There was something in the air in Zagreb, Croatia tonight as Andy Ristie and Davit Kiria stepped into the ring. The swell of momentum was clearly behind Andy Ristie. Ristie had a night that would make anyone’s career in knocking out Giorgio Petrosyan and Robin van Roosmalen a few months ago, making him the top Lightweight in the world. Now all that he needed to do was go into a fight with the usually patient, defensive Davit Kiria and knock him stupid. Everyone was tossing their money onto Ristie for this fight and for good reason -- he is the best in the world.
Everyone was proven right early on in the fight, as Ristie was dominating round one, then knocking Kiria down early in the second round. Kiria fought back, but there was a feeling in the air that it was just a matter of time before Ristie found a way through Kiria’s air-tight defenses again and put him to sleep. Because that is what Andy Ristie does, he puts guys to sleep. The thing is, if this went into the deep waters beyond round three, what would that mean for Andy Ristie, who has been known to slow down even in three round fights?
Round four saw more of the same, with Ristie not slowing down. Kiria was landing a little bit more, but it was still nothing to be afraid of. A lot of people felt it was just inevitable, that we had to sit out two more rounds before Ristie was crowned as the first GLORY Lightweight Champion, adding to his tournament victory. Round five came and it was thick in the air; Kiria had to hit a Hail Mary to walk away with this, that everyone had started to celebrate Ristie’s win. Then something crazy happened; Kiria started landing and Ristie wasn’t going down, but was clearly hurt. The ref counted and the fans were in disbelief.
Now it came down to a matter of could Ristie hold on for the final bell, could Ristie just hold on and win his championship? Kiria came in like his life depended on it, landing a huge shot on Ristie that sent him down like a character from Mike Tyson’s Punchout into the ropes. This was insanity, Andy Ristie down for a second time in the fifth round! Ristie struggles to his feet and the ref lets it keep going, but Ristie can barely stand. Just a few more shots by Kiria put him onto the mat and the arena explodes as Davit Kiria is crowned the first ever GLORY Lightweight Champion.
The truth is that it was never impossible, that Andy Ristie always had these holes in his game, he just had risen to the top of the division and looked untouchable. Davit Kiria has always been a fighter that has looked great, but never seems to get started in three round fights, but when given five rounds against the best in the world, Davit Kiria overcame all of the odds and found himself as the number one Lightweight in the world.
Congratulations, Davit Kiria, you deserve it.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, launches on March 24th.