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It's Time for the Smaller Weight Classes to Shine

  • Published in Kickboxing

Kickboxing has long been all about the heavyweight weight classes. If you were to ask anyone about K-1 the first thing that would come to mind would be the K-1 World Grand Prix. Of course, there is a good reason for that. When modern kickboxing in the form of K-1 began in Japan it was to appeal to the local audiences with a blend of Kyokushin, Karate and professional wrestling. The Japanese public was always attracted to the idea of the clash of titans (I mean, really, isn’t everybody?) so K-1 focused heavily on the Heavyweights. 

If you look at GLORY, SuperKombat and even promotions like Enfusion you’ll see that the focus is still largely on the heavier weight classes. No matter what Badr Hari is doing it is news, if Peter Aerts is in a pro wrestling match in Japan everyone cares and people still ask if Sem Schilt will ever return to the ring. Speculation over Alistair Overeem leaving the UFC to return to kickboxing has been healthy for his entire UFC run. Needless to say, the big guys draw eyeballs.

The one real anomaly is the rise of K-1’s MAX division in the 2000’s. It was an idea created to promote the handsome and talented MASATO originally, but the reality was that it created a good number of stars and helped to make something outside of Heavyweight sustainable. We’ve seen the rise of a few stars like Giorgio Petrosyan, Buakaw Banchamek, Andy Ristie, Robin van Roosmalen and many more. It’s Showtime helped to push forward with expanded weight classes and GLORY is continuing along the path with the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight classes a big focus over the last year.

If we look at other sports the focus isn’t always just on huge, lumbering titans, though. While American Football might have a few such characters, a lot of the time the smaller, more agile players end up a focal point. The home run sluggers in baseball might draw eyeballs, but not all baseball players are Mark Mcguire. In football (you know, soccer) it is even more clear that you don’t (and shouldn’t) be a giant to be successful. Look no further than some of the lines at betting at William Hill to see how diverse the playing field can be. 

At GLORY 20 Gabriel Varga and Mosab Amrani will compete for the GLORY Featherweight Championship. It’s a solid first step, although there is confusion as to if this will air on the SuperFight Series or on Spike TV. Last that I’ve heard it was the SuperFight Series. Even so, it will be the headliner for that show that will air on CBS Sports Network and across the globe as its own show. 

Then, of course, is K-1’s 55kg World Grand Prix going down in Japan on April 19th. K-1 Japan has been putting out a steady stream of events featuring smaller weight classes and has been wildly entertaining. As long as the big players in kickboxing keep focusing on smaller weight classes there is still hope that the lighter, more technical and quick weight classes can shine in the near future. 

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Mike Zambidis Wins at SUPERKOMBAT VIP Edition

  • Published in Europe

Zambidis

This weekend was a double shot of SUPERKOMBAT, with the first event being of the SUPERKOMBAT New Heroes persuasion, while the second night was a bigger event by the way of SUPERKOMBAT VIP Edition, featuring Mike Zambidis in a SUPERKOMBAT Championship fight. It was a big weekend for the SUPERKOMBAT crew as they announce that they are on Fight Now TV here in the United States as well as the signing of K-1 Heavyweight Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller, as well as crowning Mike Zambidis as their 71kg Championship.

Here are the results from SUPERKOMBAT VIP Edition;

  • Mike Zambidis def Harun Kina via UD
  • Miodrag Olar (Romania) def Alexandros Chatzichronoglou (Greece) via UD
  • Cedric Manhoef (Suriname) def Alexandru Popescu (Romania) via UD
  • Bogdan Stanciu (Romania) def Kevin Heselink (Holland) via UD
  • Cristian Spetcu (Romania) def Florin Abrudan (Romania) via TKO 2

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Glory Issues Statement Regarding Early Stoppage at GLORY 9 New York

  • Published in Glory

Mufadel noooo

This weekend's GLORY 9 New York event featured the GLORY Light Heavyweight Slam tournament, which was won by Tyrone Spong in a controversial bout with Danyo Ilunga. The ref, Mufadel Elghazaoui, stepped in as soon as Spong swarmed Ilunga with punches, stopping the bout while Ilunga was still of a clear mind, defending and on his feet. Since then fans have been speaking out against Mufadel, who has a history of poor stoppages in the past, much like we saw with former GLORY head referee Joop Ubeda.

Glory released a statement earlier today about it.

 

We agree with most viewers of June 22nd's telecast that the fight stoppage at Glory9 of Spong versus Ilunga, the final fight of the night, seemed premature. However, a professional referee is going to see things that we, and the audience, might not. He is the one who has the best vantage point to determine whether a fighter is capable of continuing the match and we must respect that. In this way, the referee acted fully within his authority and the rules of the sport. Anytime a fighter fails to intelligently defend himself, the referee must effectively end the fight.

Overall it was an amazing evening for our first event in the US and one few of us will forget. There were some real back-and-forth wars during the night, and the fighters, almost to a man, brought their best selves to the Glory ring in New York City at the historic Manhattan Center. We thank them and congratulate Tyrone Spong, the winner of the 8-man tournament and the $200,000 in prize money.

We look forward to another great night of fights this September on US soil and we will keep the fans posted on those details shortly.

 

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Gabriel Varga Out of K-1 USA vs. China Event

  • Published in K-1

GLORY fighter Gabriel Varga was set to compete at the K-1 USA vs. China event on January 1st in China but it looks like all of that has gone up in smoke over the past day. Varga is reporting on having visa issues. Upon entering China they found that he did not have the proper paperwork to enter the country, which meant that he had to turn around and go right back home to Canada. 

Definitely a bit of a bummer for those looking forward to seeing Varga fight. The good news is that there are no other issues as of press time with the event and it should go off without a hitch. We'll keep you posted on any further news for the K-1 China vs. USA event.

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Latest Episode of The Reem Follows Overeem in Albuquerque

  • Published in Kickboxing

We'll never stop posting about Alistair Overeem. Why? Because he's the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, that's why. That's a pretty big deal and we continue to honor the fact that Ubereem made a huge impact on the kickboxing world in just a short span of time. Hell, we want to see him fight for GLORY, desperately. It's okay that he's in the UFC now, though. We want him to succeed because it'd be really cool to see Alistair Overeem become UFC Heavyweight Champion and have held the two most prestigious titles in two different combat sports like that. 

Alistair Overeem is training here in Albuquerque now, which is kind of a trip to me. I don't get starstruck by much, I mean, Keith Jardine almost sideswiped me on the way to work one day, I was doing laundry next to him once, I saw GSP and Rashad out at a bar once and all of these things were just whatever. Hell, I even physically bumped into Robert Downey Junior when they were filming the Avengers and didn't mind (although I was upset that I missed Joss Whedon hanging out in that same bar), but Overeem? Pfft.

That's awesome. Anyway, here's the latest episode of The Reem, featuring Overeem training in Albuquerque and a whole hell of a lot more.

THE REEM SEASON 3 EPISODE 6: THE FOUNDATION from THE REEM on Vimeo.

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Watch Tyrone Spong and Peter Aerts Staredown

It's Showtime is tomorrow, coming at us with one of the biggest fights of the year so far in Peter Aerts taking on Tyrone Spong live from Brussels. For Americans, the second half of the card will air on HDnet (soon to be AXS) at 3pm Eastern, for anyone who wants to watch the full card or is in an area where it won't be aired on television, head to ShowtimeFights.com and order the PPV now (clicking that link supports LiverKick!).

This video is courtesy of our friends at Staredown.NL, who will without a doubt be posting some more awesome content over the weekend.

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Iron Mike Zambidis Announces Participation in K-1 World MAX Final 16

  • Published in K-1

ZambidisPart of the fun of the upcoming weeks will be watching, one-by-one, to see which fighter picks what side in the ongoing battle between K-1 and GLORY. Yesterday we announced that former World MAX Champion Albert Kraus has chosen to sign with GLORY Sports International, making him the second-biggest name in their tournament, and today Iron Mike Zambidis made an announcement on his official Facebook page saying that he will be participating in the K-1 World MAX Final 16 on May 27th in Madrid, Spain.

Zambidis might be one of the fighters who has never won a K-1 World MAX Championship, but in 2010 the world saw a resurgence of sorts that culminated in a loss to Giorgio Petrosyan in the World MAX semi-finals, but continued his tear through the world in 2011 in a world without K-1. Zambidis went 4-2 in 2011, with a loss to John Wayne Parr as well as a controversial loss to Batu Khasikov, losing his W5 title which he had won from Dzabar Askerov earlier on in the year in a four-man Grand Prix.

This leaves the projected World MAX field featuring names like; Zambidis, Chahid, Andy Souwer, Gago Drago, Artur Kyshenko, Harut Grigorian, Yasuhiro Kido, Yuji Nashiro, Su Hwan Lee, Abraham Roqueni, Longern Samui Pro (rumored) and Chris Ngimbi. One could argue that so far it is a better field than the field that GLORY has produced, but both still have open spots for fighters and there are still a few x-factors in the wild.

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As Glory Content on Spike Expands, It’s Time to Start Thinking Bigger

  • Published in News

Glory has long accumulated enough content to provide regular programming on SpikeTV, but the extent of its presence has largely been limited to 2-hour live or tape delayed events as well as 30 minute countdown shows. Ratings, while stable overall, have varied the most between long hiatuses with Glory finding it difficult to sustain the momentum generated by a successful event. This is why we’ve maintained that having Spike air Glory content on a more regular basis would help keep the product on the radar of combat sports fans.

Well, it seems like this may be coming to fruition. On July 25, SpikeTV aired a one hour-long special consisting of some of the best Glory fights and highlights thus far. If you tuned in, you might have noticed a small caption reading that the Glory Last Man Standing tournament will be airing Friday, August 8, at 10/9c. In case you missed it before, Glory and Spike are going to bring you the greatest combat sports PPV event of the year for FREE on August 8, filling a relatively quiet night of programming (unless Cops and Jail is your idea of quality prime time entertainment) with must-see TV. While we’re waiting to hear more about Glory’s plans for the second half of 2014, airing the historic LMS event on free TV is more than enough to satisfy Kickboxing fans in the meantime. By the way, if you have friends or know someone who would be interested in Kickboxing, this is the event they need to see.

Could these programming changes possibly signal deepening ties between Glory and Spike? While we don’t know for sure, it is likely. Consider that the once-known “First Network for Men” has lately struggled with its identity as more original programming has been replaced by syndicated content. Its association with the UFC once provided hours of original daytime programming as well as an exclusive live sports entertainment product for primetime. However, it has yet to convincingly compete in this space again, with Bellator achieving only a fraction of the UFC’s former presence. TNA, while not considered a leading brand, has provided steady ratings for Spike with an average of 1-1.2 million viewers every week (as reported on wrestling sites). However, by ending its relationship with TNA, Spike will need to rededicate its efforts to making its original sports programming successful. Bellator and Glory have yet to perform strongly enough on their own, but with the combined strength of these two brands in a co-promotional arrangement, Spike may able to reestablish itself as an outlet for combat sports.

What would be the next step for Glory and Spike? I would personally like to see the 17 or so unaired Super Fight cards that Glory has taped make their way to cable TV. This is ready-made content that could fill any weekend or weekday with solid combat sports action. While The Ultimate Fighter was a breakout promotional vehicle for Spike and the UFC, I would argue that the afternoons full of UFC Unleashed were equally as important because it gave casual and incidental viewers the opportunity to discover the product. The possibility of doing a reality show depends on the viability of the format today; for Glory, I see greater value in developing a television platform for Eldar Gross’s excellent documentary filmmaking than I do for a game show with an uninspired gimmick (Enfusion Reality included). If you doubt this, just consider the star-making impact of Eldar’s documentaries on Alistair Overeem and Tyrone Spong and imagine this in the format of a serious multi-part series with AMC/HBO-style marketing--there’s a chance to reach a wider audience here. This would be the type of promotion that Glory has been looking for with a cast of excellent subjects who have already been chosen.

We’re at a point now where the Glory product itself is in need of no further major refinement. The challenge now is making a connection with a television audience, and while this is a daunting task, there are a few things that we might consider. Let’s think about a time in combat sports when big fights made big news and big names mattered to little people. We talk about combat sports legends like the often-named boxers of bygone generations--men who became icons not only because of their accomplishments (after all, what cultural value do these accomplishments have if no one knows about or appreciates them?) but because of how they were sold to the public. The legend of Muhammad Ali had as much to do with the man as the people who promoted him and publicized him. Television in the cable era is far more fragmented than it was in the broadcast network era, but every now and then, when talent, interest, and marketing come together at the right time, a figure is able to transcend the boundaries of their medium. Far less well-spoken people who compete in sports more obscure than kickboxing get made into national heroes every Olympics; what stops our champions? Is the story of some dopy middle class suburban kid who spent all of their free time swimming more compelling than that of Zack Mwekassa? NBC sells the hell out of stories like that. Maybe it’s time to stop waiting for the mainstream to find us--let’s go after their hearts. This product and the people who compete are just as compelling as anything that could get sold on TV; it’s time to market the product with inspiration and creativity. It’s time to think bigger.

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Video: Noiri vs Glunder and Hiroya vs Minoru

  • Published in K-1

During the 55kg tournament K-1 held on April 19th in Japan there were a few big upsets in the super fights and K-1 has just released the videos. 

First of all Kimura "Phillip" Minoru vs Hiroya, since I didn't get to watch this event live I have to say it was pretty surprising to read that Minoru KO'd Hiroya in 1 round even though Hiroya can be hot and cold sometimes. Now after watching the fight, honestly Minoru looks really damn good. He has improved leaps and bounds, his timing, speed and power all looked amazing, very impressive.

Next we have Massaki Noiri vs Massaro Glunder, Glunder looks so much like a mini Andy Ristie its crazy and even has a similar style but i think hes a little bit less awkward. When I read that Noiri had lost by cut the first thing I thought was that it must have been lucky but after watching the fight Glunder not only beat Noiri but he did it in Japan, and on short notice, I definitely do not think Glunder was losing the fight. Great breakthrough win for a young up and comer in Massaro Glunder.

 

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K-1 Japan's Survival Wars Card is Packed

  • Published in K-1

This weekend might not have delivered on the kickboxing action that you have hoped it would have, but there is still hope by the way of K-1 Japan. On September 22nd K-1 Japan will put forth their latest effort in Survival Wars. K-1 Japan have been putting on some of the very best shows anywhere in the world for quite a while now and this show looks to be no different including an awesome main event between Kimura Minoru and Ren Hiramato. 

As always, it will be airing on NicoNico. There is also word of them having a big announcement in regards to airing on a broadcast television network in Japan. There is hope yet.

Main Card

Main Event - 65KG Super Fight

Kimura 'Philip' Minoru VS Hiramoto Ren

Co-Main Event - 55KG Challenger Finals

Daniel Williams VS Charles Bongiovanni

70KG Fight

Shintaro Matsukura VS Tian Xin

Super Exhibition (2x2)

Koya Urabe VS Takeru

70KG Fight

Kazuya Akimoto VS Keiji

55KG Fight

Taisuke Degai VS Yuichiro Ito

55KG Fight

Namito Izawa VS Satoshi Katashima

Heavyweight Fight

Hitoshi Sugimoto VS Hidekazu Kimura

65KG Fight

Minamino Takayuki VS Waki Mitsuharu

Undercard

70kg Fight

Jinbo Katsuya VS Yasuhi Hitoshi

70kg Fight

Tsuyoshi Oh VS Daisuke 

Heavyweight Fight

Yoshinari VS Hase

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