Glory returns to New York City this Saturday (Nov. 23, 2013) with Glory 12, an event that features the best kick boxer on the planet. For those that follow the sport, it's an event that has been anticipated as Giorgio Petrosyan is finally making his debut in the United States.
With only one loss in 80 professional bouts, Petrosyan is kickboxing's answer to Floyd Mayweather, a fantastically technical fighter who scientifically breaks down opponents. Watching Petrosyan fight is a treat, a fighter who lives up to his nickname, "the Doctor."
The only issue with Petrosyan is that more often than not, his bouts end in decision, instead of a spectacular knockout. And that could be an issue for a promotion that hopes to break into the American market.
As the former Editor-In-Chief of HeadKickLegend.com, the defunct kickboxing website on SBNation, I know of the struggles that Glory faces.
I know because I faced them myself as I tried to convince a largely American readership that not only is kickboxing worth watching, but it's also a sport that could potentially prove to be more exciting than mixed martial arts (MMA) or more specifically, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
That HeadKickLegend.com is offline should say all you need to know about those struggles.
Glory's first event on SPIKE TV proved to be a critical success as the heavyweights did not disappoint those who decided to take a chance and tune in for Glory 11. Heavyweight kick boxers more often than not come to fight and those bouts could best be described as "violent."
Those bouts really depend on the match ups. Sure, there are fights like Mike Zambidids vs. Chahid El Hadj from the K-1 MAX World Grand Prix in 2010, which leave the audience speechless. But then there are bouts such as Petroysan's meeting with Hafid El Boustati, which left a lot to be desired.
And that's why I'm worried about Saturday's event.
Glory made a great first impression with its Chicago event, but that will all be for nothing if Saturday proves to be a ratings failure. It's easy to sell Tyrone Spong as violence incarnate because, well, he is. He is an uber-violent force of destruction.
He's never been a huge draw. His featured bouts have always required a strong supporting co-main event if a promotion even thought about breaking even on an event. And while New York City has a large italian populace, Glory would be unwise to count on the 'Paulie Malignaggi' drawing effect.
As for the question presented in the headline of this piece, I don't actually know. I hope there is room for Glory. I enjoy watching the best kick boxers on the planet compete. I used to love watching the K-1 Grand Prix on HDNet and staying up through those godawful intermissions to catch the finals.
There is part of me that believes that the large group of MMA fans who boo the ground game will flock to Glory. If MMA fans will cheer for sloppy standup affairs, they'd surely appreciate the technically masterful stylings of the best kick boxers in the world.
However, though a little pessimistic to say, I just don't think there's a real market for kick boxing in the United States. Go to any city and you'll find a dingy boxing gym that has produced a Golden Gloves champion. In almost every suburb, there's an MMA gym that offers children an opportunity to learn something other than Karate.
What those American cities and towns don't have are the high level kick boxing and Muay Thai gyms that are found in Europe and Asia. Americans don't grow up wanting to be the next Ernesto Hoost. They grow up wanting to be the next Jon Jones or Floyd Mayweather.
While Glory has a great product that is tailor-made for the American audience, they may find out very quickly that there isn't enough space in the combat sports bubble for anyone else.