June 21st, 2014 is a night that kickboxing fans will be talking about for quite some time. Glory 17, even though it ended up being a 6 hour event, at no point did I feel this was too much. They did a great job of making us look forward to the next fight even more than the last. Now, I am going to be brutally honest and give my opinions on all the things I enjoyed, and things I didn't on one of the most exciting 6 hours in combat sports.
So, the show started with the analyst desk consisting of Michael "The Voice" Schiavello, Stepen Quadros, and Remy Bonjasky. This is a very knowledgeable group of people but we barely heard from them, instead we had to listen to Duke Roufus and Ron Kruck constantly talk about either previous fights, history, or themselves. For some reason they always seem to ignore the fight that is happening and talk about the fighters past fights, or trainers and so on. I mean that is fine to do when there is a lull in the action to keep the viewers informed and educated, but when action is happening i would like the commentators to talk about the fight. I feel that if they could have maybe used the analyst desk as the commentators this event could have been pretty much perfect. I always favor Shiavello when it comes to kickboxing commentary, being that he is a true fan, knows all the fighters inside and out, talks accurately about what is happening in the fight, and he knows how to excite us and make us laugh. As for Remy Bonjasky this would have been the first time I've heard him commentate, but he is intelligent and well spoken, not to mention one of the best heavyweight kickboxers ever and usually its great when real fighters commentate, for example Roy Jones Jr. on HBO.
Enough about Kruck and Roufus, and more about the people that matter, the fighters. Everyone fought their heart out for Glory last night. The first fight on Spike TV was Canadian Gabriel Varga Vs. Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai from Thailand. Varga has been training with us in Surrey, B.C a little bit for the last few weeks so I know how good he is, and what he is capable of. When the fight started and Sitmonchai instantly interrupted Varga's combos with his own punches and Varga kept throwing very slow telegraphed spinning back fists, and back kicks, I began to get worried. But Varga did what Varga does best and kept grinding Sitmonchai down, until it seemed like the Thai was either tired or just lazy, he just stopped throwing anything even tho he had Varga's leg purple and swollen, thus earning Varga the win and moving onto the Finals of the Featherweight Contender Tournament.
Next fight put American Shane Oblonsky against Brazilian Marcus Vinicius, this was a strange fight because Vinicius actually threw zero kicks. He just tried to box Oblonsky's face off with big looping punches considering he was 7 inches shorter, he landed quite a few big punches, but Oblonsky's chin held up and he was constantly landing his big right hand leading to two knockdowns which moved him on to the Finals to face Varga.
Andy Ristie made short work of Ky Hollenbeck and honestly didn't even look like he was trying yet. He landed his signature step in right hand, then followed it with a stiff left jab/hook type punch then just watched as Hollenbeck wobbled and dropped his right hand, and landed a big left hook on the chin to end the fight in the first round. It was nice to see Ristie actually calm down and watch to land that last punch, he does hit ridiculously hard though, even without effort.
Now onto the Final of the Glory 4 man featherweight contender tournament and this fight was a war. Once again Varga came out with his tight defense and started wearing out Oblonsky, but Shane's technique was much tighter and cleaner in this fight than his last. Varga carried on pressing forward, keeping a high pace but he would sometimes break up the rhythm by throwing a spinning technique which really never landed, they were much too slow, every time he tried one I found myself hoping it was the last, and that he would use his energy into just beating on Oblonsky with leg kicks. In the last round both fighter's had very sore left legs, but neither of them decided to kick it nearly enough until Gabriel started smashing it in the last 30 seconds, which gave Gabriel Varga the hard earned unanimous decision victory, the Glory featherweight contender belt, and secured himself a spot in the Glory featherweight world title tournament.
Last fight on the Spike TV portion of the card was the 39 year old legend Mirko CroCop against the 274lbs, 24 year old Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller. I had high hopes for Miller in this fight, he has looked amazing in his last few professional boxing fights and I figured his hands would just be too good for CroCop. Truth is Millers hands very well may have been too good for the Croatian, if he actually threw them. Big baby decided he was going to kick, clinch, and knee the entire fight, which is basically CroCop's specialty. At one point Miller did land one knee that looked like it hurt CroCop but referee Big John McCarthy called it a low blow, replays showed otherwise in my eyes. It wasn't the most exciting fight, but still entertaining with the chance that Mirko could land his trademark left high kick at any point, and a few came very close to knocking Miller's head into the crowd. Mirko CroCop got the deserving unanimous decision putting an end to the controversy of his last fight with Big Baby.