Time travel. If technology existed to make that a possibility, the Glory kickboxing promotion sure could have used it a couple of months ago while developing a hype campaign to sell combat sports fans on its first pay-per-view event.
Someone on the two-year-old fight company's staff could have climbed into the magical machine, or grabbed the clicker, or downloaded the app, or used whatever means were required to make a quick trip to Saturday night. The debut pay event, dubbed "Glory 17: Last Man Standing," was held in Inglewood, Calif. This futuristic advance scout would have grabbed some footage from the evening's fights, brought it back to the film editing room of the past, and this fast-paced, often explosive PPV would have sold itself.
But, of course, PPVs don't sell themselves. We don't pay on the way out the door. We pay in advance with no assurance of what we're going to get for our money. The purchase is made on faith.
Well, faith was rewarded on this night.
Glory has a new heavyweight champion, a new featherweight champion and a new middleweight champion. And that's only the most obvious evidence of a lot of action at the Forum.
Rico Verhoeven winning the heavyweight belt and Joseph Valtellini taking the featherweight title were impressive performances, but they paled by comparison to what Artem Levin did in order to grab middleweight gold. The 27-year-old Russian defeated Joe Schilling to become champ, but only after taking out Alex Pereira and Filip Verlinden in the first two rounds of the eight-man one-night tournament. Three wins in one night is working overtime.
All in all, the middleweights fought like no one had spelled out the tournament format for them. On a night when a marathon was on the agenda, the four quarterfinals set a sprinter's pace. Schilling was especially thrilling, as his three-round fight with Simon Marcus was sent into a fourth round after the judges scored it as a draw. Schilling then appeared headed to a decision win after Marcus had a point deducted for repeatedly spitting out his mouthpiece. Then, when Marcus charged at him in a desperate bid for a knockout, Schilling flattened him with a right cross counterpunch with 10 seconds left.
That was a singularly awesome moment, but there was a lot to like throughout Glory 17, which featured nine PPV bouts preceded by five fights airing on regular cable TV. The finale of the earlier portion involved the biggest name of the night, former MMA fighter and K-1 kickboxer Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. He's 39-years-old now and a shadow of the fighter he once was, but he had enough left to earn a decision over Jarrell Miller, who was younger by 14 years and heavier by 40 pound. Yet, Miller used neither to his advantage as "Cro Cop" took the fight to him.
It wasn't vintage Mirko, but just having him on the bill seemed like enough to draw some attention and perhaps entice fans to buy the pay show. Who knows how many did so? Maybe we'll get an idea by counting the "thank you" cards in Filipovic's mailbox, because this was combat sports well worth watching.