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Tyrone Spong vs. Gokhan Saki Possibly Headlining GLORY's Spike TV Debut

  • Published in Glory

Spong

GLORY is planning something big for their Spike TV debut. Originally the bout which was set for the fall was Semmy Schilt vs. Gokhan Saki, with Saki challenging for Schilt's Heavyweight Championship, but as we now know, Schilt showing up is a long shot at best. Glory have been pushing for Schilt to continue fighting, but with Bas Rutten's announcement on Monday it seems like everyone is admitting that Semmy Schilt is probably not going to continue fighting.

The rumored headlining bout for the GLORY Spike TV debut is none other than Gokhan Saki against Tyrone Spong, which makes a lot of sense as both men are more popular among American audiences and are the top fighters in Glory's rankings (of course Daniel Ghita sits in between them, but it happens). Tyrone Spong was the headliner for GLORY's American debut in New York City, winning the Light Heavyweight Slam tournament.

The two met in 2009 in K-1, with Gokhan Saki defeating Spong via TKO in an Extension Round.

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How K-1 Blew it and Let the UFC Become Huge on Spike TV

  • Published in K-1

K-1

This video is both fascinating and frustrating, as Albie Hecht, the founder of Spike TV sits down to talk about how the deal between Spike TV and the UFC first came to be. As we all know, the UFC's deal with Spike TV happened and it opened up the market to MMA and helped to save the UFC from an untimely demise. The UFC and MMA in general might have never "boomed" if it weren't for the support of Spike TV.

What's the worst part as a Kickboxing fan? Knowing that it could have been K-1 instead, but that Ishii and K-1 in general back then kind of blew it by being as shady as we all knew that they were. This video is utterly fascinating in that Spike went FIRST to Japan to speak with K-1 before the UFC and that Ishii believing that Hecht insulted his geisha led to K-1 being more than just a Japanese brand and possibly the biggest combat sports brand in the world went up in smoke just like that.

As we've known, K-1 rarely thought about the American market in a serious way, as multiple K-1 USA heads (Scott Coker and Mike Kogan) have spoke about how shows in the US were geared towards Japanese audiences and television and more for saying that they ran shows in the US than to build up the brand and sport here in America. Even when both tried to build up K-1 in the USA, K-1 seemed disinterested in any money coming from the US. Just bonkers. We all do remember K-1 blowing it in China a few years ago, too, right? FIKA? Thanks to our old mothership for the discovery.

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GLORY CEO Andrew Whitaker Talks SuperFight Series and More

  • Published in Interviews

GLORY

When it comes to Kickboxing, there is nothing hotter right now that GLORY Sports International, best know for the GLORY Kickboxing events. GLORY houses some of the Kickboxing world’s greatest talents and have been putting on some of the best shows in the sport for over a year now. GLORY began when Pierre Andurand and Marcus Luer teamed up with Golden Glory, who had some success with their own Ultimate Glory and Glory World Series events, to make the promotion that we know now, and since then it has been growing rapidly into one of the top combat sports leagues in the world.

LiverKick sat down with GLORY Sports International’s CEO, Andrew Whitaker, to discuss all things GLORY and what is in store for the promotion in the near and far future. Whitaker initially served on the board of directors for GLORY Sports International before transitioning to the CEO position this January and it has been an interesting transition for him, coming from a background in entertainment and sports entertainment, previously working at Kings Highway Media and most notably for WWE. His career within the WWE spanned many years and many positions, placing him in a rather unique position when it comes to producing sports entertainment television and expanding a business on an international scale.

The transition for Whitaker was one that forced him to get down and really learn about the business before he took the reins of the company this year. “Obviously there was a period of immersion to all things GLORY kickboxing. As you know, I obviously worked in entertainment for many years, albeit working with the sports business as well with my former employer. It was more the sports and entertainment businesses, as it was more efficient to do so. In that sense, the licensing people in sports, the live events people in sports on a global basis, the media rights people in sports on a global basis are all people that I’ve been working with for a very, very long time. While I come from what is a very successful entertainment brand and helped grow a global entertainment brand, the transition for me to sports was more about me learning about the specific sport of kickboxing than it is on a business-to-business basis, or a business-to-consumer basis that we have here in America and globally.”

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GLORY 11 Was Kickboxing's American Coming Out Party

  • Published in Glory

GLORY 11

Yesterday was a pretty tense day for me and a few other people, as GLORY made their Spike TV debut with GLORY 11. For me, I've been running Kickboxing-oriented sites for about five years now, which as an American can be a rather losing endeavor. Kickboxing in the United States hasn't had a fair shake in a very long time, with the rise of the UFC in the mid-90's decimating whatever was left of Kickboxing and made Mixed Martial Arts the new attraction. This meant that all of the new, up-and-coming talent moved to the new world of MMA where there was money to be made.

Kickboxing and America have a rather sordid history, as at one time America gave Kickboxing a chance and it never really caught on like it should have. Part of the problem came from the confusing rules and just how different it was from everything else. Many were talking about last night as if it were the first time on a major American television network that Kickboxing programming had aired, but that is just not true at all. Kickboxing appeared network television in the 70's, as PKA had deals with ESPN in the 80's while also making brief appearances on CBS. This continued until around 1986 or so when the PKA, like any other big Kickboxing organization, was brought down by rumored criminal ties and for being run poorly.

This is Kickboxing's plight.

Last night was Kickboxing's first real chance in America in almost 30 years, only this time things were different. There were no foot guards, no long pants, the rules are based on the modified Muay Thai and Kyokushin rules that K-1 made famous in the 90's. Of course, GLORY has a few modifications to their rules which sets them apart, including a flash knockdown rule that fans and fighters can't seem to wrap their heads around (or even know it exists!). The product that GLORY presents is big on showmanship and provides high octane action.

For many Kickboxing purists, GLORY 11 wasn't the greatest show ever, as Heavyweight is one of the most maligned classes for the hardcores, but from a pure entertainment value it was unbeatable. GLORY had to hit a home run in their Spike TV debut, which is exactly what they did. There were definitely some kinks to work out in the production, but it was a professional presentation that made other Spike TV programs, like Bellator, look that much worse. Absolutely every fight on the broadcast delivered and it was fitting that a new star was born in Rico Verhoeven.

While the ratings for this show will give us an idea of who was willing to try Kickboxing on for size, all signs tend to be pointing towards GLORY 12 pulling in bigger numbers and attracting more and more fans. The live reactions from last night all throughout social media should be telling enough, as everyone who watched GLORY 11 walked away satisfied and exciting about the sport of Kickboxing, which is all that this peddler of an obscure sport could ask for.

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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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Why Giorgio Petrosyan on Free Television is Must-See

  • Published in News

Petrosyan

There is a term that fans in the combat sports community tend to throw around a lot, to the point where the meaning has become dubious at best. That term is GOAT. If you are somehow blissfully unaware, GOAT stands for “Greatest of All Time.” In a lot of cases, it is difficult to use such a term as, well, let’s be honest here, most of these fighters haven’t been competing for long enough to really get a beat on where they’ll stand in the Pantheon of Combat Sports. This preface is to explain how the term shouldn’t be taken lightly just so I can really explain to you how important it is to be able to use this label for Giorgio Petrosyan without any sense of irony.

Giorgio Petrosyan is other-wordly. There is just no doubt about it, when you are watching Giorgio Petrosyan you are watching the most skilled Kickboxer that we’ve ever seen in the sport’s rich history. Petrosyan earned the nickname “The Doctor” for his surgical-like precision with his hands and feet, with his ability to take little-to-no damage against some of the best strikers in the world while slipping strikes and landing them from every angle imaginable. In fact, the only knock on Petrosyan seems to be his proclivity to break his left hand, which has led to Knockouts becoming more and more scarce for him.

The fact that on Saturday evening American audiences will be treated with seeing Giorgio Petrosyan fighting (possibly twice) on free television seems to be lost on many with the leadup into GLORY 12 New York. Sure, there are a lot of great names on the card and a lot of great fighters featured, but none have accomplished the things that Giorgio Petrosyan has. Giorgio Petrosyan holds two K-1 World MAX Championships as well as last year’s GLORY 70kg Slam Championship with many believing that this year will be yet another 70kg tournament victory for him.

I’m under no illusion of Giorgio Petrosyan becoming a huge draw in the United States or that American fans are going to tune in by the millions this weekend to watch the best pound-for-pound fighter -- potentially in all combat sports -- compete and make the best in the world look like frustrated amateurs, but the hope is that maybe, just maybe a few new fans will see the technical master that is Giorgio Petrosyan and fall in love with the sport in a whole new way.

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Why Kickboxing Fans Should Rejoice About Bellator's Changes

  • Published in News

In case you haven’t heard already, it was announced today by Bellator that Bjorn Rebney has departed from the organization and that his replacement is former Strikeforce head Scott Coker. Coker was restricted under his deal with Zuffa from competing with them until March of this year, which was when Viacom began making a play to push Rebney out and to replace him with Coker. The rumors are no longer rumors and it is indeed now fact; Scott Coker is the new head of Bellator and Bjorn Rebney is out.

Now, I’m sure that you are asking yourself; why does this matter to Kickboxing. The answer is a long one, which you already knew because I only give long answers. GLORY is on Spike TV and in case you haven’t noticed, GLORY has had problems gaining much power with Spike TV since they joined up with the network. GLORY’s ratings have been just as good as Bellator’s have been and they’ve done so with a whole lot less backing compared to Bellator.

See, Bellator had a majority share sold off to Viacom a few years ago, making them not only a part of the Spike TV family, but embedded into the very essence of the network. Viacom now had a stake in not only Bellator’s survival, but its growth and prosperity. While I can’t speak firsthand of Bjorn Rebney, there have been reports for years about how he does business and that the way in which he handled Bellator wasn’t much different. I remember balking at the leaked Bellator contracts when the promotion first began, then we all remember the contract disputes with guys like Eddie Alvarez and Ben Askren.

It’s safe to say that not many in the fight world are big fans of Bjorn Rebney. Kickboxing fans shouldn’t be, either. You’d think that with GLORY under the Spike TV umbrella that there were natural crossover appeals for Bellator and GLORY, in fact, better crossover appeal than between Bellator and TNA Wrestling. Yet the crossovers that we saw were between Bellator and TNA Wrestling, TNA being a distant second place to the WWE and has been in constant financial and creative turmoil for years now. Not even pro wrestling fans like TNA Wrestling (you could argue that MMA fans don’t like Bellator, either, but that’s another story). 

So why not work with GLORY?

The answer is simple; GLORY is a great, polished and professional product. It offers something exciting and if people watch it, they fall in love with it. Bellator on the other hand has had to struggle for any gains in viewers and at times had to sacrifice their “vision” of tournaments to even attract marginal attention from the MMA press and fan base. We’ve had many reports that Rebney considered GLORY as the competition for Spike’s and Viacom’s affections, not something that he could work with and form mutually-beneficial deals with.

GLORY is on the rise and is doing so through rather modest means, while Bellator has had to dip into Viacom’s coffers to push expensive stars like Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz as real competition. While I can’t speak to boardroom affairs or meetings that happened behind closed doors, there has been a sense that a reason why we haven’t seen more GLORY programming on Spike TV or more support for the GLORY brand had a lot to do with Rebney’s attitude towards Kickboxing and GLORY. 

This is why the inclusion of Scott Coker is like a beam of light through a cloudy day for GLORY and Kickboxing fans right now. Scott Coker’s history is one that is rich not only in Mixed Martial Arts, but Martial Arts in general. Scott Coker was a longtime Kickboxing promoter, even working for K-1 on their US events. Before you rag on those events, remember that K-1 gave him extremely limited resources for those events and that any of the good that came for K-1 USA came through Scott and his very talented and motivated team (later on Mike Kogan had similar struggles but did an admirable job as well).

Scott Coker isn’t afraid of Kickboxing, in fact, Scott Coker loves Kickboxing. Kickboxing is how he broke into the world of promoting fights and nobody in the United States did it as successfully as Coker did it. Scott Coker also isn’t afraid of working with other brands on mutually-beneficial arrangements. Strikeforce came into prominence through a landmark deal with EliteXC that brought Strikeforce’s fighters, following and respect to PPV with some of EliteXC’s big names that they had signed, making for truly memorable events. It later led to Strikeforce absorbing EliteXC and becoming the #2 promotion in the world overnight. 

Now, do we think that things are going to immediately get better? Probably not. In fact, it might take a while. Scott Coker might bring about change, but Scott Coker still has to answer to Viacom at the end of the day and without a financial stake in GLORY they might not see the value in pushing it too hard. Then again, there is a contract in place and they are paying GLORY for the programming, so it makes sense to maximize the brand to its fullest and I see no reason why Scott Coker and Bellator would turn away a chance at working with another successful, unique brand to help build credibility for both. 

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The LiverKick.com GLORY 12 Preview

  • Published in News

Glory

GLORY 12 New York is tomorrow, live on Spike TV at 9PM Eastern featuring a one-night, four-man Lightweight tournament as well as a main event showdown between Joe Schilling and Wayne Barrett. This is GLORY’s second outing on Spike TV, which makes it a pretty big deal, this also means that you should be tuning in without doubt or question, as the best in the world, Giorgio Petrosyan, is going to be live on free television.

This, my friends, is our breakdown of the card from top-to-bottom with predictions included.

 

  • Lightweight Semi-Finals: Robin van Roosmalen vs. Davit Kiria -- This is going to be an incredibly exciting war between two of the world’s finest Lightweights. Davit Kiria is a guy who came from relative obscurity, given a chance due to training with Dave Jonkers and Semmy Schilt on early GLORY events before they realized that they had something special. These two fought back in 2011 while Robin van Roosmalen was on the rise, with Kiria’s technical style neutralizing RvR’s go-for-broke brawling style. Kiria has grown a lot as a fighter since this last fight and I feel like both men are going to look to put on a show. Kiria’s win over Murthel Groenhart shows how capable he is at handling aggressive fighters now, I think that he shocks fans with a win.
  • Prediction: Davit Kiria
  • Lightweight Semi-Finals: Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Andy Ristie -- Poor Andy Ristie. Ristie has been a star on the rise in the last few years, with his exciting style and his affable personality making him a fan favorite. Since stepping up in competition though, the fireworks have been halted for Ristie a bit, as he’s had problems running through the competition like he was known for before. Giorgio Petrosyan is his stylistic nightmare and outside of a cut or Petrosyan breaking his hand and being unable to continue, I think we all know Petrosyan walks away with the W.
  • Prediction: Giorgio Petrosyan
  • Lightweight Tournament Reserve Bout: Warren Stevelmans vs. Ky Hollenbeck -- After a bit of reshuffling we end up with this fight as the tournament reserve and honestly, Ky Hollenbeck deserves this spot. Hollenbeck is one of the few Americans who has made a big statement of late and has shown to have the skill and determination to be a player in the elite field. Warren Stevelmans is nothing to scoff at as a fighter, but I feel like Ky is on a roll right now. Man, whatever happened to Sanny Dahlbeck?
  • Prediction: Ky Hollenbeck
  • Jamal Ben Saddik vs. Ben Edwards -- A clash of the titans! A Heavyweight showdown between two burly guys! I’m mildly excited about the debut of Big Ben, who has really helped to refine his style over the past few years and has been showing a lot more in the way of technical chops. Jamal Ben Saddik is also a big dude with a lot of power, but I’m not sure how to really feel about him in the grand scheme of things at Heavyweight. Is JBS going to be an elite fighter, or is he just a guy who got a few good wins and will be a gatekeeper? This fight helps to determine this.
  • Prediction: Ben Edwards
  • Joe Schilling vs. Wayne Barrett -- It’s East Coast vs. West Coast in the battle of Middleweights. Joe Schilling has long been one of the biggest names in America for Kickboxing and Muay Thai and his huge win at GLORY 10 in the Middleweight tournament has shown that he had a lot of people talking about him for good reason. Wayne Barrett is a young hot shot who has had a few fights as a professional Kickboxer with them mostly being absolute annihilations of his skilled opponents. The thing is, his youth and inexperience run into Joe Schilling, who has fought all over the world and not only fought, but beaten the best at Middleweight. I think it seems like a forgone conclusion that someone is taking a nap, but whomever it is will probably not feel too much shame in the morning.
  • Prediction: Joe Schilling
  • Lightweight Tournament Finals: Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Davit Kiria -- I’m really most interested in seeing this rematch as opposed to any other possible Petrosyan match that could happen. Want to know why? I feel like Robin van Roosmalen is extremely skilled and can hit like a mack truck for the weight class, but that a fighter like Giorgio Petrosyan will not let his guard down long enough to let him do any work. A fighter like Kiria on the other hand has evolved his game a little bit to where it would be more of a chess match, plus Kiria is a bit less predictable with throwing the big spin kicks and all. I still pick Petrosyan in this one, but think that Kiria could show something new.
  • Prediction: Giorgio Petrosyan

 

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LiverKick.com Talks GLORY 11 with Tyrone Spong

  • Published in Interviews

GLORY

Tyrone Spong is a name that has jumped up in value over the past few years after cutting his teeth on the international muay thai and kickboxing circuit in a dizzying amount of weight classes. Spong has fought not only some of the best in the world in one or two weight classes, but in just about every weight class between 70kg and Super Heavyweight in the span of his career, with one fight against Nathan “Carnage” Corbett standing out as the one that fans wanted to see happen again. GLORY is making precisely this happen at GLORY 11 Chicago this weekend, live on Spike TV.

LiverKick.com caught up with Tyrone Spong earlier this week to discuss the fight with Carnage and he has a very mature way of viewing the first bout with Carnage, when asked if he considers it a draw or a loss; “Oh no, no man, for me personally it’s a loss. You know, according to the rules and the commission they call it a no contest. That’s not on me, you know, I don’t make the rules, I just fight according to them. To me personally though, I consider that a loss and now I have the chance to avenge that loss, so we’ll see.”

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GLORY's Spike TV Debut Tonight is a Huge Deal

  • Published in Glory

GLORY

I've been kind of lamenting upon this for a while now and what it comes down to today is that tonight something huge is happening for the sport of Kickboxing. Kickboxing has had a strange journey in the United States, with the sport, in various forms, appearing to the public over the years. You could argue that the fall of the PKA all of those years ago was the last chance that anyone would give Kickboxing here in the United States, but you'd be wrong. It sure looked that way for a long time, but tonight is just proof that the sport has a strange way of enduring.

It is impossible to imagine being here today without having K-1 as the flag-bearer for the sport for so many years. K-1 had two chances at appearing on Spike TV and two management teams were able to ensure that it never happened. For K-1 right now they are going through a rebuilding process and it looks like America is a distant memory, riddled with failures and missed opportunities. But tonight we get to see GLORY make its debut on Spike TV. Spike TV is without a doubt the biggest platform that Kickboxing has ever had within the United States and I'm just unsure of how to process this right now.

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