On Friday, December 4th GLORY returns with their last show of 2015 in GLORY 26 Amsterdam. GLORY 26 Amsterdam marks the promotion’s first visit to it’s spiritual home of the Netherlands and are primed to host the biggest kickboxing event inside of the city of Amsterdam since It’s Showtime’s last big event in 2012. This show will feature a Featherweight Contender tournament featuring Mosab Amrani, Shane Oblonsky, Chibin Lim and Maykol Yurk with the winner getting a shot at the newly crowned Serhiy Adamchuk. The meat of the show, though, will be the two GLORY title fights, featuring their two popular Dutch champions. At Welterweight Nieky Holzken will defend the Welterweight title against Murthel Groenhart and at Heavyweight Rico Verhoeven will defend the GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi in a rematch from earlier this year.
For the second time GLORY will be airing on ESPN platforms, live at 4pm eastern this Friday on ESPN3 (ESPN’s web platform), then on tape delay on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes on Sunday.
Kountermove, as always, is on top of things with two big games, one with a $500 prize pool and another with $25. You want to get in on these and I’m here to help. So let’s look at the card and the outlooks for these fights.
Errol Zimmerman ($5400) -- Imagine this scenario; you are challenging for the GLORY World Heavyweight Championship against Rico Verhoeven and you are holding your own. It’s a close fight, but it really could still go either way, then, your knee gives out. Not only that, but it gives out and there’s no way you can keep fighting. Imagine the pent up aggression in Errol Zimmerman right now. Back in February, after a long process to rebuild himself over the past few years, Zimmerman was finally getting a shot at the title that he rightfully deserved only for his knee to give out mid-fight.
Zimmerman is aggressive, powerful and he’s a guy that went from not taking fighting that seriously to taking it very seriously. Thomas Vanneste is making his GLORY debut and it feels like he’s being fed to the wolves here. Vanneste is a big heavyweight with power of his own, but from the footage that I’ve been watching I’m not sure that Vanneste has the tools to beat Zimmerman at this point. The only way that Vanneste takes this is if Zimmerman’s confidence in his knee is next to nothing or if he didn’t train at all. I’m pretty sure he trained for this, so yeah, Errol is pretty expensive, but the chances of him winning are your best bet on this show.
Mourad Bouzidi ($4400) -- Mourad Bouzidi is a guy that has been overlooked for most of his career now. These two met at the GLORY 9 Light Heavyweight tournament in a fight that saw Ilunga pick up the win via decision, but a lot has changed since then. Ilunga, in my eyes, is a guy that fights to his opponent’s level and rarely lives up to his immense potential. Bouzidi, on the other hand, is a guy that was forced to fight at Heavyweight to get opportunities throughout his career with mixed results.
Bouzidi -- at heavyweight -- holds wins over Anderson “Braddock” Silva, Errol Zimmerman, Hesdy Gerges and Peter Aerts. He also has a bunch of losses that were perhaps his most public fights, losses like to Brice Guidon, Errol Zimmerman, Ismael Londt, Badr Hari, Daniel Ghita and Gokhan Saki. A lot of these losses made fans lose hope in ever seeing Bouzidi truly shine, yet his current run in the Light Heavyweight division has been interesting to watch.
He holds wins over Randy Blake, Dustin Jacoby and Filip Verlinden now -- three in a row -- and heads into this fight with Ilunga prepared both mentally and physically. A win over Ilunga would no doubt be an ace in his cap, especially with Ilunga coming off of a tough loss to Artem Vakhitov at GLORY 25. The Mourad Bouzidi that we’ve seen has been collected, skilled and prepared for all of his fights and there is a good chance that Ilunga won’t be fully prepared for what Bouzidi brings to the table.
Too Close to Call
Benjamin Adegbuyi ($4800) vs. Rico Verhoeven ($4800) -- They met at GLORY 22 and Rico Verhoeven did walk away with the victory, that much is certain, but what was also certain is that Adegbuyi looked very good against Rico until his conditioning gave out. While his conditioning didn’t look stellar in the contender’s tournament that he won, one would have to think that he’d be focused on getting himself into peak shape for a rematch against Verhoeven, especially because his conditioning was his downfall the first time around.
Then again, who knows, right? He looked strong against Mladen Brestovac, but the fight with an equally-gassed Jahfarr Wilnis wasn’t much to write home about for Adegbuyi. When fighting Rico Verhoeven you need to bring not only your A-game, but the best version of your A-game available. He didn’t do that last time and the Adegbuyi that I saw at GLORY 24 might not be that guy to beat Rico. Then again, it was in Denver where the elevation has been known to make heavyweights in all combat sports look sluggish. Amsterdam sits at a comfortable 23 feet above sea level compared to Denver’s 5100+ feet above sea level.
As long as Rico is focused he shouldn’t be in too much trouble, but being best pals with the new heavyweight champion of the world in boxing and having his first MMA fight in October could be enough to distract even the most focused on champions.
Featherweight Tournament -- Now, look, this should be Mosab Amrani’s tournament. In fact, the way this is being advertised it more or less is his tournament. That being said, Amrani lost via TKO less than a month ago in China to Qiu Jian Liang. Usually when someone loses in China to a Chinese fighter the line of thinking is, “well, you let it go to the judges, of course they picked the Chinese fighter.” That didn’t happen here, this was a clear-cut TKO loss for Amrani.
The other favorite in this tournament is Shane Oblonsky. Oblonsky hasn’t exactly had the easiest life, dealing with loss at a young age and suffering another loss in late October that forced him to pull out from a fight at GLORY 25. To say that he might be distracted would be an understatement. Oblonsky is a strong guy and a great fighter, but nobody would blame him if he had a rough night at GLORY 26. Then again, fighters often find inspiration through tough times.
This isn’t underestimating Chibin Lim or Maykol Yurk, either, as anything can happen in these one-night tournaments, but there are a lot of factors in play here for the favorites that makes this tournament almost impossible call.
GLORY Welterweight Championship: Nieky Holzken ($4800) vs. Murthel Groenhart ($4800) -- Man. See, the second title fight of the night is also a rematch, this one, though, is from a long time ago. Murthel Groenhart fought Nieky Holzken back in 2010, which being five years ago a lot has changed since then. Both men were sort of lost without a place to showcase their skills. Murthel jumped around in weight classes for years just to find fights and Nieky’s team had to really scrape anything they could together to keep Nieky busy. Fighting at Lightweight didn’t work out for Holzken and unlike fighters who now reside in middleweight and light heavyweight, the jump to heavyweight was simply too large for him.
We always knew that Nieky was a special talent, but until he had a weight class to himself with a solid division it wasn’t clear just how damned good he really is. Murthel, on the other hand, has been up and down throughout his career. He has a lot of power for a lightweight and at welterweight he has speed. He seems to have settled into welterweight now and once again he’s on a collision course with Nieky Holzken. Things for Murthel have looked rather up-and-down over the past few years, where for Holzken he seems to be in the prime of his career and difficult to touch.
I like Holzken for this fight. He’s technical, in fact, one of the most technical boxers in the entire sport, and he’s patient, something that you can’t say for a lot of kickboxers. Murthel did win that last tournament, but just before then he lost to Sugden and throughout that last tournament I’m not sure that I felt overly confident in Murthel. Holzken should win this, but Murthel’s power, ring prowess and fight IQ are all big variables. What I do know is that this should be the most entertaining bout on the card.