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Glory 14: Why We Need More Five-Round Fights


The conclusion of Glory 14 saw kickboxing legend Remy Bonjasky hang up his gloves after a hard-fought three round battle with Mirko Cro Cop that featured moments of vintage greatness from both fighters. Remy actively landed his signature kicks and knees while Cro Cop connected with thundering high kicks and powerful punches. Some fans may find fault with the decision, but I feel that it was rendered appropriately as Bonjasky landed more cleanly with his knees in the first two rounds, taking the fight two rounds to one. But did that mean that both fighters were done fighting? Hardly. Cro Cop turned up the pressure in Round 3, cornering Bonjasky and landing hard punches in the pocket. As controversial as fans may see the decision, there is no doubt that a fight of this magnitude should have been a five round fight.

The lack of five rounds is a curiosity in the sport of kickboxing. An ongoing staple of Muay Thai, the kickboxing world has largely spurned the concept, preferring a 3x3min structure originally set in place by K-1. This might be seen as a way to streamline the action, giving fighters a more limited time frame to make their case for the win and preventing fighters who are ahead on the scorecards from coasting through rounds. Indeed, “speeding up the action” is a reason that’s been frequently utilized to justify many of Kickboxing’s more unusual rules, particularly its controversial and often inconsistent clinch rules. While it’s unusual and remarkably savvy for promoters to tailor the rules of the sport to suit their product, the flipside in this particular case are lost opportunities to see great fights live up to their full potential.

Take Andy Ristie vs. Davit Kiria, for example. This was a fight that like Bonjasky vs. Cro Cop, could have ended after three rounds with a clear decision in favor of Ristie, yet like the Bonjasky fight, gave us a glimpse of what was possible in Rounds 4 and 5. Davit Kiria was still in the game after three rounds, turtling up Albert Kraus style and taking heavy punishment from Ristie while returning with counters that were increasingly finding their mark. The pendulum was beginning to swing, and there was a palpable sense that Kiria could gain control of the fight. Ending the fight after Round 3 would have deprived audiences of the best comeback of the year so far.

Kiria, like Remy Bonjasky and Buakaw in the past, is a slow starter whose essential style is not rewarded by current Kickboxing rules. These men typically open with careful, more conservative movements, studying their opponent in the early frames and then intensifying their offensive output in later rounds. This may not satisfy those who would prefer a consistently fast tempo for the fight, but I would argue that this cerebral style of fighting has an appropriate place in the sport, creating intrigue and suspense. A chess match is a great spectacle in and of itself, especially when it involves two elite competitors. Alternatively, a five round fight also allows us to see a knockdown, drag-out brawl like Chahid vs. Mike Zambidis or a tense affair like Artem Levin vs. Joe Schilling come to a more definitive conclusion. While Glory would undoubtedly have to adjust its pacing and structure its fight cards appropriately to accommodate a five round fight, Kiria vs. Ristie has clearly illustrated that the results can be magnificent, title or not.


Remy Bonjasky Victorious in His Retirement Fight Against Cro Cop


Tonight in Zagreb, Croatia fans across the world got to say goodbye to the legendary Remy Bonjasky at GLORY 14 Zagreb. It was a tall task for Bonjasky, who was stepping into the ring with local hero Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic with a rather biased crowd. It didn’t matter, though, as Remy Bonjasky has steppe into the ring with the odds against him in the past before. This was a chance for redemption for Remy Bonjasky, a rematch from twelve years ago that saw Mirko Cro Cop walk away victorious.

It was three tense, close rounds fought by both men. Both Mirko Cro Cop and Remy Bonjasky’s styles have changed as they’ve aged and accumulated injuries, with Cro Cop relying on a more punch-heavy style and Bonjasky more on defense with the hands and offense with the legs. This was the story of the fight, as Mirko would swarm with the punches while Bonjasky would defend, then circle away to get distance and lay into Mirko with body kicks.

Many fans are going to be unhappy about the decision in this fight, though. Cro Cop was a bit more aggressive throughout, but the shots weren’t doing a lot of damage and Bonjasky was never in much trouble. Bonjasky was fighting as he tends to do, but his kicks were landing and landing heavy. This made for an incredibly close bout that fans of both fighters will be disputing for years to come, that being said, Remy Bonjasky’s hand was raised at the end of the night.

Remy Bonjasky has had a tremendous career and it is sad to see him go, but the persisting vision problems as well as years of injuries have made it tough for him to compete against the younger, quicker fighters of today. What we can say is that both men are legends and that nothing, no win or loss, can take that away at this point. I’m genuinely saddened that we won’t have another chance to hear “The Man with the Harmonica” again to lead Remy Bonjasky into the ring, but I was happy to see him walk away from the sport with a victory.


Davit Kiria is the NEW GLORY Lightweight Champion

Photo (C) Dave Mandel / Sherdog

There was something in the air in Zagreb, Croatia tonight as Andy Ristie and Davit Kiria stepped into the ring. The swell of momentum was clearly behind Andy Ristie. Ristie had a night that would make anyone’s career in knocking out Giorgio Petrosyan and Robin van Roosmalen a few months ago, making him the top Lightweight in the world. Now all that he needed to do was go into a fight with the usually patient, defensive Davit Kiria and knock him stupid. Everyone was tossing their money onto Ristie for this fight and for good reason -- he is the best in the world.

Everyone was proven right early on in the fight, as Ristie was dominating round one, then knocking Kiria down early in the second round. Kiria fought back, but there was a feeling in the air that it was just a matter of time before Ristie found a way through Kiria’s air-tight defenses again and put him to sleep. Because that is what Andy Ristie does, he puts guys to sleep. The thing is, if this went into the deep waters beyond round three, what would that mean for Andy Ristie, who has been known to slow down even in three round fights?

Round four saw more of the same, with Ristie not slowing down. Kiria was landing a little bit more, but it was still nothing to be afraid of. A lot of people felt it was just inevitable, that we had to sit out two more rounds before Ristie was crowned as the first GLORY Lightweight Champion, adding to his tournament victory. Round five came and it was thick in the air; Kiria had to hit a Hail Mary to walk away with this, that everyone had started to celebrate Ristie’s win. Then something crazy happened; Kiria started landing and Ristie wasn’t going down, but was clearly hurt. The ref counted and the fans were in disbelief.

Now it came down to a matter of could Ristie hold on for the final bell, could Ristie just hold on and win his championship? Kiria came in like his life depended on it, landing a huge shot on Ristie that sent him down like a character from Mike Tyson’s Punchout into the ropes. This was insanity, Andy Ristie down for a second time in the fifth round! Ristie struggles to his feet and the ref lets it keep going, but Ristie can barely stand. Just a few more shots by Kiria put him onto the mat and the arena explodes as Davit Kiria is crowned the first ever GLORY Lightweight Champion.

The truth is that it was never impossible, that Andy Ristie always had these holes in his game, he just had risen to the top of the division and looked untouchable. Davit Kiria has always been a fighter that has looked great, but never seems to get started in three round fights, but when given five rounds against the best in the world, Davit Kiria overcame all of the odds and found himself as the number one Lightweight in the world.

Congratulations, Davit Kiria, you deserve it.


Mirko Cro Cop vs. Remy Bonjasky: A Battle of Legends


This weekend at GLORY 14 Zagreb two legends will once again face off in a Kickboxing ring under very familiar terms one last time. The new generation of Heavyweight Kickboxers has helped to define the young GLORY organization, fighters like Gokhan Saki, Tyrone Spong, Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven, yet the old dogs are still huge attractions for longtime fans. There is no doubt why they are still popular with longtime fans, as you can look no further than Peter Aerts and the few fights that he’s held under the GLORY banner, with them being some of the most exciting fights in the company’s short history.

For us Kickboxing fans nostalgia still runs deep.

I’ve heard some complaints about the fight between Mirko Cro Cop and Remy Bonjasky since the fight was announced a few months ago. The complaints tend to be that there is a new generation of Heavyweights that deserve the spotlight, that both Cro Cop and Bonjasky had their time in the spotlight, that it is time to move on. I don’t disagree with that, yet the fight between Bonjasky and Cro Cop is still appealing, with GLORY handling the whole affair tastefully. We already know that Remy Bonjasky has plans to retire shortly and Cro Cop might not have a lot of fight left in him, but that is what this fight represents. GLORY isn’t trying to shoehorn either man into the already-crowded title picture, instead both men are fighting each other in a rematch that fans have been waiting to see for over 12 years now.

Mirko Cro Cop’s original K-1 run was short-lived and saw him never able to claim the grandest prize of them all, the K-1 World Grand Prix. Cro Cop moved on to what he saw was greener pastures of Mixed Martial Arts, which was picking up steam in Japan at the time, with the rest becoming history. Cro Cop finally made a brief return to K-1 last year to work his way through the K-1 World Grand Prix, finally winning the prize that had eluded him for all of those years, but it still felt a bit hollow without top contenders like Saki, Ghita and Verhoeven involved.

Bonjasky, on the other hand, was only getting his storied K-1 career started by the time he met Cro Cop in the ring in 2002. It was a tough loss at the time, but Cro Cop would only fight one more time under the K-1 banner before he moved to MMA full time, leaving the field wide open. Remy Bonjasky went on to win the K-1 World Grand Prix three times, cementing himself as one of the all-time greats in the sport of Kickboxing. It was something that Mirko Cro Cop was never able to attain, even having beaten Bonjasky on his way out the door.

The clash between Remy Bonjasky and Mirko Cro Cop at GLORY 14 Zagreb is a battle of what could have been and honestly should have been. The fans never got to see what Mirko Cro Cop could have done if he stuck around Kickboxing for a few years longer, which would have definitely included more epic battles with the likes of Bonjasky, Aerts, Schilt and Badr Hari. At least at GLORY 14 Zagreb we get a taste of that. Sure, both men have aged and might not be the same fighters that they were in 2002, but they are the same men with the same drive and ambition to always fight their hearts out. I, for one, am looking forward to this clash.


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