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Glory 17: Glory Prepares to Distinguish Itself As a Combat Sports Brand

  • Published in News

Glory 17 is a turning point for Glory in many ways, marking its entry into the American PPV market by staging the largest, most significant kickboxing tournament on American soil in decades. But even more noteworthy than that, this event signifies the opportunity for Glory to truly distinguish itself as a unique combat sports product that is capable of delivering where other brands may falter, particularly the UFC. The UFC’s present difficulties are well known: problems with a ballooning roster, complaints about “boring” fights, and problems marketing fighters have led to great inconsistency in the quality of UFC events. Glory, on the other hand, has experienced few to no difficulties in this regard--and for very interesting reasons. In this article, I will talk about some of the things that I think make Glory a fairly unique entity in the combat sports world.

1. Each Glory weight class has more elite fighters than a single card can accommodate.

The Last Man Standing tournament is essentially a display of the entire Middleweight division, and it is a scary division, featuring Artem Levin, Joe Schilling, Simon Marcus, Wayne Barrett, Filip Verlinden, and Melvin Manhoef as well as dangerous contenders like Alex Pereira--all of these men are either champions, former champions, or fighters who have distinguished themselves against championship-level competition. Whereas some promotions might struggle to fill fight cards with less accomplished talent, Glory has the unique problem of struggling to fill fight cards with overqualified talent, bumping the likes of Levin to the non-televised SuperFight Series. If you ever find yourself wondering why a fighter like Giorgio Petrosyan gets to occupy the fourth slot on the Glory main card, it’s frequently because any Glory card could offer you a choice of several main event fights.

2. Glory has complete control of the rules of the sport.

No matter how many three or four-letter-name sanctioning bodies Glory will claim accountability to, the fact remains that Glory, as an organization in today’s combat sports market, is unique because of the complete control that it has on the rules of the sport. By frequently changing its clinch rules, its knockdown rules, and its 8-count rules, Glory has crafted and refined a viewing experience that is more fast-paced and exciting, producing a high volume of memorable fights and highlight reel moments. This is an ability that neither the UFC nor any other MMA organization possess, and the end result for them is a perpetual struggle to reconcile the Unified Rules of MMA with the type of fights that UFC wants to sell. Glory, by contrast, can eliminate any rule that negatively affects the viewing experience.

The flipside is that we also don’t have to talk about drug testing in the sport of Kickboxing. Glory is in a peculiar position here as well, operating between the lines of an oversight structure that is very dated and arguably unequipped to handle a multimillion dollar professional sport. Indeed, WKA’s official rules, published in 2011, leave drug testing up to the discretion of the “WKA supervisor, tournament promoters, and the official doctor,” who “can and may perform tests” but don’t necessarily have to do so unless directed by local law, making WKA’s actual responsibility very unclear. The procedure, standards, and logistics of testing are either mentioned in vague terms or not outlined at all. Glory, for its part, hasn’t forced the issue, leaving us to enjoy the fruits of ambiguity. In other words: don’t ask, don’t tell, and Pride never die.

3. Glory is learning how to market its fighters.

This is an issue that we’ve discussed several times here on LiverKick and which Dave Walsh expounded on in his excellent piece comparing kickboxing to the history of regional pro wrestling promotion. Behind every fight is an evolving narrative with at least two central characters, and as viewers, we’re interested in not only the fight itself but also in how the fight will determine the next chapter of the story. The promoter’s job is to build anticipation and interest in the fight and to illustrate what it means in the grand scheme of the division. With Glory 17, Glory has been proactive in producing media which tells us the story, including an excellent video on the rivalry between Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita. The authenticity of this rivalry (for the critics’ sake) is as irrelevant as the authenticity of the 2009 rivalry between Badr Hari and Alistair Overeem--it felt real at the time and it electrified the atmosphere at the Saitama Super Arena. As Glory gains screen time on television and PPV, promotional efforts like this will be increasingly vital to its success.

While Glory got off to a rough start, it seems like the organization has found its identity as a kickboxing promotion and major combat sports brand. It is undeniably a unique presence in today’s sports entertainment market. If this event is a success and the Glory audience continues to grow, I think that Glory could become a leading company. Until then, you will have to join me in keeping fingers tightly crossed.

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Lion Fight 12 Results and Highlights

  • Published in Americas

Lion Fight

Well, just like we all predicted, Lion Fight 12 made a big impression on AXS TV with some really entertaining fights tonight. We saw a Welterweight Champion crowned, we got to see Tiffany Van Soest once again show why she's one of the best female fighters we've ever seen and hell, we even got to see an elbow KO. Elbow KOs are a thing of beauty and somewhat unique to the sport of Muay Thai, which makes it a thing of beauty when it happens.

So here are the quick and dirty results as well as a highlight from AXS TV.

  • Lion Fight Welterweight Title: Fabio Pinca (R5 - UD) Malaipet
  • Tiffany Van Soest (R3 - TKO) Magali Foroni
  • Jason Andrada (R5 - KO) Mohammed Lemjerdine
  • Nick Chasteen (R5 - UD) Chris Culley
  • Stephen Richards (R5 - UD) Glen Spencer Jr.
  • Anthony Castrejon (R1 - KO) Miguel Rosales

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The Ratings are In: How Did GLORY 11 Do?

  • Published in Glory

Glory

So we've been doing some serious waiting on GLORY 11's ratings and they are finally in. What the numbers are telling us is that Kickboxing still has to develop an audience here in America, but there was a really solid start to this over the weekend at GLORY 11. In a few places I've gone on record saying that I felt that 200,000 - 400,000 were my expectations and that 500,000 would be a huge win for GLORY. Not everyone agreed with that, but the final numbers are in and they look to be exactly where they should be.

The average rating for GLORY 11 was 381,000 viewers, with the peak being 781,000 viewers. It should be noted that the peak came within the first quarter, which was most likely due to the lead-in from Spike's previous programming, which is Cops. Cops, somehow, draws over 1.5 million viewers in 2013 and it is safe to say that not all of these Cops viewers were Rico Verhoeven fans. Considering that this was GLORY's largest platform within the US to date and the first time that Kickboxing has seen a major audience in this long, consider this a solid first step.

The card featured primarily European fighters (with an Australian) whose prior exposure in the United States was only to the most hardcore of hardcore fans. It is actually admirable that they were able to pull in these kind or ratings with their core product and not by bringing in former UFC fighters to compete.

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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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GLORY Appoints New CEO, Next Show in October

  • Published in Glory

Things have been quiet on the GLORY front, which to many has been a bad sign, but we've been hearing reports from within the company about "big things" happening, including some shifts. The first of those shifts was announced today when GLORY unveiled that Jon J. Franklin has been appointed as the new CEO for the organization, replacing Andrew Whitaker. Whitaker will remain with the organization in an advisory role, working mostly with the television aspect of the brand.

Jon J. Franklin, based out of Denver, has been working with GLORY for a while now with his company, The Sports Entertainment Company. Franklin has also served in senior roles for IMG-Media, was President of Golden Gloves Boxing and worked with AP-X. His extensive history within the realm of boxing can only help GLORY further at this point. 

Some might be concerned over the change at this point, especially after a period of relative silence, but this is actually a good thing. This shows that GLORY is thinking to the future and that they are looking to revise their direction for the future. As someone who worked previously within the world of corporate PR and IR, CEO changes are a very common occurrence in many organizations, with the idea being to keep fresh ideas and direction for organizations. 

Also, according to an interview given to MMAMania, Franklin stated that they would be returning in October, which aligns with a statement we received from within GLORY about a month ago.

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Gokhan Saki Issues Statement About GLORY Contract Negotiations

  • Published in Glory

It didn't take long for Gokhan Saki to want to share with the world his side of the contract dispute that has been ongoing with GLORY for the better part of a year and a half now. Earlier this week GLORY announced that the GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship was vacated due to Saki not defending it for well over a year, with them even extending that period to attempt to work out a deal between the two sides. They were unable to come to terms, which from what we've heard has mostly been about money. 

Saki was making in the range of $200,000 per fight before and GLORY simply didn't see the value in such a contract considering how their other stars are compensated. This isn't boxing and it isn't top level UFC, sadly. The money just isn't there to justify exorbitant contracts. Early on in GLORY many stars were signed to bloated contracts which simply don't reflect the current market for kickboxing. For Saki there is interest from GFC who is willing to pay him and has proven that they are willing to pay for name stars, as seen by Badr Hari's working agreement with them.

Saki released a statement through kickboxing blog Kickboxing Planet early this morning that attempts to explain his side of the story. What's clear is that Saki is very, very upset over this, but the statement itself is, well, a bit rough.

Bellator fans, the people in the USA are not going to see top quality kickboxing and this is bad for the sport. When you win the belt on Sept. 19 you can keep the price money but I expect the winner to hand the belt over to me and acknowledge that he didn’t beat the best. I mostly don’t talk like this and maybe there are a lot of emotions right now. But now that I offended anyone, I did that on purpose and I’m not sorry about it.

During this rant he describes his social media following as a point of value of him over the competition within the division, going as far as to make claims that the rest of the division are nobodies compared to him. This statement is... not a good look for a fighter in the public eye and chances are if there was an open dialogue between GLORY and Saki's camp that dialogue has most likely been shut down. 

It's easy to sympathize with Gokhan Saki as he is without a doubt one of the best fighters in the world and has worked extremely hard to reach that level. Before the market imploded he was without a doubt one of the more valuable stars. Hopefully he is able to make the money that he believes that he deserves and will continue fighting for his fans across the world. 

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Buakaw Victorious Over Yoshihiro Sato at MAX Muay Thai IV

  • Published in Asia

MAX

MAX Muay Thai IV: Sendai went down over the span of last night in Japan in a night that promised some big action with Buakaw facing his stiffest challenge in years by the way of Yoshihiro Sato. They have met three times previous, with Buakaw holding two victories and Sato holding one. That one victory that Sato held was a third round knockout over Banchamek, which made this rematch all the more enticing for fans. Sato showed flashes of brilliance in the first round, but after Banchamek got warmed up he took control over the fight, with Sato not having an answer for Buakaw's sweeps and throws throughout. For many fans, this was an important fight for Banchamek, as his last loss was to Andy Souwer in 2009, but since then the level of competition has been called into question for his fights in Thai Fight and MAX Muay Thai. With Sato being a benchmark it is clear that Banchamek is still in top form against a solid opponent.

Jingreedtong walked away as the victor in the one-night tournament, as well as Aikpracha and HIROYA picking up big wins as well.

MAX Muay Thai IV: Sendai

Buakaw Banchamek (R3 - Decision) Yoshihiro Sato

Final: Jingreedtong (R3 - Decision) Dylan Salvador

Aikpracha Meenayothin (R3 - Decision) Tomoaki Makino

HIROYA (R3 - Decision) Sapanpetch Sit-Itisukato

Semi-Final: Jingreedtong (R3 - Decision) Alessandro Campagna

Semi-Final: Dylan Salvador (R3 - Decision) Yuya Yamato

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A Look at "The Machine" Andy Ristie Heading Into GLORY 20

  • Published in News

GLORY 20 might already be in the books, but if you are waiting to watch it tonight on Spike TV check out this feature that Shar Williams did on Ristie before GLORY 20.

Is he man, machine or a little of both? To fans around the world, Andy Ristie is "The Machine", a man with a fighter's heart and who is guaranteed to leave you on the edge of your seat while watching one of his match-ups. Beginning with his Glory debut in 2012, Ristie has blazed up the lightweight ranks leaving a path of destruction in his wake.

Since 2007, Ristie has faced Hinata Watanabe, Gago Drago, Albert Kraus, Niclas Larsen and of course, "The Doctor" Giorgio Petrosyan. His match-up against Petrosyan left crowds stunned in New York's Madison Square Garden in 2013, as Ristie dethroned Petrosyan during the lightweight world championship tournament and gifted Petrosyan with his first knock out ever. This defense again Kiria in Zagreb ended his reign. Risitie however takes this loss in stride, indicating that there were some problems in his corner and with his coaching. What Ristie, however, does not make is excuses. By Glory 19 in Virginia, Ristie was renewed. Having meticulously examined his loss and preparing for the future, Ristie was ready to begin his ascension again. And begin again he did with a decisive TKO victor in the first round again Steve Moxon.

But who is Andy Ristie, some of you might ask? Who is the man, who in such a short time has taken the kickboxing world by storm and endeared fan to him across the globe? After sitting down with Ristie and his team, I'm not sure if I can even answer that question. Sitting down with Andy, he exudes a warmth but also a sense of determination. He easily states that he's not afraid to fight anyone and will address the matches as they are presented to him. He's reflective when speaking of his loss to Davit Kiria, but in that reflection is also an analysis of how that fight went wrong for him and what he can do better in the future. Ristie states that he normally walks around at approximately 75kg, so cutting weight is not an issue for him and finally he expresses a willingness to try to things and take on new opponents irreguardless of their styles and exprerience. One tidbit of infomation I was able to glean from my converstaion with Ristie was that he came into kickboxing far later than most. Goes to show you that whether you start at age four or age twenty-two, if it's meant to be so it shall be. And this is Andy Ristie.

On pure stylistic terms, Ristie is a force to be reckoned with. In addtion to being taller than most of his opponents he has extremely long legs and arms often giving him an advantage to him against his opponents. Ristie's style is unorthodox and while he mgiht face the same opponent more than once I have to wonder if even they know what to expect. Last, but not least, Ristie likes to go for the knockout and his play between offensive and defensive maneuvers is something that has frequently led to that end.

Now onward to Glory 20 in Dubai where he is set for his second meeting with Robin van Roosmalen. Who will be the victor? Some say van Roosmalen, some say Ristie. Of what I am certain is that both men will get in that ring and give the fans everything they have!

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LiverKick Best of 2013: Fight of the Year

  • Published in News

Photo (C) GLORY

The year 2013 was a tremendous year for the sport of Kickboxing as we saw GLORY take aim at America as one of its home bases and really made some strides that I honestly thought we’d never see for the sport here. GLORY not only ran shows, but they ran a bunch of shows and those shows were attended by a good number of paying customers. Then, to top it off, GLORY moved from CBS Sports Network and internet PPVs to Spike TV, picking up steam and viewers with every show. That was a big deal.

GLORY wasn’t the only organization to make moves, either, as we saw another season of the SuperKombat World Grand Prix, the birth of LEGEND in Russia and K-1 starting to get the gears in motion by running both a Heavyweight World Grand Prix and a World MAX tournament within the same year. But which company did what doesn’t really matter, what matters are the fights and the fighters.

Throughout the coming week we’ll be looking at the best of 2013 throughout multiple categories, with yesterday being the Fighter of the Year and today instead turning to the fights themselves. There were a lot of great fights this year, but only one of them could be the Fight of the Year. Surprisingly enough, the Fight of the Year happened near the tail-end of 2013 in the GLORY 13 Welterweight tournament.

LiverKick 2013 Fight of the Year: Nieky Holzken vs. Joe Valtellini

This was a fight that had everything going for it. Throughout the year there were a lot of upsets in the major GLORY tournaments and fans didn’t always get what they wanted to see, but going into GLORY 13 the fans wanted to see Nieky Holzken square off against Canadian fighter Joe Valtellini and they got just that. Valtellini moved on to the finals after a beautiful headkick KO on Raymond Daniels while Holzken picked up a decision over Karapet Karapetyan, leading into what was the fight that the fans wanted to see.

This was a fight that had it all; drama, technique, momentum shifts and even ended with a knockout. If you are a Kickboxing fan this is the kind of fight that gets you excited and makes you want to share it with non-Kickboxing fan friends in an attempt to turn them. In this fight Valtellini showed any of the remaining doubters that he belongs in the top of the Welterweight division and can not only hang with the likes of Nieky Holzken, but get within a breath of taking Holzken out. Without a doubt a possible rematch is something to look out for in the future.

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