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GLORY Collision Hype: Badr Hari vs. Alistair Overeem

  • Published in Glory

The sport of kickboxing was once ruled by giants that roamed the Japanese countryside, competing in the K-1 World Grand Prix events as larger-than-life titans looking to floor each other. This is, in part, what made the sport of kickboxing so popular and left a lasting legacy that everyone is trying to live up to now. When Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem decided to dip his toes into the realm of K-1 many thought that he'd be easy fodder for the elite of the elite, only for him to score an upset against Badr Hari, one of the greats of the time. 

This led to Overeem entering the K-1 World Grand Prix the following year, a year that many saw Badr Hari as the man to beat in the tournament. When it came down to both men squaring off that night, everyone was expecting fireworks. That's exactly what happened.

If this Badr Hari shows up on Saturday, Rico Verhoeven is in trouble. Interestingly enough, Alistair Overeem will be joining the broadcast team on Saturday to provide expert commentary during the main event. 

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Giorgio Petrosyan Opens Up on His Time Off and Pressures of Being the GOAT

Few names in the realm of kickboxing are synonymous with greatness quite like Giorgio Petrosyan. Petrosyan, a former two-time K-1 World MAX Champion during the height of the tournament, as well as the 2012 GLORY 70kg Slam Champion, he's competed against the best in the world and proven himself many times over as not only one of the best, but perhaps the very best. 

On Saturday, December 10th Petrosyan returns to the ring to fight against a man that he's been aiming to take on headfirst for about a year now in the UK's Jordan Watson. Watson, a muay thai standout, is looking to make a name for himself against Petrosyan in what is essentially a no-lose situation for him; losing to Giorgio Petrosyan is so normal that there's nothing to be ashamed of at this point.

The fight has been postponed prior, but will now happen, as to if that'll affect Petrosyan heading into the fight, his answer was simple; "I don't think so," he said. It isn't that Petrosyan is taking Watson lightly, it's that he's at the level where regardless of the competition, he understands that he most likely has an advantage. When prompted on who of his recent opponents was his toughest test, he was unable to find someone who really gave him a challenge. "I have won against all, but there was no one in particular that has put me in trouble most of the other."

For Petrosyan, one fight does stand out, which was his loss to Andy Ristie in 2013 via knockout, which led to the Doctor taking time away from the ring to recuperate and prepare himself to return to the ring. "I needed to metabolise this defeat," he explained about the prolonged time away from the ring. As for if his hand injury was a factor or a concern, he didn't think so; "Unfortunately," he admitted to the injury, "although I did not think about it, my head always brought me [back]."

Of course, Petrosyan is considered to be one of, if not the greatest of all time in kickboxing, when asked what kind of pressure was on him when he returned, he didn't seem bothered by the hype. "I have always only fought for myself and for the fun, I never thought of having to prove something to someone." 

As for the pressures of being considered the best in the world? Nah. "I don’t feel any pressure and I cannot wait forward to December 10 to be able to see the result of all the effort I made to train at best."

Giorgio Petrosyan makes his Bellator Kickboxing debut on Saturday, December 10th in Firenze against Jordan Watson.

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K-1 Crowns a New -85kg Champion in Thrilling Tournament Final

  • Published in K-1

The K-1 World Grand Prix Europe marched into Bosnia this weekend with their -85kg tournament. While the names weren't quite on the same level as the -95kg tournament from last month, the action delivered in spades with a lot of young fighters looking to make a name for themselves in the tournament. The final was a crazy slugfest between Igor Emkic from Bosnia and Russian Timur Aylayrov. Timur was applying pressure and dropping Emkic with body blows and you could almost hear the air get sucked out of the crowd who was looking for a local hero to win the tournament.

Tournament Final: Timur Aylayrov (R3 - TKO) Igor Emkic 

Tournament Semi-Final: Timur Aylayrov (R3 - Dec) Agron Preteni 

Tournament Semi-Final: Igor Emkick (R3 - Dec) David Radeff 

Tournament Quarterfinal: Timur Aylayrov (R? - TKO) Vasil Ducar 

Tournament Quarterfinal: Agron Preteni (R3 - Dec) Imanol Rodriguez 

Tournament Quarterfinal: Igor Emkic (R3 - Dec) Guiseppe De Domenico 

Tournament Quarterfinal: David Radeff (R3 - Dec) Nikola Noveski 

Tournament Reserve Fight: Mesud Selimovic (R1 - KO) Petar Jaman 

Haris Brko (R3 - Dec) Rafal Gorka 

Giannis Skordilis (R3 - Dec) Maycon Coller 

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Enfusion Aims for 2017 Expansion With Buakaw, Yodsanklai and More

  • Published in Kickboxing

Today at their latest live event, Enfusion Live announced massive plans for 2017. After running a number of successful shows in 2016, they will be expanding to 20 shows in 2017, including three leagues at 67kg, 72.5kg and 85kg. On top of that, they announced a set of new signings for the promotion that are sure to entice fans, the biggest of which is former K-1 World MAX Champion Buakaw Banchamek. Buakaw has mainly been fighting in China, including a series of fights with Chinese legend Yi Long that has set the world on fire. 

Buakaw has been a draw anywhere he's gone since the dissolving of FEG's K-1, making worldwide headlines for his many (and I do mean many) problems with management, business partners, promotions and more, including a scandal with K-1 in Pattaya where Banchamek and his team claimed K-1 was fixing fights, changing the rules late and a plethora of other claims. This came hot-off-the-heels of his departures from Thai Fight and MAX Muay Thai before moving on temporarily to Topking, then to Kunlun Fight and WLF in China where he's currently been competing. 

They've also added Thai legend Yodsanklai Fairtex who has carved out a name for himself all over the world, although things have been quiet for Yod over the past year thanks to a nagging injury. On top of that they've snagged Superbon and Jomhod. If Enfusion somehow isn't planning on running a show or two in Thailand they'd be nuts.

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GLORY 37 Los Angeles Card Released

  • Published in Glory

While we are just over a week away from the huge GLORY Collision event in Germany, GLORY hasn't been resting on their laurels at all, instead they've geared up for a January event in Los Angeles that promises to bring action to the world in the new year. GLORY 37 features a Welterweight tournament as well as Jason Wilnis defending the GLORY Middleweight Championship against the whirlwind that is Israel Adesayna.

The SuperFight Series is headlined by newly-crowned Featherweight Champion Robin van Roosmalen defending his title against the tough Matt Embree. Al,so featured is Zoila Frausto against Daniela Graf and Giga Chikadze against Victor Pinto.

This all goes down on January 20th, GLORY 37 airing live on ESPN3 at 10pm pacific and GLORY 37 SuperFight Series airing at 7:30pm pacific on UFC Fight Pass.

GLORY 37 Los Angeles

Middleweight Title Headline Bout: Jason Wilnis (c) vs. Israel Adesayna

Welterweight Tournament Final Bout: Winner of Bout A vs. Winner of Bout B

Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Guto Inocente vs. TBA

Welterweight Tournament Semifinal Bout B: Alan Scheinson vs. Karim Benmansour

Welterweight Tournament Semifinal Bout A: Yoann Kongolo vs. Konstantin Khuzin

GLORY 37 SuperFight Series

Featherweight Title Headline Bout: Robin van Roosmalen (c) vs. Matt Embree

Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Jhonata Diniz vs. Tomas Mozny

Middleweight Bout: Mike Lemaire vs. Warren Thompson

Super Bantamweight Bout: Zoila Frausto vs. Daniela Graf

Featherweight Bout: Giga Chikadze vs. Victor Pinto

 

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GLORY Collision SuperFight Series to Air Free on UFC.tv

  • Published in Glory

For those of us looking forward to December 10th for GLORY Collision and GLORY 36 there's yet another incentive. If, for some reason, you are not a subscriber to UFC Fight Pass, you've been missing out on the SuperFight Series, which have been some of the promotion's best efforts of the year when it comes to pure match quality. Thanks to the UFC and GLORY, the upcoming GLORY SuperFight Series will air live as prelims for GLORY Collision.

Here's what the card looks like.

Light Heavyweight Headline Bout: Danyo Ilunga vs. Michael Duut

Welterweight Co-Headline Bout: Harut Grigorian vs. Danijel Solaja

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal B: Tiffany van Soest vs. Jessica Gladstone

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal A: Isis Verbeek vs. Amel Dehby

Lightweight Bout: Andrej Bruhl vs. Tyjani Beztati

The order for the show is as follows; GLORY 36 on ESPN3, GLORY SuperFight Series on UFC.tv (free) and GLORY Collision on UFC.tv PPV ($29.99).

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GLORY Collision Hype: Badr Hari vs. Sem Schilt From It's Showtime

  • Published in Glory

On December 10th kickboxing's biggest fight in ages will rock Germany with Badr Hari returning to the spotlight to take on GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven is a showdown for the ages. The event will be aired live on UFC's PPV service and is set to be a callback to the glory days of kickboxing. UFC posted a video from the archives for free to hype fans up and it's the legendary bout between Badr Hari and Semmy Schilt from It's Showtime. At the time Semmy Schilt was the undisputed king of kickboxing, serving as K-1's biggest nightmare in a huge beast of a fighter who put on staggeringly brilliant performances that seemed to lack that K-1 "pop" and excitement.

Badr Hari was a rising star at the time and, as you can see from the video, his star was perhaps never bigger worldwide. What's fascinating is as much as I remember this fight, it's still incredible to see just how many fans were in attendance and how rabid they were. These were truly the glory days of kickboxing.

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Card for Enfusion Live #44 Featuring the Return of Andrew Tate

  • Published in Kickboxing

Enfusion returns on Saturday, December 3rd with Enfusion #44, featuring the return of "The Cobra" Andrew Tate challenging for the Enfusion -90kg world title against Ibrahim El Boustati. Tate is perhaps one of the most colorful fighters in the UK scene who has been calling out Joe Schilling for the better part of a year. If he wanted to get Schilling's attention, this would a good way to get that ball rolling a bit further. Tate is returning from some down time after pursuing some business ventures and coping with the loss of his father. 

Kickboxing Talents #26, The Hague, The Netherlands, Saturday

03.12.2016

18.30 local start time (17.30 GMT)

1. 3X3 Tournament  -67Kg

Lofogo Sarour (South Sudan)  Vs Tarik Lyachat (Morocco) 

2. 3X3 Tournament  -67Kg

Samir Lopes (Cape Verde)  Vs Tony Jas (The Netherlands) 

3. 3X3 Tournament  -67Kg  

Wail Karroumi (Morocco)  Vs Juan Javier Barragan (Spain) 

4.   3X3 Tournament  -67Kg

Walid Hamid (Morocco)  Vs Richaymond Lopez (The Netherlands) 

5.   3X3 -63Kg    

Reda Narain (Surinam)  Vs   Mohammed Dadda (Morocco)

6.  3X3 Heavyweight

Ashraf Houssini (Morocco) Vs Balhor Nasim (Belgium)

7.  3X3 -70KG

Jassem Al Djilawi (Egypt)  Vs Romano Bakboord (The Netherlands) 

The winners from the tournament will face one another in 2017. The winner will secure their spot in the -67kg Enfusion League.

Enfusion Live #44, The Hague, The Netherlands, Saturday 3.12.2016

21.00 local start time  (20.00 GMT) 

1. 3X3    -54Kg FEMALE

Fadma Basrir (France)  Vs Sanne Strabbing (The Netherlands)

2. 3X3  -72.5Kg

Patrick van Rees (The Netherlands)  Vs Reda Zaidi (Morocco)

3. 3X3   -70Kg 

Bilal Kasrioui (Morocco)  Vs William Diender (The Netherlands)

4.  3X3   -72.5Kg

Yassin Baitar (Morocco) Vs Redouan Laarkoubi (Morocco)

5.  3X3    -72.5Kg    

Aziz Kallah (Morocco)  Vs   Marcel Verhaar (The Netherlands)

6.  3X3      Heavyweight

Hicham Achalhi (Morocco) Vs Vladimir Tok (Germany)

7.  5X3            ENFUSION WORLD TITLE               -90Kg

Andrew Tate (USA)  Vs Ibrahim El Boustati (Morocco)

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Remembering Former GLORY Champion Marc de Bonte

  • Published in Kickboxing

There's no easy way to talk about the sudden and untimely passing of someone young who had a bright future ahead of them, especially when the individual had already shown flashes of brilliance in a short life. The sport of kickboxing is one of the most thrilling in the world, with action that keeps fans on the edge of their seats and enough intrigue, flash and politics in play to enrapt even the least sport-minded of fans. 

Without a doubt, Marc de Bonte was a special fighter and person who left an indelible mark in his short time in the limelight. Fighting inside of a division that has been ruled over by Nieky Holzken for as long as there have been championships in major organizations, de Bonte rose up to prominence within the GLORY ranks and after a few cancellations, the trigger was pulled for Marc to fight for the title at GLORY 16. The fight was supposed to be against Holzken, but injury had plagued him throughout the year, meaning the clash wouldn't happen just yet. This set the stage for de Bonte to fight Karapet Karapetyan at GLORY 16 Denver where he won the world championship. He was just 24-years-old at the time.

As a writer (sometimes even a journalist) a part of my job is to remain impartial, which includes not publicly claiming favorites and avoiding discouraging fighters I'm not quite fond of. That night I was there live for what was Marc de Bonte's crowning achievement of his professional career, I got to see him emotional over winning the world title, to see the look in his eyes, the relief and the determination and it felt special. While I only briefly spoke with him that night, congratulating him and seeing how proud he was has taken on new meaning in the light of his passing. It was difficult not to feel his passion and get swept up in it, to feel like we had all witnessed something important from someone special.

He was only a few years into his professional career and was so ready to take on Nieky Holzken, a man that was almost ten years his elder and who had fought the best in the world in multiple weight classes before paving the way for a welterweight division, but he wasn't afraid, he was ready to prove himself. Even though he knew that people were expecting Holzken to take his title, he was still there and he was still proud of his accomplishments. 

What struck me about Marc was that he was soft-spoken and respectful, even in the face of the biggest victory of his entire career. Even when he spoke about Nieky Holzken -- and I can remember the thick accent that he pronounced the name "Holzken" in like it was yesterday -- it was almost in reverence. That fight never materialized, as de Bonte lost the title just over a month later to Joseph Valtellini and shifted his focus towards professional boxing. Much like the rest of us, he faced his share of setbacks in his career.

The few times that I spoke with him afterwards he was always exactly as I had remembered him; kind, respectful and down-to-Earth. Perhaps that is what makes his passing all-the-more difficult to comprehend and process. Marc de Bonte wasn't a guy with a long rap sheet, a guy snatching headlines for assaulting anyone or smuggling drugs. There weren't hushed rumors about what sort of people he ran with or how he played gangster when the lights were off him. He had a girlfriend that he'd post photos with on Instagram regularly, his family thinks the world of him and he didn't even drink. This wasn't one of those "bad seeds" that we regularly have to talk about.

Instead he had returned to kickboxing and was chasing his second world title. The sport had genuinely missed him and his return was something that caught everyone's attention. In fact, he was scheduled to fight in just a matter of weeks from now in China, where he was involved in a tournament for a world title. So when he was reported missing on November 4th there was a lot of speculation, but the reality was that Marc was on the upswing again and everyone was pulling for him. He'd turn up eventually, right? 

The weeks dragged on without word, his family and friends became increasingly desperate and finally, on November 24th, a body was found near his car, twenty days after his disappearance, with police confirming his identity days later. There will be speculation, investigations, allegations and everything in between in the coming weeks, months and years about what happened to Marc. Hopefully his family and close friends will get the closure that they need while the rest of us remember Marc for the brief, fleeting impact that he had on the sport and just how brightly his light burned for someone as young as he was. 

Marc was a glowing reminder that these larger-than-life characters in the sports world are just as vulnerable and fallible as the rest of us are. They feel the same range of emotions that we do, face the same daily struggles and have to fight for inspiration not only in their careers, but themselves as well. Marc came back to kickboxing and was going to leave his mark on the sport, his friends and family have spoken about how excited he was to fight again, to entertain us and to prove himself to the world. 

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The Kickboxing World Reacts to the Loss of Marc de Bonte

  • Published in Kickboxing

While the kickboxing world is gearing up for a mega-fight between Badr Hari and Rico Verhoeven in December, things have taken a more somber tone over the past few days with officials in the Netherlands discovering the body of what is presumably Marc de Bonte. Police are working on an autopsy and final identification on the body that was discovered before giving the final confirmation, but his friends and family have accepted that the body was his. Already, Marc de Bonte's personal website bears messages about his passing, his parents have confirmed that the body was his, and while we are waiting for that final confirmation, most have accepted the news and have begun grieving the loss of the 26-year-old former world champion. 

These are just some of the public reactions from the kickboxing world over the past few days.

To younge to go Rip marc de bonte

A photo posted by nieky holzken (@niekyholzken) on

We'll have more on Marc de Bonte as it becomes public. For now, keep his friends and family in your thoughts during this rough time.

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Video: Kunlun Fight Top 10 KO's of 2016

  • Published in Video

Kunlun Fight has been putting on shows almost every 2nd weekend for all of 2016. Most of the shows were kickboxing with the focus being on their huge 70kgs tournament which will be coming to an end soon. Even though they have only been around since 2014 they are quickly becoming one of the very top promotions in the world having most of top tier fighters on their shows. The best thing about Kunlun is that they have so many shows which allows fighters to stay active even if they are signed exclusively to them, for example Sittichai Sitsongpeenong even though he is not exclusive to Kunlun fought for them 6 times already in 2016 and still has at least one or two more to go, maybe with promotions putting on shows like this kickboxers can actually make a decent living soon.

Here is an amazing video Kunlun Fight has made of their Top 10 KO's of the year, Enjoy.

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Richard Abraham's Sacrifices and Coincidences Leading to GLORY 34

  • Published in Interviews

What sacrifices are you willing to make to realize your dream? Would you pay to work in your chosen profession? Would you exercise diligence in your pursuit, following up on every possibility? Could you be a chameleon, assuming all the roles necessary to win the prize.  Maybe you wouldn't, but Richard Abraham has, does and will.  One of the newest faces in the welterweight division at Glory, Abraham comes to the ring with a professional record of 10-3-0, with three wins already with Glory.  He has trained extensively in Thailand and arrived back home ready to work.  Hailing from Itasca, Illinois, Abraham found in kickboxing a positive way to deal with anger and a life that could have gone very wrong.  When asked what he'd be doing if he weren't fighting, he replied, "Probably nothing good."  

Through the sport, however, he has found the discipline and skills needed to be successful in life.  So far he's enjoying the ride at Glory and is on a three fight win streak having defeated Pawel Jedrzejczyk in his Glory debut as well as Casey Greene and Francois Ambang at Glory 30 in Los Angeles.  Interestingly enough, prior to his debut at Glory 27, he had planned to return to Thailand.  The gods, however, were with him and he answered Glory's call.  Coincidentally, although he was scheduled to fight at Max Muay Thai stadium in Thailand, the stadium caught fire making Glory his blessing in disguise. Abraham expresses little fear in the face of any opponent his main goal is to be matched with fighters that will challenge him and take his skill level even higher and he doesn't mind being an underdog.  Being able to fight and be successful at his craft is his primary goal.  Abraham is a  self described well rounded fighter, with the ability to fight off multiple different styles. He is also keenly aware of the need for a synthesis between not only physical conditioning but also the mental aspect of fighting.  It's mind, body and soul.  

At Glory 34 Abraham prepares to face "The Blood Diamond" Mike Mathetha.  While not much is known about this opponent, Abraham is confident and prepared. Richard extends many thanks to all the fans for their support and he plans to continue to push hard and to show the world that he is a force.  For those interested in continue to watch this fighter on his journey you can follow him on both Twitter and Instagram @muaythaichicago or via his Facebook fan page Richard Maximus Abraham.  It's fight night on Friday, October 21st at Glory 34 Denver and another opportunity for this fighter to prove what he's made of.  

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Casey 'Go' Greene and Whatever It Takes at GLORY 34

  • Published in Interviews

Ready. Set. Go. Casey "Go" Greene that is. It's always great to talk to someone who is invested in advancing to the highest level of their craft.  What's even better is when you meet someone who attacks their goal with such tenacity that it would seem that their very life depended on it.  That is what you get when you meet Casey Greene.  The California native has joined the team and it's all or nothing.  Actually it's all for Greene, there is no other option.  Using the hashtag #Project WIT, Greene is living his philosophy, "Whatever it takes" (WIT).  Whatever it takes to be the best, whatever it takes to stay on top.  Whatever it takes to be the best man he can be in all aspects of his life. As kickboxing in the US steadily climbs in popularity, Greene plans to fulfill his dream of being on another level as well as taking the sport to another level.    

With a 4-3 record in Glory and currently ranked at #6, Greene is determined to set the welterweight division aflame.  A California native, Greene embarked upon his kickboxing journey fearlessly and with the idea in mind that becoming the best means training with the best, Carlos Dekkers, brother of the late and great Ramon Dekkers.  While seven fights does not a champion make, Greene has in this short time faced some of the best and brightest in Glory including Mike Lemaire, Dustin Jacoby and Francois Ambang.  Greene states that he works toward becoming a well rounded fighter and with experience in MMA, he counts his ability to stand and bang as an asset.

This Friday, October 21st, Greene is prepared  to do whatever it takes as he faces Glory newcomer Thongchai Sitsonpeenong at Glory 34 in Denver.  While his opponent has a record of more than 100 fights a fact like that doesn't phase Greene as he is willing to take on all comers as he continues to climb the ranks in his division.  

So if you haven't heard the name before, remember it, you'll be hearing it again and again. 

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September 2016 LiverKick Rankings Update: Featherweight In Chaos

  • Published in Rankings

As we leave the summer behind there were a lot of changes in the LiverKick rankings. From a personal standpoint, my wife and I just had twins, which accounts for why this is later than we would have liked. That just meant that Jay and I had a lot of work to do for these. 

The LiverKick rankings date back to 2010 when Fraser Coffeen and myself began ranking fighters across multiple divisions, with the only way to move up the rankings (or being added to them) being defeating a ranked opponent. Therefore, these rankings are based upon who beats who, not talent, potential or anything else. They are also current, meaning that past wins or losses are not taken into account when ranking a fighter. 

 There wasn't a ton of movement at Heavyweight this time out. The biggest changes come by the way of Hesdy Gerges finding his way back onto the rankings and Andrei Gerasmichuk drops down accordingly. Light Heavyweight saw Zack Mwekassa become the Interim GLORY champion, defeating Mourad Bouzidi, which caused a few slides. Ionut Iftimoaie makes his debut after defeating Jorge Loren.

Middleweight is where there was some serious action. Jason Wilnis is the new GLORY champ, usurping Simon Marcus. Israel Adesenya has had a tremendous run since our last update in May and Ibrahim El Boustati makes his way onto the rankings thanks to a big win over Verlinden. Joe Schilling's drop is entirely because of the loss to Hisaki Kato, who immediately "retired" from kickboxing afterwards. It'll be interesting to see what else shakes up in this division.

Welterweight has been relatively static, mostly because Nieky Holzken is still the king and nobody has beaten him. The only movement comes thanks to Bellator Kickboxing's shake-up at the top of their division, with Zoltan Laszak defeating Karim Ghajji.

The lighter weight classes are where things get really odd. Superbon Banchamek is a beast and made Sitthichai look human, which is kind of amazing. There were a few omissions this time out due to activity issues of Yodsanklai and yet another "I'm leaving kickboxing," this time from Enriko Gogokhia, who has moved to the US to pursue a boxing career. Wu Xuesong has continued to be impressive, as has Tayfun Ozcan. Josh Jauncey hit a rough patch, but due to departures moved up and Jomthong makes his rankings debut.

Featherweight is where the shake-up was, with super-hyped Ilias Bulaid making his rankings debut at #2 thanks to a strong performance in the K-1 tournament. The real shake-up came from Massaro Glunder losing. For those of you who might not grasp how ridiculous these rankings can be to tabulate, Glunder's loss to Kim Minsoo then opened up the division for Wei Ninghui and Abdallah Ezbiri, meaning that some of the names on the list had to drop. 

As an aside, Gabriel Varga remains in his spot even though he did win the GLORY championship. The reality is that Featherweight is the most competitive division in the entire sport and it is also a fractured division. Due to these shake-ups, mainstays like Yuta Kubo had to be removed, as did former champion Serhiy Adamchuk. Remember, these rankings began a while back and rely on who-beats-who. One loss to someone outside of the rankings can -- and does -- create chaos. 

LiverKick Rankings Updated on 9/28/2016

Heavyweight (Per 9/16)

1 Rico Verhoeven
2 Benjamin Adegbuyi
3 Ismael Londt
4 Jahfarr Wilnis
5 Fabio Kwasi
6 Guto Inocente
7 Jamal Ben Saddik
8 Anderson Silva
9 Hesdy Gerges *
10 Andrei Gerasmichuk v

Light

Heavyweight (Per 9/16)

1 Artem Vakhitov
2 Saulo Cavalari
3 Zack Mwekassa ^
4 Mourad Bouzidi v
5 Danyo Ilunga v
6 Mladen Kujundzic v
7 Ionut Iftimoaie *
8 Jorge Loren v 
9 Andrei Stoica v
10 Luis Tavares
Middleweight (Per 9/16)

1 Jason Wilnis ^
2 Simon Marcus v
3 Artem Levin v
4 Israel Adesenya ^
5 Ibrahim El Boustati *
6 Filip Verlinden v
7 Alex Pereira v
8 Joe Schilling v
9 Dustin Jacoby v
10 Cedric Doumbe v
Welterweight (Per 9/16)

1 Nieky Holzken
2 Artur Kyshenko
3 Cedric Doumbe
4 Murthel Groenhart
5 Hicham El Gaoui
6 Raymond Daniels
7 Yoann Kongolo
8 Zoltan Laszak *
9 Karim Ghajji
10 Mustapha Haida v
Lightweight (Per 9/16)

1 Superbon Banchamek *
2 Sitthichai
3 Robin van Roosmalen v
4 Giorgio Petrosyan
5 Marat Grigorian ^
6 Wu Xuesong ^
7 Tayfun Ozcan ^
8 Anatoly Moiseev *
9 Josh Jauncey ^
10 Jomthong Chuwattana *
Featherweight (Per 9/16)

1 Kaew Weerasakreck
2 Ilias Bulaid *
3 Hidaeki Yamazaki v
4 Masaaki Noiri v
5 Minoru Kimura v
6 Wei Ninghui *
7 Abdallah Ezbiri *
8 Kim Minsoo *
9 Gabriel Varga
10 Massaro Glunder v

Legend:

* - New Addition

^ - Moved Up

v - Moved Down

Rules:

The LiverKick.com rankings are living rankings that have existed in one form or another since 2009. After the initial rankings were tabulated, they moved on from there. If one fighter beats a fighter ranked above them, they take their place. If a new fighter is introduced, that means that said fighter is ranked above whomever he beat, moving everyone else down. 

Fighters can drop or move up in the rankings without losing or winning, depending on the division in general. After 12 months of inactivity, or if a retirement is announced, fighters can be removed from the rankings. These rankings are also at our discretion.

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Samedov vs Morosanu Fight Video

  • Published in Video

Zabit Samedov defeated Catalin Morosanu yesterday on the Akhmat Fight show in Grozny. It was easy to tell from just the entrance that Morosanu was not in the shape he usually is. He pulled out of his fight with SuperKombat last month due to a herniated disk in his neck but then accepted this fight just a month later. I'm sure Akhmat paid Morosanu well to convince him to fight even though he was injured and probably hadn't trained. Samedov did his job and did it well, avoiding Morasanu's early hail mary barrage and then catching him with a well timed knee to the solar plexus. I hope Catalin Morosanu can get his neck taken care of and we can see him back in top form again soon.

Here is the video so you can all see for yourselves.

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Randy 'Boom Boom' Blake On Martial Arts and a Long Career

  • Published in Interviews

It's the sound of thunder.  It's the sound of his fists or knees connecting with his opponent's body.  It's the sound of the other guy hitting the canvas.  It's his tagline -- #BOOM!  Randy Blake Oklahoma's favorite son continues his climb to dominance in the kickboxing world.  With more than 30 fights under his belt, and over half of them ending in KOs, Blake continues to prove himself as a fierce competitor in the ring and a benevolent advocate for the sport.  In addition to exhibiting dominance on his local circuit and climbing the ranks at Glory, Blake has held the XFL Light Heavyweight and ISKA World Heavyweight titles.  Blake’s other credentials include:

  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Karate, Kickboxing, and Jiu-Jitsu under 5 time world champion Dale "Apollo" Cook;
  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Ketsugo under Herold Brosious;
  • Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under RCJ Machado.
  • Beginning his training at age six at Hillcrest Academy Dojo under Sylvester Meola in Ohio, Randy set himself on a lifelong path of the discipline required in martial arts.  After relocating to Oklahoma, Blake continued to hone is skills under 5x world champion Dale Apollo Cook at Apollo's Martial Arts.  Like many of his peers, Blake's early inspiration to begin this journey was the film, Bloodsport. Blake's interest in the prowess displayed by Van Damme on screen and his determination to perfect every move earned him punching bag for Christmas, a present he is thankful for until this very day.

Blake has had a long journey from his days of emulating Jean-Claude Van Damme to the present. Already, he has faced some of the best and brightest in the kickboxing community including Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic, Dustin Jacoby, Koichi, Mourad Bouzidi and others.  Today he not only derives his inspiration from his instructors, his peers and the generation he seeks to inspire, but also his mother. You see, Randy isn’t the only one with talent in the family when it comes to martial arts, meet Mrs. Blake.

Blake describes his mother as amazing!  When asked how he learned of his mother’s interest in martial arts, Blake recounted, “I got a phone call one day from her after high school saying ‘Guess what I’m doing?’ and as I said, ‘What?”, she said, ‘Karate!’  Blake went on to say that while he initially thought the idea humorous, his mother did in fact begin her own journey to excellence in martial arts and has competed in semi-contact rules and grappling events. Among Ms. Blake’s many accolades, she has thirteen OKA (Oklahoma Karate Association) sanctioned State Championships for Black Belt Executive Women in Kata and sparring.  She additionally has competed in NAGA (The North American Grappling Association), where she received one (1) Silver, one (1) Bronze and three (3) Gold medals.  Ms. Blake is not only a physical participant in martial arts, but she has taken her love for this discipline to another level by involving herself in organizations and projects designed to foster a love for martial arts in others.  She is not only a board member for the Oklahoma Karate Association but also a member of Girls in Gis, an organization whose goal is to unite girls and women of all ages who train Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  The organization strives to build camaraderie among the women as well as help them to crate their niche in BJJ.

Like his mother, Randy too shares her commitment to bringing the joy of martial arts to others.  Blake related that teaching and working with children is one of his passions.  A foundation in martial arts, according to Blake, gives children confidence and fosters a pattern of thinking that encourages children to do and be whatever they set as their goal. Blake stated that he experienced these principles in action growing up and wants nothing more than to give back and to be a positive role model.

In looking toward the future Blake plans to stay healthy, continue to fight and to be successful.  Blake would also like to continue to give back through motivational speaking and conducting seminars across the country.  Ultimately he would like to open a gym, but at twenty-nine years of age Blake has more to do inside the ring before heading to the sidelines.  Whether inside or outside the ring, what is clear is, whatever Randy Blake decides to do he will wow his fans and also inspire martial arts students around the world.

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IKSA's Cory Schafer Talks Controversial Refereeing, Judging and More

  • Published in Interviews

The sport of kickboxing is one that has waxed and waned with the times. Currently the sport is attempting to grow into new markets and find its niche and, accordingly, the rules and regulations that go into making kickboxing events happen have come under fire of late. Much like MMA, which has seen its share of controversy in the past few years, kickboxing has seen its share of controversial decisions and actions by referees that have been uniformly frowned upon by fans, fighters and many others within the sport.

We reached out to ISKA President Cory Schafer, who is in charge of overseeing most of the bigger events that have been happening worldwide, including GLORY events, for his thoughts on these controversies and applications of the rules.

The first thing that comes to mind is just how many controversies there have been of late, which Schafer seems sympathetic towards. “I fiercely defend every fan’s right to question, criticize or complain about the officiating.  That is a privilege that they earn with the ‘price of admission’ or their support of the televised broadcast,” he explained. “I am however realistic about the legitimacy of these questions and/or criticism.  Very few fans are adequately educated on the rules or the judges scoring criteria.  Fans and the media as well fail to realize that there is a world of difference between ‘watching a fight’ and ‘judging a fight.’  They are two completely different cognitive processes.  Of course when the bout result is obvious they will lead to the same result but when the contest is less obvious often they will not.  For the past two years I’ve been part of an event called MEDIA DAY in California where we allow members of the media to attend a judges training seminar and then actually sit next to the real judges during the event and cast (unofficial) ballots.  Interestingly enough at the last media day there was a ‘controversial’ decision.  Everyone on media row had FIGHTER A winning.  All of the judges however had FIGHTER B winning.  Interestingly enough the three media shadow judges who had attended the judges seminar all had FIGHTER B winning as well.  It was a great case study in the difference between ‘watching’ and ‘judging.’”

Schafer’s position is understandable; that he stands behind the rules and regulations that he oversees and that there is a difference between having to professional judge a fight and simply watching as a spectator. But, there has to be more, right? With so many people watching and so many disagreeing, where exactly is the line drawn? Exactly how accountable are referees and judges considering that their jobs are based on split-second decisions based on -- at times -- different rules depending on the event that they are working. 

“The first obligation of an official is to be worthy of the athletes and of the sport,” Schafer said of the officials that ISKA utilize. “ Considering the commitment that the fighters (and the promotion) make to their craft – our officials need to be dedicated and always on-point.  If they can’t handle the stress then they need to take a seat in the audience.  Every official is reviewed and held accountable.  At every event that I attend I hold a post event debrief where each aspect of the officiating (controversial or not) is reviewed.  Every event needs to provide a learning experience so that the officials can advance their skills.  If officials are not ‘getting better’ they are ‘getting worse.’”

When it comes to controversy it’s difficult not to bring up Levin vs. Marcus III, a fight that ended in a disqualification and saw Artem Levin storm out of the ring. There was actually a written agreement in place for this fight considering how volatile they expected it to be.

“The first time a fighter holds the referee will likely caution the fighters without stopping the action.  The second time it occurs in the same round, the referee may do the same or stop the action and issue an official warning. If it occurs again, the fighter will be penalized a point.  Further holding will not require additional cautions or warnings unless there is a great deal of time between infractions.  If two points have been taken away and the fighter continues to foul by holding then at the point when it would be appropriate to penalize the fighter a third time the fighter should be disqualified.   The referee retains full authority to caution, warn, penalize and disqualify according to his perception of the violations.”

“Wichger’s acted consistent with the interpretation above,” Schafer added. He was in agreement that the knockdown when Levin went through the ropes was perhaps up for contention, in part due to the angle caught by the television cameras not being clear enough at the time, although when viewing from an overhead shot a week later they were able to determine that Marcus did connect with a knee that contributed to Levin falling down, thus negating any further controversy. Schafer’s final take on that fight is one in which he held nothing back, either.

“In my final evaluation, Levin’s performance in both bouts against Marcus was nothing less than disgraceful,” he frankly stated. “He intentionally and constantly fouled and fought in a way that he knew was contrary to the spirit and intention of Glory rules.  I personally spent 30 minutes with his team and a Russian interpreter prior to the first bout in order to guarantee that there could be no misunderstanding.  The written document addressing the clinching vs. holding rules was sent to all fight teams in advance, handed out at the rules meeting, read aloud at the group rules meeting and reviewed by the referee at the one-on-one rules meeting.  Levin executed three different fouling techniques in the first 30 seconds of the first round.  He tried to bully his opponent and the referee and when it didn’t work he did what most bullys do – they quit.  In my opinion he should not have been paid because he failed to live up to the terms of his contract.”

As for consistent implementation of the rules, Schafer feels that the ISKA and its officials have been consistent and that the onus lies within the fighter and the trainers to understand and obey the rules. “It’s difficult to answer that question since I don’t really feel like the rules have been implemented inconsistently.  I place the responsibility on the fighters.  Those that fight according to the rules don’t have any issue with the officiating.”

It is an interesting concept, because for less clinch-heavy fighters there really aren’t many problems with officiating. There might be a controversial knockdown or decisions like the two van Roosmalen vs. Sitthichai fights that will always be up for discussion. Are officials getting too involved, though? So many of the fighters compete across MMA, muay thai, kickboxing and boxing that their reflexes may compel them to go to certain things in desperation (like a clinch), at what point is leniency proper or should rules be followed to the letter? 

“I don’t think that leniency is the proper construct.  I think that the referee has the power to caution, warn, penalize and disqualify and they are trained on how to use those tools (along with the pre-fight one on one rules meeting, the group rules meeting and the written documents provided to the fight teams in advance) in order to avoid having the take points away.  But when a fighter breaks the rules to the extent that it is damaging his opponent’s ability to be successful then the referee must take action in order to insure a fair contest.  I don’t see the fact that kickboxing is close to both Muay Thai and MMA as any kind of mitigating factor.  These are professional fight teams who accept a contract to participate in unique sport.  Their professional obligation is to be prepared to fight according to the rules that are provided.”

Modern kickboxing’s roots are from Japan, where K-1 was notorious for handing out the drawn rounds to push for extra rounds, yet that has become less-and-less prevalent in modern kickboxing outside of Japan. When asked if this is something that officials are aware of, or intentionally avoid Schafer was clear. “If you allow officials to score rounds even than the line at which they have to make a decision will continue to degrade.  They will begin using 10-10 too often and only award a round when a fighter dominates.  I know this as a fact from 30 years of experience.  The discussion also is kind of moot since that scoring procedure is determined by the SAC and they are very strict about this.”

As most of us have seen, when a fighter feels robbed or like something went wrong in a fight, they tend to turn to social media in an attempt to garner sympathy towards them. Being frustrating is understandable, but what kind of official channels are in place for fighters who feel wronged by the system? “Fight teams may submit a written protest addressing any misapplication of the rules or evidence of collusion.”

Schafer even went as far as to pen an article explaining the differences in how judges watch fights and how fans watch fights, which you can read here.

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VIDEO: Chingiz Allazov vs. Enriko Kehl From Monte Carlo

  • Published in Video

There was a lot of big kickboxing this past weekend, but perhaps one of the more overlooked fights was from Monte Carlo between Chingiz Allazov and Enriko Kehl. Both men are well-respected top lightweights and went to war in a bout that ultimately was won by Allazov via KO. Watch the fight below and weigh in on where either guy stands in the grand scheme of things right now.

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K-1

K-1 Crowns a New -85kg Champion in Thrilling Tournament Final

  • Published in K-1

The K-1 World Grand Prix Europe marched into Bosnia this weekend with their -85kg tournament. While the names weren't quite on the same level as the -95kg tournament from last month, the action delivered in spades with a lot of young fighters looking to make a name for themselves in the tournament. The final was a crazy slugfest between Igor Emkic from Bosnia and Russian Timur Aylayrov. Timur was applying pressure and dropping Emkic with body blows and you could almost hear the air get sucked out of the crowd who was looking for a local hero to win the tournament.

Tournament Final: Timur Aylayrov (R3 - TKO) Igor Emkic 

Tournament Semi-Final: Timur Aylayrov (R3 - Dec) Agron Preteni 

Tournament Semi-Final: Igor Emkick (R3 - Dec) David Radeff 

Tournament Quarterfinal: Timur Aylayrov (R? - TKO) Vasil Ducar 

Tournament Quarterfinal: Agron Preteni (R3 - Dec) Imanol Rodriguez 

Tournament Quarterfinal: Igor Emkic (R3 - Dec) Guiseppe De Domenico 

Tournament Quarterfinal: David Radeff (R3 - Dec) Nikola Noveski 

Tournament Reserve Fight: Mesud Selimovic (R1 - KO) Petar Jaman 

Haris Brko (R3 - Dec) Rafal Gorka 

Giannis Skordilis (R3 - Dec) Maycon Coller 

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Brackets Released For K-1 World Grand Prix Europe -85kg Tournament

  • Published in K-1

After the success of the K-1 World Grand Prix Euro -95kg tournament K-1 Global is looking to take full advantage of this momentum by announcing their next tournament, the K-1 World Grand Prix Euro -85kg tournament. It features a mix of recognizable names as well as hot prospect newcomers and will look to provide the same kind of entertainment that we've come to know and want from the K-1 name. 

Here's the card thus far:

World Grand Prix Euro -85kg Tournament

David Radeff (France) vs. Nikola Noveski (Serbia)

Igor Emkic (BiH) vs. Guiseppe de Domenico (Italy)

Agron Preteni (Croatia) vs. Radoslaw Packuski (Poland)

Timu Aylyarov (Russia) vs. Vasil Ducar (Czech Republic)

Super Fights

Mesud Selimovic (BiH) vs. Imanol Rodriguez (Spain)

Giannis Skordilis (Greece) vs. Maycon Oller (Brazil)

Broslav Vujanovic (BiH) vs. Aundre Groce (England)

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K-1 World GP in Japan: Featherweight Championship Tournament Results

  • Published in K-1

K-1 crowned a Featherweight Champion in Japan last night and it was -- of course -- the ultra-violent Takeru who took the crown. Here are the quick results from the fights.

11.03.2016

Yoyogi National Gymnasium

Tokyo Japan

Live on AbemaTV (fight channel) 16:00 JP / 12AM PST / 3AM EST

~Prelims~

Yuki Egawa def Ryota (Punches, left to liver then head)

Ryuya Mineyama def Yuto Shinohara DEC (Unanimous)

Rukiya def Hisaki Hashimoto DEC (Unanimous)

~Opening Ceromony~

~K-1 Featherweight Championship Grand Prix~

reserve bout : Hirotaka Asahisa def Yuta Otaki DEC (Unanimous)

K-1 World GP Featherweight Quarter Final #1 : Ozawa Kaito def Josh Tonna KO 1R (Flying knee to the body)

K-1 World GP Featherweight Quarter Final #2 : Elias Mahmoudi def Ryuma Tobe DEC (Unanimous)

K-1 World GP Featherweight Quarter Final #3 : Yun Qi def Shota Kanbe KO 3R ( Two knockdowns, punches & flying knee )

K-1 World GP Featherweight Quarter Final #4 : Takeru def Jamie Whelan DEC (Unanimous)

K-1 Koshien 2016 -55kg Final : Taito Gunji def Ryuya Tsubakihara DEC (Unanimous)

K-1 Koshien 2016 -60kg Final : Yuma Saikyo def Takumi Yokoyama DEC (Unanimous)

K-1 Koshien 2016 -65kg Final : Kensei Kondo def Umi Honma DEC (Unanimous)

~intermission~

K-1 World GP Featherweight Semifinal #1 Kaito Ozawa def Elias Mohmoudi DEC (Unanimous)

K-1 World GP Featherweight Semifinal #2 Takeru def Yun Qi KO 2R (Punches)

Yasuomi Soda def Fawad Seddiqi DEC (Unanimous)

Yuta Kubo def Keita Makihira DEC (Unanimous)

Sanny Dahlbeck def Yashuhiro Kido KO 2R (Punches and Knee)

K-1 World GP Featherweight GP Championship Final Takeru def Kaito Ozawa Dec (Unanimous, Takeru dominated this rematch from the beginning and he dropped Kaito twice with flurries near the end of round one. Takeru didn't fight with caution as both slugged it out until the end)

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K-1 World Grand Prix Euro -95kg Results: Roman Kryklia Takes The Crown

  • Published in K-1

K-1 Global returned to Europe on October 27th with the K-1 World Grand Prix -95kg Euro tournament, where a 95kg champion was crowned in a classic, one-night, eight-man tournament. The winner of that tournament was the ever-exciting Roman Kryklia. Kryklia mowed through the competition with three KOs before the night was through, taking home the championship. His knees are nothing short of beautiful and brutal.

K-1 Euro World Grand Prix -95kg

Final: Roman Kryklia (R2 - KO) Fabio Kwasi 

Semi: Fabio Kwasi (R3 - Dec) Rade Opačić 

Semi: Roman Kryklia (R3 - KO) Atha Kasapis 

Quarterfinal: Rade Opačić (R3 - Dec) Emmanuel Payet 

Quarterfinal: Fabio Kwasi (R3 - Dec) Mladen Kujundžić 

Quarterfinal: Atha Kasapis (R3 - TKO) Aundre Groce 

Quarterfinal: Roman Kryklia (R1 - KO) Bahrudin Mahmić 

Reserve: Vasil Ducar (R3 - Dec) Panagiotis Theodosiadis 

Marina Spasić (R3 - Dec) Merima Bašić 

Sayfullah Hambahadov (R3 - Dec) Marko Adamović 

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Fight Card for K-1 World Grand Prix Europe -95kg

  • Published in K-1

After the runaway success that K-1 Japan has had, K-1 Global is looking to bring that level of excitement and interest to K-1 in Europe with their K-1 World Grand Prix Euro -95kg tournament. K-1's Ned Kuruc had discussed the idea of moving away from the eight-man tournaments in the past, but K-1 has done an about-face in seeing the high demand for these tournaments and the excitement that they can create. 

The idea behind this tournament is to blend together some well-known -95kg fighters along with some lesser known, younger talents to create a new, thriving division. K-1 Japan has been focused on the smaller weights and K-1 Europe is going to focus on the heavier weights. 

Of course, this is not without controversy. K-1 ran a World Grand Prix event in Croatia -- the one that Cro Cop won -- in cooperation with Cro Cop's former manager and Final Fight promoter Orsat Zovko. Orsat has spoken about the poor relationship with K-1 and how there were financial disagreements in the past, but now the claims have resurfaced, namely from the Zovko-affiliated FightSite, which has published a number of pieces now of fighters claiming to still be owed money from the 2013 event. This is not the first that we've heard of this, but it has been a while since this has been discussed. K-1 Global has not replied to the claims, but were aware of them. 

Regardless of past, broken business relationships, there are high hopes for K-1's new start in Europe with the -95kg tournament. Well known fighters like Mladen Kujundzic, Fabio Kwasi, Emmanuel Payet and Igor Bugaenko are involved in the tournament alongside up-and-comers. 

K-1 World Grand Prix Euro -95kg Tournament

Igor Bugaenko (Belarus) vs. Tomasz Sarara (Poland)

Atha Kasapis (Germany) vs. Aundre Groce (England)

Fabio Kwasi (Holland) vs. Mladen Kujundzic (Croatia)

Rade Opacic (Serbia) vs. Emmanuel Payet (France)

Reserve Fight

Vasil Ducar (Czech Republic) vs. Bahrudin Mahmic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Super Fights

60kg Women - Marina Spasic (Serbia) vs. Merima Basic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

71kg Men - Marko Adamovic (Serbia) vs. Sayfullah Hambahadov (Russia)

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K-1 WGP in Japan 2016 - 60kgs World Tournament Results

  • Published in K-1

So the K-1 60kgs tournament took place this morning in Tokyo, Japan. The co-main event was supposed to feature Kaew Weerasakreck against the winner of the 2016 65kgs tournament Hideaki Yamazaki but Kaew`s teammate Gon`Napar fought instead and what a fight it was. Here are all the results thanks to Mr. Jordan Booth.

Results

60kgs Tournament Final - Koya Urabe Def Taiga KO 1ST RND (Punches, 3 Knockdowns) Koya looked fantastic tonight, really utilized that great boxing of his.

65kgs Superfight - Gon'Napar Weerasakreck Def Hideaki Yamazaki Unanimous Dec (28-26,28-26,28-26) Both were dropped in the first round from punches. Yamazaki looked good in the first but at some point in the second ate few to many leg kicks and was clearly on sore legs the rest of the fight. He was barely walking after the match. good fight.

Mokoto Uehara Def Koichi Pettas Unanimous Dec (30-28,29-28,29-28)

Kenta Hayashi Def Yuji "kyoken" Takeuchi KO 1ST RND (Punches, 3 Knockdowns)

60kgs Semi 1 - Koya Urabe Def Paulo Tebar KO 2ND RND (Punches, 2 Knockdowns) 

60kgs Semi 2 - Taiga Def Hirotaka Urabe Unanimous Dec (30-27,30-27,30-26)

Makoto Kozu forest vs Hong Chin'yao KO 3RD RND 

Morii Kokai Def Michitaka Uchida Majority Dec (29-28,29-29,29-28)

Kuwata Yuta Def Yu Nomura KO 3rd RND

60kgs Quarterfinal - Kosuke Komiyama Def Paulo Tebar Unanimous Dec (30-28,29-28,30-28) (Komiyama inured so Tebar advanced)

60kgs Quarterfinal - Koya Urabe Def Karim Bennoui Unanimous Dec (30-27,30-27,30-27)

60kgs Quarterfinal - Hirotaka Urabe Def Johannes Wolf Unanimous Dec (29-28,29-28,29-28)

60kgs Quarterfinal - Taiga Def Javier Hernandez TKO 2ND RND (Downed with Liver kick, survived the round then left the ring)

Koji Def Toshi Unanimous Dec (30-29,30-29,30-29)

Masanobu Goshu Def Dynamite Yuta Takahashi Majority Dec (30-29,29-29,30-28)

K-Jee Def Yoshinari KO 2RND (Punches, 3KD)

Kento Ito vs Ryusei Asizawa DRAW (29-27,27-27,28-28)

 

 

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K-1 Europe Planning 95kg World Grand Prix on October 27th

  • Published in K-1

While K-1 Japan has been putting on some of the best shows in the world, K-1 outside of Japan has been rather quiet. K-1 GLOBAL was running events in China, but the ongoing details of setting up shop in China have considerably slowed down their approach on China for the moment. 

For fans across the world the K-1 name is still the standard for which all kickboxing is measured and K-1 is returning to Europe, kickboxing's spiritual home. K-1 Europe will operate much in the same vein that K-1 Japan does, operating shows based out of Europe highlighting the best talents around, but while K-1 Japan has lighter weights covered, K-1 Europe will be focusing on heavier weights. Everything kicks off on October 27th in Belgrade, Serbia with the K-1 Europe 95kg World Grand Prix.

This will be a one-night, eight-man tournament, returning to K-1's roots and while no names have been announced yet, the promotion is going to focus on talented up-and-comers as well as established talents in the weight division, with some of the names that I've heard being kicked around as definite crowd-pleasers.

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K-1 WORLD GP 60kgs Tournament Fight Card

  • Published in K-1

K-1 WGP 2016 60kgs Tournament takes place this weekend September 19th in Tokyo Japan at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. This will as usual be an am

azing card with an 8-man tournament at 60kgs where there is a high possibility that the Urabe brothers are going to fight in the finals again. As hard as it is for me to watch two brothers fight (they have already fought each other multiple times) they do make an exciting fight everytime. Also Kaew Weerasakreck will be defending his 65kgs belt against Hideaki Yamazaki. The last time they fought was in 2014 and Kaew won by decision but Yamazaki has got a lot better so this should be interesting.

Full Card

60kgs Tournament Final - 

65kgs Title - Kaew vs Hideaki Yamazaki

Mokoto Uehara vs Koichi Pettas

Yuji "kyoken" takeuchi vs Kenta Hayashi

60kgs Semi 1 - 

60kgs Semi 2 - 

Makoto Kozu forest vs Hong Chin'yao

Morii Kokai vs Michitaka Uchida

Kuwata Yuta vs Yu Nomura

60kgs Quarterfinal - Kosuke Komiyama vs Paulo Tebar

60kgs Quarterfinal - Koya Urabe vs Karim Bennoui

60kgs Quarterfinal - Hirotaka Urabe vs Johannes Wolf

60kgs Quarterfinal - Taiga vs Javier Hernandez

Toshi vs Koji

Dynamite Yuta Takahashi vs Masanobi Goshu

K-Jee vs Yoshinari 

Kento Ito vs Ryusei Asizawa

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K-1 Japan Holding -57.5kg Tournament For New World Title in November

  • Published in K-1

Fans of K-1 Japan know better than to mess with Takeru, the K-1 -55kg Champion, a truly violent force in kickboxing. Yet, it appears that K-1 is moving the goalpost a bit for Takeru's brand of violence by adjusting the division's weight to -57.5kg, where they will crown a new champion. This goes down on November 5th at Yoyogi National Stadium and will be an 8-man tournament.

K-1 Japan -57.5kg GP

Tournament: Ozawa Kaito vs Josh Tonna

Tournament: Tobe Ryuma vs Elias Mahmoudi

Tournament: Kanbe Shota vs Yun Qi

Tournament: Takeru vs. Jamie Whelan

Reserve: Otaki Yuta VS Asahisa Yuki

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Absolutely Do Not Push Takeru While He's Wearing His K-1 Championship

  • Published in K-1

K-1 Japan has another, star-studded and most likely knockout-filled card approaching on the 24th of June, featuring a 65kg tournament. Also featured on the card will be K-1 -55kg Champion Takeru taking on Ozawa Kaito. At a recent press conference for the event both men stared down and Kaito decided to get cute with Takeru. Takeru is, of course, a beautiful, violent soul, which is to say that it didn't work out too well. Here's the thing, don't come at Takeru while he's wearing his belt.

Apparently he's kind of invincible while wearing it, because this one-handed judo takedown is just a thing of beauty.

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GLORY Collision Hype: Badr Hari vs. Alistair Overeem

  • Published in Glory

The sport of kickboxing was once ruled by giants that roamed the Japanese countryside, competing in the K-1 World Grand Prix events as larger-than-life titans looking to floor each other. This is, in part, what made the sport of kickboxing so popular and left a lasting legacy that everyone is trying to live up to now. When Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem decided to dip his toes into the realm of K-1 many thought that he'd be easy fodder for the elite of the elite, only for him to score an upset against Badr Hari, one of the greats of the time. 

This led to Overeem entering the K-1 World Grand Prix the following year, a year that many saw Badr Hari as the man to beat in the tournament. When it came down to both men squaring off that night, everyone was expecting fireworks. That's exactly what happened.

If this Badr Hari shows up on Saturday, Rico Verhoeven is in trouble. Interestingly enough, Alistair Overeem will be joining the broadcast team on Saturday to provide expert commentary during the main event. 

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GLORY 37 Los Angeles Card Released

  • Published in Glory

While we are just over a week away from the huge GLORY Collision event in Germany, GLORY hasn't been resting on their laurels at all, instead they've geared up for a January event in Los Angeles that promises to bring action to the world in the new year. GLORY 37 features a Welterweight tournament as well as Jason Wilnis defending the GLORY Middleweight Championship against the whirlwind that is Israel Adesayna.

The SuperFight Series is headlined by newly-crowned Featherweight Champion Robin van Roosmalen defending his title against the tough Matt Embree. Al,so featured is Zoila Frausto against Daniela Graf and Giga Chikadze against Victor Pinto.

This all goes down on January 20th, GLORY 37 airing live on ESPN3 at 10pm pacific and GLORY 37 SuperFight Series airing at 7:30pm pacific on UFC Fight Pass.

GLORY 37 Los Angeles

Middleweight Title Headline Bout: Jason Wilnis (c) vs. Israel Adesayna

Welterweight Tournament Final Bout: Winner of Bout A vs. Winner of Bout B

Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Guto Inocente vs. TBA

Welterweight Tournament Semifinal Bout B: Alan Scheinson vs. Karim Benmansour

Welterweight Tournament Semifinal Bout A: Yoann Kongolo vs. Konstantin Khuzin

GLORY 37 SuperFight Series

Featherweight Title Headline Bout: Robin van Roosmalen (c) vs. Matt Embree

Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Jhonata Diniz vs. Tomas Mozny

Middleweight Bout: Mike Lemaire vs. Warren Thompson

Super Bantamweight Bout: Zoila Frausto vs. Daniela Graf

Featherweight Bout: Giga Chikadze vs. Victor Pinto

 

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GLORY Collision SuperFight Series to Air Free on UFC.tv

  • Published in Glory

For those of us looking forward to December 10th for GLORY Collision and GLORY 36 there's yet another incentive. If, for some reason, you are not a subscriber to UFC Fight Pass, you've been missing out on the SuperFight Series, which have been some of the promotion's best efforts of the year when it comes to pure match quality. Thanks to the UFC and GLORY, the upcoming GLORY SuperFight Series will air live as prelims for GLORY Collision.

Here's what the card looks like.

Light Heavyweight Headline Bout: Danyo Ilunga vs. Michael Duut

Welterweight Co-Headline Bout: Harut Grigorian vs. Danijel Solaja

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal B: Tiffany van Soest vs. Jessica Gladstone

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal A: Isis Verbeek vs. Amel Dehby

Lightweight Bout: Andrej Bruhl vs. Tyjani Beztati

The order for the show is as follows; GLORY 36 on ESPN3, GLORY SuperFight Series on UFC.tv (free) and GLORY Collision on UFC.tv PPV ($29.99).

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GLORY Collision Hype: Badr Hari vs. Sem Schilt From It's Showtime

  • Published in Glory

On December 10th kickboxing's biggest fight in ages will rock Germany with Badr Hari returning to the spotlight to take on GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven is a showdown for the ages. The event will be aired live on UFC's PPV service and is set to be a callback to the glory days of kickboxing. UFC posted a video from the archives for free to hype fans up and it's the legendary bout between Badr Hari and Semmy Schilt from It's Showtime. At the time Semmy Schilt was the undisputed king of kickboxing, serving as K-1's biggest nightmare in a huge beast of a fighter who put on staggeringly brilliant performances that seemed to lack that K-1 "pop" and excitement.

Badr Hari was a rising star at the time and, as you can see from the video, his star was perhaps never bigger worldwide. What's fascinating is as much as I remember this fight, it's still incredible to see just how many fans were in attendance and how rabid they were. These were truly the glory days of kickboxing.

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Dylan Salvador Replaces Davit Kiria Plus Updated GLORY 36/Collision Cards

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With weeks to go before December 10th, former GLORY Lightweight Champion Davit Kiria's return to the GLORY ring will be delayed, it seems. It was announced today that Kiria will be pulling out of the GLORY 36 Lightweight Tournament, being replaced by an exciting new challenger being thrust into the mix in Dylan Salvador. Salvador has made a name for himself in China, including a win over current Lightweight Champion Sitthichai. That means that Salvador will be clashing against Anatoly Moiseev, who is celebrating a recent victory over Josh Jauncey.

GLORY 36 Germany

Lightweight World Title Bout: Sittichai (c) vs. Marat Grigorian

Lightweight Tournament Final Bout: Semifinal A Winner vs. Semifinal B Winner

Featherweight Co-Headline Bout: Mosab Amrani vs. Fabio Pinca

Lightweight Tournament Semifinal B: Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai vs. Hysni Beqiri

Lightweight Tournament Semifinal A: Dylan Salvador vs. Anatoly Moiseev

GLORY 36 SuperFight Series

Light Heavyweight Headline Bout: Danyo Ilunga vs. Michael Duut

Welterweight Co-Headline Bout: Harut Grigorian vs. Danijel Solaja

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal B: Tiffany van Soest vs. Jessica Gladstone

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal A: Isis Verbeek vs. Amel Dehby

Lightweight Bout: Andrej Bruhl vs. Tyjani Beztati

GLORY: COLLISION

Heavyweight Headline Bout: Rico Verhoeven vs. Badr Hari

Welterweight World Title Bout: Nieky Holzken (c) vs. Cedric Doumbé

Heavyweight Bout: Ismael Londt vs. Jamal Ben Saddik

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Final Bout: Semifinal A Winner vs. Semifinal B Winner

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The Road to Glory Tournament Comes to the UK in 2017

  • Published in Glory

When GLORY was first gearing up they held a series of tournaments in the United States called 'Road to Glory,' with the intent being to find new talent to become an integral part of the promotion. It could be considered a success considering that we see Road to Glory fighters so often, including winners Francois Ambang, Dustin Jacoby as well as many more names from these tournaments, from Brian Collette to Myron Dennis.

Now the Road to GLORY tournaments will be making their way to the United Kingdom starting in 2017 on March 18th, hosted by Suggy's Gym. Suggy's Gym, ran by Dean Sugden, has produced former GLORY kickboxer-turned-boxer Chad "2 Slick" Sugden as well as many others in the UK. 

More details can be found on the Suggy's Gym website.

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Video: This Was Glory 35

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Glory 35 in Nice, France turned out to be an amazing event with wicked fights, great knockouts and every seat on the arena full. I'd have to say even though a lot of the arena was curtained off it was still much better to have a smaller space full of people than a big space with tons of empty seats. The French crowds are always very educated which of course makes a show much more enjoyable. Glory as usual has released a highlight of the event where you can feel the energy of the crowd and emotions of the fighters.

This was Glory 35

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GLORY Announces Cards For GLORY Collision and GLORY 36

  • Published in Glory

On December 10th GLORY will put forth their biggest show to date, the clash between GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven and former K-1 superstar Badr Hari. What's interesting is that this will be three shows across three different platforms. GLORY 36 will air live on ESPN3, GLORY 36 SuperFight Series will air live on UFC Fight Pass and will be followed by GLORY Collision via UFC.tv iPPV. 

GLORY 36 itself is a fascinating card in a lot of ways, with the GLORY Lightweight title on the line between Sitthichai and Marat Grigorian, Mosab Amrani fighting Fabio Pinca at Featherweight and a Lightweight Contender's tournament featuring some new names like Yodkhunpon against Hysni Beqiri and the return of a former champion in Davit Kiria against Anatoly Moiseev. The SuperFight Series features the semi-finals of the year-long Super Bantamweight Grand Prix, with Isis Verbeek taking on Amel Dehby and Tiffany van Soest against Jessica Gladstone. Danyo Ilunga fights Michael Duut and Harut Grigorian fights Danijel Solaaja to round out the SuperFight Series.

Collision itself is an interesting card, with the Super Bantamweight finals opening the card, then Ismael Londt fighting Jamal Ben Saddik. Nieky Holzken looks to defend his GLORY Welterweight Championship against the very tough Cedric Doumbe and then, of course, the main event. 

GLORY Collision

Heavyweight Headline Bout: Rico Verhoeven vs. Badr Hari

Welterweight World Title Bout: Nieky Holzken (c) vs. Cedric Doumbé

Heavyweight Bout: Ismael Londt vs. Jamal Ben Saddik

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Final Bout: Semifinal A Winner vs. Semifinal B Winner

GLORY 36 SuperFight Series

Light Heavyweight Headline Bout: Danyo Ilunga vs. Michael Duut

Welterweight Co-Headline Bout: Harut Grigorian vs. Danijel Solaja

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal B: Tiffany van Soest vs. Jessica Gladstone

Super Bantamweight Grand Prix Semifinal A: Isis Verbeek vs. Amel Dehby

Lightweight Bout: Andrej Bruhl vs. Tyjani Beztati

GLORY 36

Lightweight World Title Bout: Sittichai (c) vs. Marat Grigorian

Lightweight Tournament Final Bout: Semifinal A Winner vs. Semifinal B Winner

Featherweight Co-Headline Bout: Mosab Amrani vs. Fabio Pinca

Lightweight Tournament Semifinal B: Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai vs. Hysni Beqiri

Lightweight Tournament Semifinal A: Davit Kiria vs. Anatoly Moiseev

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GLORY 35 Nice and SuperFight Series Live Results

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GLORY 35 is going on now in Nice, France. An undisputed Light Heavyweight champion will be crowned here tonight. Follow us for all of the action, as well as on twitter at @LiverKickdotcom.

GLORY 35 NICE 

Light Heavyweight Title Headline Bout: Artem Vakhitov (R2 - TKO) Zack Mwekassa - These guys came here to fight, the first round featuring Vakhitov looking for the punches and low kicks -- which have always worked against Mwekassa -- but Mwekassa has been training with Nick Hemmers and is utilizing that Dutch style a bit more with the defense and mixing in the kicks. Every Mwekassa punch that lands makes this sickening thud. Ouch. Mwekassa really looks more complete and in round two it showed, but Vakhitov is slick. He landed a few big straights that snuck through and Mwekassa went down. Not once, not twice, but three times before the fight was waved off. Wow.

Heavyweight Contender Tournament Final: Benjamin Adegbuyi (R3 - Dec) Mladen Brestovac - Benny should be more tired than Brestovac, but he looks like a new fighter tonight. Brestovac was going for the kill with the head kick in the first round, but Benny was applying pressure and landing his big hand combinations. Round two saw more aggression from Adegbuyi while Brestovac was working his kicks to no real avail. The third round was the power and aggression of Benny against the heart and determination of Brestovac. Really good showing for both men.

Light Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Pavel Zhuravlev (R1 - TKO) Zinedine Hameur-Lain - Pavel Zhuravlev is an absolute monster. He just swarmed and when he smelled blood in the water he went for the kill. Amazing performance.

Heavyweight Contender Tournament Bout: Mladen Brestovac (R1 - KO) Jahfarr Wilnis  -  Here we go again. Wilnis was the aggressor throughout the round, then Brestovac with the same kick that got him the win last time connected and Wilnis froze before taking a brutal right hand that put him down and out. Poor Wilnis.

Heavyweight Contender Tournament Bout: Benjamin Adegbuyi (R3 - Decision) Hesdy Gerges - It's hard not to love both of these guys. Interesting first round that saw Benny walk Gerges down. Gerges has his high guard and tight basics, but Benny hits very, very hard, even if he's hitting gloves. The second round saw Gerges on the offensive more, while still being defensive. Both men were throwing solid combos and defending a lot, making it tough to say who won, but Gerges walking down Benny perhaps gave him an edge in R2. The third was close, but Benny has really shored up his style by training with Dennis Krauweel, being a bit more technical. He landed a few big shots, which should give him an edge.

GLORY 35 SUPERFIGHT SERIES 

Heavyweight Bout: Nicolas Wamba (R3 - Dec) Nordine Mahieddine - These two are looking to rip each other's heads off, but not having much luck with it. Wamba is controlling the ring and perhaps landing the better strikes in this fight. Neither man is having much luck.

Welterweight Bout: Karim Benmansour (R3 - Split Dec) Eyevan Danenberg - This has been an interesting fight, a lot of clinching and the ref keeps shouting "final warning" but not actually doing anything. There isn't a lot to say about this fight. They flailed strikes at each other, sometimes they landed, but this was the sort of fight that you find yourself gazing out the window during and saying, "oh wait, this is a fight."

Super Bantamweight Bout: Amel Dehby (R3 - Dec) Jiwaen Lee - First round saw Lee applying pressure but Dehby landing some solid counter strikes. The second saw Dehby come alive, much to the adoration of the local Nice crowd. Round three saw a lot of action from Dehby, even going for big moves like a spinning backfist, much to her local crowd's delight.

Lightweight Bout: Christian Baya (R3 - Dec) Josh Jauncey  - First round was interesting, with Baya applying a lot of pressure, but not landing a lot of shots. A lot of feeling out on both parts, but Josh started to open up later on in the round. The second round was interesting, as Jauncey came out aggressive with low kicks and hand combinations. Baya was able to find his right hook a few times, but it was all Jauncey until this left uppercut landed and wobbled Josh. Baya swarmed and after a few vicious flurries Jauncey fell to his knees. Jauncey was able to get back up, but the damage was done. The third round saw Jauncey come out with an understanding that he needed to do something big and he did. Finally right before the bell he landed a jumping knee that stunned Baya in the corner, he swarmed but Baya was able to hold out for the bell. Wow. Incredible fight. The judges give it to Baya and really, it seemed like it should've been a draw, but the first round was so close. Great fight, both men should be proud.

Featherweight Bout: Petpanomrung Kiatmoo9 (R3 - Dec) Stanislav Renita 

Featherweight Bout: Cedric Castaigna (R3 - Dec) Vang Moua 

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GLORY 35 Full Updated Card and Predictions

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Tomorrow afternoon in Nice, France GLORY returns in rapid-succession with GLORY 35. The GLORY 35 SuperFight Series starts at 2:30pm Eastern on UFC Fight Pass, the main card at 5pm Eastern on ESPN3. The card has been updated along the way (as it always does), but here's a chance to look at the fights on the main card.

Artem Vakhitov vs. Zack Mwekassa

Mwekassa's hands are what brings him to the dance here and made him the Interim Champion, but he's gonna need more than his incredible speeches and those bombs of hands to overcome the overall package that is Artem Vakhitov. Vakhitov is not only a tough veteran, he's one of the best in this weight division and quietly earned that spot. Chances are that he's able to simply out-kickbox Mwekassa here, but damn would it be a story if Mwekassa overcame these odds, huh?

Zinedine Hameur-Lain vs. Pavel Zhuravlev

Pavel Zhuravlev has been one of those names fighters that have existed on the fringes for years, but never was able to carve out a definitive spot for himself as a heavyweight. There seems to be a simple reason for that; he's much better at light heavyweight. He was picked to win the contender tournament at GLORY 32, but Ariel Machado beat the odds with a victory over him, with Hameur-Lain going on to win the tournament. Zhuravlev gets another crack at contendership here by fighting the number one contender and while Hameur-Lain has power and skill, it's hard to see Zhuravlev losing here.

Jafharr Wilnis vs. Mladen Brestovac

This tournament is one of their better contender tournaments in a while, right? Wilnis proved himself to be a worthy contender in the last tournament he was in, only for Ismael Londt to win a decision he may have no deserved. Now it seems like Londt isn't getting a title shot anyway -- or is he? Nobody is talking about it and I've never gotten a definitive answer as to what was going on with that. Brestovac is absolutely a legit contender at this point, but it feels like this is Jahfarr's time. Imagine the story here if Wilnis challenged Rico for the title and took it, making both himself and his brother Jason as GLORY champions in two of their most popular divisions. 

Benjamin Adegbuyi vs. Hesdy Gerges

Just like the last fight, this is a really great fight. Adegbuyi has had his chance against Rico and it just doesn't seem like a fight that he can win, but that being said, he has evolved as a fighter every time that we've seen him and his mix of power and heart has gotten him very far in a short amount of time. A win over Hesdy would really cement his status as a top three heavyweight because Gerges is very much a heavyweight gatekeeper in kickboxing. That being said, Hesdy is one of those guys that can easily upset a favorite and pick up a win.

GLORY 35 NICE 

Light Heavyweight Title Headline Bout: Artem Vakhitov vs. Zack Mwekassa 

Light Heavyweight Co-Headline Bout: Zinedine Hameur-Lain vs. Pavel Zhuravlev 

Heavyweight Contender Tournament Bout: Jahfarr Wilnis vs. Mladen Brestovac 

Heavyweight Contender Tournament Bout: Benjamin Adegbuyi vs. Hesdy Gerges

GLORY 35 SUPERFIGHT SERIES 

Heavyweight Bout: Nicolas Wamba vs. Nordine Mahieddine 

Welterweight Bout: Karim Benmansour vs. Eyevan Danenberg 

Super Bantamweight Bout: Amel Dehby vs. Jiwaen Lee 

Lightweight Bout: Josh Jauncey vs. Christian Baya 

Featherweight Bout: Petpanomrung Kiatmoo9 vs. Stanislav Renita 

Featherweight Bout: Cedric Castaigna vs. Vang Moua 

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Richard Abraham's Sacrifices and Coincidences Leading to GLORY 34

  • Published in Interviews

What sacrifices are you willing to make to realize your dream? Would you pay to work in your chosen profession? Would you exercise diligence in your pursuit, following up on every possibility? Could you be a chameleon, assuming all the roles necessary to win the prize.  Maybe you wouldn't, but Richard Abraham has, does and will.  One of the newest faces in the welterweight division at Glory, Abraham comes to the ring with a professional record of 10-3-0, with three wins already with Glory.  He has trained extensively in Thailand and arrived back home ready to work.  Hailing from Itasca, Illinois, Abraham found in kickboxing a positive way to deal with anger and a life that could have gone very wrong.  When asked what he'd be doing if he weren't fighting, he replied, "Probably nothing good."  

Through the sport, however, he has found the discipline and skills needed to be successful in life.  So far he's enjoying the ride at Glory and is on a three fight win streak having defeated Pawel Jedrzejczyk in his Glory debut as well as Casey Greene and Francois Ambang at Glory 30 in Los Angeles.  Interestingly enough, prior to his debut at Glory 27, he had planned to return to Thailand.  The gods, however, were with him and he answered Glory's call.  Coincidentally, although he was scheduled to fight at Max Muay Thai stadium in Thailand, the stadium caught fire making Glory his blessing in disguise. Abraham expresses little fear in the face of any opponent his main goal is to be matched with fighters that will challenge him and take his skill level even higher and he doesn't mind being an underdog.  Being able to fight and be successful at his craft is his primary goal.  Abraham is a  self described well rounded fighter, with the ability to fight off multiple different styles. He is also keenly aware of the need for a synthesis between not only physical conditioning but also the mental aspect of fighting.  It's mind, body and soul.  

At Glory 34 Abraham prepares to face "The Blood Diamond" Mike Mathetha.  While not much is known about this opponent, Abraham is confident and prepared. Richard extends many thanks to all the fans for their support and he plans to continue to push hard and to show the world that he is a force.  For those interested in continue to watch this fighter on his journey you can follow him on both Twitter and Instagram @muaythaichicago or via his Facebook fan page Richard Maximus Abraham.  It's fight night on Friday, October 21st at Glory 34 Denver and another opportunity for this fighter to prove what he's made of.  

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Casey 'Go' Greene and Whatever It Takes at GLORY 34

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Ready. Set. Go. Casey "Go" Greene that is. It's always great to talk to someone who is invested in advancing to the highest level of their craft.  What's even better is when you meet someone who attacks their goal with such tenacity that it would seem that their very life depended on it.  That is what you get when you meet Casey Greene.  The California native has joined the team and it's all or nothing.  Actually it's all for Greene, there is no other option.  Using the hashtag #Project WIT, Greene is living his philosophy, "Whatever it takes" (WIT).  Whatever it takes to be the best, whatever it takes to stay on top.  Whatever it takes to be the best man he can be in all aspects of his life. As kickboxing in the US steadily climbs in popularity, Greene plans to fulfill his dream of being on another level as well as taking the sport to another level.    

With a 4-3 record in Glory and currently ranked at #6, Greene is determined to set the welterweight division aflame.  A California native, Greene embarked upon his kickboxing journey fearlessly and with the idea in mind that becoming the best means training with the best, Carlos Dekkers, brother of the late and great Ramon Dekkers.  While seven fights does not a champion make, Greene has in this short time faced some of the best and brightest in Glory including Mike Lemaire, Dustin Jacoby and Francois Ambang.  Greene states that he works toward becoming a well rounded fighter and with experience in MMA, he counts his ability to stand and bang as an asset.

This Friday, October 21st, Greene is prepared  to do whatever it takes as he faces Glory newcomer Thongchai Sitsonpeenong at Glory 34 in Denver.  While his opponent has a record of more than 100 fights a fact like that doesn't phase Greene as he is willing to take on all comers as he continues to climb the ranks in his division.  

So if you haven't heard the name before, remember it, you'll be hearing it again and again. 

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Randy 'Boom Boom' Blake On Martial Arts and a Long Career

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It's the sound of thunder.  It's the sound of his fists or knees connecting with his opponent's body.  It's the sound of the other guy hitting the canvas.  It's his tagline -- #BOOM!  Randy Blake Oklahoma's favorite son continues his climb to dominance in the kickboxing world.  With more than 30 fights under his belt, and over half of them ending in KOs, Blake continues to prove himself as a fierce competitor in the ring and a benevolent advocate for the sport.  In addition to exhibiting dominance on his local circuit and climbing the ranks at Glory, Blake has held the XFL Light Heavyweight and ISKA World Heavyweight titles.  Blake’s other credentials include:

  • 4th Degree Black Belt in Karate, Kickboxing, and Jiu-Jitsu under 5 time world champion Dale "Apollo" Cook;
  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Ketsugo under Herold Brosious;
  • Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under RCJ Machado.
  • Beginning his training at age six at Hillcrest Academy Dojo under Sylvester Meola in Ohio, Randy set himself on a lifelong path of the discipline required in martial arts.  After relocating to Oklahoma, Blake continued to hone is skills under 5x world champion Dale Apollo Cook at Apollo's Martial Arts.  Like many of his peers, Blake's early inspiration to begin this journey was the film, Bloodsport. Blake's interest in the prowess displayed by Van Damme on screen and his determination to perfect every move earned him punching bag for Christmas, a present he is thankful for until this very day.

Blake has had a long journey from his days of emulating Jean-Claude Van Damme to the present. Already, he has faced some of the best and brightest in the kickboxing community including Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic, Dustin Jacoby, Koichi, Mourad Bouzidi and others.  Today he not only derives his inspiration from his instructors, his peers and the generation he seeks to inspire, but also his mother. You see, Randy isn’t the only one with talent in the family when it comes to martial arts, meet Mrs. Blake.

Blake describes his mother as amazing!  When asked how he learned of his mother’s interest in martial arts, Blake recounted, “I got a phone call one day from her after high school saying ‘Guess what I’m doing?’ and as I said, ‘What?”, she said, ‘Karate!’  Blake went on to say that while he initially thought the idea humorous, his mother did in fact begin her own journey to excellence in martial arts and has competed in semi-contact rules and grappling events. Among Ms. Blake’s many accolades, she has thirteen OKA (Oklahoma Karate Association) sanctioned State Championships for Black Belt Executive Women in Kata and sparring.  She additionally has competed in NAGA (The North American Grappling Association), where she received one (1) Silver, one (1) Bronze and three (3) Gold medals.  Ms. Blake is not only a physical participant in martial arts, but she has taken her love for this discipline to another level by involving herself in organizations and projects designed to foster a love for martial arts in others.  She is not only a board member for the Oklahoma Karate Association but also a member of Girls in Gis, an organization whose goal is to unite girls and women of all ages who train Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  The organization strives to build camaraderie among the women as well as help them to crate their niche in BJJ.

Like his mother, Randy too shares her commitment to bringing the joy of martial arts to others.  Blake related that teaching and working with children is one of his passions.  A foundation in martial arts, according to Blake, gives children confidence and fosters a pattern of thinking that encourages children to do and be whatever they set as their goal. Blake stated that he experienced these principles in action growing up and wants nothing more than to give back and to be a positive role model.

In looking toward the future Blake plans to stay healthy, continue to fight and to be successful.  Blake would also like to continue to give back through motivational speaking and conducting seminars across the country.  Ultimately he would like to open a gym, but at twenty-nine years of age Blake has more to do inside the ring before heading to the sidelines.  Whether inside or outside the ring, what is clear is, whatever Randy Blake decides to do he will wow his fans and also inspire martial arts students around the world.

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IKSA's Cory Schafer Talks Controversial Refereeing, Judging and More

  • Published in Interviews

The sport of kickboxing is one that has waxed and waned with the times. Currently the sport is attempting to grow into new markets and find its niche and, accordingly, the rules and regulations that go into making kickboxing events happen have come under fire of late. Much like MMA, which has seen its share of controversy in the past few years, kickboxing has seen its share of controversial decisions and actions by referees that have been uniformly frowned upon by fans, fighters and many others within the sport.

We reached out to ISKA President Cory Schafer, who is in charge of overseeing most of the bigger events that have been happening worldwide, including GLORY events, for his thoughts on these controversies and applications of the rules.

The first thing that comes to mind is just how many controversies there have been of late, which Schafer seems sympathetic towards. “I fiercely defend every fan’s right to question, criticize or complain about the officiating.  That is a privilege that they earn with the ‘price of admission’ or their support of the televised broadcast,” he explained. “I am however realistic about the legitimacy of these questions and/or criticism.  Very few fans are adequately educated on the rules or the judges scoring criteria.  Fans and the media as well fail to realize that there is a world of difference between ‘watching a fight’ and ‘judging a fight.’  They are two completely different cognitive processes.  Of course when the bout result is obvious they will lead to the same result but when the contest is less obvious often they will not.  For the past two years I’ve been part of an event called MEDIA DAY in California where we allow members of the media to attend a judges training seminar and then actually sit next to the real judges during the event and cast (unofficial) ballots.  Interestingly enough at the last media day there was a ‘controversial’ decision.  Everyone on media row had FIGHTER A winning.  All of the judges however had FIGHTER B winning.  Interestingly enough the three media shadow judges who had attended the judges seminar all had FIGHTER B winning as well.  It was a great case study in the difference between ‘watching’ and ‘judging.’”

Schafer’s position is understandable; that he stands behind the rules and regulations that he oversees and that there is a difference between having to professional judge a fight and simply watching as a spectator. But, there has to be more, right? With so many people watching and so many disagreeing, where exactly is the line drawn? Exactly how accountable are referees and judges considering that their jobs are based on split-second decisions based on -- at times -- different rules depending on the event that they are working. 

“The first obligation of an official is to be worthy of the athletes and of the sport,” Schafer said of the officials that ISKA utilize. “ Considering the commitment that the fighters (and the promotion) make to their craft – our officials need to be dedicated and always on-point.  If they can’t handle the stress then they need to take a seat in the audience.  Every official is reviewed and held accountable.  At every event that I attend I hold a post event debrief where each aspect of the officiating (controversial or not) is reviewed.  Every event needs to provide a learning experience so that the officials can advance their skills.  If officials are not ‘getting better’ they are ‘getting worse.’”

When it comes to controversy it’s difficult not to bring up Levin vs. Marcus III, a fight that ended in a disqualification and saw Artem Levin storm out of the ring. There was actually a written agreement in place for this fight considering how volatile they expected it to be.

“The first time a fighter holds the referee will likely caution the fighters without stopping the action.  The second time it occurs in the same round, the referee may do the same or stop the action and issue an official warning. If it occurs again, the fighter will be penalized a point.  Further holding will not require additional cautions or warnings unless there is a great deal of time between infractions.  If two points have been taken away and the fighter continues to foul by holding then at the point when it would be appropriate to penalize the fighter a third time the fighter should be disqualified.   The referee retains full authority to caution, warn, penalize and disqualify according to his perception of the violations.”

“Wichger’s acted consistent with the interpretation above,” Schafer added. He was in agreement that the knockdown when Levin went through the ropes was perhaps up for contention, in part due to the angle caught by the television cameras not being clear enough at the time, although when viewing from an overhead shot a week later they were able to determine that Marcus did connect with a knee that contributed to Levin falling down, thus negating any further controversy. Schafer’s final take on that fight is one in which he held nothing back, either.

“In my final evaluation, Levin’s performance in both bouts against Marcus was nothing less than disgraceful,” he frankly stated. “He intentionally and constantly fouled and fought in a way that he knew was contrary to the spirit and intention of Glory rules.  I personally spent 30 minutes with his team and a Russian interpreter prior to the first bout in order to guarantee that there could be no misunderstanding.  The written document addressing the clinching vs. holding rules was sent to all fight teams in advance, handed out at the rules meeting, read aloud at the group rules meeting and reviewed by the referee at the one-on-one rules meeting.  Levin executed three different fouling techniques in the first 30 seconds of the first round.  He tried to bully his opponent and the referee and when it didn’t work he did what most bullys do – they quit.  In my opinion he should not have been paid because he failed to live up to the terms of his contract.”

As for consistent implementation of the rules, Schafer feels that the ISKA and its officials have been consistent and that the onus lies within the fighter and the trainers to understand and obey the rules. “It’s difficult to answer that question since I don’t really feel like the rules have been implemented inconsistently.  I place the responsibility on the fighters.  Those that fight according to the rules don’t have any issue with the officiating.”

It is an interesting concept, because for less clinch-heavy fighters there really aren’t many problems with officiating. There might be a controversial knockdown or decisions like the two van Roosmalen vs. Sitthichai fights that will always be up for discussion. Are officials getting too involved, though? So many of the fighters compete across MMA, muay thai, kickboxing and boxing that their reflexes may compel them to go to certain things in desperation (like a clinch), at what point is leniency proper or should rules be followed to the letter? 

“I don’t think that leniency is the proper construct.  I think that the referee has the power to caution, warn, penalize and disqualify and they are trained on how to use those tools (along with the pre-fight one on one rules meeting, the group rules meeting and the written documents provided to the fight teams in advance) in order to avoid having the take points away.  But when a fighter breaks the rules to the extent that it is damaging his opponent’s ability to be successful then the referee must take action in order to insure a fair contest.  I don’t see the fact that kickboxing is close to both Muay Thai and MMA as any kind of mitigating factor.  These are professional fight teams who accept a contract to participate in unique sport.  Their professional obligation is to be prepared to fight according to the rules that are provided.”

Modern kickboxing’s roots are from Japan, where K-1 was notorious for handing out the drawn rounds to push for extra rounds, yet that has become less-and-less prevalent in modern kickboxing outside of Japan. When asked if this is something that officials are aware of, or intentionally avoid Schafer was clear. “If you allow officials to score rounds even than the line at which they have to make a decision will continue to degrade.  They will begin using 10-10 too often and only award a round when a fighter dominates.  I know this as a fact from 30 years of experience.  The discussion also is kind of moot since that scoring procedure is determined by the SAC and they are very strict about this.”

As most of us have seen, when a fighter feels robbed or like something went wrong in a fight, they tend to turn to social media in an attempt to garner sympathy towards them. Being frustrating is understandable, but what kind of official channels are in place for fighters who feel wronged by the system? “Fight teams may submit a written protest addressing any misapplication of the rules or evidence of collusion.”

Schafer even went as far as to pen an article explaining the differences in how judges watch fights and how fans watch fights, which you can read here.

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Artem Levin Talks About the Fallout From GLORY 27, the Future and More

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On Friday, February 27th Glory returned to Chicago and headlining the event was the third installment of the epic battle between Simon Marcus and Artem Levin. Glory 27 did not disappoint from the first bout to the last, fighters electrified the crowd with stunning knockouts and hard fought battles. The main event was not without drama. The night ended with reigning champion Artem Levin being disqualified after he failed to continue fighting. In a statement he later released to the public, Levin apologized to his fans for letting them down, however, he revealed that he felt self respect was far more important than winning or losing. In a follow-up conversation with Levin, he expressed his view point and gave an idea of what is to come.

Levin: The refereeing was strange from the very beginning. There were thoughts after the fight, perhaps, I overreacted and ended the fight early, but after another time I’ve watched the fight, I realized that I was right about everything. The referee was charged-up from the start, beginning with the fictitious knockdown. They’ve taken way the belt for the second time using this referee. The 4-man tournament in Los Angeles in 2013 involved the referee beginning the count after a punch to shoulder in the extra round. Also during this event the referee began the count in the first round and took points from me in the next rounds due to mutual clinching. This referee has done the same thing each time refereeing my fights. I decided in the third round to exit and to stop the absurdness and nonsense. Some say, that I should have continued and fight until the final bell, but the referee would have taken a point another time and I’d be disqualified by him. So I thought I should make a decision. I rely on me only, I decide my fate myself, thus I made the decision! Numerous Americans, Canadians, and websites around the world supported me. I am sure that I’ve done the right thing!

As far as his immediate plans, Levin continued: I’ve got many suggestions, but I’ve signed with GLORY at the current time. The future is interesting, time will show whether I will be perfoming. I’d like to leave it without comment. I will say that one of my main aim is to perform in Russia I've been fighting abroad through all my career in foreign promotions, with foreign supporters, with foreign referees. Now I’d like to fight for my native fans in my country with the best opponents!

As I footnote to Levin's comments, I asked Glory CEO, Jon Franklin to give some of his feedback on the incident.

Jon Franklin: ISKA held a special session during the rules meeting to triple check that the athletes understood clinching and holding rules. The rules are available to the athletes and it is the responsibility of the athletes to know and understand all rules of competition. If an athlete has a question about the referee or judging, there is a proper procedure in place for review after the bouts. One of the rules is that refusing to fight will result in a disqualification. That is what happened.

It remains to be seen whether Levin will in some way attempt to appeal the disqualification on some ground or if he will just prepare himself for Levin-Marcus IV.

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Artem Levin Talks Marcus Rematch, Vaseline and What Went Down Leading Into GLORY 25

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To many he's an enigma, quiet, stealthy and calculating. A man of few words outside the ring where afterall, he's let his knees, fists and elbows do most of his talking.  On the other side of the ropes Levin is relaxed with the disarming smile of a school boy and someone who would seem incapable of the brutality he often inflicts upon his opponents. With the precision of some of his idols, Artem Levin has taken the world of kickboxing and muay thai by storm and is preparing to indelibly leave his mark on the sport. Currently Levin is top man in the Middleweight division, a title he earned in 2014 and one which he is determined to maintain for years to come. On Friday, February 27th Levin will again defend his title as he for the third time faces Simon Marcus. In what is bound to be one of the most exciting face-offs of the year, Levin and Marcus will participate in an extremely emotional battle which most recently erupted at Glory 21 in San Diego. Ahead of this trilogy, I had an opportunity to pose some questions to Levin and find out what beats within the heart of "The Lion".

On his beginnings:

I was born in a small provincial town of Prokopyevsk. It’s a mine town. There were no other good professions other than coalminer in the 1990s. There were three ways to make living: be a coalminer, a criminal or a sportsman, so I joined my brothers at the gym. They were going in for boxing and then muay thai became my sport. My influence was the fact that there had been some muay thai fighters with world and European titles and golden medals at that time in town, and not any boxing champions.

What was your family's response to you pursuing kickboxing as a profession?

Definitely my parents and my family are my main fans, my support, my base of power. They support me and make me comfortable. My mother is distressed for me as any mother would be. She always waits for the ending of this “nightmare”, but at the same time she understands my choice and that it’s useless to dispute with me. I’m really proud of my family. They had waited for me to quit during the first years of my sports experience, but everyone knows that it’s my life choice now.

Had you not pursued a career in combat sports what other kind of career would you have chosen?

It’s hard for me to say. I’ve been in sports since I remember myself, I began with muay thai when I was 10. I always have seen myself with a career in sports. I see myself as comprehensive person: I read books and I have many hobbies. All that happens through sports. I guess, nothing good can come without sport, but I haven’t known another life.

Describe a typical training day when you are preparing for a fight.

It’s not exciting. My usual routine: wake up, have a breakfast, go to morning workout for an approximately 1.5-2 hour session of drills and techniques, speed or strength endurance exercises.  It depends on preparation stage but then lunch, sleep and on to a second workout which usually includes an intensive 3 hour session of sparring and using special equipment.  After training I usually take a walk, have dinner, do some reading before bed and then sleep and it all begins again.

You are becoming widely known for your boxing and defensive strategy, what do you feel are some of your other strengths as a fighter?

I don’t focus narrowly on one thing. Perhaps, I act instinctively in a fight and I’m training in all aspects. I try to become comprehensive. My work is based on defense firstly. I appreciate my health, that’s why I don’t want to join in an exchange of blows or to let a punch get through. It's my goal to keep being healthy during my entire career  so as to take more fights with sober mind, without injures, with fresh body.

Who inspires you as a fighter?

I’m inspired by legendary athletes, even though not martial artists, such as Mike Tyson and Muhammed Ali – they became iconic for thousands around the world. I admire Michael Jordan, Usain Bolte, Michael Phelps and others who became a hero in their sport. Those who proved that nothing is impossible.

Aside from fighting Joe Schilling and possibly Simon Marcus again, are there any other fighters with whom you'd be interested in being matched up against.

It doesn’t matter who’s the opponent. If you want to be the best, to leave a mark in kickboxing or muay thai history, it doesn’t matter who you fight against. You don’t choose opponents, you just defeat the best and prove that you are the best. The question: who I’d be interested in fighting against? I don’t have any preference. I want to fight no matter against who.

How many years have you've been living in San Diego? How did you choose that city? Has the transition between the two countries been difficult?

Well I can’t say I’ve moved here yet. I still live in Russia. One of my training camps is here and there are valuable opportunities here to develop and work on my career. The transition was quite easy, my friends from The Boxing Club in San Diego have helped. I chose San Diego as it is a warm city by the ocean with a mild climate and beautiful places to live in. It’s a simple choice after cold Siberia.  

Your fight with Simon Marcus in San Diego was a bit controversial. Both of you felt that you had won the match. Additionally during the post-fight press conference, you expressed a concern that he had not been called on excessive holding. Can you talk more about that fight from your perspective in terms of the calls by the referee and how the match was scored. How do you feel it should have been scored.

Definitely I won the fight. As for Simon Marcus, he played foul. He was slippery with vaseline. I guess it was a trick to rub on the vaseline a few hours before the fight, for skin to dry and then to become slippery with sweat. We are not allowed to apply anything besides vaseline to our face. As for points, I wonder why a point was reduced from my score and none from Simon’s, the clinch was mutual. Thus I think I won three rounds undoubtedly at least. If I gave away two rounds to him, I still don’t think that I lost them.  A draw is a gift to him from the judges and referees. From the referee especially, I’d say. He can thank the referee personally.

Also you have been highly criticized by Joe Schilling. Most recently following the Glory 25 event Schilling stated that he feels that you are in fact avoiding him. You were set to face Schilling for the third time in Denver this year but had to withdraw due to injury. Can you talk about what happened and where you are with your recovery?

I was injured during training camp before the amateur world championships in Thailand in August. The injury was not severe but it was such that it could keep me from proper preparation for the fight.  I was informed about the fight six weeks before it was scheduled and it was to be held in a high mountain region. I am the champion of the promotion. It would be foolish to go on with that risk and to demonstrate disrespect in that way to Schilling. If I took a fight as insignificant and began preparation within 6 weeks, and taking into account that I had  been to Thailand at that time, then - 5 weeks, and I could take normal proper workout sessions in a week after then perhaps. That’s why I did not and I also saw the prospect of coming to a fight with an injury and without proper preparation as disrespectful to GLORY’s executives. I won a WKN title bout recently and I am recovered and  motivated.  I’m ready to fight anywhere. I’d rather watch Joe Schilling fight outside  the USA. Is he able to fight outside California or USA? He needs helpful judges.

I know that continuing to defend your title is a priority for you in the coming year. Do you have any other plans for 2016?

The main priority is my title defense obviously, but also to fight more, in any promotion, even if it would be not GLORY.  I took the WKN muay thai belt and now my aim is leave a mark in muaythai and kickboxing, for people to remember me even after the my career is finished.

Any message to your fans?

Enjoy spectacular fights. Thank you for your support. Follow me on Instagram and watch my career. I will try my best to reward you with my victories.

Reminiscent of the Thrilla in Manila, Glory 27 is expected to bring the drama from which only one man can walk away victorious.  Levin has the confidence and the experience -- Marcus, the determination and the desire to bring to fruition a lifetime of dedication.  Friday night at the Sears Centre it will be time.  

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Steven Banks on His Time in Kunlun Fight and How Phuket Top Team Transformed Him as a Fighter

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Before GLORY came to America and helped to bring kickboxing back into the discourse of the average combat sports fan kickboxing in America was a very different beast. There was a small cluster of names that you'd hear all of the time who would be fighting throughout the country without a lot of fanfare, one of those was Steven Banks. Banks, a larger heavyweight was doing his best to capture the attention of bigger international leagues but it has always been a bit of a slow road for Banks.

This included fighting in shows in Europe on short notice for bad pay, taking fights that weren't going to be good for his career because it was worth a shot and everything else in between. Things finally seem to be turning around for Banks and a lot of that he credits to his time training in Thailand at Phuket Top Team. His time in China has helped to give him a new perspective on fighting and on October 31st he'll return to China for Kunlun Fight 33. We caught up with Banks to talk to him about the past, the present and the future.

LK: So you’ve done both MMA and kickboxing in your professional career, what is it about kickboxing and muay thai that has drawn you in as a fighter as opposed to focusing solely on MMA like so many fighters today?

SB: I love the art of striking. I enjoy every bit of it, the culture and the tradition... my 1st love was and will always be Muay Thai... I think the reason that I prefer to do Muay Thai or kickboxing over MMA is because alot of fighters will go out there and get a takedown, and cuddle for a win... I actually still train for MMA as well...I will be fighting in MMA again soon...

LK: You are an American living and training in Thailand right now. What prompted that move and what kind of results have you seen?

SB: When Phuket Top Team offered me the chance to train full time,  I had to take it! Best decision I have ever made... I have seen amazing results... it was really hard to try and train effectively while having a full-time job, competing against the best in the world is tough already... most of the guys I have been fighting were training full-time already... I decided that if I wanted to go out and become one of the best American heavyweights I needed to go and train with some of the best... training full-time and having a camp that pushes you to become better and better each day is incredible... my head trainer Neung pushes me everyday, Neung took me under his wing as soon as I got to PTT... no day is easy...its put all the effort in it... getting to train everyday with world class trainers is a great way to spend your time...

LK: You’ve gone through your share of a transformation when it comes to your body, from what I understand losing a great deal of weight. How has that impacted your career?

SB: Oh yes... since I have been training at PTT... I have dropped over 60 pounds... I have been told by promotions that I didnt look "pretty" enough for the sponsors of the show.  As a heavyweight, I have always been one of the heavier fighters... I'm a fighter, not a model... I love food... since dropping this weight I have noticed my cardio is 100 times better than ever... when I finished my last fight, I walked over to my coach and told him I felt like I could go a couple more rounds and that I felt great... my coaches at Phuket Top Team have made it a point to push me to become one of the best...

LK: I’ve gotta ask -- the fight with Lungu where you guys spilled out of the ring. What went through your mind at that moment and when the fight was declared a loss for you?

SB: Oh man... I wish I could get that changed on my record... that accident should have been called a no contest... we knew he was going to try and take me to the ground from the very beginning of the fight... just wasn't expecting the ropes to be so low...  the ropes were at the correct height, but when you have almost 700 plus pounds moving in 1 direction its hard to stop... I didnt understand why they gave Lungu the win. I have asked for several rematches to set the record straight... but to no luck...

LK: You’ve seen some success of late in Kunlun Fight in China and are currently preparing to fight in a few weeks time here, how has your experience fighting in China been thus far?

SB: Yes, I fight again for Kunlun Fight October 31st against another Chinese fighter...I absolutely love fighting in China... they treat every fighter with so much respect. I have fought in China 6 times... and every time I have, it has never been a bad experience...I got my nickname from fighting in China... I have so much respect for the fans. I will stay after the fights to meet as many fans as i can... I wamt them to know how much I respect them as a fighter...

LK: Your success in China has been interesting, with your only loss to the guy who beat Rico Verhoeven, do you see yourself as a threat to these guys on the top tier of the division?

SB: That loss was my 1st loss in China... he caught me with a great jumping knee to the ribs... I really believe I can beat many of the guys on the top tier of the division...  I was able to compete against top level guys with part-time training. Now its time to show everyone what I can really do... I see guys fight and I feel that I can trade with the best there is... I might not be pretty, but I will give the crowd a show they will never forget...

LK: Do you think that kickboxing or muay thai will ever really take off in the United States, especially after seeing China of late and how it’s growing there?

SB: I really hope it does take off in the United States... I know that it is currently growing... I think the reason more fighters choose to go to MMA rather than kickboxing or Muay Thai is because they have a background in wrestling... not like most of the dominant countries in the world of Muay Thai or kickboxing...

LK: You started off in football and transitioned to fighting, have you been able to take anything from your time in football with you into combat sports?

SB: One of the biggest things that I have been able to take to fighting from football has been the will not to give up. With all sports comes injuries... I played football for many years, I finally started to listen to my body on recovery and injuries...I think that has helped me to stay active in fighting over and over...

LK: What can we expect in the future from Steve Banks?

SB: Keep your ears and eyes open... I am planning on dominating the heavyweight division... I want to take on everyone... I will be fighting in Muay Thai,  kickboxing, boxing,  and MMA in the very near future...  to be the best, you got to take on the best... I'm here to do that... we make our own future... I'm here to show everyone that America does have great heavyweight Muay Thai and kickboxers... and we will be taking on all...

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Wayne Barrett Ready to Return to Greatness at GLORY 24

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This Friday at GLORY 24 Wayne Barrett is set to return from an absence from the ring to fight recent GLORY tournament winner Dustin Jacoby. For many, Wayne Barrett is one of those raw talents in kickboxing who could easily become a major player for years to come, which is especially rare considering that he is an American. Perhaps the feather in the cap of his relatively young kickboxing career is a win over Joe Schilling. The Schilling win came at a time when many saw Schilling as unstoppable, putting a considering dent in the armor of the myth that was Joe Schilling at the time. The win over Bogdan Stoica that came at GLORY’s Last Man Standing tournament was purely academic at that point.

After that, though, things haven’t been all sunshine and happiness for Wayne Barrett. On a three fight skid right now, Barrett elected to take time off to get his head back into the game. “You know, they offered me fights, man. They offered me fights to get myself a win, to build my confidence up and everyone thought that I should do it, but I turned them down. What’s the point if I’m not the Wayne Barrett that I truly believe that I can be? I took time for myself,” he explained. “And let me tell you, I feel incredible right now. This fight is all about me, it’s all about Wayne and getting everything right.”

What he means is that during his time away from the ring he made sure that everything was in order in his personal life as well as his professional life. As a father it was important to him to feel that he was doing his best and to set the right kind of example. A lot of that had to do with how he was training, as well. “I went through so many coaches at this point, I’ve had coaches telling me what to do, trying to change me and make me more of an orthodox fighter. But that isn’t who I am. I’ve got, for lack of a better word, a sort of swagger to me and how I fight. I’m unlike anyone else in the world in the ring and that’s what I bring to the table, so I’m not trying to be someone else anymore, I’m just being me right now.”

I brought up a young Rico Verhoeven, who at the time was incredibly talented with a ton of potential, but if you would go back and watch Rico’s early fights you’ll see a stiff, rigid and uncomfortable Verhoeven. The confidence to be himself wasn’t quite there yet compared to the Rico Verhoeven of today. “Oh man, absolutely,” he was getting excited now. “I love Rico, man. He’s just incredible. He’s his own man out there. Does he honor the whole Dutch style? Of course he does, but he’s making it his own, what he’s doing is an evolution. That’s how I view myself. They wanted me to do this you kick-I kick thing and that wasn’t who I am so it just didn’t work.”

Barrett, while in his late 20’s, is still relatively fresh into his professional career. “My second professional fight,” he said, “that was in the GLORY ring against a guy like Mike Lemaire.” Indeed it was his second professional fight, that fight being a knockout of Lemaire. What is astonishing about Barrett’s professional career is that upon joining GLORY he was immediately thrust into the spotlight, fighting some of the biggest names in the world. He stepped into the ring for his fourth professional fight against Joe Schilling, arguably the top dog in the division at that time, and he didn’t only handle himself well, but he won. There was no carefully curated career here, Barrett was simply there, with a rocket strapped to his back going full steam ahead.

When it came time for him to step into the ring with the notorious Romanian slugger Bogdan Stoica he felt ready, although the more that we talked about how kickboxing worked overseas, the more he opened up about how different his career has been. “There is no padding on my record,” he laughed. “I remember looking at Stoica’s record and thinking -- as a fan -- that I had no clue who some of these people that he was crushing were. Even some of the guys who beat him I had never heard of before.” The fight ended with Stoica going down to a left hook, Barrett moving forward in the tournament only to meet Joe Schilling. When I brought up the decision and how there was controversy over it he quickly interjected, “You could say that again.” 

Even if his next two fights were indeed losses, one to Jason Wilnis and one to Simon Marcus, they were still against two of the top fighters within the division. While most would look at that, shrug and take an easy fight, Barrett decided to go back to the drawing board and wait for another opportunity down the line. Now, though? “I’m going full force now,” he said. “I want to fight again this year, as long as they’ll let me. I think they probably will. Then next year I want to stay as active as I can.”

Tournaments, though, don’t seem to be in the immediate future for Wayne Barrett. “Nah,” he said. “Just single fights for me right now. Too much is out of your control in those tournaments. In the future? Yeah, if there is a big tournament I’ll be a part of it, but I want to focus on one opponent for right now and I want to prove to everyone that Wayne Barrett really is as good as everyone thinks that he can be. Man,” he laughed. “Now I’m talking in third person about myself. I still can’t believe that I’m at that point where I can talk to people about myself in third person.”

What I took away from my time talking to Wayne Barrett is that he’s in a very, very good place right now. He’s both mentally and physically ready for the road ahead and understands that while it was sort of shocking to initially see himself on a list as a top middleweight that he has to keep proving himself and earn his top spot. We’ll see what he brings to the table against Dustin Jacoby at GLORY 24 on Friday night in Denver.

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Joe Schilling Talks Once Again Chasing Artem Levin for Rubber Match and GLORY 24

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(C) Glory Sports International/James Law

Few names have become as synonymous with the American kickboxing movement within GLORY over the past few years like Joe Schilling. Schilling was originally a standout muay thai fighter who made a name for himself taking on all comers within his division and rising among the ranks until it was time to fight the top dogs in the world. There may have been some bumps, bruises and cuts along the way, but when it comes to Joe Schilling the word “pretty” isn’t often in the vocabulary. With a nickname like “Stitch ‘em Up” due to his proclivity for throwing lacerating elbows one can quickly understand why Joe Schilling rose up from being a cult favorite to one of GLORY’s American poster boys. 

This Friday evening at GLORY 24 he returns to the GLORY ring to face top middleweight Jason Wilnis. Originally Schilling was going to get his chance at a rubber match with career-adversary Artem Levin and his GLORY Middleweight championship, but an injury forced Levin off of the card and left Schilling with a tough, young and hungry Jason Wilnis looking to make a name off of one of the men who earned his spot on the Mount Rushmore of the division. For Schilling there is a lot riding on this fight outside of just another kickboxing fight, this is his first kickboxing fight since two back-to-back losses in Bellator, the latter being via knockout.

“You know, people have been talking a lot of shit, saying a lot of things, but really, I’m a multi-sport athlete,” he explained to us. “How many fighters can say that? I got caught in MMA, it happens, but now I have to show the world what I can and always have done in the ring and too bad for Wilnis, it’s going to be against him. I’m in demand right now, like they wanted me for the Dynamite show but the medical suspension got in the way of that happening.”

For a time the fight with Artem Levin was Schilling’s white whale, the one fight that eluded him. Scheduled and rescheduled a number of times in their respective pre-GLORY careers, their clash finally happened at GLORY 10 in the middleweight tournament that saw Schilling pull off the victory in an extension round of the finals. Once again Schilling finds himself frustrated with Levin pulling out of a fight with him. “I feel like I’m chasing him all over again. GLORY called me up and said they wanted me to fight Levin in Denver and, you know, this was the fight that I was asking them for, so I took it. Then a few weeks later they call and tell me that Levin was out and Wilnis is in and I was really pissed off.”

Schilling doesn’t seem certain that he’ll get that third fight with Levin any time soon, that he’ll be able to settle the score and have one man walk out victorious in their series, but he seems dead set on moving forward. As for where that future will be for Schilling, it seems to be on Spike TV for now. “I signed a new deal with Bellator, for MMA and kickboxing on Dynamite shows. I know not everyone loved that show, but it was incredible, a lot of vision went into that. There are going to be more and I’m gonna be fighting on them, be it kickboxing or MMA.”

The future within the GLORY ring seems to be less certain for Schilling, though, although he does seem open to more fights in the future. “Kickboxing is always my preference and if the offer is there and it’s the right offer I’ll take it without a second thought. The fights that I want are in GLORY right now.”

There has been a lot of talk about the future of kickboxing in America as well as GLORY’s future, which Schilling of course has had on his mind of late. His thoughts on the matter diverge from the common line of thought, though. “I never buy this line of bullshit about how you need an American champion to make it big here in the US. GLORY has been diluting their product in the name of finding this big American star and it has meant putting on weaker cards not featuring the top talents in the world. Put on big fights between the best fighters and the fans will react to that, who cares if they speak english or if they don’t? What matters is what happens in the ring, not the post-fight interviews.”

Schilling himself is of course one for leaving it all in the ring, with some of the most exciting fights in GLORY’s history under his belt, including the two dramatic fights with Artem Levin that have helped to define GLORY’s middleweight division. That doesn’t mean that he’s overlooking Wilnis on Friday at all, though. “Wilnis is a tough guy, he’s hungry and a win over me would mean a lot for his career. In no way am I overlooking Wilnis, though, I think that I’m on a mission here to prove those doubters wrong. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Joe Schilling makes his return to GLORY on Friday at GLORY 24 against Jason Wilnis live on Spike TV in the main event.

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Prize Fighter Ben Edwards Ready for GLORY 24 Heavyweight Tournament

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GLORY 24 will see a new heavyweight contender crowned, the winner moving on to fight champion Rico Verhoeven for the top spot in the world of heavyweight kickboxing. Over the past year we’ve seen Verhoeven fight Errol Zimmerman and Benjamin Adegbuyi, defeating both to retain his title. Fans have been starved for a good heavyweight tournament from GLORY, the last one at GLORY 16 Denver.

Interestingly enough, a man that we last saw at GLORY 16 Denver will be making his return to the GLORY ring at GLORY 24 looking for another crack at the GLORY Heavyweight Championship. That man is Australia’s own Ben Edwards. We caught up with Ben Edwards as he finishes up his preparations for the tournament and will be heading back to the United States.

Edwards had announced that he was leaving kickboxing after his loss last year, but the return is a welcome one for fans of the Aussie slugger. For Edwards, it is about making a living. “With kickboxing the last 3 of my last 4 losses were to guys pretty much the top 3 in the world (Rico, Errol and Overeem the year he won) and they are the guys that were at least making a living. If I couldn't crack that top tier I couldn't make a living and kickboxing is very hard to train for in Canberra so I decided to concentrate on boxing which is easy to train for in my home town. I won the national title 2 fights in returning to the sport so it wasn't a bad decision,” he explained. The offer from GLORY took him by surprise, actually. “The offer from Glory was unexpected and appreciated and I am very much looking forward to making the most of this second chance.”

Heavyweight kickboxing has seemed to be less of a focus of late, with the lighter weight classes taking a lot of the spotlight and there being a lot of fighters -- much like Edwards -- looking for opportunities outside of kickboxing. “As a hard-core combat sport fan I really feel kickboxing is the most exciting format. Its sad the sport has lost some of the bigger names but I still feel the sport has a healthy future.”

As for this tournament especially, Edwards seems ready to finally show the world what he’s made of after what he considered disappointments before. “The main difference in training is I've been spending a lot of time in Sydney, I've don't 6 trips in 5 weeks to train with Stu McKinnon and the boys at Castle Hill Bulldog,” he explained. “It’s world class padwork and sparring there and for the first time in  long time I am excited to fight. I had a lot of personal problems going into the last fight and I have fixed every single one and I am looking forward to being back to my best. I'm sick of feeling disappointed and letting people down, being considered a journeyman etc. Those days are over.”

When it comes to the first opponent for the night, Jahfarr Wilnis, Edwards seemed more focused on himself and his preparations, instead. “I only ever watch a little bit of footage on my opponent when the fight gets signed, get a feel for them, come up with a game plan then I don't think about them anymore. He appears to be a busy fighter with not much power which should leave plenty of openings to land one of my ghetto whoppers.”

Edwards has been a busy guy of late if you follow him on Facebook, taking a few acting gigs and looking happy to be going outside of his comfort zone. He explained to us how he found himself in front of the camera without gloves on. “I trained a guy who ended up being a producer on a local film that ended up starring Billy Zane, they have finished filming but they were running short on money to finish the production. Blue World Order is the film's name and they have a website to visit. This latest project stemmed from people I met on that, this one is called Tech Noir and the director is attempting to get it into the aussie short film festival Tropfest. I had a great experience on both films and definitely look forward to participating in more projects.”

What does the future hold for Edwards? Only time will tell. Edwards has done it all from boxing to kickboxing to even dog walking, but will he keep fighting even if he loses? “There will be plenty of dog walking, I can't express how much I enjoy doing that and I am a prize fighter, whatever the rules if there is a prize I'll be there.”

Any man who loves dogs is okay by me. The same with any man who genuinely loves fighting and Ben Edwards fits that bill. Ben Edwards is participating in the GLORY 24 Heavyweight tournament, facing Jahfarr Wilnis in the first round.

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