Opinion: Joe Schilling Wins $150,000 Glory Tournament Grand Prize, But Who Knew About It?
By Michael Hatamoto
The Glory kickboxing promotion hosted its second championship-level kickboxing show in the United States, with Glory 10 on Saturday night in Ontario, Calif., crowning a four-man middleweight tournament champion in Muay Thai stylist Joe “Stitch ‘Em Up” Schilling, who defeated Kengo Shimizu and Artem Levin, respectively, in single-elimination action.
“I can’t even put into words what I feel right now,” said Schilling after his victory that earned him a grand prize of $150,000, a purse that is unheard of anywhere else in the world of stand-up fighting. ” This isn’t just a victory for me, it’s also a victory for American kickboxing. I have always wanted to show that we can compete on the world stage with the best fighters out there and I think tonight has proved this. It’s huge for the sport in the USA. And the prize money is going to be life-changing for me and my family.”
Schilling’s fight against Levin initially was scored a majority draw, before a “sudden death” extra round saw Schilling grind out the win. Schilling is best known to MMA fans as a training partner of UFC superstars Nick Diaz and Tarec Saffiedine.
Glory 10 was hosted from the Citizens Business Bank Arena and a live stream was available in iPay-Per-View format, but the vast majority of combat sports fans seemed to know about the event.
Glory is the top kickboxing promotion in the world, but they seemed to have drastically missed the mark in terms of engaging fans with this latest event. The promotion’s first live imprint in the U.S., which took place at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City in June, however, was well-publicized and covered by many of the top MMA media outlets and even by a few mainstream news and entertainment platforms, making the lack of buzz around this event even more peculiar.
A tournament-style event with a $150,000 grand prize – significantly higher than many MMA fighter purses reported to the athletic commissions – should have been able to generate a lot of media attention. The majority of fighters competing in the UFC, the world’s top MMA promotion, earn a fraction of this amount for a night’s work in The Octagon.
Instead, the pre-fight press coverage was rather lackluster and the event essentially flew under the radar. Even the few blogs that posted pre-fight content and streamed the event seemingly forgot about it almost immediately after it happened.
Glory is slated to make its live debut on Spike TV from Hoffman Estates, Ill. on October 12. The event, which features a main event between Tyrone Spong and Nathan Corbett as well as a four-man heavyweight tournament, represents an opportunity of epic proportions for the company to take the sport of kickboxing to unprecedented heights on the TV platform responsible for transforming the UFC into a household name.
By the contrary, Glory’s failure to capitalize and deliver at least a respectable number of live television viewers to Spike next month as well as for future events could cast doubt amongst TV industry executives about kickboxing’s potential as a combat sport and set the sport back by years.
The team behind Glory in the U.S. better get its act together – and quick – since Oct. 12 is just around the corner.