“Kickboxing. Sport of the future.” -Lloyd Dobler
With Glory 17 Los Angeles just around the corner I figured it would be a good time to do a little pre-view of what’s in store for the free card airing on Spike TV and if you decide to (you should, dammit) go the Pay-Per-View route as well.
Originally Mirko Cro Cop (CRO) and Sergei Kharitonov (RUS) were set to headline the free portion of the Glory 17 Los Angeles card but Sergei had to pull-out from the fight due to an injury, leaving Mirko without an opponent. Jarrell Miller (USA) was just announced as the replacement fighter as I was writing this article. Jarrell and Mirko have been together in the ring before, under a slightly different kickboxing ruleset back in 2013 at K-1 World Grand Prix 2012 Final in Zagreb, Croatia. Mirko came out on top via unanimous decision at that time and we shall see if he can do it again. Some feel Jarrell is reaching his peak at 25 years of age, and Mirko is on the decline. Not to mention this was Jarrell’s first defeat on his professional record and will be looking to vindicate his record.
Up next, Andy Ristie (SUR) vs Ky Hollenbeck (USA) step up to the plate. Andy Ristie making a name for himself last year after taking out Giorgio Petrosyan (ITA) via KO last year at the Glory 12 Lightweight Championship Qualifier and going on to defeat Robin Van Roosmalen (NED) in similar fashion to win the tournament. Andy Ristie then went on to lose via KO to Davit Kiria (GEO) at Glory 14. Meanwhile, Ky Hollenbeck is coming off two big wins in Glory against seasoned veteran of the sport, Albert Kraus (NED) at Glory 10 and Warren Stevelmans (RSA) at Glory 12. Many see this as the next step for Ky Hollenbeck, some see this as a mis-match. Ky has proven to make the upset happen, and I’m exciting to see this match go down! Fireworks have always seemed to catch my attention, and this match could prove to be nothing but fireworks.
Not to mention the Glory Featherweight (143 lbs MAX) Championship Qualifier! Gabriel Varga (CAN) will take on Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai (THA) of the infamous Sitmonchai Gym in Thailand. Yodkhunpon made his Glory debut recently at Glory 15 at the ripe young age of 19! Gabriel is coming off a win of Muay Thai & MMA vet, Jose Palacios (USA) at Glory 11. Gabriel is rather tall for a featherweight, standing at 5’10”. All I can say is, you guys need to tell me what you’re eating! Yodkhunpon was relaxed during his last bout, let’s see how he steps up to the plate for his return to Glory, while we see if Gabriel can use his height & reach advantage to keep Yodkunpon at bay. Shane Oblonsky (USA) is a fighter that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing fight through the amateur ranks to pro, as well as fight on the same card a few times. It’s great to see him step into his Glory debut against Marcus Vinicius (BRA). We shall see who will arrive at the top, once all is said and done in this one-night 4 man tournament!
Last Man Standing Pay-Per-View
Take 8 of the top Kickboxing & Muay Thai middleweight (187 lb MAX) fighters in the world, have them square off in a tournament, see who comes out on top… In one night. I know what you might be saying..
Seriously though, Glory is doing a great job of making this a ‘thing’ again. One night tournaments are the epitome of ‘grit’ in combat sports, bringing us back to the days of K-1 World Max & Grand Prix tournaments. You might even go as far as to compare it ancient Rome when the gladiators would battle it out at the Coliseum. With the way these tournaments work, we can only speculate the final matches, but you have to keep in mind that these guys are trying to finish as fast as possible to save their bodies for the later rounds of the tournament. With that being said, here are the preliminary matches.
First up, we have Melvin Manhoef (SUR) vs Filip Verlinden (BEL), a fight that could be it’s own main event. Filip coming off a decision victory at Glory 15 in Istanbul against Israel Adesanya (NZL). Filip is a very fast and technical fighter, I recall his performance at Muay Thai Premier League in Los Angeles where he picked his opponent apart with elbows in a very relaxed and efficient manner. I’m looking forward to seeing him fight again in person! Melvin Manhoef is a man who needs no introduction, just give him a quick search on Google and you will see what I mean. He is a journeyman of combat sports, competing in Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and MMA. He has been successful at all 3 and continues to compete at an elite level.
Next up is Joe Schilling (USA) vs Simon Marcus (CAN) which will be the 3rd time that these two have met in the ring, with the first two times being under Muay Thai ruleset, with this being the first time they will meet under the kickboxing ruleset of Glory World Series. I’ve followed these two closely the past few years, Joe knocked the blood off Kaoklai Kaennorsing (THA) back in 2011 onto my ringside computer, which put him on the map finally to face then WBC Champion, Artem Levin (RUS), who is another competitor in this 8 man tournament. There was a lot of speculation as to why Joe never got his shot at Artem under the Muay Thai ruleset. I was helping assist with a promotion at the time, and I just remember hearing about all of the excuses that were being spewed at Joe for why the match-up couldn’t happen. (Visa, injuries, other fights, etc etc) Joe finally got his shot against Artem at Glory 10 in Los Angeles in the finals for a 4 man tournament. Joe came out with the upset win, taking out the #1 ranked Middleweight in Glory. Rewind a few months prior to Joe being crowned the Glory Middleweight World Champion, and you would find Joe facing off with Simon Marcus in Las Vegas on two separate occasions in Muay Thai. The first time Joe and Simon met, the bout ended in a weird manner. Joe was taken down in the clinch in where Simon was using the low-lock clinch, Joe landed with Simon on top of him, slamming his head between the canvas and Simon’s body. Joe was on shaky legs after this and Simon went in for the kill. You can check out the video below.
The second time, the fight went all 5 rounds with Simon coming out with the decision victory over Joe. Simon is not joke, a man carved out of granite, sporting a record of 39 wins (24 by way of KO!), 0 losses and 1 draw. The 1 draw is controversial, I was actually at that fight when it went down and believe Simon wasn’t given a fair decision, that coupled with a poor referee who seemed to be thinking he was reffing a boxing match. I met Simon when his training partner Matt Embree (CAN) was fighting in Los Angeles for the first time and I was part of the driving service for fighters on the promotion. This was back in 2010 and I didn’t really know who Simon was, I just remember him saying something about wanting to fight Kaoklai. Little did I know that he was dead serious and is the top fighter at his weight in Muay Thai at the moment.
When it comes down to Simon and Joe squaring off again, you might see some “bad blood” between them, but you can definitely hope for a good showing. We shall see if the Glory ruleset will change the outcome of the last two fights for Joe!
Artem Levin (RUS) vs Alex Pereira (BRA) is next up on the roster. If you’ve read this far, you will notice that Artem lost to Joe Schilling at Glory 10 in Los Angeles. Artem is coming off a victory against Robert Thomas (CAN) at Glory 16 in Denver. Artem is still a strong favorite to win the tournament, but anything can happen in these tournaments, as proven by Joe Schilling. Alex is coming off winning the 4 man, one night tournament for the Middleweight contender spot at Glory 14 in Zagreb. Alex showed great skills and power in his hands, knocking out Dustin Jacoby (USA).
Next up is Wayne Barrett (USA) vs Bogdan Stoica (ROU), where Wayne pulled off an upset win against Joe Schilling at Glory 12 in New York. You can start to see how strings are attached in this tournament. Wayne has an unorthodox fighting style, with a strong background in boxing, you can expect to see some awkward exchanges with Bogdan. Bogdan is a new name on my radar, seeing that he competes mainly in Romania and Bulgaria. When you think of it that way, Bogdan and Wayne are both in a favorable position, being the “newcomers” if you will, to Glory. The only difference being that Bogdan boasts a record of 38 wins (29 by KO) and only 5 losses against Wayne’s professional record of 4 wins (3 by KO) and 0 losses. Experience might play a role in the outcome of this one.
That’s Not All
We still have Daniel Ghita (ROU) vs Rico Verhoeven (NED) which is scheduled for 5 rounds of action for the Glory Heavyweight World Championship. Rico recently won the 4 man tournament at Glory 11 in Chicago, defeating Gokhan Saki (TUR) and Daniel Ghita in one night, taking home the buku bucks. Rico is only 25 years old, which brings us to the 33 year old Daniel Ghita. I’ll leave the Glory website to give some background on Daniel:
A former bodyguard to the president of Romania, Ghita is a very dangerous package; he combines speed, power, precision and tactical thinking as he dismantles one opponent after another. Since he broke onto the world circuit in 2009, kickboxing fans have been watching his progress with interest and over the past year Ghita entered into his prime as a fighter.
Last But Not Least
the match-up between current Glory Welterweight (170 lbs MAX) World Champion, Mark de Bonte (BEL) 24 years old, against the 29 year old Joseph Valtellini (CAN). Joseph proved himself to be capable of competing at this level after hanging with Nieky Holzken (NED) but going down in the last 5 seconds of what I’d describe as all-out-war! Joseph will have to bring that same piss & vinegar style to his fight with Mark. More fireworks to top out the card!
You need to watch this event! If you’re anywhere near Los Angeles, you owe it to yourself to attend this world-class event. I’d go as far as to compare this to the World Cup… You wouldn’t just not go to the World Cup if it was near you, right? You can get your tickets online, which I’d suggest doing, as it’s likely to sell out!