When you think of kickboxing, you naturally think of K-1. They have recently reentered our minds as they have agreed to a TV deal with Spike TV. But their is a new game in town and they have been making a big splash.
GLORY debuted in May to a rousing success. The second show, GLORY Brussels 2, takes place tomorrow night from the Vorst Nationaal Arena and can be seen on gloryworldseries.com. The card starts at 10 AM ET and will feature the return of heavyweight sensation Remy Bonjasky with the likes of Gohkan Saki on the card as well.
K-1 has been going through some financial difficulties in the last few years and has numerous times been rumored to be going out of business. The person who ended up founding GLORY tells Bleacher Report why his team didn't buy K-1 and created what is now GLORY.
"If you spent two years literally sitting with the people who have been running it and messing it up, you learn some good things that they [K-1] did in the early days and then you obviously see the mess they created over the last several years," the manager of GLORY Marcus Luer tells Bleacher Report. "K-1 has been bankrupt for years. The fact they were still around and kicking to me was a miracle.
"I have no idea how the life support wasn't switched off. Maybe it was one of those things that it was such an institution in Japan that creditors and everyone was just hoping and praying that it would somehow stay alive. Whether it stayed alive by delaying payments and letting them live from one event to another. It was incredible. I thought they would have gone bankrupt in 2009 and now we are in 2012.
"After awhile we realized that as much as it [K-1] was a great brand at that point in time, the life support it needed and the rescue it needed would have sucked up a large sum of money and also would have left us in litigation. It just wasn't feasible anymore. Rather than putting all that money into old debt, we thought let's put this money into something new instead of paying off the mess created that would take about ten years to clean up."
GLORY is going to be running three more shows this year, starting with the event tomorrow and then shows in November and December.
"In the way we structured it, Brussels will be individual fights with some good matchups with the return of Remy Bonjasky," Luer stated. "In a sense it's a stand alone event.
"The show in Rome [on November 3rd] is the accumulation of what we started in Sweden [in May]. That is the final eight in the 70kg weight class, which will be contested under a tournament format with super fights also on the show.
"The show in Tokyo [on December 2nd], that is what we really want to move into. We won't be able to do this format all the time, but this what we call the Grand Slam. It will feature the biggest and the best out there. This event is the big one for GLORY. It will be a tournament that night consisting of 16 fighters and we will end the night with one fighter left standing. This has never been done before.
"That is the unique thing about the Tokyo show. We have created a format called the best of three. That means if a fighter can win his first two fights, then he automatically advances to the next round. That would shorten the amount of time they are in the ring. The first three rounds will be only be 2 minutes, which shortens the fights, makes them more explosive. The final round will be consisted of the traditional rules with three-three minute rounds."
The UFC is the number one combat sports league in the world today. Leur feels though that kickboxing can get to that level once again with GLORY leading the way.
"I don't see ourselves competing with the UFC," Leur stated. "We are a different niche. All of our fighting is all about stand up and not about rolling around on the floor, which is more of a wrestling element. We are our own genre, which means to certain degree its about expanding the market as a whole and not necessarily feeding into what somebody else is doing.
"It's important to see we aren't competing with the UFC. Can it happen in the future? It's not going to happen in the next year, but in the next couple of years fighters will pick one or the other. That's because he's better at standup versus MMA or wherever the money is more interesting.
"Of course their will be clashes with talent. I truely think we will build and recreate the following for kickboxing in its own space. You will have MMA fans who will love what we do and they will still love MMA and appreciate combat fighting. We honestly believe that it [kickboxing] can be as big as the UFC and in the long run be even larger."
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