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New Blood At 70kg Was Showcased This Past Weekend At K-1, GLORY

For a long time, the field at 70kg in kickboxing was much of the same, with the usual crew of Masato, Andy Souwer, Buakaw and Albert Kraus and Mike Zambidis constantly being at or around the top. Then came along Artur Kyshenko and Yoshihiro Sato as two of the next ones to join the top of the division and finally, Giorgio Petrosyan, cementing himself as the number one fighter in a division where Masato was gone and Buakaw also, as he was fighting Muay Thai, not being invited to K-1.

Now we've got GLORY alongside K-1, and it's split the talent down the middle in the 70kg tournament. What this has also done is showcased some new blood in the 70kg division that we might not have otherwise been able to see compete on the big stage if it was just one tournament with 16 participants. GLORY and K-1 both picked up some fighters for the tournaments that weren't very well known, or unproven, and now everyone is wanting to see more of them.

Reese McCallister, a virtual unknown to most before Sunday, put on a great performance and now is right in the mix in the Final 8 of K-1's tournament. Shemsi Beqiri, although known, got another chance to prove himself on the world stage. Sanny Dahlbeck, a 67kg Muay Thai fighter showed he's also a good fighter under kickboxing rules and has huge potential, not only as a fighter but as a fan favorite with his charisma. Even Fabio Pinca, one of the top international Muay Thai fighters at 67kg, gave a very good showing against Giorgio Petrosyan in a competitive, tactical fight. These are just a select few.

At one point in time, it really did look like the usual guys at the top of the 70kg division fighting for K-1 would just keep at the top for a very long time without being contested by anyone else much. Of course, the talent was and is out there, it's just a matter of the right fighters getting the right opportunities to shine, much like what happened this past weekend at K-1 and GLORY.


Glory World Series "First 16" Impresses, Marches on to Final 8

PetrosyanThis weekend was huge for Kickboxing and I'm sure that there is no one in the world who could doubt that. We saw huge events from both the returning K-1 as well as Glory with a more focused direction. Both companies held their 70kg tournaments' opening round, consisting of sixteen fighters for a chance to enter the Final 8. We all know this tournament format very well, as for the past twenty years it has been burned into our subconsciouses by K-1. It is the gold standard for martial arts and for testing the best in the world.

For Glory, it was their first event held under the Glory Sports International banner that had the razor-sharp focus of becoming a new global kickboxing brand in the vein of what K-1 was for years. That isn't to say that their past events lacked a focus or were in some way failures, but this show was different. The event in March was originally slated to be a K-1 event, and there was a lot of planning going into that being the re-launch of the K-1 brand when it was announced. Then, the purchase of K-1 fell through and a lot of changes had to be made on the fly, and lots of fighters which were going to be available to them were no longer available. Instead, Glory put on the best possible show that they could under those circumstances.

The show from Saturday was the real launch of their own brand of Kickboxing, and did not feel at all like past efforts have. Past shows had a very different look and feel, while this show had the "big match" kind of atmosphere which was traditionally attributed to K-1 shows. There was a look and feel of professionalism, with each fight holding its own weight and feeling important in their own right. While the announce team of Mauro Ranallo and Stephen Quadros did leave something to be desired in Kickboxing knowledge, their professionalism still came through and added a lot to the presentation. The large video screens with unique footage and information for each fighter gave more of a "K-1 feel" to the show, and the overall quality of the production was worthy of those K-1 shows.

A big focus was on the "First 16" 70kg bouts that took place, and while there were a lot of newer names involved in the tournament, there was definitely a feel that the selection of fighters covered a world stage a lot better than the competition, which was almost entirely euro-centric and associated with It's Showtime. The fights were all evenly matched, which led to a lot of exciting bouts and helped the show flow very smoothly. I've read some complaints about having Fabio Pinca, arguably among the top fighters in the tournament, matched up immediately with Giorgio Petrosyan, but honestly, he provided a solid test for Giorgio, and you could argue the best test out of any of the other fighters.

The Glory World Series Final 8 looks as follows;

Shemsi Beqiri (Switzerland)

Tim Thomas (England)

Robin van Roosmalen (Netherlands)

David Kyria (Georgia)

Ky Hollenbeck (USA)

Sanny Dahlbeck (Sweden)

Albert Kraus (Netherlands)

Giorgio Petrosyan (Italy)

After what we saw in the First 16, there is a lot to look forward to when the field of eight clash to move on to the semi-finals, and then the finals. It is also interesting to note that for the first time in a long time, a fighter from the United States will be fighting on a world stage like this. The Kickboxing world could use a lot more events like this and we look forward to future Glory events, including the Heavyweight First 16, which will hopefully deliver like the 70kg class did.


Anderson Silva Puts on Performance of a Lifetime Against Badr Hari at K-1 in Madrid

K-1Tonight at K-1 Global's coming out party there was a lot of hype surrounding the return of Badr Hari to a K-1 ring. Badr Hari made his departure from Kickboxing in January against Gokhan Saki, so we thought, but then signed with K-1 as soon as things were in order for them and stepped into the ring against a surprisingly game Anderson "Braddock" Silva tonight. No one gave Braddock Silva much of a chance, as Braddock's career has been spotty to say the least, while Badr's career is that of a supernova that has burned incredibly brightly. Hari only has losses to some of the biggest and best names in the Kickboxing world, while Braddock holds a number of frustrating losses. Braddock was going into this fight looking for a win, coming off of a tough loss to the much smaller Catalin Morosanu in SuperKombat.

Everything was primed for Badr Hari to rip Braddock's head off, you could feel it in the air. The fans expected it, the media expected it, the fighters expected it, everyone was ready for Badr Hari to have an easy fight. In round one, Badr Hari was Badr Hari; aggressive, throwing power shots and fighting with emotion. There were differences, though. The super ripped physique from his 2011 bout with Tony Gregory and his fight in January against Gokhan Saki was nowhere to be seen. Instead, a lot of his muscle mass was simply not there and he looked a little soft around the mid section. That isn't to say that is a bad thing, as we've seen with fighters like Sem Schilt, physique doesn't mean much when you can fight like no one else can. The round saw Badr drop Braddock after a brutal flurry of hooks that saw a right connect to the side of Braddock's head and sent him crashing to the met. It felt like a forgone conclusion, even if Badr wasn't in perfect shape, he was Badr.

Then Braddock got up, and Badr started to go nuts on him, but Braddock was covering up. Braddock held out for the rest of the round, and Hari didn't look like he wanted to stop after the bell rang, but something clicked and he stopped himself from going crazy like we've seen him do before. Then round two happened, and Braddock seemed to be in control. Badr was gassing out, looking tired and like he had punched himself out. Braddock was actually controlling the action and landing some big shots, to the point where everyone felt comfortable after the second round to say that Anderson "Braddock" Silva, the sacrificial lamb was in control of the fight.

The third round is up for debate, but Badr was still slower and a lot less aggressive than we've seen him in years, while Braddock was connecting with some solid shots and weathering any storm from Badr Hari. Whether or not Badr Hari won the round and deserved the decision victory doesn't matter, I would have liked to see the fight go to an extension round and felt that Braddock might be able to win the fight. What is important is that Anderson "Braddock" Silva, a man that we usually write off, looked fantastic against top competition, while Badr Hari looked like he didn't belong in the ring.

Badr Hari walks away with the win, but there are a lot of questions surrounding him right now and where he is at, both mentally and physically, while Anderson Silva walked into a fight as a heavy underdog and walked away with lots of fans respecting him and wanting to see more of him.


Semmy Schilt: Undisputed #1 Heavyweight Kickboxer

Schilt winsI'm not afraid to say it at this point, that Semmy Schilt is the top Heavyweight/Super Heavyweight in the Kickboxing world. In a sea of legitimate contenders to his throne, all of them considerably younger than him, Semmy Schilt at thirty eight years old is still one of the toughest men to figure out in all of combat sports. Tonight in Sweden, Schilt took on a very, very game challenger in the way of Errol Zimmerman, and not only did he defeat Zimmerman, but he made Zimmerman look bad.

The thing is, Errol Zimmerman is far from bad, if anything, Zimmerman is one of the top Kickboxers in the world. Zimmerman may have a few technical holes in his game, but his power and speed at Heavyweight are practically unrivaled. Errol was on a huge winning streak and had really taken his career seriously over the past year and a half, all leading to a rematch from two years prior against Semmy Schilt. Zimmerman took Schilt to a lopsided decision in 2010, where he was simply happy holding on to lose the decision, but tonight he was looking to take Schilt's head off.

Schilt had about fifteen months off between the K-1 World Grand Prix in 2010 and his bout with Brice Guidon in March, so when people explain Schilt in that bout as not as responsive or dominating, I chalk it up to a few different factors. The first being ring rust. Ring rust is very real, and if you talk to a lot of fighters who have had long layoffs, they will tell you about just how strange it is to step back into a ring in front of a crowd against a man trying to rip your head off. The other factor was that Brice Guidon is six foot seven, effectively nullifying Semmy Schilt's monster reach that helps him keep most fighters at bay. If you need proof that Schilt's reach being eliminated makes for a strange fight, watch his fight with Hong Man Choi.

With the Kickboxing world divided down the middle there is a limit to who Schilt can fight right now, but within the realm of Glory, it is safe to say he will remain unchallenged outside of the his achilles heel; Peter Aerts. The real fights fans want to see are between Schilt and the two big names signed to K-1 right now; Badr Hari and Daniel Ghita. The last time he met both men he made them look like amateurs, much like he did Errol Zimmerman here tonight. Badr Hari, though, does hold one of those rare W's over Schilt, from 2009 in It's Showtime. He used the tactic best used by Peter Aerts to defeat Semmy, which is to rush in and not stop until Semmy is turtled up or on his back.

The only problem with that tactic is that it clearly doesn't work all of the time. Zimmerman landed a few big shots against Schilt and tried to do exactly that, but he still was unable to force the giant to the mat. Schilt, like most top fighters, learns his lesson. I do not see Schilt losing any time soon, and the man has been on top of the Kickboxing world since 2005. His longevity and the gravity of his big wins lands him his spot at the top, and until someone is able to derail him, he is still the man to beat.


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