Kickboxing, how are you?

13.10.2016 18:30 root

As far back as 2009 kickboxing was hugely popular, its many fans eagerly anticipated bouts between Badr Hari and Alistair Overeem, Giorgio Petrosyan and Buakaw Por Pramuk (now Banchamek), Andy Souwer and Masato.

Back thenthe legendary Japanese promotional company K-1 enjoyed a de facto monopoly. However, after 2010 the Japanese affairs went into a decline, and the company as everyone knew it ceased to exist. Only 5 years later the Japanese began slowly rebuilding their activity, but the Land of the Rising Sun has a long way to go to achieve the past glory.

During the Japanese hibernation, a new giant was born and already nearly died. We're talking about a French-Dutch organization GLORY. After buying out the other Dutchmen, It's Showtime, the owners of GLORY began realizing their brand with precision and assurance, increasing the geography and frequency of their shows, and finally reaching the American market.

The strongest kickboxers on the planet: Giorgio Petrosyan, Sammy Schilt, Tyrone Spong, Gokhan Saki, Nieky Holzken, Robin Van Roosmalen, were signed to Glory World Series. The GLORY guys put on a show every month. Weight divisions were created, Grand Prix was conducted, the champions were determined. Everything went as it should. More than that, GLORY seems to have appealed to the valuable American customer.

In my opinion, the organization reached its peak during its 13th event at the famed Madison Square Garden arena in New York City. From event to event the Europeans continued gaining and decided on...PPV tournaments. On June 21st, 2014 in Los Angeles, GLORY staged a PPV tournament, an 8-man Grad Prix of the middleweights-"Last Man Standing". From a financial point of view, the results were disastrous. We don't have exact numbers, we have facts. They are as follows. GLORY conducted its next tournament only 5 months later, and naturally it was shown on public television. There were obvious miscalculations. Kickboxing's popularity was in its infancy in a country where audiences were ready to "pay to view", but obviously GLORY bosses decided otherwise. Besides that, the drop in demand for Pierre Andurand's product was influenced by incompetent officiating and a murky fighter ranking system, two facts that turned away even some loyal kickboxing fans. GLORY's past management could not extend their contract with American TV giant Spike TV. One after another, the top fighters began leaving the company-Tyrone Spong, Gokhan Saki, Artem Levin, Giorgio Petrosyan. In September of 2016 new information surfaced about potential investments from Yao Min's company. It's possible that GLORY will be on the rise again, as the super tournament GLORY Collision was already announced, headlined by a bout between Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari.

Meanwhile, the Chinese competitors, represented by the Kunlun Fight company, took advantage of GLORY decline. Many GLORY fighters already fought on Kunlun cards. The Chinese don't limit the tournaments to their home soil. Kunlun has already conducted several shows at European rings, including Russia. It's interesting to note the the GLORY lightweight champion Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong was already defeated in two Kunlun fights. Besides that, GLORY heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven, hoping to earn some quick cash with Kunlun, suffered a sensational defeat to the Belarus prospect Andrey Herasimchuk. Of course, Kunlun has ways to go in the development of their brand and sport through media, but even now that organization can compete with Anduard's.

Of special note is the brainchild of the former Strikeforce and current Belator MMA president Scott Coker. We're taking about the Belator Kickboxing promotional arm. It seems there is nothing to note so far. Belator has only put on 3 tournaments. But the fact that they managed to sign Giorgio Petrosyan, the best fighter in history, and his upcoming December debut, combined with Coker's promotional talent allows us to hope that a new serious promotional company is born. It's premature to call Bellator KB a UFC-like monopol. But it's notable that Bellator bosses have all the right ingredients for it-a fan-base (if mainly consisting of MMA fans), a contract with a major TV outlet, good personnel, money. As the rate of tournaments will increase, and more kickboxing stars will be signed, we are sure that Bellator will achieve their goal.

                    

Kickboxing is a spectacular sport, and it must have an organization that will present it to fans in all its greatness.


Tash Ovsepyan, Hay Sport


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