Saki has not fought since winning the title by winning the GLORY 15 ISTANBUL tournament last year, infamously breaking Tyrone Spong's shin in the final via a well-timed knee block of a low kick attempt.
Money is the sticking point on a new deal. GLORY initially paid very high purses to fighters as it came out of the gate in 2012 looking to establish itself as the world's top league. But as it became clear that considerable overspend was going on, finances were reined in. Costs have been slashed across the board, from fighter purses to office salaries.
Most fighters have accepted the new deals they were offered. Some haven't; one of those is Saki, who has held out for what he believes is his market value. A stalemate of nearly a year is now experiencing some movement as both sides appear to be edging towards a compromise.
Bloody Elbow was able to speak to Saki very (very) briefly on Saturday. He now lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and was ringside for GLORY 20 DUBAI. Declining to do a full interview when the event was over ("I have to go somewhere," he said, a large group of friends around him), he did have some quick words about his GLORY situation.
"No, I'm not done with GLORY. We are talking. Maybe something can happen in the summer," he said. GLORY sources separately confirmed later that talks with Saki are ongoing and that the relationship remains a good one on a personal level.
GLORY's event calendar was sketched out at the start of the year with CEO Jon Franklin saying the company was aiming for an event "every month to six weeks, taking July off then returning in August". Locations known to be penciled in or under consideration for the rest of 2015 include Chicago, New York, Milan, France and Romania.
If and when Saki does return, he will face the Brazilian rising star Saulo Cavalari, who won the Light-Heavyweight Contender Tournament at GLORY 18 in November and underlined his challenger status by beating Russian talent Artem Vakhitov at GLORY 20 DUBAI this past weekend and ending his undefeated three-fight run in GLORY in the process.