Home Kickboxing Glory Scifighting Exclusive Interview with Glory CEO Jon Franklin Pt. 2

Scifighting Exclusive Interview with Glory CEO Jon Franklin Pt. 2

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(Credit: GLORY Sports International)

In part 2 of our interview with Glory’s Jon Franklin, we discuss crossover potential with Bellator, the state of combat sports and the technical changes the organization will be making in the future.

(Glory CEO Jon Franklin, photo courtesy of Glory World Series)
(Glory CEO Jon Franklin, photo courtesy of Glory World Series)

SciFighting: Glory 17 LA included the tournament format and main event fighting on the same night. The event ran 8 hours long. Will Glory promotions continue to include both the tournament format and the main event fights?

Franklin: That was an unusual and very long evening.

Our normal format is to start with a local undercard provided by whoever it is we’re working with in the market. It’s always good to have local promoters–you want people that live in that market and understand that market in combat sports and to have the opportunity to showcase some of their fighters. Then we have the Glory Superfight Series which is match-made fighting cut into a 2 hour show but distributed on a tape delay basis internationally. We have that show and traditional Glory numbered events, which hasn’t always been a tournament, but now we always want it to be contender tournaments and a couple championship fights.

Going forward, the format is a couple undercard fights, the Glory Superfight Series and then ultimately the Glory numbered events. But all of that should take place over a 4-hour span … not like the 8 hours in LA. The Superfight Series should be a 2 hour show with lots of KO’s, but you can’t predict everything – you’re always running on a followed-by basis. Then the two hour Glory numbered event on Spike with its tournament and Championship fights. Obviously we don’t want to go over our allotted time … but if it’s going a bit short, the Spike producers know how to stretch it out to fit the time slot and if we go just a bit long, Spike follows us until the end.

That’s our run-of-the-show going forward into the foreseeable future.

(Zack Mwekassa KO's Pat Barry, photo courtesy of Glory World Series)
(Zack Mwekassa KO’s Pat Barry, photo courtesy of Glory World Series)

SF: Even though it ran longer than expected at Glory 17 Los Angeles, it was still an incredible show. 

Franklin: Even the hardcore fans – guys like Joe Rogan – said it was one of the best nights of combat sports he’d ever seen. He’s been to countless combat sports events, so to hear him say that was an amazing tribute to Glory. When I heard that, I thought, “This sport has legs.” And I’m excited about it.

SF: What are the main differences between promoting kickboxing and the other sports you’ve promoted? Like boxing, for instance.

Franklin: Boxing promotion for us was always about building personalities for successful events – whether it was Mike Tyson, Héctor Camacho, Jr., David Tua or Lennox Lewis. First and foremost, these personalities really drove the audience.

With Glory, it’s a new promotion and we have to educate the fan base on what and who they’re going to see. When I look at what’s been done for Glory and what we’re doing now in the promotional aspect, there’s a lot more ways to do it now than ten years ago with all the social media. Still, it’s an education process for Glory to try to build some of these names. For example, when I was working on a boxing show and I would offer my friends tickets. The first question was always: “who’s fighting?”

For Glory, people ask: “Do they fight on the ground?” and “How does the tournament work?” Then you have to explain what a one-night tournament is. There’s been a greater demand to educate the general sports fan as to how this works and what we’re doing than I ever had to do in boxing.

(Justin Collette (left), photo courtesy of Glory World Series)
(Justin Collette (left), photo courtesy of Glory World Series)

SF: Prior to K-1, kickboxing matches were 12 rounds long. The time and round length was much more like a traditional a boxing match. Do you see the possibility of going back to that format in the future? 

Franklin: I don’t see Glory going back to that format in the near future, especially with what we talked about regarding content in shorter doses.

In fact, there’s been a movement to shorten the fights in boxing to get more action. Everyone talks about how boxing is sort of stepped down and stepped back with no big stars except for Mayweather. Part of the reason is the fighting style of the Klitschkos and professional fighters pace themselves for a long fight, so there’s not as much action.

We have not had a discussion with our experts and talent operations about having longer Glory fights, but we have been talking about title fights being 5 rounds instead of 3 rounds. But I don’t see it going much further than that. I think that MMA has done a good job shortening the championship fights to 5 x 5-minute rounds as opposed to 12 x 3-minute rounds. I think that’s really worked … based on the results and popularity of MMA.

SF: As it stands, Glory 18 is the only event on the books. Has it been difficult to secure venues and dates for your events?

Franklin: Yes. It’s been a bit of a challenge getting a forward schedule together.

I was just as frustrated as everyone else trying to figure out what’s happening next and where we’re going. I think under the old management, there was some hesitation to schedule far in advance because they were afraid to go up against a late announcement of a boxing event or a UFC pay-per-view. But no matter what, you’re always going to be up against something. I think by moving the fights to Friday nights, we won’t be up against any of the big pay-per-views. You want combat sports aficionados to be able to see everything, not to have to make a choice. It’s a newer property so you want to get as much alone time as you can.

Now that we’re settled in with Spike on Friday nights, we’re trying to come up with a better schedule. I’m trying to make announcements of dates and venues multiple months in advance rather than multiple weeks in advance.

(Wayne Barrett (right) vs. Bogdan Stoica at Last Man Standing, photo courtesy of Glory World Series)
(Wayne Barrett (right) vs. Bogdan Stoica at Last Man Standing, photo courtesy of Glory World Series)

SF: The former management’s hesitation to go head to head with the UFC makes sense, that could potentially upset both organizations’ numbers. Do you feel that Glory has to compete with MMA at some point?

Franklin: We are not the same sport. We are the market leader in our sport and they’re the leader in theirs. I’m an MMA fan as well. I buy MMA pay-per-views, UFC as well as Bellator. In fact, I want to see some of our fighters go their way and some of their fighters come our way. I would embrace doing that with Bellator and the UFC as well. Hopefully we’re all viewed as complimentary to one another. We want combat sports to succeed everywhere.

SF: You see a place for MMA and a place for kickboxing – which is a great cooperative message.

Franklin: That’s where I’m coming from. We’re not trying to take out any other sport. In fact, we embrace the building of all combat sports. I come from a combat sports background and certainly am a combat sports fan in all of its disciplines. I hope I can contribute to the success of Glory, but I would certainly like to see everyone thrive and prosper in the combat sports world.

I think it’s a big enough pie out there and we can all do it, especially in the modern world. There’s so many different media platforms, distributions and ways to bring our sport to the public so, hopefully, the public will embrace our sport.

We’ve been away for a few months and people are saying they want more from our product. It’s really refreshing to see. We’re excited to host Glory in the U.S. in Oklahoma, but there’s mutual interest to bring Glory to the Middle East as well. Dubai is definitely on our radar scope. We are a global property and going global is important to us.

(Davit Kiria, photo via Gloryworldseries.com)
(Davit Kiria, photo via Gloryworldseries.com)

SF: Has there been any recent effort to showcase a Bellator/Glory night?

Franklin: I personally would love to do that. We’ve had those chats but we haven’t concluded or finalized anything. We’re certainly sharing great standup fighters that also might also do well in a cage. There’s guys in Bellator and the UFC that people have mentioned that are great standup fighters.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Melvin Manheof and Joe Shcilling are two guys we’ve helped bring up and publicized. I would love to see their rematch on Glory after Bellator 131. I’m not announcing it because we haven’t put it together, but I would love to see that. They could do one fight under Bellator rules and they could do another fight under Glory rules. It’s not in the works yet, but I’d love to see it.

I think that from a fan standpoint, people out there would love to see it.

SF: Are you planning on making any new changes in production for Glory 18 and for future events?

Franklin: We’re going to lose some of the big screens and adapt a different stage. The stadium will be a little bit different. We’re looking to move away from the big entrance stage and have the fighters come out with the crowd at their back instead. From an international standpoint, they never show that stuff anyway.

The great fights will be the same and the way they’re shot will be the same. We’re using the same director and the same producer from a TV standpoint. We’ll have the same Glory Girls as well. We’re still using the same ring announcer, Tim Hughes. Mauro Ranallo from Strikeforce and Showtime boxing will be commentating in some events. In fact, we’re going to be able to get him more often because Showtime does most of their shows on Saturday nights.

When you turn it on, you’ll know it’s a Glory show for sure.

(Robin van Roosmalen vs. Davit Kiria, photo via Gloryworldseries.com)
(Robin van Roosmalen vs. Davit Kiria, photo via Gloryworldseries.com)

SF: We really like the modern and clean black and white color scheme of Glory.

Franklin: I think it looks different. It’s not the traditional red and blue colors of boxing from the 80’s. Strangely enough, every change you make has an opposite reaction. The state athletic commissions define everything in red and blue corners, whereas we have a white and a black corner. We have to provide a whole different set of documents for the athletic commissions to define it as the red and blue corners because that’s what their rules say.

SF: Do you have anything else for our readers or any comments you’d like to say about Glory 18?

Franklin: We’ve got great fights and interesting fights for Oklahoma. We have familiar names and some fighters who have taken out familiar names. We’ve got some Americans as well as international stars. Mwekassa is on the card, who beat Pat Barry. He’s fighting Brian Collette, who came through Road to Glory. Wayne Barrett is coming in from New York as part of the headline.

Roosmalen and Kiria should be an amazing title fight.

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Kurt Tellez
Kurt Tellez is a Southern California-based writer and musician. He first developed a passion for writing and literature in high school that carried through to the completion of a B.A. in English from Cal State Fullerton in 2013. Inspired by Joseph Conrad, Emily Dickinson, Alan Moore and Hunter S. Thompson, he has pursued a career in writing through contributions to online magazine publications, blogging, and social media management. His musical studies began at thirteen, and has since played in garage bands, concert bands and jazz bands everywhere from Honolulu to The Matthew Street Beatles Festival in Liverpool. Kurt has followed MMA since becoming an avid listener of the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Inspired by Eddie Bravo's appearances on the show, he became a member of Tenth Planet Jiu-Jitsu in 2014.