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GLORY 37 Los Angeles – Results: Jason Wilnis retains middleweight title with controversial decision

Jason Wilnis retained his GLORY middleweight title against Israel Adesanya at GLORY 37 Los Angeles but the decision left countless kickboxing fans on social media at loggerheads as to how a unanimous decision was awarded to the defending champion. If anything, there was nothing unanimous about the controversial decision awarded to Willis who, in typical fashion, fought with a tight high guard and kept coming forward with venomous low kicks and aiming punches for Adesanya’s head.

The skilful “Stylebender” was was more varied with his striking output (even throwing Saenchai style cartwheel kicks and some nifty spinning kicks into the mix) with plenty of strikes aimed to the body and head of Wilnis whilst displaying his confident ring-craft and not being a sitting target despite, being in a much smaller ring than usual compared to GLORY Kickboxing events in recent years.

If the early rounds might have been slightly in favour of Wilnis, the same cannot be said for the reminder of the fight as the rounds progressed. The champion was lacking the effective high volume of output that was being more obviously applied by Adesanya. Although the continuous forward pressure and counter attacks from Wilnis were always present, it was Wilnis who was starting to fade in the latter rounds and the challenger who, remained composed, slick and actively efficient enough to have edged the decision in his favour and be crowned the new middleweight champion.

However, when the official decision was announced confirming Wilnis as the defending champion, two of the judges had scored the fight as 48-47 for the champion but bizarrely one judge had scored it as 49-46 for Wilnis. An immediate rematch might be the most obvious thing to call for as a result of the controversial decision, however, it was announced by the commentary team that former middleweight champion, Simon Marcus, was set to face the winner of the main event of the night; and later confirmed by Marcus himself to Michael Steczkowski.

Kongolo

Image via GLORY Sports Int’l

Yoann Kongolo won the 4-man welterweight tournament to set himself for a second rematch with the new GLORY welterweight champion, Cedric Doumbe who, had recently defeated Nieky Holzken by decision at GLORY Collision. Although Kongolo was the obvious favourite to win the contender tournament, his emphatic performance in the final with a brutal body shot to drop Karim Benmansour will send a firm warning to Doumbe who, he has twice defeated before by decision.

Zoila Frausto won her GLORY debut by decision in a slug-fest with Daniela Graf and although both ladies might have got a bit punch drunk in their fight, neither was willing to back down and both were fully committed to punching the other’s lights out. Frausto who, is a Muay Thai champion and MMA fighter, certainly is the calibre of fighter that looks set to make a bigger impact in the women’s super bantamweight division this year.

Also, Tiffany van Soest was re-presented with her super bantamweight belt in-front of her fellow South Californians. It might seem as if GLORY are being smart with their selection of American female fighters but so far, both van Soest and Frausto are two female fighters that no kickboxing promotion can go wrong with at this early stage of developing their women’s roster.

Frausto

Image via Glory Sports Int’l

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Matt Embree who, lost by TKO in the fourth round against former featherweight champion, Robin van Roosmalen. Yes, former champion – van Rosmalen had missed weight by under one kilogram at the weigh-ins the day before and refused the opportunity to try again when a time extension offered. As a direct result, GLORY immediately decided to strip their champion before he even made his first title defence. However, had Embree won he would’ve been awarded the title but since he didn’t, van Roosmalen has now secured his number one contender status and will now fight again for the title in the near future against an opponent yet to be confirmed.

Could a rematch between Robin van Roosmalen and Gabriel Varga be in the pipeline anytime soon? Only time will tell especially as Varga had confirmed last year that he’d been informed by GLORY that the promotion were planning on hosting future events in Canada come 2017.

Image via GLORY Sports Int’l

GLORY 37 Los Angeles – Results:
Jason Wilnis (c) def. Israel Adesayna via UD – retains middleweight title
Yoann Kongolo def. Karim Benmansour via Rd3 TKO – wins welterweight tournament final
Guto Inocente def. D’Angelo Marshall via majority draw, extra round – heavyweight
Karim Benmansour def. Alan Scheinson via split decision – welterweight tournament semi-final
Yoann Kongolo def. Konstantin Khuzin via UD – welterweight tournament semi-final

GLORY SuperFight Series – Results:
Robin van Roosmalen def. Matt Embree via Rd4 TKO – featherweight title bout (but van Roosmalen stripped off title for missing weight; title was available for Embree to win though)
Jhonata Diniz def. Tomas Mozny via UD – heavyweight
Warren Thompson def. Mike Lemaire via UD – middleweight
Zoila Frausto def. Daniela Graf via UD – Women’s super bantamweight
Giga Chikadze def. Victor Pinto via Rd1 KO (liver kick) – featherweight

Panicos Yusuf explains withdrawal against Superlek Kiatmoo9 at Yokkao 23 and hasn’t retired

Panicos Yusuf had reportedly retired from fighting according to Yokkao a week ago which, caused quite a frenzy on social media, especially since Yusuf himself hadn’t come out publicly to issue such a statement. To make matters worse, Panicos isn’t event managed by Yokkao like for example, Muay Thai legend Saenchai and is actually a co-promoter himself (at Tanko Events) whilst managing to have an active fighting career. However, a few days later in an interview with MMA Plus, Panicos was adamant in refuting the inaccurate reporting by Yokkao and that he hadn’t retired from fighting.

Speaking more about the matter yesterday, Panicos explained that juggling the demands of being a father, fighter, promoter and coach running his All Powers Gym, wouldn’t allow him to prepare properly for a proposed fight with, Superlek Kiatmoo9 at Yokkao 23, at this moment in time.

“For me to continue fighting big opponents such as Superlek, I needed to be spending more time in Thailand really. Realistically training and fighting out there just to be on par with them. Manachai was a really good fight, I don’t think I was too much out of depth with him but Superlek is another league. I think he’s as good as Saenchai if not better.”

“So, we decided that its best to maybe not fight against him on this show because its very short period of time for me training and I don’t think I’m at the level to fight Superlek yet. I’m not scared of him, I’ll fight him do you know what I mean, it’s not a problem if the money’s right, yeah I’ll fight him anytime. The only problem is I don’t get the type of training that I need to fight opponents like that. Yes, I want to fight Thais because I don’t think there’s anyone at my weight that can challenge me apart from Thais but basically, I don’t think theres any point in doing it at this moment in time.”

However, Panicos had recently made the transition to MMA, winning his debut at Tanko FC 2 against Ben Dearden and was candid about Muay Thai not being ‘financially viable’ as a fighter, especially with the added responsibility of being a family man.

“There’s no money in Thai boxing. As much as I love it, I know that if I invested the time and financial resources into bringing my level up, its not as if my purse is going to increase by a considerable amount for it to be worth it for me in the long run.”

Despite dealing with some ongoing injuries that had also prevented him from participating in the 63kg 8-man tournament at the WLF 2017 World Championship over the weekend, Panicos is aiming to return to action in March with his main aim being to further develop his MMA career.

Click here to listen or download the full podcast interview with Panicos Yusuf which, also includes a guest appearance by, Iman Barlow ahead of her title defence against, Meryum Uslu at Lion Fight 34.

Kunlun Fight 56: Buakaw, Jomthong and Superbon feature in New Year’s Day extravaganza

Kunlun Fight have certainly made their mark on world kickboxing in 2016, with a series of 70kg 4-man tournaments throughout the year, building up-to their year end extravaganza in China. The new year’s day event will focus on the Kunlun World Max finals, featuring: Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana and Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef; headlined by, Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin.

Kunlun have featured a good few Thais on their events as they established themselves in Southeast Asia initially, with Buakaw being one of their key name fighters. Along with Artur Kyshenko as they have expanded, focusing more on attracting fight fans from the western world.

Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana

Kiria is a former GLORY lightweight champion and now trains with Nieky Holzken; Joining the recently dethroned GLORY welterweight champion at Team Holzken this year.

Kunlun

Photo credit: Kunlun Fight

Kiria made the move in an attempt to rejuvenate his kickboxing career after mixed results in the last couple of years. The change has done him well resulting in a couple of wins against Robbie Hageman at Kunlun Fight 48 and  Dzianis Zeuv at Kunlun Fight 52 – both by decisions and part of the overall qualifying process for the Kunlun World Max.

Jomthong on the other hand is a master of various striking skills and rule-sets including, a pro boxing record of 9-1 and three continental titles. He is also a three time Rajadamnern stadium champion but really made his name in Muay Thai with a huge win over Anuwat Kaewzamrit for the WBC featherweight crown in 2008.

Of the two, Jomthong has been the more active this year with six wins from seven fights, the majority of which were on Kunlun events this year including a notable decision win over Buakaw’s opponent on the night, Tian Xin at Kunlun Fight 53.

Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef

Of the four fighters in this year’s Kunlun Max semi-finals, Superbon is most probably the favorite to win the tournament, having defeated Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong at Kunlun Fight 48 in the previous round. The win was a rematch for the two following on from Kunlun Fight 37 where Superbon was on the wrong end of a knockout in the semi-finals of the Kunlun Max event in 2015.

Before Superbon had leveled the aggregate score, Sitthichai, who is currently the GLORY lightweight champion, had been undefeated for the 21 consecutive months, collecting nine wins in a row. The list of world class kickboxers that he had seen off in the last two years included: Mohamed Mezouari at Kunlun Fight 43, Marat Gregorian (twice), Robin van Roosmalen at GLORY 31 and even Davit Kiria (with a brutal knee to the body) at GLORY 28.

Cedric Manhoef is the ‘dark horse’ of the semi-finalists and although he has the heart of a lion and does his family name proud by hardly ever taking back steps in the ring (Melvin Manhoef is actually his nephew – yes, you read that right); the 23 year old is very much a work in progress still. However, Superbon cannot afford to underestimate the Surinamese fighter with any complacency to progress successfully to the final.

Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin

Buakaw has been fighting for the Chinese promotion since Kunlun Fight 32 in October 2015 and has had a great deal of success, excluding of course, the most controversial decision loss of 2016 against Yi Long at last month’s WLF event in Nanjing, China.

As for how Xin will fare against the living legend and ‘old skool’ K-1 veteran remains to be seen. However, from the Chinese kickboxer’s clash with Andrei Kulebin at Kunlun Fight 50 there’s a possibility that Buakaw could possibly capitalize on Xin’s fighting style with strong clinch-knee entries.

Nevertheless, Buakaw vs. Xin has all the makings for an exciting headlining fight in Sanya on January 1, 2017 since both have the ability to fight well at a high tempo. The new year will be very interesting to see if and how the talented Chinese fighters like Xin can enhance their profile globally along with the continued growth of Kunlun Fight.

Kunlun Fight 56 – Fight card (and order of fights):

Abdullayev vs. Ma Shuo, 75kg

Denies Puric vs. Wang Wenfeng, 60kg

Felipe Stievano vs. Andrey Gerasimchuk, 100kg

Mohamed Mezouari vs. Dzianis Zuev, 70kg – Reserve bout, Kunlun World Max

Arthit vs. Khatal Dzhaniev, 70kg – Reserve bout, Kunlun World Max

Davit Kiria vs. Jomthong Chuwattana, 70kg – Semi-final A, Kunlun World Max

Superbon Banchamek vs. Cedric Manhoef, 70kg – Semi-final B, Kunlun World Max

Andrei Kulebin vs. Wu Xuesong, 70kg

Sergii Kulaiaba vs. Gu Hui, 67kg

Winner of semi-final A vs. winner of semi-final B, 70kg Kunlun World Max

Juan Javier Barragan vs. Wei Ninghui, 65kg

Buakaw Banchamek vs. Tian Xin ,70kg

Kunlun

Kunlun Fight 56 – Image via Kunlun Fight

 

Fabio Pinca in ongoing negotiations with Enfusion Live but focused on fighting Manowan Sitsongpeenong

Fabio Pinca was reportedly set to compete in the 67kg Enfusion League in February 2017, according to Enfusion’s two-weight champion, Ibrahim El Boustati, who made the revelation prior to defeating Andrew Tate for the, 90kg world championship at Enfusion Live 44.

However, Pinca has now confirmed that he hasn’t yet agreed final terms with Enfusion Live and that talks are still ongoing with the Dutch based promotion who, had recently announced, exclusive European fight deals with Buakaw and Yodsanklai.

“I don’t know for the moment you know. I’m ongoing negotiation so I can not tell you anything about that. Everything, I don’t know for the moment. I can not tell you anything but soon you’re gonna know.”

It’s sounding promising that we will have an update soon enough on a possible deal between Enfusion and Pinca being confirmed in the early part of the new year. The Striking Corner will be monitoring how the situation unfolds and reporting again in due course.

Pinca

Peters vs Pinca – Photo credit: Bennie E Palmer II, Lion Fight Promotions

Interestingly, Charlie Peters who, Pinca defeated by decision at Lion Fight 27, recently qualified for next year’s 67kg Enfusion League, by winning the 8-man qualifying tournament in Abu Dhabi at Enfusion Live 45. Since Peters qualified, strong rumours have emerged of a possible rematch between Peters and Pinca but separate from the league concept; and that this proposed matchup under Enfusion rules, could be one of the talking points between Pinca and Enfusion.

The current year has been a very active one for Pinca and 2017 is looking to be another busy year for the Muay Thai maestro who, has fought seven times this year. One of those being his recent decision victory at GLORY 36 against, Mosab Amrani which, was a also rematch between the two but under GLORY Kickboxing rules; whereas the first fight (and decision win for Pinca) was in a 2011 tournament final on Thai Fight.

Nevertheless, Pinca is focused on his next opponent, Manowan Sitsongpeenong, in what will be a 67kg title fight at the Sanam Muay Rajadamnern (Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium) on February 23, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand.

“First focus is Rajadamnern title on February  23. So I got to Thailand, Bangkok and take the, to the take the belt, Rajadamnern versus Manowan Sitsongpeenong. That’s the first focus for 2017. 67 kilos.“

“And the second focus is the GLORY belt at 65 kilo. At the moment that’s the two focus I have on my mind. It’s Robin [van Roosmalen] if he defend his belt. I know he’s putting his title on January so maybe its him, maybe its another, I don’t know.”

Click here to watch the full video podcast with Fabio Pinca giving the rundown on his recent victory over Mosab Amrani which, was on the undercard to GLORY Collision: Rico vs. Badr and some interesting things he had to say about: Saenchai, Liam Harrison and Giorgio Petrosyan.

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.