Today in China, GLORY co-founder Scott Rudmann got up in front of a crowd of Chinese media and fighting industry insiders to officially announce GLORY 57 Shenzen’s main event would be Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong taking on Marat Grigorian for a fourth time, once again for the GLORY Lightweight Championship. The press conference felt bigger than most of the ones that happen in the west, with a huge video screen in place, a translator on hand to speak directly to the Chinese crowd and the fighters being treated as special guests.
The announcement won’t come as a shock to GLORY fans, who have seen Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong sit at the top of the GLORY lightweight division for years now, with Marat Grigorian always a clear number two, even with two losses in GLORY to the champion thus far. At GLORY 57 a third time’s a charm?
What was interesting was the justification for Marat’s title challenge included his resume outside of the GLORY ring over the last few years, including Rudmann talking about his Kunlun Fight tournament victory, including a win over consensus number-one lightweight (at the time) Superbon Banchamek in the finals. Rudmann spoke with us last year about GLORY entering the Chinese market and was dismissive of some of the other organizations in China at the time. It was interesting because the promotion also tends to ignore Rico Verhoeven’s loss in Kunlun Fight years prior to Anderei Gerasimachuk, although the promotion has tried to retain him for a rematch within the GLORY ring to no avail.
There was also talk of Marat’s K-1 Japan tournament victory to hammer home his credentials.
On top of that it was announced that there would be a one-night, eight-man tournament held at the event, featuring all Chinese talent at lightweight. The names involved were not disclosed, but it will be interesting to see who they pick up, or if this is more of a talent-building expedition for GLORY, who are looking to get a foothold in the region through building up GLORY China as its own entity that runs somewhat autonomously with its own talent. We’ve seen this idea of building up local talent work quite well for promotions like Kunlun Fight, EM Legend, Glory of Heroes and others in the region. K-1 Global made an attempt at this before ultimately withdrawing from the region and leaving their homegrown talent to sign with other promotions.
We’ll have more on GLORY 57 when it’s available. GLORY 57 Shenzen takes place on August 25th at Shenzen Bay Stadium. You can watch the press conference below.
UPDATE: Here are the tournament brackets.
(No. 1) Liu Xu vs. Junchen Zhao
(No. 2) Tiehan Xu vs. Chao Wang
(No. 3) Li Deng vs. Alimu
(No. 4) Lei Feng vs. Wensheng Zhang