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Glory signs deal with CBS Sports Network, looks at Bellator rematch

James Law, Glory

Glory kickboxing, which runs its first show of the year on Friday night on Spike TV, announced a second U.S. television deal. It will be three events with CBS Sports Network to air what they call the "Glory Superfight Series," a two-hour five-fight show that will air on a one-week tape delay.

Glory, which features many of the world's top kickboxers, is attempting to recreate the success of the glory days of K-1 in Japan and expand that into the U.S. It has a goal for his year of having a national television presence in the U.S. almost every week on Friday nights.

Glory CEO Jon Franklin is looking at the CBS Sports Network, which also airs the Titan Fighting Championships as its MMA property, as a second platform to expand the audience base.

The goal is to have live events roughly nine times per year, and to get four weeks of television exposure on Friday nights, through Spike and CBS Sports out of each show. There will be a preview show the week before the events on Spike. Spike will then televise the live GLORY event with each Spike broadcast carrying five fights, although GLORY 19 will feature six. A week following the Spike broadcast of the event, CBS Sports Network will air five additional fights from the Super Fight portion of the preliminary card. This portion of the card features GLORY and Road to GLORY fighters whose fights did not make the Spike TV broadcast.

"The Spike audience, while it's sports fans, we usually come out of Cops (the lead-in), not another sports event," said Franklin. "With CBS Sports, we'll come out of hockey or basketball, so we'll have mainstream sports fans exposed to Glory."

Friday's show on Spike is headlined by Rico Verhoeven of Holland (44-10) defending the Glory heavyweight title against Errol Zimmerman of Curacao (103-11-1), one of the last stars of the K-1 era. Mike Tyson, who hosted the pre-fight show last week on Spike, will be doing guest commentary with Mauro Ranallo and Stephen Quadros for the title fight.

The show also has a one-night four-man welterweight tournament to determine the top contender for champion Joseph Valtellini. The show also features Bellator middleweight fighter Joe Schilling (18-6), who had a spectacular Bellator fight with Melvin Manhoef, winning via second-round knockout, facing Robert Thomas (7-2).

For the show on CBS Sports, which will air from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern time the following week, which is prime time on the West Coast, the key bout pits lightweight Andy Ristie (43-4-1) of Suriname, the No. 1 contender to lightweight champion Robin Van Roosmalen, facing Australia's Steve Moxon (38-10-1). Ristie knocked out both Van Roosmalen, and Giorgio Petrosyan, who was something like the Anderson Silva of kickboxing, in a one-night tournament in New York, on Nov. 23, 2013. 

"Spike is the numbered events (Friday's show is called Glory 19), CBS Sports will be taking the Superfight series," said Franklin. "Both are in two-hour blocks. When you come to a Glory show, we have local fighters in the undercard, then we have the Superfight Series. Sometimes we'll have a title fight on the Superfight series, and sometimes we won't. Then we'll go to the live show, which will have a contenders tournament, a title fight and usually a special event.

The Superfight Series also has a television presence internationally in roughly 40 countries, but had no U.S. home.

Regarding Schilling, who made a big impression on the MMA audience in his fight on Bellator's biggest event in its history, Franklin is hoping to get a rematch, this time under kickboxing rules.

"I personally would love to see Schilling and Manhoef again," said Franklin. "They fought it out in Bellator. It would be fun to have the rematch in Glory."

After Friday, Glory's next show will be April 3 in Dubai, which includes former UFC star Pat Barry (16-6-1) taking on Mourad Bouzidi (76-22-2) of Tunisia, who is moving up from light heavyweight to heavyweight, as well as a featherweight title fight and a middleweight top contender tournament.

A third show under this deal will take place in May.

"We may continue with them or see what else is out there," said Franklin.

Another name on the Glory radar is unique, the much-sought-after former WWE pro wrestling star Jose "Alberto Del Rio" Rodriguez, who had fought in Pride and Pancrase in his younger days, but his background is Greco-Roman wrestling, not kickboxing.

"Alberto's looking for a home and we're open to everything," said Franklin. "We'd love to have a guy like that to drive some eyeballs to our company. He's got a zillion twitter followers. We'd love to have him. We're looking at a full calendar in 2015. We're looking for people to help build and drive our brand. We won't count anyone out."

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