GLORY is no longer in the Artem Levin business.
The world's leading kickboxing promotion is parting ways with the former middleweight champion, who competed in nine fights over the course of the last three years, posting an 6-2-1 record inside the GLORY ring.
GLORY CEO Jon J. Franklin confirmed the news to MMAMania on Thursday (June 16, 2016) evening.
"GLORY 30 was the last fight on Artem Levin's contract. As an organization, we are allowing him to negotiate freely and we have released him from the typical exclusivity period in our agreements," Franklin said. "So basically, at this point, we do not plan to pursue to negotiate a further contact with Artem."
Levin, 29, lost the title to current champion, Simon Marcus, at GLORY 27 this past February. The end of that title bout was enveloped in controversy due to Levin quitting and walking out of the ring in the third round in protest of being docked a point for the second time in the fight for excessive holding.
That behavior was frowned upon by Franklin and it left a sour taste throughout the promotion and also in GLORY fan's mouths.
"Everybody, including Artem, was frustrated with his last fight against Simon Marcus," Franklin said. "Maybe it was a style thing, but refusing to continue was not how anybody wanted that one to end."
However, that was not the lone reason for releasing Levin from his exclusivity period and moving on without him, Franklin explained. "It was a combination of all things really ... multiple reasons."
A native of Russia, "The Lion" has long been considered one of the best middleweight kickboxers on the planet. Known for his accurate striking, timing and excellent defense, Levin was part of some of the most memorable bouts in the promotion's history, including a legendary tournament final loss to Joe Schilling at GLORY 10, an incredible performance at GLORY "Last Man Standing"--where he defeated Alex Pereira, Filip Verlinden and Schilling in one night to win the inaugural GLORY middleweight title--and a fiercely-contested battle with Marcus at GLORY 21 that resulted in a draw.
"He has been a great champion and a great fighter and I'm sure he'll land in the right place, whether it's back in the GLORY ring sometime down the road or somewhere else in due course."
Levin leaving the GLORY ranks is definitely a blow to the division with former No.1 contender, Schilling, also parting ways with the promotion (for Bellator Kickboxing) after his last bout at GLORY 30. Despite losing two pillars among the ranks at 187 pounds, Franklin is confident that the division--which has been one of the deepest in GLORY--will continue to thrive.
"It's our most solid division and we will continue building talent and have sustainable growth."
Levin is currently 50-5-2 overall and leaves GLORY as the No.2-ranked middleweight.