GLORY middleweight Joe Schilling (18-7) has only two fights left on his current GLORY contract, and it appears those will be his final two.
Schilling will face Mike Lemarie (14-2) later tonight (Feb. 26, 2016) as the headlining bout of the GLORY Superfight Series, which will air on UFC Fight Pass.
With being announced as part of Bellator Kickboxing at last last Thursday's (Feb. 18, 2016) press conference, it seems "Stitch 'em Up" will fulfill his obligations--much like a rock band issuing a greatest hits LP instead of a new record before heading to a different label--and fight both fights before moving on with Bellator for good.
"My relationship with GLORY is very good," Schilling told MMAmania.com at the Bellator Kickboxing presser. "I have two fights left with them before June and then from then on I intend to be fighting for Bellator kickboxing."
"GLORY has gone on to a smaller platform, so to speak, and I've been so successful and so well taken care of and it's been great for my career being on Spike so it was an obvious decision to stick with Spike and stick with Bellator," he also added.
Schilling, 32, said his career was "rebooted" under the GLORY banner and mentioned his GLORY 10 tournament victory back in September of 2013 where he defeated Kengo Shimizu and current champion Artem Levin in the same night to win it. That tournament final is talked about to this day as one of the best GLORY fight's of all time, with Schilling winning in an overtime round.
The California-based kickboxer would rematch Levin in the tournament final at GLORY "Last Man Standing," but lost a decision after knocking out the then undefeated Simon Marcus in the opening round, and edging Wayne Barrett by decision in the semifinals.
A third fight with Levin never materialized. The closest it came was last October when the fight was officially announced for GLORY 24 and Schilling took the place of the injured Marcus to face the champion, but shortly after Levin had to withdraw to injury. Schilling ended up fighting Jason Wilnis on the card and won by technical knockout after Wilnis couldn't continue after injuring his foot in the second round.
Schilling seemed unfazed when asked at last week's Bellator Kickboxing press conference about leaving a potential third matchup with Levin on the table, when he bolts for Bellator Kickboxing.
"The third fight with Artem has been offered like six times," Schilling said. "He isn't interested in the fight. The GLORY title doesn't have a whole lot of value for me. It really doesn't bother me. I was supposed to fight him on the last GLORY show and he pulled out with an injury. He is fighting Simon Marcus next week. I'm fighting on that card next week on the undercard. So that should tell you."
In fairness to Schilling, he did say "I don't know what the future holds," at one point, which left the GLORY door slightly cracked, but he left the impression Bellator Kickboxing was going to be his future. The legalities and contract info on both sides isn't fully disclosed. Franklin said, "We are okay with him fighting for Bellator," but added, "I don't know," when asked if Bellator was okay with sharing the American kickboxing star.
What makes things all the more interesting is that GLORY CEO Jon J. Franklin informed MMAmania.com that a title fight has been offered to Schilling for his last fight on his current contract with the promotion.
"We’ve offered that already," Said Franklin on a title fight. "We mapped a plan out for him including a title fight. With a title includes responsibility. He’s gotta come back and defend it. What’s he going to go for a title and then walk away? We’ll see what he wants to do. It’s totally up to him. He has a contract for another fight. He can take a title fight or another fight, whatever he wants. It’s his call."
GLORY "respects their athletes and the choices they make," said Franklin, on if he'd be upset at watching Schilling walk away. "We wouldn't hold any athlete back."
Franklin also said he'd "Love to see him take a title fight. In Los Angeles," which is Schilling's hometown and the rumored city for GLORY's next U.S. card after the promotion heads to Paris for GLORY 28 on March 12, 2016.
So it appears taking a title fight on the way out the door is on the table for Schilling, but whether or not he will choose to take it for his last hurrah with GLORY remains to be seen.
*Joe Schilling could not be reached for comment at this time.