A the now-defunct promotion with some interesting spins on kickboxing was World Combat League, a full contact team-based kickboxing organization founded by Chuck Norris. While the promotion only lasted a few years, it had some intriguing takes on competitive martial arts that give it a unique place in combat sports history.
Wooshing punch sounds and 90’s rock guitar aside, 8 combatants (7 men, 1 woman) fought two rounds separated into “halves” at just 3 minutes a round in a 27-foot circular open mat. This format favored a lightning-fast pace for each round knowing that if you were able to floor it for 3 minutes, the team got to rotate through before you fought your second 3 minute round. Just how fast did they push the pace? Try to count the number of times the referee says “fight on” and “get busy guys” in this clip.
Muay Thai fighters were at a disadvantage in many ways within World Combat Legaue’s rules and regulations. Leg kicks didn’t have quite the same bite as combatants were required to wear protective shin pads. The separation of rounds meant that your opponent would have time to work off any charlie horses you dished out in the opener. In addition, no forearm or elbow strikes were allowed and only one knee strike (above the waist) was allowed in a limited clinch.
Those rules set in a very open ring lended a strong favor to karate-style fighting and all out aggression. A guy like Raymond Daniels, a karate and taekwondo phenom, dominated the competition and went (17-0-1) in the league. He had the ability to dish out calculated shots with the ability to move out of harm’s way, earning 9 KO’s in the promotion.
In the vein of wrestling duel meets, points of individual fights contributed to the team point standing. The team competition and attempt at creating kickboxing franchises created something larger than individual fighter contests. While this promotion failed, it will be interesting to see if another major promotion picks up on the team concept in the future.
No cage no nothin’ but mat with an out-of-bounds warning incline. Granted it left room for falling danger, it gave the competition an interesting accessibility to spectators. Using footwork and angles trumped ring or cage positioning because there was nowhere to trap your opponent.
Everything about World Combat League was structured around a fight at a sprint’s pace for a knockout. Two rounds of three minutes separated into halves assured sure that competitors were in as fresh of a fight as possible. Just when you thought that kickboxing couldn’t be more exciting to watch, World Combat League’s time structure was attention-span proof.
In the end, the promotion didn’t take off beyond two seasons of action. While it didn’t last, World Combat League had an innovative take on kickboxing competition in it’s team-based, franchised format. Enjoy some of the promotion’s highlight reel KO’s from 2006-2008.