Author

About the Author
Anoop Hothi also known as K1ANOOP, is a combat sports writer based in the UK (with a keen eye for K1/Thai rules) and the host of the K1ANOOP podcast. Having initially trained in sport kickboxing as a child, K1ANOOP returned to kickboxing in his adulthood and made the transition from sport kickboxing to K1 rules and Thai boxing. Being a kickboxing martial artist intrigued with improving himself and studying more about the technical aspects of the ‘striking arts’, K1ANOOP started his own blog in 2015 which, swiftly lead to opportunities to write professionally about combat sports for various digital platforms. You can follow K1ANOOP on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube.

GLORY Collision: The great hype that stumbled on a night of great expectations

The most anticipated event in the modern era of kickboxing didn’t quite live up to everyone’s great expectations. After half a year of buildup to Rico vs Badr, come fight night, not only did we have an overly drawn out online viewing experience split into two or three different online streams (depending where in the world you were); Tiffany van Soest made history winning the the inaugural women’s straw-weight championship in a borefest of a tournament; Badr Hari’s arm got broken just as his ‘Collision’ with Rico Verhoeven got exciting; and Sittichai vs. Marat Grigorian and Pinca vs Amrani were overshadowed by the sheer volume of fights from having three overall fight cards.

Cedric Doumbe

Cedric Doumbe – Photo credit: James Law, GLORY Sports Int’l

However, Nieky Holzken was finally dethroned as GLORY welterweight champion by Cedric Doumbe, in what was a damn good fight to watch and witness how to unlock the four year puzzle that is the “The Natural”. Ismael Londt lost a thrilling decision to Moroccan-Dutch juggernaut, Jamal Ben Saddik and Michael Duut returned in spectacular fashion to GLORY Kickboxing with an enthralling decision win over Danyo Ilunga. Both Duut’s and Ben Saddik’s victories were crowd pleasers and will undoubtedly be YouTube favourites for the next couple of weeks or longer; and attract more casual fight fans to kickboxing.

GLORY Collision – Summary: 

  • Rico breaks Badr’s arm up against the rope with powerful clinch knees before the referee could pull them apart.
  • Doumbe dethrones Holzken with an excellent performance showcasing: speed, confidence and a highly efficient game plan being executed.
  • Ben Saddik pulled off an amazing result against Ismael Londt and had “Mr Pain” in all sorts of problems.
  • Tiffany van Soest won the inaugural women’s straw-weight tournament (but the Iman Barlow question will continue to linger).
Tiffany van Soest

Tiffany van Soest – Photo credit: James Law, GLORY Sports Int’l

Unfortunately, GLORY seem to have a habit of learning things the hard way since they have existed. We all remember the consequences of airing a free undercard event (GLORY 17, headlined by Mirko Cro Cop vs. Jarrell Miller) immediately before the PPV for GLORY Last Man Standing which is, probably, their best event to-date. The promotion were well reported to have had their own recession after the PPV figures in 2014 were a failure, leading to the likes of Tyrone Spong and Gökhan Saki not returning to GLORY due to big name fighters allegedly having to take major pay cuts; As well as other contract negotiations and issues.

Schilling

Schilling KOs Marcus, GLORY Last Man Standing – Image: Glory Sports Int’l

The UFC Fight Pass deal announced earlier this year was always good news for both GLORY and kickboxing. Although, it would seem that GLORY still need to smarten up their approach to broadcasting their events to the widest possible audience and fixing the overall structure of the fight cards; Hopefully, they will in the new year. Otherwise, they are going to risk losing out on attracting, potentially, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of new fight fans to the GLORY brand of technical violence and exciting KOs.

Why? Online (or ideally TV) access to watch such grand events needs to be made much easier i.e. on one channel / portal with the fights altogether and not on a multitude of different platforms). Listen to episode 42 of The Striking Corner podcast this week because this is one of the many interesting talking points we dig into.

Overall verdict on GLORY Collision (plus, GLORY 36 and the SuperFight Series)?

Badr Hari

Badr and Rico after their Collision – Photo credit: James Law, GLORY Sports Int’l

Disappointing. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

There’s very promising and achievable room for improvement that could, ‘blow all the fish out of the water’ (i.e. their promotional rivals) in 2017. Most importantly, GLORY are on the verge of elevating mainstream media coverage to a whole new level for kickboxing on a long term basis, which the sport has been struggling with for decades. The knock-on effect of GLORY’s potential to boost the profile of the sport on a global scale will enhance the potential revenue streams for everyone involved in kickboxing, making the sport more of a commercially viable profession and industry too.

GLORY Collision – Results:

Rico Verhoeven def. Badr Hari via Rd2 TKO (injury)

Cedric Doumbe def. Nieky Holzken by split decision (SD) – new welterweight champion

Jamal Ben Saddik def. Ismael Londt via UD

Tiffany van Soest def. Amel Dehby via UD – Women’s straw-weight tournament final

Glory 36 – Results:

Sittichai Sitsongpeenong def. Marat Grigorian by SD, retains lightweight title

Dylan Salvador def. Hysni Beqiri, UD – Lightweight tournament final

Fabio Pinca def. Mosab Amrani, SD

Hysni Beqiri def. Antonio Gomez, UD – Lightweight semi-final

Dylan Salvador def. Anatoly Moiseev, MD – Lightweight semi-final

SuperFight Series – Results:

Michael Duut def. Danyo Ilunga via UD (extra round)

Harut Grigorian def. Danijel Solaja by Rd1 KO

Amel Dehby def. Isis Verbeek, UD – Women’s straw-weight semi-final

Tiffany van Soest def. Jessica Gladstone, UD – Women’s straw-weight semi-final

Tyjani Beztati def. Andrej Bruhl, UD

Bellator Kickboxing Florence – Preview: Petrosyan vs. Watson and Kevin Ross gets his wish

Headlining the Bellator Kickboxing Florence card at Bellator 168 is Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Jordan Watson, in what will be an interesting clash of styles at the Mandela Forum on December 10. Watson is renown for being big, powerful and some might say, ‘Mr Right Kick’. As well as having previous with southpaws, most notably: Sanny Dhalbeck and Ben Hodge  from which, he’s certainly learnt and improved himself as a fighter. In his last fight with Hodge at Yokkao 20, Watson was flirting with switching stances from orthodox to southpaw and vice-versa but there’s more to simply switch hitting to bamboozling Petrosyan.

However, “The Doctor” has been there and seen it all including, winning a couple of K-1 Max trophies in the mix too. The last person to really put it on him was a certain Andy Ristie at GLORY 12, resulting in the biggest upset of the decade – Petrosyan being left KO’d on the canvas. Not to mention his GLORY 3 bout with two weight champion, Robin van Roosmalen. Although that decision went Petrosyan’s way, it strongly hinted at something – when his opponents are not only relentless with giving him a fight but most significantly, are of much higher calibre than your typical pressure fighter, they can cause the Italian kickboxing maestro all sorts of problems.

Nevertheless, Watson’s mindset and attitude will be key factors on Saturday which, he opened up about after Yokkao 20, regarding his past approach to his career. If his mind, body and soul are focused on the task at hand on Saturday then anything is possible. Especially as no one, not even Petrosyan, is unbreakable in the ring. However, the obvious favourite is the two time K-1 Max champion, whose kickboxing experience outweighs that of Watson’s.

Alessio Arudini is a very competent Thai boxer who, will be greeting Kevin Ross in the ring come Saturday. He’s also a very good kicker with a variety of kicks in his arsenal: whether he maybe attacking both the inside and outside of the lead leg, or, even pulling off more fancy stuff like, spinning back kicks and even ‘question mark kicks’ from his right leg.

In the buildup, Ross was complimentary of the Italian but don’t expect the switch from both of their favoured rule set to dampen how exciting this fight could turn out to be. “The Soul Assassin” is more than experienced enough to handle someone as threatening as Arudini and if anything, the level of competition he’s facing this time round, in Bellator Kickboxing, will be exactly what he’s been looking for to elevate his own performance too.

“He’s just a more, I’d say, traditional, solid Thai boxer. I’m looking forward to a more technical fight.”

Luca Novello is most probably out of his depth against the vastly experienced Karim Ghajji who, was formerly Bellator Kickboxing’s inaugural welterweight champion, defeating Mustafa Haida at Bellator 152 by split decision. However, whether or not Novello has developed some serious ringcraft since being overwhelmed by Antoine Pinto (at Thai Fight, November 2014) is the ultimate question and one that will be answered when he faces Ghajji. However, “Gadjetboy” mustn’t underestimate Novello who, turns 23 the day before their clash; he’ll be more determined than ever to get a win over someone of Ghajji’s profile, especially infront of his home corwd.

Denise Kieholtz gets her rematch with Gloria Peritore after what some had reported as controversial decision loss to the Italian at Bellator Dynamite 2. However, Peritore never stays still and will continuously keep moving away and around the ring until she decides to close range, exchange with a few quick strikes and then move out and away again. If anything, Peritore is always on the balls of her feet which, allows her to throw those nice head kicks and teeps to face, a lot easier compared to being a plodder; and the word, ‘plodder’ could be sum up the majority of the latter’s movement in their last fight.

Denise Kieholtz vs Gloria Peritore

Denise Kieholtz vs. Gloria Peritore – Image: Bellator / Oktagon

Previously, Kielholtz failed to keep constant pressure and spent more time waiting in the centre of the ring and just following her opponent; not cutting off the ring; and not keeping at close range and cutting angles to then blast Peritore all over the place with her Dutch kickboxing venom. Unless she fights more like her man, Hesdy Gerges, history could very well repeat itself in Florence between these two.

Joe Schilling has had a shocking run of three straight defeats after a decision win over Mike Lemaire to start the year at GLORY 27. However, Schilling’s brand image is too big an investment for Bellator to possibly risk by matching him up against a more talented fighter than Victorio Lermano at this moment in time. No disrespect but Lermano does not have the skill set nor power to compete with someone as technically violent as Schilling. So, don’t be surprised by anything other than a return to winning ways for “Stich ‘em up” to end the year but then again, the majority of people expected Schilling to take care of Hisaki Kato in their rematch under kickboxing rules.

Yodslanki and Buakaw confirmed to fight on Enfusion Live in 2017

Muay Thai legends Yodslanki and Buakaw will be fighting on Enfusion Live in 2017 (against opponents yet to be announced) as was confirmed by Enfusion earlier today to the Striking Corner; and it should be noted that Enfusion have made these agreements alone and not in partnership with any other promotion(s).

The breaking news follows on from Fabio Pinca joining the 67kg Enfusion League in the new year. 2017 is looking to be a an even busier year for Pinca who, had also confirmed after defeating Liam Harrison at Yokkao 19, that he’ll also be making his return to GLORY Kickboxing on what has since been confirmed against, Mosab Amrani on December 10 at GLORY 36 – the same night and preceding, GLORY Collision: Rico vs Badr in Oberhausen, Germany.

Earlier this year at Enfusion Live 37, the 72.5kg Enfusion League commenced consisting of: Mohammed Jaraya, Nordin Ben Moh, Jonay Risco, Serginio Kanters (who will now be replaced due to weight cutting issues at Enfusion Live 43), Crice Boussoulou and Tayfun Ozcan.

The 72.5kg Enfusion League returns in February 2017 and will include a mouthwatering rematch: Mohammed Jaraya vs Nordin Ben Moh – both of whom fought one another at Enfusion Live 37 in undoubtedly was one of the most spectacular fights of the year.

It isn’t only Kunlun Fight who have deep pockets to pay the big fees that attract the likes of Buakaw to fight for them. Enfusion have made a statement to the big boys i.e. GLORY and Bellator Kickboxing with this announcement, having organically developed their brand of kickboxing since 2008. The promotion started their journey with Enfusion Reality which, was a reality TV kickboxing show and featured: Eddie Walker, Cyrus Washington, Warren Thompson, Julie Kitchen and Andrew Tate as contestants.

The Striking Corner will bring you more news on both the 67kg Enfsuon League featuring Fabio Pinca and further updates on who and when both, Yodslanki and Buakaw will be fighting in the in the new year too for Enfusion.

Rico Verhoeven: ‘I’m on a different level of fighting’ and thinking five steps ahead

Rico Verhoeven collides with arch rival, Badr Hari in Oberhausen, Germany on December 10 in what is undoubtedly the one super fight that has single handily reignited worldwide interest in kickboxing since the “Golden era” of the sport. Verhoeven has reigned as the undisputed GLORY champion since 2014 when he defeated Daniel Ghita via unanimous decision at GLORY 17: Los Angeles.

However, the heavyweight division has been going through a transition period during Verhoeven’s dominance so far and Hari who, is widely acknowledged as the greatest heavyweight kickboxer of his generation, had been semi-dormant due to his well reported issues away from the sport.

Speaking last night about his technical kickboxing ability and the run of form he’s been on, Verhoeven gave a good insight into his overall approach to the sport and his mindset which, quite clearly sets him apart, from any other champion before him.

“I’m on a different level of fighting, I’m using all the tools in the box.”

“Sometimes some tools you can’t use for all the jobs. So, there’s no point in using the tools then. Of course you’re looking at a fight and a certain fighter and how he moves and what he does and stuff like that but in the end it just has to show in the fight. In the fight you feel the distance and you feel the things that could work and that might work and you just try them.”

There is a stereotype that exist about the ‘Dutch style’ of kickboxing especially when it comes to kickboxers who don’t possess the kind of skill set that the likes of Verhoeven (and his former foe, Ghita) have displayed in years gone by.

What is that stereotype? Two fighters standing toe-to-toe, throwing basic combinations starting with a few powerful punches and finishing with a low kick; not too much head movement, or, ring craft either; basically, just a war of attrition and not technically advanced.

“In every fight I go into, my opponent is like a book and I want to read that book in like a minute or a minute and a half, in a round max. After that I want to know everything that’s coming.”

Rico Verhoeven

Rico Verhoeven teeps Daniel Ghita – Image: GLORY Sports Intl

“You can see the way things are coming by, the way that someone moves and that’s just a totally a different approach of going towards fight than a lot of people do. They only think about ‘he’s going to throw this and I’m going to throw that back’ but I’m thinking about step five.”

Listening to Verhoeven explain his championship mindset in more detail was even more fascinating, seriously. Due to his politeness and overall conduct, Rico has become a role model for world kickboxing, something that Badr Hari is the complete opposite of in the eyes of most fans. Why? His bad boy image, getting into fights at past press conferences and not forgetting all the reported street violence over the years too which, was probably worse than Mike Tyson in his heyday (and that’s saying something!).

However, Badr’s antics in the buildup to GLORY Collision have not gone down too well with Verhoeven. Hari had mockingly predicted at the Collision press conference that Rico would get knocked out in one round when they collide in Oberhausen:

“He talks so much sh-t. He just talks a lot and I just laugh at it. I hope you trained that hard as you ran your mouth because that’s crazy.”

Bellator 168, Florence – Kevin Ross: Bellator Kickboxing ‘doing it smart’ and amazed by mainstream exposure

Bellator Kickboxing returns to action on December 10 via Bellator 168, in the historic city of Florence, Italy. Kevin Ross will be taking on Alessio Arduino in what “The Soul Assassin” hopes will be a more technical fight compared to his previous visit to Italy when he defeated, Matteo Taccini via unanimous decision at Bellator 152. Also featuring on the Florence kickboxing card will be: Joe Schilling vs. Victorio Germano and Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Jordan Watson.

2016 has been a resurgent year for both kickboxing and Muay Thai with various global promotions such as: GLORY, Enfusion Live, Bellator Kickboxing, Kunlun Fight, Muay Thai Grand Prix, Yokkao, Thai Fight and Lion Fight, accumulating more mainstream media exposure (in the western world) than ever before for both rule sets of the striking arts.

Kevin Ross had recently guested on the Joe Rogan Experience with Gaston Bolaños following Lion Fight 31, in an excellent podcast that educated a much wider and different audience than both CSA Gym fighters normally have, about the difference in not only Muay Thai and kickboxing but also, the level of real world class striking compared to MMA. Most importantly, such media exposure (and more) is exactly what both sports need, in order to enhance the profile to the same level that pro boxing and MMA benefit from.

“Looking back to the majority of my career I never thought I’d still be fighting while kickboxing and muay thai was getting this kind of exposure. I never thought I’d be fighting on TV, ever! So for it to be happening and for it to be happening while I’m still active and a high level is amazing to me. You know I think back to not that long ago there was like, I don’t know if this was ever gonna happen.”

Ross was also optimistic about the long term direction in which Bellator Kickboxing were headed in and credited the promotion for not rushing too soon without first developing their brand of kickboxing and most importantly, their own kickboxing superstars that will generate a bigger fanbase into the future and safeguard the promotion’s viability too.

“This show is going to be amazing you know like I was saying before, its a little frustrating how slow it seems to be going but thats the way you have to do things correctly in order to build them up.”

“Thats the mistake a lot of promoters make and have made is that they try to go too big too early. They didn’t take the time to build up their talent, local talent, their exposure and then they do this giant show and then nobody shows up and they lose all their money and they’re gone forever. So, Bellator’s been really doing it smart, taking their time, you know, pulling in the big stars when they can and kinda slowly building their resume, its great to be a part of.”

Bellator 168 – Bellator Kickboxing, Florence:

Lightweight: Giorgio Petrosyan (82-2-2, 1 NC) vs. Jordan Watson (48-11-2)

Flyweight: Denise Kielholtz (45-3) vs. Gloria Peritore (11-1-1)

Lightweight: Kevin Ross (31-9) vs. Alessio Arduini (26-14-2)

Middleweight: Joe Schilling (19-9) vs. Victorio Lermano (30-7)

Welterweight: Karim Ghajji (96-13-1) vs. Luca Novello (22-4-2)

 

Ognjen Topic reflects on Saenchai and the ‘mentality of fighting’ for success

Ognjen Topic recently fought Muay Thai legend, Saenchai, last month at Yokkao 22 in Honk Kong and unfortunately, lost by decision. There aren’t many Farangs that are given much of a chance in the minds of Thai boxing fans when matched-up against the +400 fight veteran but then again, Topic is regarded as ‘one of the best technically gifted Thai fighters’ of the current crop (by none other than Damien Trainor who, was coaching at CSA Gym during November).

However, Topic himself was the first to admit that the fight didn’t unfold anywhere as what he would’ve liked or had planned:

“I’m not happy at all about the fight but we’re talking about a guy that’s been doing it for a very long time and he has quite a bit more experience than I do so, I’m trying to stay positive. It’s difficult especially when you’re competitive individual.”

“Before the fight and during the fight I felt great mentally, physically you know. I didn’t look at him as some, some god of Muay Thai. I just looked at him as an opponent and I prepared myself as I always do. I went into the fight with the mentality of winning and even when I was in the fight, you know it was difficult, I still wanted to beat him so, that’s that.”

It’s interesting that Topic mentioned the ‘mentality of fighting’ because not only is it fair to say that fighting is 99% in the mind but so is having the self-belief and aptitude in achieving our life goals and dreams too. Self doubt can really cripple fighters mentality; a good example of this would be the way how pro boxer, Nicholas Walters surrendered after six rounds against Vasyl Lomachenko, over the weekend in Las Vegas. Topic explained what he does away from the gym in his spare time to help him mentally with moving forward in his fighting career.

“Another thing I like to do is sometime if I have some downtime is I go on YouTube and look up documentaries on any businessman. You know I like I’m into cars so I’ll go look up the guy that started the company Koenigsegg, you know an exotic car company or Pagani. So, you kinda just listen to how they talk and how they began these things, their story and their dreams and how everything came to fruition. Then it kinda you know puts things into perspective you can follow this steps as well from other people and then you can learn from them.”

“So it really doesn’t matter what profession it is, you can always take something away from any I guess, elite person, on that high level that has that mentality to be persistent and dedicated to their craft.”

Simon Marcus vs Joe Schilling

Simon Marcus vs Joe Schilling

Muay Thai is one of the oldest forms of fighting and as a professional sport, doesn’t gain the high levels of mainstream media coverage compared to pro boxing. The likes of Joe Schilling and Kevin Ross have both previously voiced the difficulties that they’ve faced in their careers before the emergence of GLORY, Lion Fight, Bellator Kickboxing and Muay Thai Grand Prix in recent years. Even kickboxing has struggled especially since the “Golden era” of the ‘old skool’ K-1 days in Japan.

However the tide would seem to be turning for both Muay Thai and kickboxing especially now that the UFC have, for the first time ever, partnered with another sporting promotion i.e. GLORY Kickboxing to be their PPV online media partner via UFC Fight Pass for streaming, GLORY Collision: Rico Verhoeven vs Badr Hari.

Even UFC colour commentator, Joe Rogan has been voicing his support and love for K1/Thai rules and recently had Kevin Ross, Gaston Bolanos and their coach (CSA Gym owner), Kieran Fitzpatrick on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast which, Topic was delighted about for the long term benefit of the sport.

tsc-ep-39-gaston-bolanos“It was great. I really hope that a lot of people tuned in. Kevin Ross really gave a really good explanation on you know, Muay Thai and the difference between the striking between Muay Thai and MMA and it pretty much how all of us Muay Thai fighters feel you know but we never really have a stage to say that; and I think he kinda opened up Joe Rogan’s eyes as well, you know with clinch and things like that because it doesn’t seem like a lot of those guys understand and know the difference between the two, the two sports. So its great that they were on the show and they were able to kind of give that differentiation.”