Earlier today, professional kickboxing was given a tremendous platform when top promotion Glory Sports International announced a broadcast deal with Spike TV.
Elite competitors like Tyrone Spong, Giorgio Petrosyan, Gokhan Saki and Daniel Ghita will be fighting on the same station in the Unites States as Bellator's Pat Curran, Quinton Jackson, Michael Chandler and Ben Askren.
And don't forget TNA superstars like Kurt Angle, Hulk Hogan and more.
This isn't he first time a kickboxing organization has been given an opportunity as K-1 has scored deals with ESPN in the past, but those were the days of Ernesto Hoost, Andy Hug over 10 years ago.
Things have changed considerably now.
Glory Chief Executive Andrew Whitaker and Spike TV Vice President David Schwarz spoke to MMAmania.com earlier today about the particulars of the deal, potential future programming ideas and learning from past mistakes in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You made your major debut in the United States with Glory 9 in New York. What were your thoughts on how everything played out?
Andrew Whitaker: We were very pleased with the television aspect and the event aspect of the production as well as the tremendous performances by the Glory superstars. I think the level and caliber of kickboxing on display really delivered and we were really pleased with the result.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The venue was packed, but it only held about 1700 people. Are you satisfied with that size venue or will you be looking to go bigger next time around?
Andrew Whitaker: I think the reality is that this was our debut in the United States and it's the last big frontier for Glory. We're on television in 160 countries around the world and we're more well-known internationally up to this point in our 18 months of existence than we are in America. We were erring on the side of caution with the venue choice, not knowing what to expect. Obviously we wanted to be in New York and the availability of venues was hard to secure and we were fortunate to secure an arrangement with the Hammerstein which I was familiar with from earlier in my career and it was a very good venue to deliver a televised event.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you expect this deal with Spike TV will be a launching pad for success in America?
Andrew Whitaker (Glory): Well that's certainly the aim without question. Spike is one of the most successful US national cable television networks and they have access to an enormous amount of US television households. We couldn't think of a better platform for live programming and that sets us up to do just that.
David Schwarz (Spike TV): I really do think that once the fans get a piece of Glory, they're gonna love it. Just like they love Bellator and our exciting tournaments that we have.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): From what I've read, your deal with CBS Sports expires in September. Are you planning to broadcast all your major events, the numbered shows, or is it going to be a showcase of "The Road to Glory" tournaments? What shows are you expecting to air?
Andrew Whitaker (Glory): Well I can't comment on the specifics at this particular stage. What I can say is that the Glory television programming that you will see will be live. I can't get into more details yet for obvious reasons.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This isn't the first time Spike has worked with kickboxing. They were recently working with K-1 in 2012 and while they're a smaller organization than Glory is now, that deal didn't work out. Where do you think Glory will have success where K-1 failed on Spike and why?
Andrew Whitaker (Glory): Well I would say that we really have to be more involved in our own sports ID. While we look at other sports brands, of course you have to look back to go forward, but I think as far as Glory is concerned, we believe in our television delivery, we believe in the caliber of the kickboxing athletes in Glory and that we will deliver a very successful live television program to a national audience in America.
What we're bringing to Spike is something familiar with their audiences. They're team was there when the UFC was there and they took a gamble on something that wasn't on cable TV and we believe that this is the ideal partner for us that has the understanding of combat sports in general and in essence Glory kickboxing to find and select a program that will deliver for them.
David Schwarz (Spike TV): I think K-1, they had their own issues as a company. I think that we're doing business with Glory now which is without a doubt the number one kickboxing organization in the world with huge starpower like Tyrone Spong. I think fans are going to flock to see them. It's been tough to find it all over the past couple years. If you're a kickboxing fan, it's been hard to find it on television just like MMA was difficult to find before it was on Spike. I think Glory has found a great home on Spike TV.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): A report surfaced yesterday about Semmy Schilt retiring. You listed him in a press release that he was one of your top talents still. I was wondering if I could get a comment on that confirming or denying what's going on?
Andrew Whitaker (Glory): As far as I know, he's on our active roster and that is certainly the case until he tells us. As far as we know, which is pretty close to the source, he hasn't announced anything at all that would prompt us to pick up the phone and give him a ring. As far as we can see, the press on the story has no primary sources whatsoever so until we hear it from Semmy, we're really excited to have him as a champion with us every since he came on board and signed with us. You know better better than I do as far as it relates to sports that rumors of people's retirement is nothing new under the sun. It's business as usual and we're getting ready for the September TV shoot which is majorly important for the premier on Spike TV.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So as far as you know, you're planning on going ahead with a title fight between Schilt and Gokhan Saki later this year?
Andrew Whitaker (Glory): Well the card is being worked on right now so I don't have the card specifically for September or the month after that. We should have that in very short order and you should expect to find those in the very near future.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you have any plans on cross-promoting any of the Glory kickboxers on your programming like TNA or Bellator MMA?
David Schwarz (Spike TV): We're always interested in promoting our shows on different platforms so it does make sense to something like our TNA audience. Again, it's so early so we haven't made any concrete plans but assured, between Bellator and TNA, there'd be some natural fits there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know this is early, but with Bellator debuting its Fight Master reality show, would you be open to a reality show featuring Glory kickboxers?
David Schwarz (Spike TV): Again, it's early on but I can tell you that we know our audience loves combat sports. They came to us for the UFC and they're coming to us for Bellator. They show up every week for TNA and the future is very bright. We'll see what happens.