GLORY officials recently announced that UFC Fight Pass will be the exclusive broadcast home for the company’s events in the U.S., ending a previous deal that saw different portions of the organization’s cards distributed across a variety of platforms.
“This is an opportunity for us to make it really easy for our fans in the U.S. to get GLORY content,” GLORY CEO Marshall Zelaznik told MMAjunkie. “In the past, we’ve had prelims one place, we’ve had our SuperFight Series on Fight Pass, and then we had the main cards, the numbered series, which would sit in ESPN – and that would, depending on what ESPN’s schedule was like, might be on ESPN2, might be on their digital service. So one of the things we felt strongly about was we wanted to find a partner who would give us the kind of ease of access that would make it easy for our fans to get the content and not have to bounce around.”
The new deal launches with tonight’s GLORY 63 event, which streams live in its entirety on UFC Fight Pass from Arena Theatre in Houston.
Zelaznik, a former UFC exec, said he hopes to make a similar arrangement in additional international markets in the future.
As part of the new deal, GLORY is also planning an eight-week run of live events entitled “Road to GLORY,” that will stream live on UFC Fight Pass from the UFC’s new studio arena in Las Vegas. That facility is currently under construction, but Zelaznik said the current plan calls for a third-quarter debut of the new series, which is designed to allow up-and-coming talent to earn their way to the GLORY ring.
GLORY was founded in 2012 and hosts events all over the world, featuring some of kickboxing’s biggest names. Athletes compete in striking matches of three, three-minute rounds. Elbows are not allowed, nor is any stalling in the clinch, with fighters separated quickly to keep action constant.
“The standup quality of the fights, this is what these guys do,” Zelaznik said. “This is what these guys focus on, so their level of standup is, I think, at a higher level than most MMA fighters. I also think the way the rules are set up so there’s no clinching and no stalling – and while I love the clinch game and I love the ground game in MMA, I think there can be moments where it starts to drag on and where people sort of DVR and fast forward their way through some of those. Here, we don’t have any clinching. The fights happen, they happen quick, and the fights have consequence.
“These fighters that win move on to championships and they move up the rankings pretty quick, and they can contest for belts. I just think that the quality of the standup fighting is something that if somebody hasn’t experienced, they should take a look. As someone once said, it’s the best part of MMA if you don’t like the ground game.”
Current plans call for six events to be hosted in the U.S. in 2019, along with eight international cards, as well as the eight “Road to GLORY” events in Las Vegas.
While the company will work hand-in-hand with the UFC moving forward, Zelaznik said he isn’t anticipating any immediate crossover between the two promotions’ rosters – though he certainly wouldn’t rule it out.
“I love the general idea of crossovers,” Zelaznik said. “I’m an old guy, so I remember Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson being two-sport athletes. I would love to see it, and I think the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight just gave a sniff of how big it could be when you bring two top talents from two somewhat-related sports. So, I would love to one day see a GLORY champion fighting an MMA champion, maybe somebody from the UFC, and vice versa.
“A lot of the GLORY fighters are martial artists, and a lot of them practice in grappling. I like our guys’ chances against any MMA champion in the standup, and I think our guys would be more competitive in an MMA match than a strict MMA guy might be in a standup GLORY match. I do think that would be something amazing to see happen, but will it happen? Hard to say.”