On June 21st of last year, The Forum in Los Angeles’ Inglewood neighborhood was host to Glory: 17, which was Glory’s—famed international kickboxing promotion—first Pay-Per-View event. In the main event, Dutchman Rico Verhoeven defeated Romanian Daniel Ghiță for the vacant Glory Heavyweight Championship in a unanimous decision, while Canadian Joseph Valtellini defeated Belgian Marc de Bonte for the vacant Glory Welterweight Championship, also in a unanimous decision.
The event also featured the first Glory Middleweight Championship, in which eight men competed for kickboxing honor in a last man standing format. Russian Artem Levin would be the one to truck through and win the whole thing. To do that, he beat Alex Pereira from Brazil and Filip Verlinden from Belgium to reach the final, where he fought and beat the American Joe Schilling in a unanimous decision.
Artem “The Lion” Levin has a record that you should respect. The 28-year-old Muay Thai specialist has amassed a kickboxing record with a grand total of 91 fights. He’s won 84 of those, 34 of which came by knock out. In his as-usual excellent analysis of the event, Jack Slack even went as far as positing the possibility that Levin might even be the best fighter in the whole world. He was so good at Glory 17 that Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, who was in attendance, said he would love a one-off crossover right against Levin. Not for nothing, Machida is one of the best strikers in the UFC, being one of those guys who’s able to strike his adversaries flawlessly, putting them out like candles in a wind storm, quickly and unexpectedly.
According to an interview, Artem Levin will now head to Lodi, California, where he’ll become the Skrap Pack’s Nick Diaz’s latest training partner, while he gears up for his return to the Octagon. He’ll face the legendary and also returning Anderson Silva. UFC 183 takes place in Las Vegas on the 31st of this month.
Diaz has already spent some time trading leather with Schilling, with whom Levin shares a rivalry that dates back to GLORY 10, in which Schilling beat Levin. At this point, both guys are homies. When Schilling most recently beat Melvin Manhoef at his Bellator debut at Bellator 131, Levin ran up to Schilling to toss him a high-five.
On the ground, the Diaz brothers are nasty jiu jitsu players. On their feet, the Diaz brothers are western boxers. Nick’s one of the best boxers in the UFC. They’re well-rounded strikers, but they’re not particularly famous for their Muay Thai or their kickboxing. According to the UFC, Nick and Nate Diaz are ranked 2 and 3 respectively, behind Frankie Edgar, in the number of total strikes landed throughout their careers. Nate’s got 1428 to Nick’s 1536. The Diaz brothers throw hands, they're scrappers, and for that they’ve been deemed to be two of the most exciting fighters mixed martial arts have ever seen.
The fact that they’re now bringing Artem Levin in for Nick to sharpen his game is, well, it’s awesome. If anything, it just goes to show how good Nick’s training is going to be come game-time. His camp’s doing a lot for him to come out victorious. Nick’s people could’ve easily gotten him someone who most closely resembles Anderson Silva’s style, someone who fights or trains in mixed martial arts, but having a specialist like Artem—and Joe Schilling for that matter—brings in new perspectives to the Diaz training camp. Breathe new life into it, expand its consciousness.
Silva's camp says that in training he's been kicking "hard as fuck" if we're going to translate from Portuguese. It looks like Anderson Silva is going to be up against a very difficult opponent in Nick Diaz, and that UFC 183 is going to be as explosive as a super-fight could be.
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