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Lion Fight 16: Michael Thompson V. Kevin Ross Potential for Fight of the Year Candidate

As part of the agreement between Lion Fight and UFC, Lion Fight 16 will start their weekend of fights Friday, July 4th, at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The headlining bout between “the Soul Assassin”, Kevin Ross, and Australian hard hitter, Michael “Tomahawk” Thompson, has the inaugural Super Lightweight Championship on the line as well as the potential for a Fight of the Year candidate.

The possibility lies within their mutual propensity to attack their opponent and smother them with a variety of violence, through step in and clinch knees, elbows, kicks, and hook punches. Thompson has a brutal spinning back elbow he rolls into off his jab and missed crosses, and Ross possesses great uppercut elbows and kick counters. Furthermore, neither of their offenses are negated or even necessarily compromised against their opponents’ flurries, which each will attempt to seek/pursue against the other in this bout.

Thompson side steps well as his opponents move in to issue punches of his own or angle in with an uppercut; whereas, Ross does an excellent job of turning his opponent with his movement, especially against fighters who come forward, and creates and finds openings for his strikes. At Lion Fight 15 Ross showcased the zenith of his abilities opposite fellow American Chris Mauceri, executing this approach flawlessly and using Mauceri’s persistence after Ross opened a nasty cut on his forehead in the first round to his detriment.

The trouble Thompson poses for Ross is the same he poses for everyone, and it is pressure managed by an acute fight intelligence, speed, plus heavy elbows and punches. To defeat Thompson Ross will have to replicate the movement he featured in his previous outing, and not enable Thompson to stay in front of him or stop his movement, either, with his left body to right head combination. He lost to Tetsuya Yamato at Lion Fight 11 in part due to remaining stationary, giving up elbows up the middle, and keeping his right hand down.

If something is working he also needs to stay with it and feint it to set up other offense. Yamato could not stop Ross’ left body kick and he would forget about it. Pinpointing advantages, both before and during the fight, are paramount, and in my opinion Thompson’s greatest leverage aside from his power. Ross wavers. Versus Pornsansae Sitmonchai at Caged Muay Thai 2, Thompson made a quick adjustment from throwing primarily hook punches to upper cuts and knees up the middle.

The change precipitated Thompson taking over the fight, throttling him, and then knocking him down in the second round, before tiring in the middle of the third and Sitmonchai landing a few shots to close it. This is an area Ross has the chance to exploit. Unless he is swept in the first three rounds or gets knocked out, Ross should find opportunities in the fourth and fifth when Thompson fades and maybe take a decision. I don’t see him finishing Thompson.

My expectation is Michael Thompson wins, complimentary of a fourth round KO. Ross has the temerity to endure Thompsons’ onslaught and interchange it with his own, but I don’t anticipate that it is going to be enough tomorrow night in Las Vegas.

Though the actual result might turn out to be irrelevant, for it is not what raised you to your feet. It was everything before, and there will be a lot before, perhaps enough to be subsequently called Fight of the Year.

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What You Can Do to Make a Difference for Kickboxing

Right now is probably one of the best times to be a kickboxing fan in the United States in over 30 years. If you stop to think about that it is almost hard to imagine. My introduction to K-1 came in the mid-90's from my Kenpo instructor who let me borrow a few tapes of his that led to a spiral of insanity involving having my mom drive me into the city to go to the one store in the mall that imported anime and manga and occasionally had Japanese wrestling and fighting tapes available. 

To say that it was difficult to follow kickboxing back then is an understatement. The advent of the internet made it easier to find tape traders and other people with similar interests, but it was still a process that involved waiting long periods of time for retail tapes to be released or for events to air on television. Things go easier when DVDs became all of the rage and everyone had a DVD burner, but it was still a pain. Hell, even when internet streams first came about it got easier yet.

Things now are almost laughable. You have streaming video that you can watch on mobile devices, you have promotions releasing their own fights for free and guess what? We have GLORY on Spike TV. There has never been this much access to high level kickboxing in the United States. Hell, GLORY even runs a lion's share of their events here in the United States, so you can go and see these fights live. That's insanity, even the best American kickboxers had to go overseas to fight before, now they have a home in America.

We can lament on the fact that GLORY's inaugural PPV event wasn't a UFC beater, we can make predictions and excuses, but the truth is; that isn't going to help anyone. GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing were tremendous events and they were available to us -- one on Spike TV for free, the other on PPV -- live as they happened. Hell, if you were in the LA area you could have picked up some cheap tickets and gone there yourself. 

There's a good chance if you are watching this that you probably live in North America (our stats tell us that, although we have tons of great readers from around the globe), there's also a great chance that you are a fan of kickboxing (why else would you be here?). If we look back at how the UFC grew in popularity it's easy to realize that it was as unscientific as it gets. It was almost random, it was the right elements at the right time making a perfect storm. It was fans talking about it, telling their friends about it, calling their friends to say "hey you gotta watch this fight." It was having that infectious passion that other people caught onto.

If you want kickboxing and GLORY to succeed here, watching it and supporting it is a great start, but maybe it's time to let people know about it. Maybe it's time for it to be more than just a hobby that you share with a few fight fans on Twitter. Let the world know about this, tell your friends, support local events and fighters, post stuff on your Facebook, your Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Be that annoying guy that everyone sees and says, "man, he's really into this." Why? Because people will remember it. They'll remember you talking about it, they'll know something about it and they might even check it out for themselves.

The product sells itself, it just needs those eyeballs. You and I, we can help with that. We might not be able to get into the ring at this level, we might not be able to get ESPN to cover it, but with time, anything is possible.

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Catalin Morosanu vs. Giannis Stoforidis Headlining Aug. 2nd SuperKombat Event

On August 2nd SuperKombat will promote their fourth SuperKombat World Grand Prix event. The event is set to be headlined by Catalin Morosanu squaring off against SuperKombat's home-grown star in Giannis Stoforidis. Morosanu has been focused on his political career of late, but still loves to step into the ring to show his fans what he's all about. Morosanu is probably one of the biggest, mainstream stars that kickboxing has in Romania, with him regularly appearing on Romanian television.

Giannis doesn't seem phased by the challenge, though; “I’m hungry for the revange in Superkombat® after in my last fight where I wasn’t able to qualify for the final because of my hand injury. This time I have a big chance to establish myself as a star if I win against a living legend in kickboxing. Morosanu, be afraid! Hercules is coming for war.”, announced Giannis Stoforidis, one of the Superkombat New Heroes.

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GLORY Last Man Standing PPV Sales Disappoint

From a critical standpoint, it's hard to be down on GLORY's Last Man Standing PPV. The show was a resounding success if you are a kickboxing fan who tuned in to watch the show. Featuring some of the world's top talents vying for a whopping three GLORY World Championships it was hard not to be excited about the show. The only issue was that GLORY Last Man Standing was on American PPV and American PPV is tough. 

I had been critical of GLORY's decision to move to PPV this soon because it simply didn't feel right. There have been arguments as to the viability of PPV right now as it is, with UFC's last PPV event, UFC 174 drawing their lowest in a very long time at sub-100,000 (with reports that it could be as low as 50,000). There was a possible silver-lining with Spike TV and Viacom's Bellator 120 drawing over 100,000 buys, but it also featured two well-known PPV draws in Tito Ortiz and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. 

GLORY's biggest star was Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic who was on the Spike TV portion, GLORY 17, not the PPV portion, with Cro Cop never being much of a domestic draw. GLORY has been on US television for less than a year at this point and is having to basically establish the sport as brand new, educating fans not only on the rules but the names involved as well. It would be difficult for the UFC to sell an event with these names on it, even if they are the best kickboxers in the world. The other issue was the cost of the event, marketed as $35, but that was for SD, HD was $45, which many fans were openly complaining about. It was simply too steep of a cost considering this would be many fans' first time having to pay money to watch kickboxing. 

According to Dave Meltzer from this week's edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter there are no hard numbers on it yet, but in his own words, the PPV "bombed." According to Meltzer it did considerably worse than both the recent TNA and ROH wrestling PPVs, which is both surprising and disappointing. He even joked on a radio program that it did "World Bodybuilding Federation bad." For those unaware, the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF) was Vince McMahon of WWE (then-WWF)'s vision for "sports entertainment bodybuilding" in the early 90's that attempted a PPV and drew a paltry 3,000 buys, leading to McMahon disbanding the organization after the disappointing buy rate. 

Seeing as though we don't have hard numbers for either the TNA or ROH PPVs, either, TNA gets an average of about 8,000 buys on PPV and I can't imagine Ring of Honor's PPV debut doing better than that, so that leaves us in the 5,000 range. The truth of the matter is, PPV is on the way out and for a relatively new sport (in the eyes of casual fans) it felt almost impossible to make an impact. The Spike TV numbers were steady, though, showing that GLORY has made an impression on the viewers that it has reached.

It might be time for GLORY to buckle down, build themselves a home base like Las Vegas was for the UFC or San Jose was for Strikeforce, attract some solid crowds and focus on growing their Spike TV audience. Globetrotting and PPV are clear indicators of a successful organization in this realm of combat sports, but it seems unfair for GLORY to be holding itself to these standards after only being on Spike TV a handful of times and only running a small number of shows in the United States. 

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