Roosmalen begins his reign, but where does Kiria go?
Van Roosmalen (now 33-7, 19 KO’s) was on unstoppable form against Davit Kiria (22-10, 7 KO’s) in a bout which will probably find itself onto ‘Fight of the Year’ shortlists as 2015 closes out. An explosive start put him two rounds up before Kiria knocked him down in round three to even the scores and make the final two frames into edge-of-the-seat stuff.
The judges all had the fight for Van Roosmalen and nobody argued with that decision. It represented the third occasion that he has secured victory over Kiria and one has to consider that series closed, at least for the present time. New challengers await; at the front of the pack is Andy ‘The Machine’ Ristie and the Armenian-Italian maestro Giorgio Petrosyan will also soon be back in the mix.
Word from GLORY is that Van Roosmalen’s first opponent will come via a Lightweight Contender Tournament, with Ristie and Kiria both possible for the line-up. Ristie was stopped in the firth round of his contest with Kiria at GLORY 14 but also previously KO’d both Van Roosmalen and Petrosyan in consecutive fights at GLORY 12 NEW YORK. He has to be considered the division’s danger-man right now.
Kiria could conceivably win the Contender tournament and fight Van Roosmalen for a fourth time. Every time they meet it is a thriller and Kiria’s knockdown of Van Roosmalen in the third round underlines the fact that Van Roosmalen is far from walking him over. However, I think I’d prefer to see the two face different opponents before facing off again. Murthel Groenhart is ready to get back in the ring and has said he wants to avenge a GLORY 10 loss to Kiria; Shemsi Beqiri is also due a return and would make for a great fight against the Georgian karate stylist.
Adegbuyi to face winner of Rico Verhoeven/Errol Zimmerman title fight
By beating the very experienced former It’s Showtime champion Hesdy Gerges (45-14-1, 20 KO’s) over three hard-hitting rounds, Adegbuyi (18-2, 13 KO’s) punched his ticket to a heavyweight title shot against the winner of the GLORY 19 clash between Verhoeven and Zimmerman.
Adegbuyi has consistently impressed in his three GLORY outings with his speed, technique, ring generalship and work-rate. His first two wins were stoppages but by his own admission the opposition were mid-tier at best. Gerges represented his first big-name test and he passed it with flying colors. It wasn’t all plain sailing – Gerges was hammering leg kicks into him – but that only proved Adegbuyi is tough as well as talented.
Gerges sees a three-fight win streak snapped and now takes a step back in the contender queue. He’ll need to secure another win or two before getting a crack at the belt. post-fight he couldn’t find much to criticize in his performance and that seems a fair conclusion.
But the CompuStrike statistics show that Adegbuyi was outworking and out-punching him by a good margin; output was the key to this one. Adegbuyi is younger and seemed fitter; Gerges can do nothing about the former but can work on the latter.
Light-Heavyweight: Cavalari becomes ‘The Contender’
Danyo Ilunga (56-7, 44 KO’s) was the favorite to win the tournament which meant, in GLORY tradition, that he was destined to exit in the first round. The surging Brazilian prospect Cavalari (30-2, 19 KO’s) was all over him for the three rounds of their fight and kept him on the back foot throughout. Ilunga lacked his usual fire – possibly due to entering on shorter notice than the other participants – but Cavalari brought the heat.
Zack Mwekassa (12-2, 11 KO’s), fast becoming one of the GLORY fan base’s favorite fighters, took a minute to figure Brian Collette (21-3, 18 KO’s). But once he did, he was a terror. His stiff left jab was a nasty surprise to the Virginia man and it set up brutal hooks and body shots which brought the end about. Collette was knocked down at the end of the first but was saved by the bell. Mwekassa sealed the deal early in the second by stopping Collette in such brutal fashion that a .gif of the left-hook finish and its aftermath was being widely shared on the internet before the referee had even raised Mwekassa’s hand.
Cavalari seemed tired at the end of the war with Ilunga so it was expected that he would be wide open for a quick loss via Mwekassa-bomb. Certainly he seemed wary of Mwekassa’s hands in the first round but once he got his leg-kick game going he was able to stop the African’s forward pressure and then stop his movement entirely by way of a CroCop-esque left head kick which ended the fight.
The Brazilian now goes forward to face Gokhan Saki for his belt while Mwekassa continues to win the war of hearts and minds. The big takeaway from this fight is that both men are superb talents but in need of more experience and refinement. Mwekassa is in desperate need of high-level sparring and training and is willing to travel outside South Africa to find it, while Cavalari is currently looking at his own training arrangements but has a lot of options to choose from in his native Curitiba, Brazil.
Wilnis shocks Barrett, defies detractors
One of the biggest surprises of the evening, at least for the odds maker’s, was Jason Wilnis’ domination of Wayne Barrett in the co-headline fight. Riding a two-fight losing-streak into the bout, Wilnis was at risk of losing his spot on the roster should he suffer a third consecutive defeat. In contrast, the talk around Barrett largely centered on his prospects in a title shot against middleweight champion Artem Levin after winning this bout.
Wilnis was angry going into the fight; he had a point to prove. He was aware that people were writing him off and his annoyance fuelled both his training camp and his performance. Wilnis looked big and strong when he entered the ring; the early leg kicks he hit Barrett with were savagely hard and really set the tone of the fight.
Barrett had counted on eluding Wilnis’ forward pressure whilst scoring points en route to landing a blow which would end the encounter. But the dogged Wilnis simply could not be shaken off. It was like a scene from The Terminator – whichever way Barrett turned, Wilnis was right there behind him, marching ever forwards and letting go with heavy artillery the whole time.
Too much had been read into Wilnis’ back-to-back losses. The defeat to Artem Levin at GLORY 10 was a limp performance against a world-ranked #1 on career-best form (Levin is now the GLORY Middleweight Champion).
The second loss, to Sahak Parparyan at GLORY 14 ZAGREB, was a close and controversial decision. Wilnis had watched his brother Jahfar being knocked out in the fight which immediately preceded his own entrance to the ring; it seems impossible that didn’t affect his performance and that conclusion is given weight by the fact that his team – Team Colosseum, Utrecht – have informed GLORY they do not want both brothers on the same card ever again.
Wilnis now moves up the rankings. Generally it is the policy to match winners with winners and losers with losers in subsequent outings but seven of GLORY’s top eight middleweights are coming off losses in the LAST MAN STANDING tournament so that formula has to be suspended here. A good test for Wilnis now might be Simon ‘Bad Bwoy’ Marcus, who lost a thriller to Joe Schilling in that tournament’s opening stage. Barrett might match up well with Filip Verlinden, both being technically-minded.
Josh Jauncey: Future Star
At just 21 years of age, Canada’s Josh Jauncey (21-4, 10 KO’s) is undoubtedly one of the most exciting emerging talents in the sport right now. Trained in kickboxing by his father, Jauncey has been obsessed with the sport since his youth and in his teenage years used to spend the school holidays training at Meijiro Gym and Team Souwer in Amsterdam.
That probably explains why he has fit into the GLORY ranks so smoothly and why he has such a well-rounded and mature game for such a young age. Jauncey is not immune to the exuberances of youth but he has had some seriously high-level sparring partners in his formative years, former world #1 Andy Souwer and UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo among them, so the giddiness was knocked out of him a long time ago.
He’s now beaten two much more experience opponents in GLORY – he stopped Jae Gil Noh (30-13, 13 KO’s) on Friday – and it will be interesting to see who they pair him with next.
An argument can be made for a Top Ten-ranked opponent and it is tempting to want to see him get a really stiff test. At the same time, I am a believer in new talent being nurtured rather than rushed, getting the right fights at the right time. I find myself wondering if first-ever K-1 MAX champion Albert Kraus fits that bill…
In other GLORY news, the next event was announced during the Spike TV broadcast on Friday. GLORY 19 will take place December 19 and will feature Rico Verhoeven defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Errol Zimmerman plus a four-man Welterweight Contender Tournament between Nieky Holzken, Raymond Daniels, Artur Kyshenko and Jonathan Oliveira. That show will air live on Spike TV.
About the author