For Glory and Spike TV, last night's Glory 11 Chicago could not have possibly gone any better.
All eyes were on Glory as the kickboxing company made their big Spike debut, and the company absolutely hit the ball out of the park. Glory 11 was, simply put, one of the best combat sports shows we've seen in quite some time. Filled with nasty KO's, superb technical action, a fast pace that never let up, and an all time great fight in the finals that featured a performance for the ages, there was nothing to dislike about Glory 11.
The highlights are many, and we'll be talking about the show quite a bit in the coming days, but there's one highlight that must be talked about right now: Rico Verhoeven vs. Daniel Ghita. The Heavyweight tournament final that closed the show was everything you could hope for in a fight, and it got everyone in the arena on their feet. It was a battle of wills between two men out to make a statement. But by being the fight to close out the Spike debut, it was maybe even something bigger.
Verhoeven vs. Ghita is Glory's Griffin vs. Bonnar.
You know the story of that fight - two scrappy up and comers go on live TV, put on an incredible fight that captures the attention of a huge audience, and the rest is history, ultimately leading the UFC to the point of massive mainstream acceptance they have reached today.
Glory has a long way to go before it's there, at least in the US. But last night was a key step, and Verhoeven vs. Ghita was the perfect fight to get them there. Will it ultimately have that same impact for Glory and kickboxing? Only time will answer that. But it's clear from last night that Glory has all the pieces lined up to make that big impression.
This show was not only a strong piece of entertainment, it was also a smoothly run, successful night of business. Though the company has existed for less than 2 years, Glory's office is stacked with industry veterans from the ranks of the UFC and WWE. You can see that experience in every facet of the show - from the matchmaking to the production, everything is done right at Glory. You could see the results of their efforts inside the Sears Center last night, with a very well attended show filled with excited, vocal fans.
That excitement leads to something else Glory has - something perhaps more important than the right personnel. It has character. There's a feeling, a vibe to Glory that is unique and powerful. Watching last night, I was struck by how, unlike many MMA shows, this truly felt like a sport, not a niche. As I watched from ringside, watching the sweat and spit fly off the fighters, feeling the pounding thud of fist on flesh, hearing the fans cheer on their chosen fighters, looking through the slight haze in the arena, I was reminded not of a UFC event, but of classic boxing. That's the feeling Glory delivers - the best in the world in a war of attrition. Each fighter is tested, and you can feel them either rise to the challenge or fall aside. This is human drama represented in sport. And it was, pardon the expression, glorious to witness.
The big question today is what now for Glory? I can't imagine how anyone who tuned in last night was not satisfied, but did enough people tune in to make this brand the next big thing? Because let's be clear here - that's exactly what both Spike and Glory think this company can be. Already an international powerhouse, Glory has huge potential in the US, where executives feel the sports audience is ready for something new. And Glory is ready to deliver. Thanks to their international strength and their strong team, the company is prepared to put in the time to build the US audience, and Spike is standing beside them in that. What's important now is not simply how many people watched last night. That's a question that looks backwards, and both Spike and Glory are looking forwards. So the real question is, how many MORE people will watch next time? And the time after that, and the time after that...
Last night you could tell that this is a company where real growth is possible - where we may indeed be at the birth of the next big thing. If we are, then indeed we may have just witnessed the new Griffin vs. Bonnar. Everything is in place for Glory to begin the same journey that fight launched the UFC on nearly a decade ago. So let's see where this ride takes us.
Next up for Glory is Glory 12 New York on November 23 live on Spike. Glory 12 features a Lightweight tournament with Giorgio Petrosyan, Andy Ristie, Robin van Roosmalen, and Davit Kiria, plus Ben Edwards vs. Jamal Ben Saddik, Ky Hollenbeck vs. Shemsi Beqiri and more fights to be announced. As always, we'll have full coverage of Glory 12 here at Bloody Elbow.
More from Bloody Elbow:
- Glory 11 results & highlights gifs: Spong finishes Corbett, Verhoeven wins tournament
- Bradley vs. Marquez full fight video online highlights: Bradley edged out Marquez for a Split Decision
- Ashlee Evans Smith talks win over Fallon Fox
- WSOF star Jon Fitch would not fight Rousimar Palhares
- Bjorn Rebney wonders about the UFC's silence on signing Ben Askren