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. Here, it’s a look at the Light Heavyweight contender tournament.
SEMIFINAL: #8 BRIAN COLLETTE vs. ZACK MWEKASSA
In this semifinal, you have two men coming off of huge Glory KOs, though one was of a significantly higher profile. Zack Mwekassa (11-1 Overall, 1-0 Glory) was a complete unknown heading into his Glory debut against Pat Barry earlier this year. In the lead up to the fight, many wrote him off as a can brought in to prop up Barry. Nope. Mwekassa turned heads with his one round assault of Barry, knocking the popular MMA veteran cold with a gorgeous uppercut. That KO brought him big attention, and his incredible story of survival in war-torn Africa only adds to his rapidly rising stature as a kickboxer worth watching.
Brian Collette (21-2 Overall; 2-1 Glory) was last seen in Glory in the Superfight Series in New York. There, he scored an absolutely gorgeous headkick KO over Warren Thompson – though few have seen it. Collette has good regional experience and a nice string of impressive KOs on his resume. His only two losses both come against the same opponent – fellow Glory fighter Dustin Jacoby.
Mwekassa comes to this fight having competed primarily in boxing as a pro. As a result, he’s far more reliant on his hands – and to good effect. Mwekassa packs big power into his punches. He’s also fearless with those hands and is much more inclined to punch his way out of trouble than cover up and circle away. He’s composed, has a good chin, and will pour on the pressure with heavy shots in a brawl. He also does have a good kickboxing background, having trained with the late legend Mike Bernardo in South Africa.
Collette is not a flashy fighter for the most part, but he does possess good, simple technique. He’s a more deliberate fighter who will set things up, then throw the heavy power shots. One area where he does get flashy is that kick he showed against Thompson – a picture perfect headkick thrown from the clinch. It’s a brutal technique, and what makes it even more impressive is that Collette has used it for the KO more than once in his career.
While Collette does have the experience edge in kickboxing, this is a tough match up for him. His more deliberate, slower style makes his shots easy to see coming and leaves him open for counters – Jacoby was able to get through his defenses often. In particular, Jacoby had success when the pace picked up and they started really mixing it up – the exact style of fight where Mwekassa thrives. Look for Mwekassa to replicate Jacoby’s success, but add in the power to end things.
Prediction: Zack Mwekassa by KO
SEMIFINAL: #1 DANYO ILUNGA vs. #3 SAULO CAVALARI
The Glory rankings have Danyo Ilunga (56-5 Overall; 6-1 Glory) at #1 in the division, behind only champion Gokhan Saki, and for good reason. Ilunga has been one of the best in the division for some time, but he’s really excelled since making the move over to Glory, scoring a number of impressive stoppage wins. His lone Glory loss came against Tyrone Spong at Glory 9 in a ridiculously early stoppage. A Remy Bonjasky trainee, Ilunga is a former It’s Showtime champion who has been fighting and beating the world’s best Light Heavyweights for the past four years. He’s the easy tournament favorite here.
But Saulo Cavalari (28-2 Overall; 2-1 Glory), is no pushover. Hailing from Curitiba, Brazil, Cavalari came to Glory after looking very strong on the Brazilian scene. He brutally KO’d Mourad Bouzidi at the Glory Superfight Series at Glory 12, earning a spot in the Glory 15 Light Heavyweight title tournament where he dropped a decision to Spong.
In the ring, Cavalari’s greatest asset is his speed. He has very fast hands, and mixes his combos up with a pace that befuddles opponents. As you would expect from any Curitiba fighter, he pours the pressure on early, coming out swinging to try and use that speed to establish an early advantage. He has a pretty tight guard, but he leaves himself open to counter shots – Spong’s point victory was significantly aided by his ability to land the clean counter.
By contrast, Ilunga more favors the kicks and knees. In particular, he has a fantastic step in knee to the body that he uses very effectively to get inside. Once inside, he’s surprisingly good at the inside clinch brawl – an area where you might normally expect to find a deficiency in a more technical fighter like Ilunga. Ilunga has a nice KO ratio, but those KOs come less from raw power and more from his ability to see the opening and land the perfectly placed clean shot.
While he is the obvious favorite here, there are some holes in Ilunga’s game. He can be a slow starter, and it’s possible to hit him with punches. Both of those weaknesses play right into the strengths of Cavalari, so an upset is not out of the question here. Still, Ilunga should be just too technical and be able to impose his own game on the Brazilian.
Prediction: Danyo Ilunga by decision
I have this as Mwekassa vs. Ilunga, which sounds like one fantastic fight to me. What that match-up comes down to is simple: can Mwekassa land the power shot before Ilunga picks him apart? It’s very possible he can, but just as in the Cavalari fight, I anticipate seeing Ilunga use his skills to deal with the early storm, them turn things around quickly with clean shots of his own. No offense to Collette or Cavalari, both of whom are very good fighters, but I’m really hoping for this final – it could be explosive.
Prediction: Danyo Ilunga by KO
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