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GLORY 13 at Ariake Colosseum: Was that really a Japanese event?

By Zach Arnold | December 21, 2013

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What a strange show that was on Sunday afternoon at Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo. Looked like the building was half-full, but Ariake Colosseum is one of those mid-sized arenas that is easy to configure and can look very respectable if you do the production right.

The production of the GLORY shows, sans the one at Madison Square Garden, look largely the same. The Tokyo show looked the same as the Chicago event. GLORY is basically a really vanilla version of K-1 with judging that ranges from OK to just downright awful. And it was interesting to note how few, if any references there were to K-1 on the TV side of the equation.

I still am always amazed to see foreign promoters bring shows to Japan and pretty much promote them the way they would elsewhere. They used Tim Hughes as the ring announcer rather than hire a Japanese ring announcer. Two decades ago, pulling off a stunt like this would earn you major scorn in the press — including Western writers. Now, nobody says much even though the impact is still the same with it comes to appealing to Japanese tastes. Other than a Felix Communications ad sign on the side of the ring, you wouldn’t have known it was a Japanese show because there weren’t any graphics in the native language.

As I said a couple of days ago: if I had not received any sort of English-language PR notices about this show, I would have not known that a show was taking place at Ariake Colosseum. Seriously. I saw nothing about the event in any of the sports sections of major Japanese papers.

The only fighter the local Japanese fans really got worked up about was Peter Aerts and that’s because he was a K-1 superstar. But they wouldn’t or couldn’t say K-1. And he faced Rico Verhoeven, who won by split decision. The crowd was buying into the “this may be Aerts’ last fight” angle and then when the SC was announced, the confetti popped and the fans went from boisterous to dead silent.

Daniel Ghita pummeled Errol Zimmerman into a nasty position and watching the leg bend after the knockdown was brutal.

Nieky Holtzken had quite the battle with Joseph Valtellini and then we had the “Joe Rogan portion” of the Spike broadcast where people on social media went after Duke Roufus for his pro-Dustin Jacoby commentary against Makoto Uehara, although that 30-27 score in favor of Uehara was ridiculous.

Main takeaway from today’s show? The general concept of the GLORY shows works for the Spike audience. The problem is their one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to matchmaking, marketing, and tailoring towards the crowds they are running events at. K-1 was very masterful at figuring out how to promote kickboxing as a spectacle, an event, a social happening. PRIDE very much in the same way. When they ran shows, they tried to book as many locals as possible. They used booking for nationalistic purposes. GLORY runs from market to market with the same product, high quality, with a lot of foreign fighters and it becomes really difficult for fans in those live event markets to build a sentimental attachment. PRIDE was a “movement” organization. K-1 was a “movement organization” as far as proving that Japan was the best in the world for showing how kickboxing is done. GLORY has the feel of an international organization that has the best kickboxing talent — and that strategy has its pluses and its minuses. It may work or may not work in America. In Japan, it’s a real challenge. In Europe, it’s got some potential. I’m just not sure that, as we speak, we are seeing the successful finalized blueprint for GLORY as an event promotion company. Clearly there is a lot of money being spent. The question is how much money and for how much longer before there’s second-guessing about what the business strategy should be.

Topics: Japan, Media, Zach Arnold | 11 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

11 Responses to “GLORY 13 at Ariake Colosseum: Was that really a Japanese event?”

  1. Jonathan says:

    Refreshing and nice to see something that is not about the UFC or MMA.

    That’s not a hit on you Zach, just a statement/observation that I had.

  2. Simon Nicoll says:

    I was at the event and its like all the other times Ive been to a Glory event. Its just so sloppy all around the edges. Its like they dont have someone managing the event. Everytime there would be a huge pause with nothing going on, people in the audience kept asking what was happening, its like they were waiting for confirmation to announce the next fight. The announcer would just stand in the ring waiting for permission. When the fights end they are waiting sooooo long to announce the winner. Poor Zimmerman was standing there for an eternity after being brutally knocked out, when im sure he just wanted to sit down and chill out back. They cant even figure out to ring the bell when the fights over, most of the audience have no idea that the fights is over. These things should have been ironed out ages ago, it seams like its getting worse. And year the lack of understanding for foreign markets is shocking. Why on the pre fight videos are they putting up English subtitles when the fighters are speaking in English?!

    • Diaz's cashed bowl says:

      I tried to watch some glory shows, but stopped after 1 fight, BORING! Like Simon says bad all around production. Bad lighting more defensive fights, long pauses, no acoutramah, no color in the arenas or on fighters it was like everything was sprayed with black paint even the commentary was uncolorful. Reminded me of Draka, not the K-1 of old.

      • Chuck says:

        “Accoutrement” you mean. Sorry, bit of a grammar/spelling Nazi. Which fight was defensive, besides the Jacoby/Uehara fight? The Valtellini/Holztken fight was great, as was the main event. Daniel Ghita destroyed Zimmerman. Valtellini’s first fight (can’t remember the name) was good.

        On another note….what’s Draka?

        • Diaz's cashed bowl says:

          Fucking Acoutramah god dammit! Do me a kindness here, ok?
          Well, Drakka is the russian kickboxing show started back in the 90’s they had throws as I recall, like san shou. Mo Smith fought in the drakka. I have some vhs, maybe check youtube for it, also rebneys dad “winnebago man” will explain acoutramah for you.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    I would love to hear Jim Ross do MMA.


    UFC Subscription Service is going to be $10 a month.

  4. king famous says:

    Saw the fight on spike. Once edited it was smooth, I enjoyed it but would have liked to see the announcers. Also it would be nice to hear more kick boxing references instead of hearing about mm a fighters or boxers. Kick boxing has its own history and fighters and there is plenty in that history to share with the viewers.

  5. Chuck says:

    Saw the event. It was very good, but the commentary kind of sucks. Mauro is Mauro, for better or for worse. But Duke Roufus? God damn he sucks! No charisma, no articulation, no original observations, NOTHING! Mike Goldberg is more interesting than Duke.

    So how much are they paying Floyd Mayweather to be at those events? There is no way he paid his own money to fly out to Japan to watch a kickboxing event live, all the while sitting next to the…. owner? CEO? President? I forget what. His reason as to why he “loves” Glory is because it is a “contact sport”? Pretty silly, because boxing (his sport), football, wrestling, judo, etc. are contact sports too. Didn’t really say much as to what separates Glory from the other sports/organizations. If he was more clever or wittier he could have used the “contact sport” angle as a back-handed remark against MMA (for over-use of grappling) but I doubt it was his intention.

  6. Simon Nicoll says:

    Just found at that there were 5 fights featuring local talent before the superfights. This wasnt advertised anywhere on glory’s sight or Facebook page. Honestly they really need to get their stuff together. I had the whole day off and they couldn’t be brothered to mention it.

  7. rst says:

    “They used Tim Hughes as the ring announcer rather than hire a Japanese ring announcer.”

    I definitely would have gotten a Japanese guy, but just to play devils advocate for a sec (or a few years) Japanese tastes can be hard to put a finger on.
    Sometimes they like corny american/western stuff, like rampage or Bob Sapp.
    Or even the screaming lady for that matter, I dont think she spoke Japanese.

    I wouldn’t have been surprised if the got dragged through the press ringer for unwittingly chosing the wrong Japanese guy.
    Although I suppose the obvious fix to that would be to hire a local image consulting firm.

    But it does seem like Glory just isn’t doing a heck of a promotional job in general.
    It took me a sec to remember what Glory was its been so long since I’ve heard about it.

    I’ve always thought that an event closer to Thai rules with knee’s and plums would be much more interesting and maybe even popular now that MMA has broken a few stigmas then the relatively tamed K1 style.

  8. Erik says:

    Glory doesnt use the K-1 ruleset, they allow full Thai clinch for 5 seconds at a time. I love muay Thai but extended clinch fests can be very boring, see UFC.

    They definitely need to do some work but the fact the ratings are steadily growing on Spike is a good sign.

    Also Not sure how noone in the media picked up on this yet, but the reason Floyd has been at the Glory events is because Mayweather promotions invested into Glory 12 and now Andurand is in talks with Floyd to become one of the main shareholders. Floyd could really bring Glory to the next level in the US imo.

    Also regardless of what GLORY do for their Japanese shows, they will never get a network TV deal over there, so changing things up just for the Japanese audience doesnt really make sense, better to get a uniform event feel and build on that.


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