Nieky Holzken

GLORY 38 Chicago and SuperFight Series preview and fight card

GLORY 38 takes place at the Sears Center, Chicago on February 24, 2017 with a stacked line-up of fights on both the main event and SuperFight Series sections; headlined by, a rematch between defending light-heavyweight champion, Artem Vakhitov, making his first defence against, Saulo Cavalari, in what will be the pair’s second rematch (both have a win over each other).

As always with a night of GLORY Kickboxing, there is also a 4-man light-heavyweight tournament featuring, GLORY‘s former (interim) light-heavyweight champion, Zack Mwekassa; a Muay Thai vs. Muay Thai clash in Richard Abraham vs. Antoine Pinto; and Romanian kickboxing politician, Cătălin Moroșanu making his GLORY debut against US kickboxer, Maurice Greene.

GLORY 38 Chicago – Fight card:

Artem Vakhitov (c) vs. Saulo Cavalari – Light-heavyweight title defence for Vakhitov

Richard Abraham vs. Antoine Pinto – Welterweight

Light Heavyweight Tournament:

Final: Winner of semi-final A vs. winner of semi-final B

Semi-final A: Zack Mwekassa vs. Zinedine Hamuer-Lain

Semi-final B: Danyo Illunga vs. Ariel Machado

Niclas Larsen returns to GLORY Kickboxing after almost three years away, due to serious ill-health and the reoccurrence of a major staph infection (three separate times) that almost resulted in the, 70kg WKU world Muay Thai champion, having to have a leg amputated. Larsen has had an incredibly tough time in recent years but after learning to walk again and being cared for by his wife (and mother to their two young children), is more than ready to return to the biggest stage for kickboxing and resume his promising career against Polish kickboxer, Łukasz Pławecki.

Murthel Groenhart is also back in action since losing to former GLORY welterweight champion, Nieky Holzken at, GLORY 34. “The Predator” will face former Lumpinee stadium champion, Thongchai Sitsongpeenong who, is coming off a very impressive KO win over Casey Greene on the same night Groenhart last fought too.

GLORY 38 SuperFight Series – Fight card:

Benjamin Adegbuyi vs. Anderson Silva – Heavyweight

Cătălin Moroșanu vs. Maurice Greene – Heavyweight

Murthel Groenhart vs. Thongchai Sitsongpeenong – Welterweight

Paweł Jędrzejczyk vs. Daniel Morales – Welterweight

Łukasz Pławecki vs. Niclas Larsen – Lightweight

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

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

 

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

Glory Welterweight World Title fight set for Glory 23 – Las Vegas!

On Thursday, GLORY welterweight world champion, “Bazooka” Joe Valtellini announced that he was vacating his title after his doctors diagnosed him with post-concussion syndrome and recommended that he take some time away from training and fighting to recover.  We wish Joe a speedy recovery and hope he makes his way back to the ring soon.

Now, most fans were waiting on what seemed like on eventual Valtellini vs. Holzken showdown for the welterweight title but with Joe stepping away from the title to focus on recovery, GLORY has the opportunity to crown a new welterweight champion.

Nieky “The Natural” Holzken is, without a doubt, next in line for a shot at the GLORY welterweight title but with Joseph Valtellini out of the picture for the time being, who will be the man to step in and face off with the always dangerous dutchman? Well, after recently defeating an outmatched Justin Baesman with another highlight reel spinning back kick to the liver, GLORY has decided that Raymond “Real Deal” Daniels is the right man to face Holzken for the title.  The fight will take place on August 7th in Las Vegas at GLORY 23.

Holzken and Daniels met in the ring just this past February at GLORY 19 in Viriginia.  It was not a good night for Daniels as Holzken dropped him 4 times en route to a 3rd round TKO victory. It remains to be seen if Daniels can pull off what most fight fans would probably view as a huge upset only 6 months after suffering a TKO loss to Holzken.  Below is the official press release from GLORY.

New York, NY – GLORY, the world’s premier kickboxing league, today announced that a welterweight title fight will headline GLORY 23, set to take place on Friday, August 7 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Undefeated under the GLORY banner and riding an eight-fight winning streak in the organization, welterweight phenom Nieky “The Natural” Holzken (86-11-0, 45 KOs) will fight for kickboxing’s most prestigious title when he takes on human highlight reel Raymond “The Real Deal” Daniels (27-2-0, 17 KOs) in a rematch of their exciting battle at GLORY 19 in February.

On Thursday, reigning GLORY Welterweight World Champion “Bazooka” Joe Valtellini announced that he would be vacating his title in order to take a break from training and competition, leading to the match-up at GLORY 23.

Additional bouts for GLORY 23, including the participants in GLORY’s one-night, four-man Middleweight Contender Tournament, will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for GLORY 23 will be available soon at AXS.com and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino box office.

Nieky Holzken, Cyrus Washington, Marco Pique, and Michael Corley discuss their bouts at “Klaar Om Te Bossen 3” in Suriname – PLUS Weigh-In Pictures

Tomorrow (OR tonight depending on when you read this) is the “Klaar Om Te Bossen 3” event in Paramaribo, Suriname. One of our readers had asked me what exactly the title of the event meant and I was sad to tell him that I didn’t know because my Dutch is pretty much rusty, or in other words non-existent. After using Google translate and a few other online translation services, all indications pointed to it meaning “Ready to Forest”, which I’m sure you would all agree had to be incorrect. I then remembered that my good friend Krystal happens to be from Suriname and would surely point me in the right direction. Anyway, she informed me that the phrase was in Surinamese-Dutch and actually meant “Ready to Blow!”, which made a lot more sense. So for the reader out there that was asking, you now know what “Klaar Om Te Bossen” means. Also, I might add that Krystal recommended that people who are interested in Surinamese cuisine try saoto, whatever that is. I’m sure it’s delicious.

Cyrus Washington & Nieky Holzken

With that said, the “Klaar Om Te Bossen” event will feature a few big bouts such as those featuring kickboxing superstars Nieky Holzken and Marco Pique facing off against Americans Cyrus Washington and Michael Chase Corley. An important thing to highlight is that not only is the bout between Marco Pique and Michael Chase Corley a Full Muay Thai rules fight, it is the first Full Muay Thai rules bout in the history of Suriname! Also on the card, female Muay Thai sensation and WBC International Champion Jemyma Betrian will face off against Lorena “The Pitbull” Klijn. Another American to grace the card will be Ron Ritter facing off against Rodney Glunder. Check out our previous article for the full lineup.

Muay Thai is Life was lucky enough to have a few friends on the ground in Suriname who were able to sit down with all 4 of the main event fighters: Nieky, Marco, Cyrus, and Michael to ask them a few questions. Also we were able to get a few exclusive pics of the weigh ins for the event, which can be seen in the gallery that follows the interview.

MTiL: First of all, thank you guys for taking the time before your big fights to speak with us here at Muay Thai is Life. Michael and Cyrus, although you are both American fighters, the majority of your careers have been spent fighting overseas. What do you feel are the major differences between competing overseas and competing in the United States? And while Muay Thai is experiencing growth in the U.S. and some American fighters, such as yourselves, are making waves globally, there is still the thought that American Muay Thai is weak…why do you think that thought persists?

Michael Corley: Fighting overseas you get a chance to compete against all different kinds of styles with Dutch, Muay Thai and all kinds of European and Asian styles.

More shows are starting to bring in international talent for US guys to compete against and it’s turning heads. And then there are the guys that are going out and fighting internationally and having good showings.

Cyrus Washington: I feel that thought is still spoken of because of the past. Myself, Michael Corely, and maybe 5 or 6 other top American fighters, American Muay Thai is strong as in any other country. The major difference between fighting in the US and over seas is the fact that more money and effort are put forth from both promoters and fighters. There is less commission involvement and more sanctioning bodies overseeing regulations.

MTiL: What do you think needs to change or needs to continue in the U.S. for the sport to grow and eventually reach a level that is on par with the best Muay Thai nations in the world? Read More