Davit Kiria (22-9-0, 7 KO’s) won the World Lightweight Championship at GLORY 14 ZAGREB in May after staging a ‘Comeback of the Century’ performance against Andy Ristie (42-4-1, 20 KO’s), enduring several rounds of hell from the Suriname man only to knock him out in the fifth and final frame.
Now the karate stylist is preparing for battle once more. He is set to face longtime rival Robin van Roosmalen (32-6-0, 19 KO’s) in the main event of GLORY 18: RETURN TO GLORY on Friday, November 7 in Oklahoma, USA.
“I originally asked for a rematch with Giorgio Petrosyan but there were some injury issues and now Robin is my first challenger. It doesn’t make any difference to me really, I still prepare to win and I never give up,” Kiria says.
“He deserves the fight. He’s at the top of the rankings and it’s not easy to get there. The only other opponents I would have preferred would have been Ristie or Petrosyan. Those three are the main three contenders, I think.”
Kiria and Van Roosmalen have fought twice before. The first match took place in Russia in 2011, the second in November’s GLORY 12 NEW YORK lightweight tournament. Van Roosmalen was the winner by decision in both bouts.
With a background in Ashihara Karate – which developed from Kyokoshin Karate – Kiria is well used to tournaments and hard fighting. But his first fight with Van Roosmalen took place not long after he had crossed over into kickboxing and he doesn’t feel he was anywhere near to being the fighter he is now.
“When I first fought Robin I hadn’t really had many fights in kickboxing. Two weeks previously I had fought in Thailand as well, so I had some injuries and there was some effect from jetlag because of the long flights,” he says.
“At that time and in that situation it was the best I could do, but now I have improved a lot and can do a lot more. So with this fight I have two reasons to win: one, keep the title and two, revenge on Robin. So I’m going to do my best.”
In a recent interview Van Roosmalen talked about Kiria and praised his come-forward style. Van Roosmalen is a fighter who likes to press ahead and get stuck in; Kiria is the same. In their previous two encounters they met in the middle of the ring and pretty much stayed there.
This third match between them has the potential to play out the same way, although Kiria is a member of that school of thought which believes Van Roosmalen could do with occasionally knocking the rust off of his ‘reverse’ gear.
“I think Robin comes forward too much and it would actually be better for him to move more. But he’s right, there is truth in what he says about me. We have a similar approach – we don’t take a backwards step,” he says.
“But I think against me he will have to change that. Every fight is different, with some surprises for the opponent and the fans. They can expect the same this time, so keep watching.
“I’ve watched my last fight with Robin and I can see many mistakes that I made. That’s what I have been working on with my coaches. I have the best trainers and I trust them to secure victory for me against Robin and everyone else.”
Kiria also sees an advantage in the fight being five-rounds rather than the standard three. Against Ristie at GLORY 14 he suffered three rounds of hell, including being knocked down for the first time in his career, before rallying in the fourth and finishing him in the fifth.
“It was the only time in my career I ever got knocked down and as far as I am concerned it will be the last. You can never say never but I do know that it is very hard to knock me out,” he smiles.
“I have very good conditioning and in every round I work harder and harder. That makes a five-round fight [play to] my advantage and that is why I am at the top of the hill.”
Missed the Kiria vs Ristie fight from GLORY 14 ZAGREB or just want to relive the madness? GLORY has released the full version in HD on its official YouTube channel:
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