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Kickboxing is a Rematch Sport

Saki vs. Ghita

Rumors of Glory heading to Chicago has emerged, their third event in the US this year, and they are focusing on a four man heavyweight tournament. No sooner than the names emerged that I start seeing a small sect of grumbling on my twitter news feed and in fight forums. The issues is over Daniel Ghita and Gohkan Saki, the two favorites in the field, meaning there will be a high possibility that they will meet for the second time this year. As Saki was successful in a one sided stoppage earlier this year in Turkey, people would rather not see the fight again. To that I say "Nonsense!" Kickboxing is a rematch sport.

This thinking is birthed from a new found collection of kickboxing fans who are use to the new age boxing and UFC model. It is extremely unusual to see high level boxers or UFC fighters rematch one another in the same year due to fighter activity and audience demand. As both are under the single fight system, the amount of fights one can have in a single year is low. A UFC contract offers 3 fights in a 365 day year, and with a roster of 300 plus athletes, they must mix and match to the best of their abilities, pushing careers forward, no time to allow for verbal inspired rivalries to warrant a rematch on their limited card space. And with one recognized title in each weight class, the chance that one could fight for the title multiple times is almost impossible.

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The Fight World is Turning on Thai Fight Extreme

Thai Fight

Thai Fight aesthetically has it all, the lights, the promo screen, the manufactured sense of honor and history, the audience, the feel of watching a major production for a fight event. Despite every quality that it brings before the bell ring, there is a major problem once the bell does. The matches are one sided and uneventful. Fight fans have known this for a while, but it seems that now, the shift of the fighting public is moving towards not watching the product at all.

It started so well. August 29, 2010 the Isuzu Thai Fight Extreme had a 16-man tournament. It had solid international competition. The likes of Spain's Rafi Zouheir, England's Liam Harrison, Thailand's Petchmonkong Petchfocus, runner up Youssef Boughanem, and eventual champion Frenchmen Fabio Pinca. The tournament was like nothing we were use to from Thai shows. Pyro, rock music during entrances, large screens, and sporting event fan material like big hands, clappers, and streamers. It was as if K-1 Max was being reborn in Thailand. Adding to that was the fight product, which produced awesome KOs, smooth technique, and competitive match ups. Nasser Kacem product and champion Fabio Pinca was made an international star after that victory. Sure he had wins over Thai fighters Sigmanee, Sudsukorn, and Bovy before the Thai Fight championship, but all eyes were on the tournament and thus all eyes were on him. His peformance against Youssef in the final was brilliant, producing one of the most proficient body attacks in the first round and then dropping Boughanem with a hook in the second. A star was made.

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The Unappreciated Career of Semmy Schilt

Sem Schilt

As the news of Semmy's career coming to an end due to a heart issue hits me, I immediately looked to his accomplishments and his place in kickboxing history. I quickly came to the overwhelming conclusion that he is unchallenged, the most unappreciated fighter in the history of kickboxing.

I know there is going to be a heavy dose of write ups were people call him the greatest, or one of the greatest heavyweight kickboxers of all time. Most will quote the easy, he was a four time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, matching the Legend Ernesto Hoost, the only other man to do it. Many will also credit him with a fifth major kickboxing tournament title, as he won the Glory Series Heavyweight tournament on NYE. Though I would be remised if I did not point out that some place an asterisk on the tournament, due to the first two rounds of the tournament not being full fights. Those like myself who value who you beat over what you've won will give a more in-depth line of logic in remembering Semmy's career. 3-0 verses Remy Bonjasky, the other great of the era. 1-0-1 verses Hoost, 4-0 over Jerome Lebanner, 1-1 with Badr Hari, 2-0 against Daniel Ghita, and an admirable 2-3 versus Peter Aerts. Yet these are just wins, they are not legacy.

 

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The Rumored Structure For This Year's GLORY Grand Slam Tournament

Glory

We've been keeping our ears to the ground over the past few months in regards to everything GLORY, from possible television deals to upcoming shows to the format for their big Heavyweight tournament for this year. Last year's GLORY Grand Slam tournament was interesting, to say the least, using a one-night, sixteen man format with shorter rounds. It led to some quick action, but some of the more methodical, technical fighters like Remy Bonjasky were really hurt by such a ruleset and four fights in one night is just a lot of fights.

While some within the GLORY organization were steadfast in saying that they would repeat the format again this year, we've heard some conflicting reports on the format of the tournament. As GLORY gets closer to a larger American television deal (no insult to CBS Sports, but tape delay at 1am is simply not good enough for shows like this) they have to be concerned with time constraints and putting on a tighter, more unified production. GLORY already do a fantastic job with their pacing on their events, with the fights following each other in quick succession in a way that doesn't feel rushed, but natural. We can at least expect the quirks of last year's Grand Slam to not return.

So according to our source, who wishes to remain unnamed, this year's tournament will be shrunk down from sixteen men to just four to be able to properly fit on a two to three hour American television slot while putting on entertaining fights and being able to properly present the fighters to the audience. The first three participants will be based upon the GLORY World Rankings, although it should be noted that word is that Semmy Schilt will not participate. That means that Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita and Tyrone Spong are guaranteed spots in the tournament, with the fourth spot being a "Wildcard." That "Wildcard" spot will be determined by another tournament that will take place before the event, a Qualifying tournament. It is not clear who will participate in this tournament, but the next four in the rankings are Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, Jerome Le Banner and Errol Zimmerman (although I believe that Rico Verhoeven is actually in that spot now after his win over Errol).

So, what do you think? Would you be upset to see the Final 8 format disappear, or is it time for something new?

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