Photo via GLORY
MMAmania's Brian Hemminger speaks with American kickboxer Ky Hollenbeck about his upcoming GLORY World Series tournament, his first round opponent Giorgio Petrosyan and his prospective MMA career in this exclusive interview.
Single night tournaments aren't found nearly as often as they used to be.
In mixed martial arts, they're a relic of the past, but in kickboxing and other combat sports, they still remain strong.
K-1's World Grand Prix was always one of the highlights of the year whenever it took place in December and now GLORY, one of the best and brightest upcoming kickboxing organizations, is hosting a single night tournament of its own.
With eight of the best and brightest strikers in the world at 70 kilograms, the lone American representative will be seasoned stand-up artist Ky Hollenbeck, who brings a wide range of experience in both kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts.
The American will be competing this Saturday (Nov. 3, 2012) in the Glory World Series Final 8 tournament against top-seeded Giorgio Petrosyan in Rome.
Hollenbeck spoke with MMAmania.com about his upcoming GLORY World Series tournament, his first round opponent Giorgio Petrosyan and his prospective MMA career in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're a fantastic kickboxer and muay thai fighter. How much different are the rules for both styles of striking?
Ky Hollenbeck: There's some significant differences. In Muay Thai you can clinch, you can throw elbows and those fights are much more bloody. Kickboxing is much more like regular boxing except they've added kicks. Muay Thai is definitely more about the elbows and knees on the inside in the clinch.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you find it difficult switching between the styles like that? You've experienced several fights in both styles.
Ky Hollenbeck: Yeah, kickboxing is a little bit more of a challenge for me because you have to consciously think about not doing things. In Muay Thai, you just go in and throw an elbow. If you want to clinch, I can clinch and not think twice about it but in kickboxing, I have to remind myself not to throw the elbows, not to throw the clinch and that can be trying at times just to remember not to throw those techniques. This tournament is kickboxing, K-1 rules.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You drew Giorgio Petrosyan, one of the most technical and top-ranked kickboxers in the world for the opening round fight. Was that something you were expecting heading into the draw? What were your expectations?
Ky Hollenbeck: The top four seeds were already selected so I knew I was going to fight one of those top four guys so I knew whoever I drew, it was gonna be tough. I actually feel lucky to get Petrosyan. I'm happy to have him. Fighting against him is kind of like a win-win for me. I plan on going in there and winning because I think my style is a good match-up for him because he gets comfortable when people are traditional when they stand there and trade with him. He picks people apart. His nickname is the doctor for a reason. He'll pick you apart if you let him, but if you get in his face, keep on the pressure like the style I like to do, hopefully that'll be enough to throw him off his game.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your go-for-broke mentality takes me back a bit to when Peter Aerts beat Semmy Schilt in the K-1 World Grand Prix. Do you almost use that as motivation that it can be done?
Ky Hollenbeck: Oh yeah, definitely. There's no man that's invincible. You have to go in there with no fear in your heart. For me, like I said, I'm in the underdog position so I get to go in there with reckless abandon and just go for broke because you can not lose anything by trying. It's a win-win like I said. There's no point in respecting someone to the point where you aren't able to perform the way you want to perform.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Drawing Petrosyan early is probably better for you because if you do as well as you're planning to do, you'd probably end up fighting him anyways and at least this time you'll end up fresh.
Ky Hollenbeck: Exactly and that's another thing. If I do beat him, I want it to be in the first round because I don't want anyone to have any excuses like, "He lost because he was hurt from the fight before." We're both coming in fresh, starting the first round with each other so whatever happens is solely based on our competition and nothing else is a factor.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like if you beat him, it has to be early in the fight just because he's so technical that he might pick up things from you as the fight goes on?
Ky Hollenbeck: I really think that my style is tricky. I like to think I'm unorthodox and I think that it's gonna be tough for him to figure me out in just three rounds. I think if I don't finish him, I'll just have to beat the brakes off him for three rounds straight because we're in his home country. He'll have the geographical advantage as well.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What made you choose GLORY over all the other kickboxing leagues?
Ky Hollenbeck: GLORY has the best stable of fighters, the Petrosyans and Krausses and Van Roosmalens. It was the high caliber guys and I always say I wanted to fight the best in the sport. You don't really get into kickboxing for the money. There's not a whole bunch of money to be made in kickboxing outside of these types of tournaments. You get into the sport to test yourself and fight guys who just as tough as you so you can test yourself. That's why I chose GLORY.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After such a promising 5-1 start to your MMA career, what made you decide to stick with kickboxing?
Ky Hollenbeck: Really, it came down to the fact that I love kickboxing. I had some opportunities to fight internationally in kickboxing and I love to travel. You don't get to travel for MMA as much. Travel was a big factor and I love doing it. I still train jiu-jitsu, I wrestle and do all the other MMA stuff to keep myself sharp. I'm a purple belt in jiu-jitsu under Ralph Gracie in the last two years. It just comes down to the fact that I like kickboxing and the competition that comes with it better.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've also mentioned this past April that in the next year, you could return to MMA. Is that still possible or have circumstances changed?
Ky Hollenbeck: It's definitely still possible. After this tournament, I was debating what my next move was gonna be. If I don't win this tournament, it all depends. If I can find the money to keep kickboxing and I continue to do it as a viable career, I'd do it but in the US, it's not as popular as MMA and I think I could do just as well in MMA as I could do in kickboxing and there'd be a lot more sponsorships and money here in the US. That's something I need to think about. If I can find the money to maintain kickboxing, I'll do it but if not then I might make that switch. I always explained to people, there's no 401k in this game. There's no retirement plan. You need to make your money before you're done fighting so if I can't make that money through kickboxing, it'll be through MMA.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Could that decision be based on your performance in this tournament?
Ky Hollenbeck: I don't want to qualify it like that, but definitely. It also depends on where GLORY's headed. If GLORY takes off and they're investing and really trying to push in the US and get a really solid fanbase out here, who knows? They could take off and become a high profile thing in the US as well. Yeah, this tournament will definitely impact my decision just like any other fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you made your draw for the tournament, what was it like being on that $20 million yacht dressed up and everything? That had to be a bit surreal.
Ky Hollenbeck: It definitely was. I realized I'm nowhere near that level of social status. I felt really out of place but it was nice. It was beautiful for a couple days. I got to hang out on the yacht and these high profile guys. One thing I learned was I don't like rich-rich people food. I like medium style food. Rich people food is a little too fancy for me I think.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): If everything ideal for you, how would you like that quarterfinal bout against Petrosyan to finish?
Ky Hollenbeck: In the fight against Petrosyan, I'm looking for a victory any way I can get it. Via knockout or decision or whatever, doctor stoppage, whatever it has to be. If I can get it done soon, the earlier the better that way I'd be fresher for my next fight but I'm expecting that if I win the tournament, I'm planning to go all nine rounds with three fights and three rounds each.
Ky would like to thank his training partner Mike Mananquil, his instructor Chris, his sponsors Savage Fight Wear Nazuki Fight Gear, Triumph United, Can't Stop Crazy and everyone who supports him.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Hollenbeck play spoiler against Petrosyan? How far do you think he can make it in the GLORY World Series tournament?
Special thanks to Rian Scalia of LiverKick.com for contributing questions to this interview