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Why Kickboxing Fans Should Rejoice About Bellator's Changes

In case you haven’t heard already, it was announced today by Bellator that Bjorn Rebney has departed from the organization and that his replacement is former Strikeforce head Scott Coker. Coker was restricted under his deal with Zuffa from competing with them until March of this year, which was when Viacom began making a play to push Rebney out and to replace him with Coker. The rumors are no longer rumors and it is indeed now fact; Scott Coker is the new head of Bellator and Bjorn Rebney is out.

Now, I’m sure that you are asking yourself; why does this matter to Kickboxing. The answer is a long one, which you already knew because I only give long answers. GLORY is on Spike TV and in case you haven’t noticed, GLORY has had problems gaining much power with Spike TV since they joined up with the network. GLORY’s ratings have been just as good as Bellator’s have been and they’ve done so with a whole lot less backing compared to Bellator.

See, Bellator had a majority share sold off to Viacom a few years ago, making them not only a part of the Spike TV family, but embedded into the very essence of the network. Viacom now had a stake in not only Bellator’s survival, but its growth and prosperity. While I can’t speak firsthand of Bjorn Rebney, there have been reports for years about how he does business and that the way in which he handled Bellator wasn’t much different. I remember balking at the leaked Bellator contracts when the promotion first began, then we all remember the contract disputes with guys like Eddie Alvarez and Ben Askren.

It’s safe to say that not many in the fight world are big fans of Bjorn Rebney. Kickboxing fans shouldn’t be, either. You’d think that with GLORY under the Spike TV umbrella that there were natural crossover appeals for Bellator and GLORY, in fact, better crossover appeal than between Bellator and TNA Wrestling. Yet the crossovers that we saw were between Bellator and TNA Wrestling, TNA being a distant second place to the WWE and has been in constant financial and creative turmoil for years now. Not even pro wrestling fans like TNA Wrestling (you could argue that MMA fans don’t like Bellator, either, but that’s another story). 

So why not work with GLORY?

The answer is simple; GLORY is a great, polished and professional product. It offers something exciting and if people watch it, they fall in love with it. Bellator on the other hand has had to struggle for any gains in viewers and at times had to sacrifice their “vision” of tournaments to even attract marginal attention from the MMA press and fan base. We’ve had many reports that Rebney considered GLORY as the competition for Spike’s and Viacom’s affections, not something that he could work with and form mutually-beneficial deals with.

GLORY is on the rise and is doing so through rather modest means, while Bellator has had to dip into Viacom’s coffers to push expensive stars like Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz as real competition. While I can’t speak to boardroom affairs or meetings that happened behind closed doors, there has been a sense that a reason why we haven’t seen more GLORY programming on Spike TV or more support for the GLORY brand had a lot to do with Rebney’s attitude towards Kickboxing and GLORY. 

This is why the inclusion of Scott Coker is like a beam of light through a cloudy day for GLORY and Kickboxing fans right now. Scott Coker’s history is one that is rich not only in Mixed Martial Arts, but Martial Arts in general. Scott Coker was a longtime Kickboxing promoter, even working for K-1 on their US events. Before you rag on those events, remember that K-1 gave him extremely limited resources for those events and that any of the good that came for K-1 USA came through Scott and his very talented and motivated team (later on Mike Kogan had similar struggles but did an admirable job as well).

Scott Coker isn’t afraid of Kickboxing, in fact, Scott Coker loves Kickboxing. Kickboxing is how he broke into the world of promoting fights and nobody in the United States did it as successfully as Coker did it. Scott Coker also isn’t afraid of working with other brands on mutually-beneficial arrangements. Strikeforce came into prominence through a landmark deal with EliteXC that brought Strikeforce’s fighters, following and respect to PPV with some of EliteXC’s big names that they had signed, making for truly memorable events. It later led to Strikeforce absorbing EliteXC and becoming the #2 promotion in the world overnight. 

Now, do we think that things are going to immediately get better? Probably not. In fact, it might take a while. Scott Coker might bring about change, but Scott Coker still has to answer to Viacom at the end of the day and without a financial stake in GLORY they might not see the value in pushing it too hard. Then again, there is a contract in place and they are paying GLORY for the programming, so it makes sense to maximize the brand to its fullest and I see no reason why Scott Coker and Bellator would turn away a chance at working with another successful, unique brand to help build credibility for both. 

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Join the LiverKick and Can't Stop Crazy GLORY 17/Last Man Standing Kountermove Tournament

That title is crazy long, isn't it? Well, there is a saying out there, it's; You Can't Stop Crazy. So if we were going to have a crazy long Kountermove title, why wouldn't we team up with our friends at Can't Stop Crazy to present the GLORY 17/Last Man Standing Kountermove tournament that we were going to do anyway? Just like last time this bad boy is a freeroll, meaning that you can sign up for a fresh, new account if you don't have one already, put no money in and enter the tournament. You can walk away with money from that. 

So yeah, it's free. If you already have an account you should enter as well, because, well, you should. 

The official odds for GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing aren't live yet, but I expect to see them soon on MMAOddsBreaker.

There is zero reason for you not to enter this Kountermove free roll tournament for GLORY 17/Last Man Standing, so go do it now. Now, let's talk about what you should (and should NOT) be betting on.

  • Easy Money
  • Jarrell Miller ($4500) - Sure, there were some out there that felt in their first meeting that Cro Cop might have somehow won that fight. I wasn't one of them and if we are real, you shouldn't be either. Jarrell controlled where the fight took place, was landing cleaner strikes and that was the biggest fight of his career at that point. Since then he's had experience -- lots of experience -- and been scouted by some of the biggest names in Boxing. Cro Cop's dirty boxing-centric style is not going to cut it against Jarrell this time and Jarrell knows better than to get in range for that and eat headbutts. Without Croatian judges and referees this is an even playing field and that favors the man who calls himself Big Baby.
  • The Underdog
  • Joseph Valtellini ($4600) - Marc de Bonte is the defending champion, which gives him an advantage, as does his long career. But you know what? There is a tidal wave forming right now and it's forming behind Joseph Valtellini. Styles make fights and de Bonte's style is more conservative compared to Valtellini's, which is usually fine, except for one thing. Valtellini held his own against Nieky Holzken and was able to not only defend, but break through Holzken's defenses. Holzken is just about untouchable at this weight and is able to sneak by strikes through the best defenses. Holzken had problems with Valtellini. I think that de Bonte is an incredible fighter, but I'm not sure his defenses are as tight as Holzken's and he's gonna play the counter-puncher game, which means Joe will pick him apart. 
  • Too Close to Call
  • Daniel Ghita ($4700) vs. Rico Verhoeven ($4900) - Perhaps the most exciting single fight on paper for Last Man Standing, it is also really tough to call. Verhoeven absolutely has a win over Daniel Ghita, but this is both men, fresh, against the best version of each other. Verhoeven reminds me of Daniel Ghita back in 2012, when Ghita was just getting comfortable in the ring and broadening his horizons. Verhoeven used to be stiff and gunshy, now he's confident and using all of his tools in a fluid manner, which is great, but Daniel Ghita has been through it all now; wins, losses, a trip to the top only to get shot back down. There's a good chance that Verhoeven looks the best he's ever looked and wins a close fight, there is also a chance that Daniel Ghita pummels Verhoeven enough to take the win. 
  • The Long Shot
  • Alex Pereira ($4300) - If you look at the odds, Alex Pereira is the man least likely to win the tournament, when, in fact, for being relatively inexpensive in this Kountermove tournament, he's a tremendous value. He's shown us a ton in his past few fights and we all already know what Artem Levin brings to the table. That being said, knowing what Artem brings to the table, it means that he's going to be himself. He's going to be slipping strikes, working the clinch a ton and maybe even losing a point for it. Moving in close on Alex Pereira is a suicidal move and one that someone as confident as Levin might not be afraid of trying. There's a chance that Pereira even wins this whole damned tournament. You can quote me on that, because I said chance, not will, okay?
  • Stay Away From
  • The entire GLORY 17 Featherweight tournament - This is beyond too close to call, this is insanity. If you are into taking risks then go for it, I'd say your best bets are Shane Oblonsky ($4800) or Gabriel Varga ($4800), but that being said, daaaamn. That is a great, great tournament and some stellar matchmaking by Cor Hemmers. 
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Qabala Fight Series #1 Full card Announced

The first Qabala Fight Series event on June 29th in Azerbaijan have announced their full fight card including super fights between Glory ranked fighters and an 8 man Lightweight tournament.

These fights will help the Glory fighters climb the ranks on the Glory ladder, and for all the fighters who have not fought in Glory yet, this is a great chance to impress and secure a place in the #1 kickboxing organization in the world.

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For Joe Schilling Last Man Standing is About His Legacy

This weekend at GLORY Last Man Standing Joe Schilling has a date with a second GLORY tournament. The first one was a victory for Schilling at GLORY 10, putting him atop of the heap of GLORY’s stacked Middleweight division. At least for that night. We can easily say that GLORY 10 was a great night for Schilling, but GLORY 12 was not a great night for Schilling, although he’ll be the first one to tell you that it wasn’t his best night.

Heading into GLORY’s Last Man Standing tournament Joe is faced with three past opponents in Wayne Barrett, Artem Levin and Simon Marcus, each of which are involved in the tournament in different parts of the bracket, with there being a chance of him meeting each one on Saturday if things turn out that way. Revenge doesn’t seem to be on the mind of Schilling this time, though, nor does calling out a round for a knockout. Instead, he seems refocused.

At Last Man Standing Joe Schilling’s night starts off with not only a rematch, but a third meeting with an old adversary in Simon Marcus, but that is the furthest thing from his mind right now; “You know, everyone is asking me about rematches, they are all really excited about that. I guess there is more of an emotional connection to the previous fights than even I do. Rematch with Simon, rematch with Barrett, rematch with Levin, and I’m not thinking about that at all. It doesn’t even cross my mind, I’m a different fighter and I don’t expect them to be the same fighter. I’m really just focused on winning the tournament.

“Gotta go through Simon Marcus first, then I gotta go through Barrett, but if it’s Barrett I’ll beat Barrett, if it’s Stoica then I’ll be Stoica. Who even knows who comes through that other bracket. It’s crazy. I’m really focused I’m being the best Joe Schilling that I can be that night. I’ve made some changes in my game, in my lifestyle and the mental side of it. I feel like I’ll really be able to express what I’m capable of on the 21st. I’m really excited to show everybody what I’m capable of, but also show myself what I’m capable of. The rematches, though? They really mean nothing to me. At the end of the night, when I’m holding my belt, I’ll probably be laughing like, ‘Oh I knocked out Simon,’ but it’s not what I’m focused on right now.”

GLORY 12 was a tough night for Joe, but it wasn’t the first time that he’s had to face a loss in his career. “Yeah, when I lose a fight I really get very internal; why I lost the fight, what I was thinking, what I was doing. There are a lot of mistakes that I’ve been making for a long time in my career, stylistically, and we’ve really been focused on changing those things. The sparring has worked out really well and I’m really excited about it. After the Eddie Walker knockout I came back stronger, after I lost to Simon the second time I had to go to Thailand to fight Karapet on short notice, so I really look at my losses as big chunks of experience.

“I mean, look at the records of some of these other guys in the tournament. Sure, I have a much bigger record than Wayne Barrett, but for the most part I have less than everybody else in the tournament. Any and all experience that I can get I gotta take advantage of, but these losses are big for me, they are learning experiences. I’m humbled by my losses and it forces me to take a good look at me and it’s a good thing for my career.”

This brought about the topic of pressure and what kind of pressure that Joe feels going into this tournament. If you remember going into GLORY 10 Joe felt that he had to win the tournament to make a statement about Americans in Kickboxing, but now he sees more and more fighters from America stepping up and this is more about himself and his legacy. Joe is looking for not only a win, but a legacy like that of some of Kickboxing’s legends with back-to-back tournament wins.

“I’ve always put so much pressure on myself that I don’t really see other people’s pressure. I hold myself to a very high standard. In the past I’ve said stuff like, ‘well I’m gonna knock him out in this round’ and put even more pressure on myself, but for me there’s a ton of pressure on this fight for myself. I want to prove and really cement my legacy in Kickboxing. It means the world to me that I was the first American to win a global combat sports tournament like this and it’s really important for me to do it twice in a row. I want to go down in history with like Peter Aerts and Semmy Schilt, that’s the pressure that I feel. I don’t want to be in the back shaking my head and apologizing like I was after the Barrett fight and I have 100% myself to blame for that. I took him too lightly and I just,” Joe paused for a few seconds, searching for the right words. “I screwed up. I didn’t fight my fight, that wasn’t the best Joe Schilling.

“That won’t happen again,” he added, in regards to his frustrations in the fight with Barrett. “I was in there and I was frustrated, not even with Wayne, but I was frustrated with myself. Things picked up in the third round but even then it was sloppy, it was careless, it wasn’t me. So there is a ton of pressure for me not to do that again in this fight, but I feel like with the changes we’ve made there’s no chance of that happening again. There’s a lot less pressure knowing that I’m fighting the best fighters in the world. No one has ever watched a K-1 World Grand Prix and thought, ‘well that guy sucks.’ Everybody in there belongs in there, seven of us, the best Middleweights in the world, are gonna lose on Saturday. It’s gonna be a tough night, I’m not gonna be dancing afterwards. I have the utmost respect for all of the guys in the tournament, but it’s gonna be my night. It’s in my home city in front of my family and my friends, it’s gonna be epic.”

It’s also interesting to note that Schilling does have the homefield advantage going into this tournament, something that he had for the GLORY 10 Middleweight tournament as well. It was something that he was missing at GLORY 12 when he fought Wayne Barrett in New York, though; “Yeah, you know, I walked out and was getting booed. It’s happened twice in my career and both times it’s taken me out of my game. Actually, both times it was on the East coast, maybe I need to not fight on the East coast anymore?” He joked. “But for sure, I’m a lot more comfortable when I fight at home. No one wants to lose in front of their friends.”

So for Joe Schilling at GLORY Last Man Standing there isn’t revenge on his mind, instead it’s his legacy and taking his place as one of the greats in Kickboxing by winning consecutive tournaments. It is without a doubt a tall order considering the talent involved, but Schilling seems just as excited to watch the fights at Last Man Standing and GLORY 17 as he is to compete. He’s a kickboxing fan first and a fighter second and it’s very clear that this Joe Schilling is humbled and mentally prepared for what is before him.

Will it be his night again? Tune in on Saturday night at 10pm Eastern time on PPV for GLORY Last Man Standing, immediately following GLORY 17 on Spike TV at 8pm Eastern time. For more information, head to http://www.gloryppv.com

 

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