This Friday, November 7, Glory returns to action with Glory 18: Return to Glory. The world’s top kickboxing organization is back with a title fight headlined show live from Oklahoma. Glory 18 airs live on Spike TV this Friday, November 7 with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET. Bloody Elbow will have live fight night coverage, and to get ready for the show, we have you covered with our fight by fight previews.
GLORY LIGHTWEIGHT WORLD TITLE: DAVIT KIRIA (C) vs. #2 ROBIN VAN ROOSMALEN
This main event is an exciting one, as it features two of the best in the world in one of kickboxing’s elite divisions. Champion Davit Kiria looks to make the first ever title defense of the Glory Lightweight crown as he takes on Robin van Roosmalen – a man who already holds a 2-0 record over the champ.
Kiria (22-9 Overall; 5-3 Glory) is an interesting and, in some ways, unlikely, champion. A relative unknown before making his Glory debut, Kiria made a big impression at Glory 1, upsetting the heavily favored Kem Sitsongpeenong. He followed that up with good wins over the likes of Murthel Groenhart and Shemsi Beqiri, losing only to the great Giorgio Petrosyan. Then, at Glory 12, Kiria entered the stacked Lightweight tournament, facing Robin van Roosmalen in the semifinal round. That fight was a rematch of a 2011 battle that saw Roosmalen emerge victorious via unanimous decision. And in New York, the result was the same: Roosmalen, UD. That night also saw Andy Ristie rise to glory, defeating both Roosmalen and Petrosyan in a single evening.
When, a few months later, it was time to crown a Glory Lightweight champion, Ristie was an obvious fighter to include. On the other side, Kiria got the call up, partly due to the simple fact that he was the best Glory Lightweight to not have been recently KO’d by Ristie. At Glory 14 they met, and a Ristie crowning seemed to be a foregone conclusion. Through four rounds, it was. Then, in round 5, Kiria pulled off one of the most incredible comebacks you will see in combat sports, knocking Ristie out and claiming the first ever Glory title.
Despite that impressive win, and despite walking to the ring in Oklahoma with the belt around his waist, Kiria is the underdog here. That’s because of those two losses to Roosmalen, and simply because of all Roosmalen brings to the ring.
Roosmalen (32-6 Overall; 8-2 Glory) had been rising steadily up the ranks in the Netherlands for a number of years, but it was his 2011 tournament win for It’s Showtime that cemented his superstar status. That tournament took place at a time when K-1 was in hibernation, and served as a de facto Grand Prix for 2011, featuring most of the best Lightweights in the world (though, notably, not Petrosyan). Roosmalen defeated three men including Artur Kyshenko to stake his claim as one of the world’s best. Since then, he’s consistently fought the very best in the world, only suffering three losses along the way (a flukey cut stoppage, plus losses to Petrosyan and Ristie in Glory). Since his Glory 12 tournament loss, he’s 1-0 with a win over the excellent and vastly underrated Marat Grigorian.
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Both men have a similar style in many ways. They are both happiest when they can come forward and blast you with heavy shots. Yet there’s a difference to the style of power attack each man employs. For Kiria, it’s all about exploding with heavy single shots. He’s prone to moving forward, stopping, planting his feet, and throwing a bomb with bad intentions. He walks his opponents down, cornering them and stepping into the range where he wants to be fighting. Roosmalen, while also favoring that straight forward power attack, is more varied in his approach. Where Kiria will throw the heavy single shots, Roosmalen will throw a multi-shot combo. And in those combinations, he will use a wide array of strikes, mixing in punches and seriously heavy kicks up and down the body and on both sides – it’s very hard to know where a Roosmalen attack is going. He also will attack on the move in a way you don’t see from Kiria; for Roosmalen, the attacks come fast and furious at all times, as contrasted to a more methodical attack from Kiria.
Just as both men prefer to push forward, both also struggle a bit when their opponents stop them from dictating the pace. Ristie did this effectively against both – using his reach to push them back and getting them off their games. Grigorian allowed Roosmalen to come forward, but kept countering as he did advance, finding a lot of success with those counter shots.
In their previous Glory fight, neither man was much able to move forward, and the end result was a fight contested more at Kiria’s slightly slower pace. But that pace ended up favoring Roosmalen, as both men engaged in a lot of “you strike, I strike” exchanges. In those exchanges, Roosmalen used a faster pace, more varied attack, and higher volume in his combos to simply outland and ultimately outpoint Kiria.
And that is the problem facing Davit Kiria here. Styles make fights, and while these two men are very equal in terms of their accomplishments, Roosmalen’s style gives Kiria problems. If they fight similarly to how they both tend to fight, it will be a Roosmalen win. What Kiria needs is to make some adjustments. Specifically, he needs to get off first and not allow himself to get drawn into a back and forth war of attrition with Roosmalen. If he can pick up the pace, get his shots in first, and counter Roosmalen, he can win this. But it will take a change of pace for Kiria, and it’s not one I am fully confident he can pull off. Instead, look for Roosmalen to keep up the pressure, use those great hooks to the slightly exposed body of Kiria (Kiria has a great high guard with his hands, but that can leave the body vulnerable) and outwork the champion. The added dimension of 5 rounds could provide Kiria with a chance, as he clearly showed against Ristie, but Roosmalen will likely have learned from that fight, and will pace himself well enough to survive any late push.
Prediction: Robin van Roosmalen by decision
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