Los Angeles

Photos from Glory 37: Wilnis vs. Adesanya

The Striking Corner’s very own photographer, Victor Alvarez was on hand at Glory 37’s first card of 2017, which took place on Friday, January 20th, 2017 in Los Angeles.

As with every Glory event, the night was full of fast paced action, some upsets, some surprises, and a little controversy. But overall Glory’s first show of 2017 was solid with great matchups such as Matt Embree vs. Robin Van Rossmalen and the Glory Middleweight title fight between Jason Wilnis and rising star, Israel Adesanya.

Check out the great images form our photographer Victor Alvarez in the slideshow below.

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

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.”

Why YOU should be excited for GLORY: Last Man Standing – Part 2

I’m going to break into my own fandom here a bit for part 2 of this article so I can tell you why I’m so damn excited about this tournament and why you should be too.

MELVIN MANHOEF. If you don’t know who Melvin Manhoef is, watch his highlights. Search on YouTube, “Manhoef vs. Cyborg”, for one of the best fights you will ever see. It’s an MMA match but there is very little groundwork and in reality it’s basically a kickboxing match with MMA gloves on. Manhoef was first, a kick boxer, despite his wealth of MMA experience. He is one of the hardest hitting fighters to ever compete in any combat sport. Another champion, Mark Hunt, is a fighter known around the world for his iron chin; Melvin Manhoef knocked him out moving backward.

Manhoef ‘s power and striking intent is very reminiscent of the great Mike Tyson. Every strike he throws has such a scary explosion to it that it offers you a glimpse into his mind by watching it. There’s much more than the desire to win a fight in those punches, there’s something primal.

Melvin has been in the ring with kickboxing greats like Remy Bonjasky, Tyrone Spong, Stefan Leko, Ray Sefo, and Gokhan Saki. Although he is only 5 foot 8 inches tall, which makes him the shortest fighter in the bracket for his his Glory debut, he has a vast amount of experience fighting in similar rule styles and knocking out much bigger, and taller men.

Melvin will need that experience because the next shortest fighter in the bracket for Glory: Last Man Standing is Simon Marcus, who is 6’1.

Simon holds wins in other organizations over three of the other fighters in the bracket. He’s beaten #1 ranked Artem Levin, he has two wins over the #2 ranked Joe Schilling and a win over the #4 ranked Filip Verlinden. Outside of these wins, there’s something else that makes Simon Marcus even more interesting in the tournament format. Although Simon Marcus has never competed in an 8-man tournament, he has fought more than once in a single night. One night in China, he KO’d two fighters in two separate fights and he never even got out of the ring between them. These were real fights too they were not shortened tournament fights and they were against real opponents who had real skills and at one point Marcus even found himself in real trouble. Crazy right? Well he’s done this twice and the second time he accomplished this, another Glory fighter, Israel Adesanya, was one of his opponents.

Simon Marcus or, Simon Sor Suchart, is also making his Glory Debut but has an impressive record of 39-0 with 1 draw. He is trained by Ajahn Suchart, at Siam #1 gym in Toronto and dons a dangerous and very traditional Muay Thai style. His wins over Artem Levin and Joe Schilling were under full Muay Thai rules which differs very greatly to the Glory rule set. In Glory, elbows are not permitted and neither are sweeps and throws. With the clinch being limited to 5 seconds, this may turn out to be the Achilles heel for the undefeated fighter.

Marcus is very skilled in the clinch and in the first fight he had with Joe Schilling which was under full Muay Thai rules, he dumped Schilling in such a way that he fell over on top of him as they both crashed into the canvas. The dump alone was not very devastating but what happened in the subsequent tumble left Schilling wobbled and concussed. When Joe got up he was clearly on unstable legs and was then KO’d with a monster left hook from Marcus. The circumstances around the KO were a bit frustrating with the tumble being more of an accident than a technique. In their second match Joe dropped Marcus in the first round with his own monster hook, although later losing the fight on points. It can be argued that one of the main reasons Joe lost the second fight with Simon was because of Simon’s high-level clinch, which will not be an issue in the Glory ring.

Simon has been known to start slow with his traditional style and use his high level skills in the clinch to secure victories. My question regarding Marcus is, can he tune his style to the fast pace action of the 3, 3-minute rounds under the Glory rule set and stay undefeated?

Another difference between full Muay Thai rules and the rules in Glory kickboxing is the emphasis that Glory puts on spectacular techniques in scoring. Techniques like spinning kicks and punches or flying knees of any variety. This motivates the athletes to bring a higher level of skill into the ring and is another rule that benefits Joe Schilling in a fight with Simon Marcus.

At Glory 10: Los Angeles, Joe Schilling won the Glory Middleweight Tournament Championship. Despite his being currently ranked #2, Joe won the tournament with wins over Kengo Shimizu and then (and still) ranked #1 Artem Levin. In the fight with Shimizu, Joe landed perfectly timed and expertly executed spinning back fists and all types of spinning kicks. At one point even putting them together in combination, landing a spinning back kick to the body and a spinning back fist as he recovered from the rotation of the first technique. It was truly spectacular to watch, both for fans and for the judges. In the final of the middleweight tournament at Glory 10, he dropped Artem Levin with a superman punch in the second round. Some critics of Joe may cite that Schilling landed a knee to the head of Levin while he was on his way down which may have been the cause for the knockdown. However, it is a fact that Levin was already wobbled and on his knees as Schilling’s knee connected, the knee making it a heavier knockdown, but a knockdown it still was, without the knee.

Now, you may have noticed that I have a slight bias towards Joe Schilling; I don’t deny that I am a fan of his and that this bias exists. I think he may win the whole thing. Though I must admit that what makes the tournament final of Glory 10: Los Angeles between Schiling and Levin so interesting is that Artem Levin won two of the three rounds but was knocked down in the second, scoring the match a draw. In the extension round, Joe scored a knockdown that I must admit, appears to be a slip.

Artem Levin came in with a kick to which Joe reached for and with good timing, simultaneously threw a windmill overhand right that landed hard on Levin. There’s no doubt that the punch landed and it certainly appears as if Levin goes down from the impact. Still, Levin was not rocked and got up rather quickly. Upon closer inspection it looks likely that (and this is my personal speculation) it was more of a forward momentum while Levin was on one leg that caused the knockdown rather than the blow itself. Of course this is just my opinion but this knockdown was key in Joe’s victory and Tournament Championship and makes a potential rematch with Artem Levin terribly exciting.

Joe Schilling is another one of those fighters, like Manhoef, who strikes with murderous intent. However, another thing I must admit despite my bias for Joe Schilling is that he can sometimes become very emotional and drain his energy level causing his cardio to become somewhat suspicious. He has said in interviews that he is the only fighter that has ever beaten him. If this happens in a fight with someone like Melvin Manhoef, he may not be able to recover from the pressure that a fighter like that can deliver under such circumstances. Yet, I don’t think that Joe has gotten to this point in his career without learning from his mistakes and improving. I have no doubt that a hungry and prepared Joe Schilling can beat any fighter in the world, or in this case, any three fighters in the world.

Schilling is one of the American nak muays who are responsible for bringing America into the international spotlight. He, and the others who represent the brand Cant Stop Crazy, are the first group of American fighters that have gained significant notoriety on the world stage of Muay Thai and Kickboxing. There have been other American fighters that represent America internationally, but none who have gained the same popularity as these guys (and gal).

There is one other who is about too though. The American, Wayne Barret is still relatively young in the world of kickboxing but has done extremely well for himself. Barrett scored a surprise win over Joe Schilling at Glory 12: New York, dropping Schilling twice for an 8-count in the second round and winning a unanimous decision victory.

Wayne Barrett has always had a high knockout ratio. As an amateur he was 19-1 with 15 KO’s. He was WKA Amateur United States Cruiserweight Champion and Golden Gloves Boxing Champion in his home state of Georgia. In his pro debut he fought a 12-fight veteran and TKO’d him in the second round. He knocked out every opponent he faced in the pro ranks until he met Joe Schilling, who he dropped twice for an 8-count. Some might believe that Schilling overlooked Barrett based on his lack of experience. Wayne Barrett brought the fight to the Tournament Champion harder than anyone thought he would. I don’t doubt that the 4-0 fighter has the ability to shock us again in Glory: Last Man Standing.

The other fighters in the bracket are no easy task for anyone either. #4 ranked Filip Verlinden has competed at higher weight classes against guys like Tyrone Spong, Remy Bonjasky and Rico Verhoeven for top promotions of the past like K-1 and It’s Showtime, also winning the gold at the IFMA’s in 2010. Bogdan Stoica has become known internationally for his rarely used stunning techniques like axe kicks and flying knees and in 38 of his wins, 29 came by way of knockout. Alex Pereira from Brazil is the tallest fighter in the bracket and fought his way into the 8-man tournament the hard way, by winning of the Middleweight Contender Tournament in Zagreb at Glory 14.

Tournaments like these have always offered so many opportunities for unforgettable moments in sports. As fans we get to see the top athletes get pushed to their limits and either hit the wall and crumble or power through it despite fatigue and injury. Good fighters become great fighters and those who fail to win will experience a life-changing event that can either empower them to find their potential or reduce them into the realm of mediocrity. I can’t wait for June 21st.

Why YOU should be excited for GLORY: Last Man Standing – Part 1

If you’ve already seen a Glory kickboxing event then you’ve seen their 4-man tournament format where fighters compete twice in the same night for championship gold. On Saturday, June 21st, after Glory 17: Los Angeles airs live on Spike TV. The promotions first ever Pay-Per-View event, Glory: Last Man Standing will break new ground and enter into American martial arts history. Last Man Standing will feature their first 8-man tournament, the first 8-man tournament of the world’s best that America has ever seen.

Critics of the tournament format usually talk about how one of the fighters in the final may have had a more strenuous draw in the preliminary and semi-final matches than their opponent. Thus making the final competition somewhat inauthentic. I couldn’t disagree more. The tournament format brings another factor of intelligence into the fight. In a tournament a fighter must balance the inevitability of damage taken vs. damage given. It makes a champion cleaner and more effective.

There is an interesting effect on the mind of a fighter, on their strategy. If a fighter only focuses on the opponent that he deems most challenging in the bracket, the opponent he might visualize being in the final with, it may result in overlooking his other opponents and missing a crucial detail. It might result in losing the focus required for his preliminary and semi-final bouts and in a surprise loss earlier in the tournament. Conversely, if a fighter focuses on the fight in front of him so much that he doesn’t tune his style to the tournament format to consider the amount of damage taken in preliminary bouts, he may hamstring himself for the final match.

It’s this extra requirement, this –survival-mode-in-real-life factor that makes tournaments so much more exciting. Not only does a fighter have to beat the best in the division, he has to clear his division out in a single night. If the criterion of becoming a champion is that you have to beat the best to be the best. This extra criterion of beating the best and the two next-bests in a single night must surely make an even more authentic champion.

Here’s the complete bracket for the first Glory 8-man Middleweight World Championship Tournament.

#1 Artem Levin (47-4-1)
#2 Joe Schilling (16-5-0)
#3 Wayne Barrett (4-0-0)
#4 Filip Verlinden (41-11-1)
#6 Alex Pereira (13-1-0)
#9 Bogdan Stoica (38-5-0)
#- Melvin Manhoef (37-11-0)
#- Simon Marcus (39-0-1)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Later this week Joe will bring you an in depth look into each one of the fighters participating in GLORY’s “Last Man Standing” tournament, including his personal favorites. Stay tuned!

Relive the Action from Glory 10 – Pictures by Chad Hill

MTiL’s new West Coast photographer Chad Hill was ringside at the Glory 10 event this past Saturday, September 28th at the Citizens Bank Arena in Los Angeles, California. Aside from getting the opportunity to photograph and rub elbows with some of the world’s greatest kickboxers, this was a particularly special night for Chad because when he isn’t busy with a fashion photoshoot or shooting for Muay Thai is Life, Chad trains at LA’s The Yard. The Lincoln Heights (Los Angeles) gym that now Glory Middleweight Champion Joe Schilling calls home. So in what was without a doubt a big night for American kickboxers, Chad was on hand to catch all the excitement when Schilling defeated Levin and took home 150,000 dollars and the Glory Middlewight tournament crown! Check out the pics below!