and new. A hot topic since GLORY has gotten onto Spike TV has been television ratings, as TV ratings determine how many viewers were watching and heavily influence the television network's decisions for the product moving forward. GLORY 13 saw a rating of 659,000 viewers, which was not only an increase, but a steady increase that showed that GLORY was here to stay. Saturday night's GLORY 14 delivered even more viewers than that.

According to reports, GLORY 14 Zagreb pulled in 851,000 viewers on average, which is another almost 200,000 viewer increase from GLORY 13. If Spike TV were to still have their doubts about GLORY and the Kickboxing product as a whole, GLORY 14 pulled in comparable ratings to Bellator 110, which featured Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and King Mo Lawal. Considering that some of the criticism towards GLORY has been not having ratings on the level of Bellator, this is a great step in the right direction and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw GLORY eclipse Bellator in the ratings in short order.

It is an exciting time to be a Kickboxing fan.

UPDATE: Interestingly enough, a blog dedicated to Nielson ratings got it wrong on this one. They didn't pick up 200,000 viewers, they shed 200,000 viewers. GLORY 14 Zagreb, after a three month absence on Spike TV, on tape delay going head-to-head with a Canelo Alvarez PPV got an average of 495,000 viewers with a peak of 588,000. No, those aren't the original, over-the-moon ratings reported, but they still aren't bad. Still around your average Bellator territory, honestly.

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Watch GLORY 14 Live on LiverKick

  • Published in Glory

GLORY

On March 8th GLORY 14 Zagreb will come to you live from Croatia with a huge, stacked card featuring a Middleweight Contender tournament, a Lightweight Championship bout between Andy Ristie and Davit Kiria as well as a blockbuster Heavyweight main event rematch between Mirko Cro Cop and Remy Bonjasky. This is truly an event to get excited for. If you live outside of the United States and want to watch all of the action live then look no further than your favorite kickboxing site, LiverKick.com. You can purchase the live stream here on Saturday March 8th and never have to leave the comfort of your favorite kickboxing site.

Glorious.

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A Look at GLORY 14 So Far

  • Published in Glory

Glory 14

GLORY 14 Zagreb is still a ways away, taking place on March 8th in Zagreb, Croatia, being headlined by Mirko "Cro Cop" Filiipovic vs. Remy Bonjasky, but it is the first big GLORY event of the year and should be an exciting one. Much of the card is still veiled in mystery, but then again, we have a month and a half before the event happens, which is a lot of time. What we do know is that there will be a Middleweight Contender tournament on the card.

 

  • GLORY 14
  • Cro Cop vs. Remy Bonjasky
  • Marc DeBonte vs. Nieky Holzken
  • GLORY 14 Middleweight Contender Tournament
  • Jason Wilnis vs. Sahak Paparyan
  • Thomas vs. Dustin Jacoby
  • Super Fight Series
  • Michael Duut vs. Igor Jukovic
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Davit Kiria is the NEW GLORY Lightweight Champion

  • Published in News

Photo (C) Dave Mandel / Sherdog

There was something in the air in Zagreb, Croatia tonight as Andy Ristie and Davit Kiria stepped into the ring. The swell of momentum was clearly behind Andy Ristie. Ristie had a night that would make anyone’s career in knocking out Giorgio Petrosyan and Robin van Roosmalen a few months ago, making him the top Lightweight in the world. Now all that he needed to do was go into a fight with the usually patient, defensive Davit Kiria and knock him stupid. Everyone was tossing their money onto Ristie for this fight and for good reason -- he is the best in the world.

Everyone was proven right early on in the fight, as Ristie was dominating round one, then knocking Kiria down early in the second round. Kiria fought back, but there was a feeling in the air that it was just a matter of time before Ristie found a way through Kiria’s air-tight defenses again and put him to sleep. Because that is what Andy Ristie does, he puts guys to sleep. The thing is, if this went into the deep waters beyond round three, what would that mean for Andy Ristie, who has been known to slow down even in three round fights?

Round four saw more of the same, with Ristie not slowing down. Kiria was landing a little bit more, but it was still nothing to be afraid of. A lot of people felt it was just inevitable, that we had to sit out two more rounds before Ristie was crowned as the first GLORY Lightweight Champion, adding to his tournament victory. Round five came and it was thick in the air; Kiria had to hit a Hail Mary to walk away with this, that everyone had started to celebrate Ristie’s win. Then something crazy happened; Kiria started landing and Ristie wasn’t going down, but was clearly hurt. The ref counted and the fans were in disbelief.

Now it came down to a matter of could Ristie hold on for the final bell, could Ristie just hold on and win his championship? Kiria came in like his life depended on it, landing a huge shot on Ristie that sent him down like a character from Mike Tyson’s Punchout into the ropes. This was insanity, Andy Ristie down for a second time in the fifth round! Ristie struggles to his feet and the ref lets it keep going, but Ristie can barely stand. Just a few more shots by Kiria put him onto the mat and the arena explodes as Davit Kiria is crowned the first ever GLORY Lightweight Champion.

The truth is that it was never impossible, that Andy Ristie always had these holes in his game, he just had risen to the top of the division and looked untouchable. Davit Kiria has always been a fighter that has looked great, but never seems to get started in three round fights, but when given five rounds against the best in the world, Davit Kiria overcame all of the odds and found himself as the number one Lightweight in the world.

Congratulations, Davit Kiria, you deserve it.

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A New Chapter for Cro Cop Ahead of Glory Debut

  • Published in News

Glory

Peter Aerts has shown us that while a 40-year-old body that has endured a lifetime of physical punishment may not respond as vigorously as it once could, a smart gameplan can still provide a path to victory for an older fighter. Aerts’ shocking upset of Semmy Schilt in 2010 and near upset of Rico Verhoeven in 2013 was a testament both to his unreal physical and mental toughness as well as to his ability to execute an effective gameplan that pushed his opponents out of their desired fighting styles. Indeed, adapting and finding a way to win is both Peter Aerts’ unique forte and the source of his career longevity, remaining in the top-10 across multiple decades and generations of fighters.

When 39-year-old Mirko Cro Cop makes his Glory debut, he will find himself in a division full of dangerous young opponents ranging from skilled technical fighters like Rico Verhoeven to bloodthirsty knockout artists like Daniel Ghita, Gokhan Saki, and Errol Zimmerman. After enduring years of trauma fighting through the ranks of K-1, Pride, and the UFC, Cro Cop will have to fight smart, trading physical prowess for intelligent and perceptive kickboxing. He will have to become a crafty and tactically adept fighter to stay afloat in a shark tank of heavyweight talent.

Perhaps sensing the need for reinvention, Cro Cop has actually developed a close-ranged dirty boxing style in his return to kickboxing. This tactic appears to have paid off for the Croatian, who has now gone 6-0 with notable wins over SuperKombat veterans Ismael Londt, Pavel Zhuravlev, and Loren Javier Jorge as well as young American upstarts Randy Blake and Jarrell Miller, controversial home town decisions notwithstanding. While his new style may not please those who wish to see Cro Cop turn back the clock, the move reflects Cro Cop’s growth as a fighter and signifies his maturing expectations. It’s a wise decision that has allowed him to remain competitive in today’s kickboxing world.

While a fight against semi-retired Remy Bonjasky may not necessarily provide great insight into Cro Cop’s place in the heavyweight division, it will undoubtedly offer kickboxing fans around the world the chance to see one of the great legends of the sport return to the sport’s grandest stage, and in 2014, following a year of upsets which saw long-held titles, ranks, and orthodoxies overturned, Cro Cop may have some surprises--which hopefully include some vintage LHK finishes--left in store.

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Kiria In - Ky Out vs. Ristie at GLORY 14

  • Published in Glory

GLORY

Changes are afoot for GLORY 14 Zagreb as what was originally slated to be a Lightweight World Championship fight between Andy Ristie and Ky Hollenbeck has changed with little fanfare or explanation to Andy Ristie vs. Davit Kiria. Davit Kiria currently sits at the #3 spot in GLORY's Lightweight rankings compared to Ky who is at #5, which is a possible explanation, but you'd think this would have been sorted out before the fight is announced. There is no word is this is due to injury, television intervention or some other issue.

Few fans will lose sleep over it, though, as Andy Ristie vs. Davit Kiria is indeed a fine fight, with the winner walking away as the GLORY Lightweight Champion. We've reached out for comment from both GLORY and Hollenbeck's team and hope to have more on this shortly.

UPDATE: Here is a statement from GLORY regarding Ky Hollenbeck and GLORY 14.

"GLORY regrets that Ky Hollenbeck will not be able to fight on the GLORY 14 ZAGREB card," GLORY officials confirmed with LiverKick.com today. "However, the company is pleased to report that Ky’s second lifelong ambition -- besides fighting for GLORY -- to be a firefighter, is on its way to becoming a reality, as he has been accepted to test for a job with the US Fire Department."

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Remy Bonjasky Victorious in His Retirement Fight Against Cro Cop

  • Published in News

Remy

Tonight in Zagreb, Croatia fans across the world got to say goodbye to the legendary Remy Bonjasky at GLORY 14 Zagreb. It was a tall task for Bonjasky, who was stepping into the ring with local hero Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic with a rather biased crowd. It didn’t matter, though, as Remy Bonjasky has steppe into the ring with the odds against him in the past before. This was a chance for redemption for Remy Bonjasky, a rematch from twelve years ago that saw Mirko Cro Cop walk away victorious.

It was three tense, close rounds fought by both men. Both Mirko Cro Cop and Remy Bonjasky’s styles have changed as they’ve aged and accumulated injuries, with Cro Cop relying on a more punch-heavy style and Bonjasky more on defense with the hands and offense with the legs. This was the story of the fight, as Mirko would swarm with the punches while Bonjasky would defend, then circle away to get distance and lay into Mirko with body kicks.

Many fans are going to be unhappy about the decision in this fight, though. Cro Cop was a bit more aggressive throughout, but the shots weren’t doing a lot of damage and Bonjasky was never in much trouble. Bonjasky was fighting as he tends to do, but his kicks were landing and landing heavy. This made for an incredibly close bout that fans of both fighters will be disputing for years to come, that being said, Remy Bonjasky’s hand was raised at the end of the night.

Remy Bonjasky has had a tremendous career and it is sad to see him go, but the persisting vision problems as well as years of injuries have made it tough for him to compete against the younger, quicker fighters of today. What we can say is that both men are legends and that nothing, no win or loss, can take that away at this point. I’m genuinely saddened that we won’t have another chance to hear “The Man with the Harmonica” again to lead Remy Bonjasky into the ring, but I was happy to see him walk away from the sport with a victory.

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GLORY 14 Zagreb Card

  • Published in Glory

GLORY 14

On March 8th in Zagreb, Croatia the first GLORY event of the year, GLORY 14, will take place. GLORY 14 is set to be a big start for the year with a huge headline bout between two K-1 legends in Remy Bonjasky and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. To top it off there will be a Lightweight World Title fight between Andy Ristie and Ky Hollenbeck where the winner walks away with the championship. Then, of course, there is a Middleweight Contender tournament.

 

  • GLORY 14 ZAGREB
  • Headline Bout: Mirko Filipovic vs. Remy Bonjasky
  • Tournament Final Bout C: Semifinal Bout A Winner vs. Semifinal Bout B Winner
  • Co-Headline (Lightweight World Title) Bout: Andy Ristie vs. Ky Hollenbeck
  • Tournament Semifinal Bout B: Dustin Jacoby vs. Alex Pereira
  • Tournament Semifinal Bout A: Sahak Parparyan vs. Jason Wilnis
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Glory 14: Why We Need More Five-Round Fights

  • Published in News

Ristie/Kiria

The conclusion of Glory 14 saw kickboxing legend Remy Bonjasky hang up his gloves after a hard-fought three round battle with Mirko Cro Cop that featured moments of vintage greatness from both fighters. Remy actively landed his signature kicks and knees while Cro Cop connected with thundering high kicks and powerful punches. Some fans may find fault with the decision, but I feel that it was rendered appropriately as Bonjasky landed more cleanly with his knees in the first two rounds, taking the fight two rounds to one. But did that mean that both fighters were done fighting? Hardly. Cro Cop turned up the pressure in Round 3, cornering Bonjasky and landing hard punches in the pocket. As controversial as fans may see the decision, there is no doubt that a fight of this magnitude should have been a five round fight.

The lack of five rounds is a curiosity in the sport of kickboxing. An ongoing staple of Muay Thai, the kickboxing world has largely spurned the concept, preferring a 3x3min structure originally set in place by K-1. This might be seen as a way to streamline the action, giving fighters a more limited time frame to make their case for the win and preventing fighters who are ahead on the scorecards from coasting through rounds. Indeed, “speeding up the action” is a reason that’s been frequently utilized to justify many of Kickboxing’s more unusual rules, particularly its controversial and often inconsistent clinch rules. While it’s unusual and remarkably savvy for promoters to tailor the rules of the sport to suit their product, the flipside in this particular case are lost opportunities to see great fights live up to their full potential.

Take Andy Ristie vs. Davit Kiria, for example. This was a fight that like Bonjasky vs. Cro Cop, could have ended after three rounds with a clear decision in favor of Ristie, yet like the Bonjasky fight, gave us a glimpse of what was possible in Rounds 4 and 5. Davit Kiria was still in the game after three rounds, turtling up Albert Kraus style and taking heavy punishment from Ristie while returning with counters that were increasingly finding their mark. The pendulum was beginning to swing, and there was a palpable sense that Kiria could gain control of the fight. Ending the fight after Round 3 would have deprived audiences of the best comeback of the year so far.

Kiria, like Remy Bonjasky and Buakaw in the past, is a slow starter whose essential style is not rewarded by current Kickboxing rules. These men typically open with careful, more conservative movements, studying their opponent in the early frames and then intensifying their offensive output in later rounds. This may not satisfy those who would prefer a consistently fast tempo for the fight, but I would argue that this cerebral style of fighting has an appropriate place in the sport, creating intrigue and suspense. A chess match is a great spectacle in and of itself, especially when it involves two elite competitors. Alternatively, a five round fight also allows us to see a knockdown, drag-out brawl like Chahid vs. Mike Zambidis or a tense affair like Artem Levin vs. Joe Schilling come to a more definitive conclusion. While Glory would undoubtedly have to adjust its pacing and structure its fight cards appropriately to accommodate a five round fight, Kiria vs. Ristie has clearly illustrated that the results can be magnificent, title or not.

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