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Has the Lightweight Division Passed Petrosyan By?

Whenever someone – probably more likely an athlete than a postmaster – disappears for an extended period of time (via injury or otherwise), they inevitably face on their return directly or indirectly questions of whether they still have it, has the competition passed them by, were they really as good as we thought they were.

After Petroysan’s last Glory appearance concluded with him in perfect position for a snow angel, it is difficult not to contemplate, especially since he veered so close to invincibility. It is the breeding ground of speculation - as soon as things tumble out of an order, the gates open up.

Yet, behind these questions seems to be more than just the usual hysteria. Dave elucidated several key observations in his article Wednesday, “the Return of the King.” In his first two bouts back, the basic framework of Petrosyan’s genius was present, except the speed and rhythm that once governed it did not reflect its previous form, giving his opposition an unusual opportunity, to hit him. 

Regression rarely does one wonders and if he is not just working his way back, it is reasonable, not outrageous, to consider Petrosyan potentially assuming a different role in the new iteration of the lightweight division rather than the kingpin.  It may not even matter with the emergence of Josh Jauncey, his opponent tonight, and Sittichai Sittsongpeeong, van Roosmalen’s opponent tonight for the Glory Lightweight Championship, who are unique and pose challenges unlike many of his former foes. 

They’re also younger and witnessed the dissolution of the myth; the fatal uppercut that felled him like a tree cleared to make room for another suburban oasis that may be replanted somewhere else but could hardly be expected to be the same again. In their eyes, he is not the fighter van Roosmalen or Kiria battled, whether he actually still is or not. 

He never will be. 

Questions have to be asked because they’re the only way to the answer. 

At some point, though, they become like annoying contest winners who get the chance to walk the red carpet or escort their favorite artist onstage and they get caught within the crossbeams of excitement and acting as if they do this every day, to the point they almost detach themselves from the experience of living it.

Does Petrosyan still have it? Has the lightweight division passed him by? Was he ever as good as we thought he was?

Giorgio Petrosyan, formerly of the awe-inspiring 71-1-1 record, will return today at Glory 25 against Josh Jauncey, with the questions assuredly in tow, probably dancing off-beat to his entrance music. 

With luck they will get too handsy with someone at ringside and have to leave, at which point we can just enjoy the fight.

It is Giorgio Petrosyan.


Kountermove Your Best Bet for GLORY 25

GLORY 25 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting GLORY events of the year, featuring a top-to-bottom stacked card headlined by the GLORY Lightweight Championship being on the line between champion Robin van Roosmalen and challenger Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong. Oh yeah, and the co-headliner? That’s Giorgio Petrosyan returning to the GLORY ring to take on GLORY’s up-and-comer from Canada in Josh Jauncey.

Oh yeah, and ESPN will be playing GLORY 25 live at 4pm on ESPN3 and airing it on ESPN2 later on at 1:30am thanks to a last minute deal that GLORY was able to put together with ESPN this week. Pretty cool, right?

So of course Kountermove is getting in on this. How could they not? Those two Lightweight battles alone are a huge deal, then there is the Welterweight contender tournament where the winner gets a shot at Nieky Holzken at GLORY 26. Even the undercard is stacked, the SuperFight Series headlined by GLORY Featherweight Champion Gabriel Varga facing tough challenger Serhiy Adamchuk in what should be a tremendous battle.

Let’s get down to brass tacks here; Kountermove is running a bunch of games for GLORY 25 and you are looking for some insight into these fights. Here’s how I’m seeing it right now.

Easy Money

Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong ($5000) -- What is this? Betting against the champion, especially one like Robin van Roosmalen who has proven himself time and time again, including a win over Andy Ristie? On the surface this might seem like blasphemy, especially for fans who have seen van Roosmalen fight before. He is, without a doubt, one of the best in the division, so betting against him should never be easy money.

The thing here is that Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong is not only really good, he’s downright incredible. He made former GLORY Lightweight Champion Davit Kiria look like a chump in a tournament bout, knocking Kiria out with a knee to the body that put him down and out. Davit Kiria had literally never been knocked out before. Ever. Kiria is known as being one of the toughest guys in the division and win, lose or draw not the type to go down to anything, but he went down to Sitthichai’s knee and body-kick heavy style.

Simply put, Sitthichai’s style is the type that gives Dutch style fights a lot of trouble and Robin van Roosmalen is the posterboy for the Dutch style in the division right now. Sitthichai’s ability to sneak knees through defenses and to throw aggressive, heavy body kicks until his opponent’s arms are sore enough to be unable to defend with them anymore is enough to cause anyone problems.

The Underdog

Artem Vakhitov ($4400) -- Danyo Ilunga is great fighter and he’s proven himself time and time again. The thing is, I’m never quite sure that Danyo Ilunga is living up to his full potential in the ring. Somewhere along the way he showed amazing skill, technique and ring awareness throughout his career, but outside of a few bouts he’s never really been able to piece it all together to become the champion that he could be.

Both Ilunga and Vakhitov have recent losses to the newly-crowned GLORY Light Heavyweight Champion, Saulo Cavalari, but Vakhitov showed a lot more against Cavalari and some even saw him winning that fight. Vakhitov has fought against some of the best in the world and his only losses are to the likes of Simon Marcus, Artem Levin, Alexander Stetsurenko and of late, Saulo Cavalari. Each one of those names is one of the bigger names in the kickboxing world right now, all but Cavalari choosing to compete in Middleweight as opposed to Light Heavyweight. Vakhitov has simply shown more in the past few years and feels like the more complete fighter than Ilunga does at present time.

Too Close to Call

Giorgio Petrosyan ($4800) vs. Josh Jauncey ($4800) -- Petrosyan vs. Jauncey is a battle of youth vs. experience and everything that comes with that. Petrosyan ruled over the Lightweight division with an iron fist for many years before Andy Ristie knocked him out back in 2012. Petrosyan has been riddled with injuries over the past few years, most notably his right hand. That right hand seems to get injured in just about every fight and many are wondering if Petrosyan’s day might have come and gone by now.

Jauncey has shown a lot of fire, skill and that he is a very adaptable fighter. His lone loss inside of the GLORY ring is to Sitthichai, but in a tournament setting preparing for a fresher Sitthichai is a tall task. Jauncey was the one who called for this fight, so it seems that he feels ready for the challenge that Petrosyan brings to him -- especially in Italy of all places.

Petrosyan hasn’t looked exactly the same in his three bouts since his return earlier this year, but that could have just been ring rust. The reality here is that whomever wins this fight will hold an immediate claim to challenge for the title. The pressure is all on Petrosyan here, who is in front of a hometown audience looking to prove himself to the world once again and show that he’s still the same fighter that won three huge, prestigious tournaments to become the most dominant fighter of this generation.

The Rest

Welterweight Tournament -- I almost placed Karim Ghajji ($4900) as my underdog pick for this card here because I feel that he’s my early favorite heading into this tournament. His first fight is against Yoann Kongolo ($5300) and Kongolo’s GLORY debut is still fresh in the minds of many. Yeah, he looked good and yeah, Ghajji’s three previous GLORY fights are all losses, but you know what? He went back to the drawing board and he’s on a crazy seven-fight win streak right now outside of GLORY, including a win over one of the top fighters in GLORY’s Welterweight division in Alexander Stetsurenko, the last man that he lost to at GLORY 13 back in 2013.

Murthel Groenhart ($5200) seems to have himself a clear path to the finals against Nicola Gallo ($4700), but he just didn’t look great in his last fight against Chad Sugden and while I see him getting past Gallo, I’m not sure how he handles Ghajji. That being said, either Ghajji or Murthel could easily take this tournament without much surprise.

Featherweight Championship -- Gabriel Varga ($4900) is the favorite here against Serhiy Adamchuk ($4700) but not by much. This fight is pretty close to being “too close to call,” but at the same time Varga has shown very little holes in his game. Adamchuk has been incredibly impressive in his last two GLORY bouts, but Gabriel Varga’s style is the kind that can give any fighter trouble.


Badr Hari Announces Retirement

If today wasn't crazy enough, right? 

Badr Hari posted on social media yesterday that he was going to shock the world today and after losing a long legal battle in the Netherlands last week it appears that Badr Hari is ready to hang up the gloves after one last fight. Hari's announced retirement comes in the face of an increasingly difficult market for freelance fighters like Hari. To get the money that he's been asking for he's been forced to fight on the fringes in bigger shows organized primarily with him as the sole focus, but that has come at a cost of public image. Badr Hari's only truly relevant opponent in the past few years has been Ismael Londt, with Londt dropping Hari once before Hari recovered and knocked him out. 

Facing more jail time and a difficulty finding fights this seems like the right move for the Moroccan, who claims that he wants to have one last fight this year and for it to take place in his home country of Morocco. Hari said today that he would like to retire to spend more time with his young daughter. [source]


New Year's Eve Just Got Real: Masato vs. KID Yamamoto Rematch

Rizin FF on New Year's Eve has had the eyes of the MMA world since they first announced their event, being headlined by Fedor Emelianenko on New Year's Eve. While that is, indeed, a huge deal, what was announced today has a direct impact on the Japanese audiences by putting together one of the biggest fights that you could put together in Japan. That fight is KID Yamamoto vs. Masato in a 5 round kickboxing fight under the banner of KYOKUGEN on TBS.

One night only.

KID Yamamoto, who is currently under contract to Zuffa/UFC, will be allowed to participate in this event under some strange act of god, while Masato has agreed to return to the ring one last time against KID Yamamoto, whom he defeated in 2004 at Dynamite!! in a three-round kickboxing bout. Let's just hope there isn't a crazy low blow this time. [source]


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