GLORY 26: Amsterdam 12/4/15 Amsterdam, NL Amsterdam RAI
Anatoly Moiseev vs. Teo Mikelic 3R. Both fighters were missing early & often, but Moiseev was a better athlete, and he capitalized on that with quicker combos & better movement in & out of the pocket. The first round was close, but Moiseev scored a knockdown in the 2nd with a left hook counter to take control. Mikelic was aggressive throughout & landing low kicks early, but had a hard time being successful once he had to press because he was down on the cards. I was surprised 1 judge gave Mikelic a round, but he performed admirably; he was simply in with a superior fighter. Moiseev won a unanimous decision. Above average match.
Stefano Bruno vs. Hosam Radwan R2 2:37. A very action packed fight except for late in the 1st when they were sucking wind from the fast start. These two didn't have as much technique or movement as the previous match, but they were really trying hard to impress, & it was an intense, action packed fight. Bruno was getting inside & landing some impressive knees. Both men scored near (or should have been) knockdowns within the 1st minute. Bruno landed the majority of the strikes in the 1st, and connected big a minute into the 2nd with a left knee/right cross for a delayed knockdown. Bruno followed up well, but the ref somehow missed Radwan dropping to a knee after a left hook, which was just baffling. Bruno should have won via the 3 knockdown rule a minute later, but luckily the ref simply stopped the fight. Ultimately, this was rather one-sided but highly entertaining contest. Good match.
Vittorio Iermano vs. Samir Boukhidous R2 2:30. Not a super eventful match. Iermano was the better puncher & Boukhidous was the better kicker, with the knees being about even. Iermano landed a few more shots overall, but it was a knee that opened up a nasty cut that lead to the immediate stoppage. Below average match.
Danyo Ilunga vs. Artem Vakhitov 3R. A really good, competitive fight. Ilunga began utilizing his reach advantage, and was scoring with low kicks from distance, but Vakhitov had quick and powerful hands and took over on the first good punch he connected with. Vakhitov was just unloading on Ilunga with Ilunga trapped on the ropes, but Ilunga managed to hang in there despite taking a flurry of clean punches. Ilunga fought smarter to start the 2nd, using kicks on the outside to set up closing on his terms with knees, and avoiding boxing as much as possible. Round 1 was arguably a 10-8 round for Vakhitov, but Ilunga really stepped up his ring generalship & technical kickboxing in the 2nd & 3rd. Vakhitov's punching, especially his uppercuts, were the most damaging technique in the fight, but Vakhitov really wasn't able to use kicks, & ultimately the rangier fighter tends to win when they use it well & are able/allowed to fight at their distance. I had it 29-28 Ilunga, because he was considerably more active and generally more technically skilled & better conditioned, but it could easily have been a draw or 29-28 Vakhitov. Apparently, the judges preferred Vakhitov's power and accuracy, both of which were quite impressive with Vakhitov landing 52% en route to the unanimous decision. Very good match.
GLORY Featherweight Title Match: Gabriel Varga vs. Serhiy Adamchuk 5R. Adamchuk was very much straight in & straight out, and Varga was just walking him down. Varga regularly landed a single lead roundhouse kick, and had Adamchuk on the ropes, basically turning him into a counter puncher. Varga's face was cut up badly, but that was from Adamchuk leading with his head. Adamchuk increasingly turned it into a brawl, doing a lot of holding. Basically the fight became, Varga comes in with a shot, Adamchuk tries to counter, and then clinches without actually throwing a knee until the ref finally breaks them up. Adamchuk landed a solid shot here & there, but for the most part, his answer to Varga's fight was to cease the fight with his hugging. For me, that alone was enough to give Varga the rounds because Varga was at least trying to fight. Nonetheless, at some point, Varga probably should have switched to a more mid-range or distance style rather than constantly walking into Adamchuk's overhooks, but I felt Adamchuk was basically just fighting cheaply when he fought. Somehow Adamchuck was never docked a point for clinching due to the poor reffing of Stefano Valente, & to make things worse, the judges found 3 rounds that he won, so his non fighting was rewarded over a guy who at least kept coming in trying to make something happen. I could somewhat see this as a fight where no one really won any of the rounds, but that just makes it all the more baffling that the title changed hands here. Poor match.
Welterweight Contender Tournament Semifinals
Murthel Groenhart vs. Nicola Gallo R2. A glorified sparring session for Murthel. Groenhart wasn't mugging Gallo, but he was literally the only one landing any shots, to the point that Gallo only landed 1/25 in R1. Groenhart controlled the distance, utilizing his big reach advantage & closing in for knees & body work when he saw fit. Let's just narrow it down here, Groenhart controlled every other aspect of the fight as well. He dictated with his high pace attacking style, and although he wasn't looking great, he was doing a superb job of making Gallo look absolutely awful. Gallo was cut horribly between the eyes early in round 2 from a knee, and the doctor put Gallo out of his misery, waiving it off as soon as she saw it. Average match.
Yoann Kongolo vs. Karim Ghajji 3R. Referee Valenti ruled a knockdown for Ghajji on an openhand right hook swat that clearly just caused Kongolo to slip. This fired Kongolo up, & made him fight desperately, leading to some heated, winging heavy handed exchanges, though both were mostly missing. Had it not been for the "knockdown" the fight would have been pretty even, as Kongolo had more volume, but Ghajji was more accurate. Kongolo won the 2nd round, and the 3rd round was close, but probably advantage Kongolo. This made things complicated, as due to the bogus knockdown, the fight was probably 28-28. 2 of the judges had it 29-27 Ghajji, which wasn't a bad decision given how close the 3rd round was. It was a really tough, hard fought fight that made Groenhart the favorite in the final because Ghajji had to put so much into it to get through. Good match.
Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Josh Jauncey 3R. I've never seen a fighter who understands the distance and the angles the way Petrosyan does. I mean, it's almost hard to see why he's unhittable because he's in range and he's landing his own shots, but just the subtleties of position & movement & his amazing balance kept Jauncey from almost ever connecting & Petrosyan landing the one and only available shot. Petrosyan did such a great job of mixing his attacks up, not only keeping a balance between punches & kicks, but finding a way to target the area his angle exposed while still not being available for return fire. Petrosyan has the reputation of being a defensive fighter, but this wasn't defensive in terms of staying away & running, Petrosyan was in the pocket the majority of the fight & throwing at a pretty high rate, he simply wasn't getting hit back anyway. Petrosyan was just running away with this, outlanding Jauncey almost 5-1 & busting his right eye up. Jauncey was outclassed against his childhood hero, but didn't give up & did a good job of making it entertaining. In the end, the biggest surprise was Jauncey managed to land 19%. Above average match.
Welterweight Contender Tournament Final: Murthel Groenhart vs. Karim Ghajji 3R. One of the best GLORY matches of 2015, especially considering the effort, heart, & generally crazy pace they were able to keep despite having fought earlier. Groenhart used his reach to work the left jab early then closed the distance and landed some good clubbing short downward right hooks in a flurry to drop Ghajji. Groenhart just blitzed Ghajji for the remaining minute plus of the 1st, landing more good short hooks & a couple jump knees. Ghajji was lucky the ref gave him a break when his mouthpiece conveniently popped out, but I'm still surprised he didn't at least get put down a 2nd time. Groenhart put everything he had into getting the finish, & then some, making it a truly excellent, albeit one-sided action packed round. Groenhart started the 2nd round the way the first ended, and while he landed some powerful shots, at this point he was firing wildly too often, & trying to sustain such a ridiculous pace while firing at that power began to catch up to him when he couldn't actually finish. Groenhart continued fighting on the inside after he'd clearly slowed down rather than backing out & going back to moving & jabbing, and this allowed Ghajji, who had barely had a moment to breath much less fire back, to finally get into the match. Ghajji didn't come back enough to take the 2nd in my opinion (the judges disagreed), but he was clearly in with a chance & the fresher fighter going into the 3rd. Groenhart recovered well, & came out strong with his knees to start the 3rd, but Ghajji had a good segment landing punches with Groenhart's back against the ropes. This was really a hell of an effort from both, & even though the statistics were completely lopsided in Groenhart's favor, you believed Ghajji had a chance to at the very least get a knockdown in the 2nd half. Groenhart won a unanimous decision. Very good match.
GLORY Lightweight Title Match: Robin van Roosmalen vs. Sittichai Sitsongpeenong 5R. Sitsongpeenong did a nice job of keeping the right jab out to hold van Roosmalen at bay & maintain the distance for one of his own punishing left kicks. Sitsongpeenong wasn't actually landing any of these jabs, but as long as he kept van Roosmalen on the outside, he was able to comprehensively outpoint him with his kicks. This isn't the comment I'd expect to target Van Roosmalen with, but he needed to be more aggressive, and not allow Sitsongpeenong to just sit back relaxed & fight his fight. Van Roosmalen put on some muscle for this fight, but it wasn't helping him, as it was adding to Sitsongpeenong's quickness advantage, and at the same time, van Roosmalen wasn't sitting down & throwing with near his usual power either. Technically, van Roosmalen actually outlanded Sitsongpeenong 82-67 with Sitsongpeenong dominating in the kicking department & van Roosmalen running away in the punching department, but with Robin's punches lacking the impact we've come to expect from him, mostly because he was always a little out of distance, that advantage actually didn't translate the way one would expect. Sitsongpeenong fought his fight, and always seemed totally in command. It was simply a very effortless performance from him. Sitsongpeenong should have become the 1st Thai champion in GLORY, but the judges all had it 48-47 van Roosmalen. I was rooting for Robin, who is 1 of my favorites in GLORY, but I thought it was 1 of his worst performances ever, partially because of how uninspired his gameplan was but mostly because Sitsongpeenong executed so well that Robin could never get going. Van Roosmalen fought his opponent's fight because his opponent was better & forced him to do so, and he won no more than a round in my opinion. For me, this result was the exact opposite of the Varga fight, where Varga didn't do much but still was the one making what fight there was, so it was all the more puzzling that the title changed hand there but not here. Above average match.