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GLORY Announces GLORY 30 Welterweight Tournament

The card for GLORY 30 Los Angeles is starting to take shape. The GLORY SuperFight Series will be headlined by Joe Schilling rematching Jason Wilnis and will see the debut of Tiffany Van Soest, which leaves us with the GLORY 30 main card. The main event for GLORY 20 is Simon Marcus defending the GLORY Middleweight Championship against Dustin Jacoby and thanks to a press release from the promotion this afternoon, we learn that also on the card will be a Welterweight Qualification tournament.

These qualification tournaments operate different than contender tournaments. A contender tournament assures a shot at the champion while a qualification tournament assures a spot in a future contender tournament. This tournament is a qualification tournament featuring Casey Greene, Richard Abraham, Francois Ambang and Daniel Morales.

GLORY 30 Los Angeles

Middleweight Title Headline Bout: Simon Marcus (c) vs. Dustin Jacoby

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

Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout B: Francois Ambang vs. Daniel Morales

Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final Bout A: Casey Greene vs. Richard Abraham

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Heavyweights Vie for Supremacy at GLORY 29

This weekend in Copenhagen we'll see GLORY's heavyweight division on display yet again as four men will vie for a shot at GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven. While Verhoeven has been in the press peppering shots at the ever-troubled Badr Hari, his next challenge is most likely the winner of this tournament and not Badr Hari. The heavyweight division has changed a lot in the past few years since the formation of GLORY. What once featured some of the biggest names in the industry has seen quite a churn of late with Verhoeven at top and challengers like Errol Zimmerman and Benjamin Adegbuyi fall to the wayside at Verhoeven's hands.

Here's a breakdown of the four men in this tournament.

Jahfarr Wilnis -- Easily an early favorite heading into this, he was the runner-up of the last tournament that GLORY ran. An exhausted Wilnis found an extremely prepared Adegbuyi simply too much to contend with in the oppressive Denver elevation. Wilnis has been making a name for himself mostly outside of the GLORY ring, though, currently holding the Kunlun Heavyweight Championship as well as the Enfusion Heavyweight Championship. He actually holds a recent loss in Kunlun to top prospect Roman Kryklia, but his win in Enfusion over Ismael Laazar is freshest in everyone's memories. Wilnis is a tough and very much on the way up.

Anderson Silva -- Braddock has been a name within the division for years, but his chance at the top has always somehow just fallen out of reach for him. Braddock is the guy that when you check out his accolades, you see the term "runner-up" a lot. He's never shied away from a fight and has fought the best in the world at every step of the way. To say that he's ready to finally get his shot is an understatement. The only problem is that at times he'll fight a bit tentatively, which he can't do against Ismael Londt.

Ismael Londt -- Ismael Londt is a guy who has been a top ten guy and a guy residing on the fringes for a while now. Much like Braddock, he's had a few close calls of being on top, including making it to the finals of the 2012 K-1 World Grand Prix against Mirko Cro Cop in Croatia and, well, you finish that sentence for me, because if you don't knock out Cro Cop in Croatia you aren't winning. His most notable fight of late has been against Badr Hari in the ever-questionable Akhmat ring. He was able to knock Badr Hari down, but Hari roared back with warlord Kadyrov shouting at him to drop Londt multiple times to end the fight. Londt is making a fresh start in GLORY and has the chance to be the very, very top guy in the division.

Kirill Kornilov -- Kornilov is the kind of fighter that many fans aren't going to know a damned thing about, but might walk away impressed with him, win, lose or draw. He's been fighting mostly in Russia, but has experience in larger promotions like Tatneft and Kunlun. This is a big step up for him, especially against Jahfarr Wilnis, but it's safe to say that he has the right tools to take him far in the division. He's going to want to make a big impression on his debut, but many aren't expecting much out of him. That leaves the door wide open to burst onto the scene, though. 

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Badr Hari and Rico Verhoeven Spar in the Media, But For What?

The other evening on Dutch TV the GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven laid out a challenge at perennial bad boy Badr Hari for a fight. The two of them have been taking potshots at each other through social media for a while now. Without a doubt Rico Verhoeven is the top heavyweight in the world right now and the man to beat, while Badr Hari was at one time the man to beat but his legal problems and interesting choices in friends have led him to simply be a headline-snatching name in the news on occasion. 

Video (in Dutch)

Badr Hari was quick to reply on Twitter with a "challenge accepted."

To which Verhoeven replied via Instagram.

The question right now is simple, though; what does this actually mean. Fans are already excited at the prospect of these two goliaths clashing in the ring, but there are a lot of hurdles involved in making a fight. Kickboxing has not worked like boxing, historically. In boxing the way it works is that a fighter has a manager and a promoter, that promoter will set up the fights. Kickboxing has always worked in more of a pro wrestling model where there is a promotion and the fighters are contracted by the promotion and at their whim. Verhoeven is currently the GLORY Heavyweight Champion, but reports claim that Verhoeven is without a contract at the moment and in negotiations with the promotion for the future. 

As for Badr? He's been holding out for a retirement fight, claiming to have one more fight left in him and that he's looking for potentially huge money. Badr has been fighting for whatever strange, upstart promoter wants to toss money into a pit and get to go on social media to bro out with Hari. Hell, he even fought for a warlord in his last fight. The big question is if the fight were to happen under Kadyrov in Akhmat if it would actually be a fair fight. I can't stress this enough, Kadyrov is an accused Russian war criminal with an incredibly checkered past. He's apparently stepping down this month, but he's an incredibly powerful figure in Russia. He's still running fight shows, though.

If I'm Rico Verhoeven I'm not going to Chechnya to fight Badr Hari. If I'm Badr Hari I'm probably never going to be able to fight in the Netherlands because of his legal history. Who promotes this fight? Who puts up the money for it? There are still far too many questions before anyone can begin to get excited about this.

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Bellator Kickboxing's Raymond Daniels Looks For Cosmic Immortality in Upcoming Fight

Every time that I talk to Raymond Daniels I walk away with different stuff to consider and let germinate. Because Bellator Kickboxing’s Raymond Daniels at his core isn’t like a lot of other fighters who step into the ring as a professional, instead he’s rather grounded and his world outside of the ring looks very different compared to most. His life doesn’t revolve around training for his next fight or chasing that next high, instead his life revolves around his time in the dojo and training the next generation of martial artist. A big part of that is instilling the core tenets of martial arts into their daily lives and showing that while martial arts can be violent, but that violence doesn’t define a martial artist.

“I keep those parts of me very separate,” he explained, “most of my students don’t know my other life at all, or that I fight professionally. To them I’m just sensei. A few of them have seen me fight on TV and they were surprised, or would say, ‘that’s not sensei, he doesn’t act like that.’ They are just very different parts of my life. Some of my students have come out to see me fight, like at my last fight in Las Vegas, but what I’m teaching them is entirely different.”

It’s this duality that has helped to define Raymond Daniels and set him apart from other fighters. He understands that being a professional fighter means being marketable both in and out of the ring. If you’ve heard Raymond Daniels talk when hyping up a fight you know that he doesn’t shy away from doing press and actually tends to enjoy himself. Not that he’s talking a lot of trash, but he’s more than willing to put himself out there and talk about his growth as a fighter, how people have overlooked him or expectations. 

As for expectations, to say that his are high heading into his fight with Francesco Morrica at Bellator Kickboxing’s inaugural event is an understatement. “You know, that first knockout that I got against Francois Ambang? They called that the ‘Knockout Heard Around the World,’ and while that’s good and all, I want to do more than that. I want it to be heard throughout the whole universe. I have some moves up my sleeve, stuff that nobody has seen before in kickboxing and I know how to land them. All respect to Morrica, he’s got great hands and fights that Dutch style, but it’s nothing that I haven’t dealt with before and I want this to be the ‘Knockout Heard Throughout the Universe.’ I want it to put Bellator Kickboxing on the map.”

Daniels remained respectful of his opponent, but throughout his short professional career he has fought some of the very best in the world already, including two tough fights against Nieky Holzken, the current GLORY Welterweight Champion. Twice Daniels had to watch Holzken celebrate, but the second time he was prepared for the fight and was up on the scorecards heading into the third before a cut from Holzken pushed officials to stop the fight. 

“That was my first ever cut, you know that?” He said. “I have never been cut in a fight like that before, and it just so happened to be in one of my biggest fights and be enough to stop the fight. I was winning those first two rounds and I would say that I was winning the third as well until that happened. But it’s just made me itch to get back in the ring all that much more now.”

On the topic of Holzken, when asked if he was upset that he wouldn’t get another crack at him, he seemed to be at peace with it. “You know, I’d love to fight Nieky again. I feel like I’ve come so far and that last fight showed so much, but what can you do? If it happens, it happens. You can never say never, situations change and maybe we’ll get to fight again. But regardless, I wish him the nothing but the best in his career. He just came off of a pretty controversial win, right? Over Groenhart. I think that he’s already got his hands full as it is.”

Daniels sets off on a new journey for himself, though, in this new chapter of his career in Bellator Kickboxing. Much like we’ve heard from other fighters who have made their way to the promotion, there were some important factors for him. “Spike TV is really a great platform,” he said, “it’s in just about every home that it can be here in the States and is available in other places as well. I think that we can really build an audience and build the sport here, especially with Scott Coker at the wheel. “

The subject of Coker seems to be one that comes up often with fighters who are fighting for him. Not because Coker is a commanding figure who demands respect or reverence, but because of his work ethic and history. “I’ve worked with Scott before, I know Scott and we’ve gotten to sit down a bunch and talk. We’ve both that that traditional martial arts background and I think that’s important. Scott has that Midas Touch, you know? Everything he touches turns to gold because he’s a leader and he’s not afraid to take control and lay out his vision for everyone. That’s important and he’s built up more champions and stars than people want to give him credit for. He was the guy that got me my first professional fight in K-1.”

Indeed back when Scott Coker was in charge of K-1 USA he was the first to book Raymond Daniels as a professional in a bout that saw Daniels walk away with a TKO victory. The allure of traditional martial arts is something that has mostly been forgotten in a lot of professional combat sports, but is something that Daniels hopes to help bring back in Bellator Kickboxing alongside Scott Coker.

“If you look at MMA,” he said, “you have guys fighting inside of a cage and while they took parts of martial arts, they cherry picked what they took and left out the peaceful parts of it. If you don’t know what it is and just tune in, it looks almost animalist and brutal. When the Gracies first introduced everyone to jiu-jitsu it opened some eyes and helped to at least change that view for a while, but that’s sorta been lost along the way. I’m hoping that kickboxing can sort of bridge that gap. If I have to take that weight onto my shoulders then so be it.”

We talked about the careful blend that it would take to help bolster the popularity of kickboxing in America. Kickboxing saw some popularity here in the 70’s and 80’s before scandal and disparate, confusing rule sets pushed it aside. While GLORY has made some strides towards making the sport more popular, their approach still feels a bit foreign and different to a lot of fans. “Right, like people don’t realize that kickboxing has a long history, that it was around before MMA. The sport has existed for a long time and has just changed a bit. This is a chance for a fresh start and to really push things forward.”

Getting that “right blend” steered our conversation towards his time in WCL and how WCL was a great idea, but still had perhaps a bit too confusing of a rule set and that the presentation was left lacking in the face of modern sports like MMA. “I think that’s really where Bellator Kickboxing can shine. We can be different and help to push the sport forward, but it doesn’t have to be too different. I’m looking forward to making the sport more popular and to what I’m gonna do in Bellator Kickboxing with Spike TV. The first card has a little bit of everything, different styles and flavors, it brings it all together.”

Look for Raymond Daniels strive for his “Knockout Heard Throughout the Universe” on April 16th in Torino, Italy at Bellator Kickboxing: Torino, airing April 22nd at 11pm Eastern on Spike TV.

 

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