Glory returned to Japan with "Glory 13" live from the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo last night (Dec. 21, 2013) with a Welterweight tournament. The card also featured Peter Aerts' retirement bout against Glory Heavyweight Tournament winner Rico Verhoeven.
The card was aired via tape delay on Spike TV and once again, the kickboxing promotion hit it out of the park. Every fight was exciting and showed the very best that the sport has to offer.
I know I loved what I saw so let's talk about last night.
Thank you, Peter Aerts...
I'm starting this edition of "Sooo...About Last Night" with the most important topic, which is Peter Aerts' retirement. For those that are unfamiliar with kickboxing, it would be impossible to talk about how important he is in the history of the sport. All they got to see was a 43 year get beat up by one of the young guns of the sport.
His career has spanned four (!) decades and he's fought and beaten the best. He's known as "Mr. K-1" for a reason, as he won the K-1 Grand Prix an amazing three times. His series of fights with Ernesto Hoost and Andy Hug are some of the classics that people need to see in order to believe.
Last night was publicized as his retirement bout, though some have speculated it only meant his retirement in Japan. He fought Rico Verhoeven, arguably the best heavyweight right now in the sport, and took him the distance. Granted Aerts lost a close split decision, but it just demonstrates the timelessness of an all time great.
If that was in fact his last fight, I'm happy it not only happened in Japan, but against a fighter who will be able to carry the torch into the next decade. Thank you Peter for an amazing career.
Nieky Holzken is a monster...
I'd like to consider myself a hardcore fan of kickboxing. After all, I used to stay up way past the crack of dawn watching K-1 tournaments. That being said, I was very surprised by Nieky Holzken's performance in the Glory 13 Welterweight tournament.
The one knock against "The Natural" has been that whenever he's taken a step up in competition, he usually ends up losing. He's always been considered "good," but never "elite." Last night, in my eyes at least, that all changed.
I think that he showed that not only has he improved, but he has the tools to become something of a superstar in the sport. The knockout of Joseph Valtellini showcased his power and the fact he avoided taking a lot of punishment throughout the night showed that he can be incredibly defensive when he needs to be.
Daniel Ghita -- the Romanian Killer...
Throughout his entire career, Ghita has been a painfully slow starter. Most of his losses have been because he just gave away the first round before finally coming alive. It's why he's either failed to win a major tournament or failed to retain a major title.
Last night he exploded off the blocks and finished a very tough Errol Zimmerman in the first minute of the first round. Maybe this means he's going to start finishing opponents early. Maybe it just means he had respect for the "Bone Crusher's" power.
No matter the case, I enjoy watching violent Daniel Ghita. That's the guy I want to see every time he enters the Glory ring.
There is room for Glory...
This is an argument that will be brought up by everyone so I'm gonna pile on. We tend to look at things from a strictly "American" point of view. "Can kickboxing compete in a combat sports world with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Boxing?" actually means "can it compete in the Americas?"
The reality is that kickboxing as a sport, is far more popular than MMA outside of our American bubble. And after the general reactions that I saw on twitter last night, I seems like Glory is connecting with the American audience as well.
I hope that Spike TV understands what they have. I hope they recognize that of the sports properties they hold, Glory is the one that has the most potential.
- There's no question that Rico Verhoeven is the best heavyweight in kickboxing today. I was one of the people that said he only won the Glory Heavyweight Tournament because he competed at his very best. I will say I was totally wrong and amend that statement to say he's now fighting at his very best and there aren't any fighters that really could present him with any sort of a challenge.
- Glory 13 was also the last time that Remy Bonjasky entered the ring. The "Flying Dutchman" is an all time great and has no reason to continue fighting. He's had an amazing career and thank you Remy for those memories.
- I heard some people questioning Duke Rufus' commentary last night, namely that he was comparing the fighters to boxers. The criticism was because the two sports are so insanely different. Right now, because kickboxing is so new to a lot of people, they need to draw comparisons to recognizable names. Comparing Georgio Petrosyan to Floyd Mayweather was done to ensure people understand just how good "The Doctor" really is.
- That being said, I love the commentary team. I think Glory has all the tools in place to be successful. It's just a matter of connecting with the fans.