Welcome to the Bloody Elbow staff picks for Glory 20. For this edition, we have BE staff members Fraser Coffeen, John Joe O’Regan, and Steph Daniels. They are joined by guest kickboxing aficionados Michael Stets from MMAMania and Dave Walsh from LiverKick. Let’s see what the panel has to say.
LW Title: Robin van Roosmalen vs. Andy Ristie
Fraser Coffeen: For more detailed analysis on all these fights, I strongly encourage you to read my full fight by fight previews, but here’s the quick and dirty version. For this fight, the only reason NOT to pick Ristie is the Kiria loss. But as time moves on, I suspect that will look more and more like an anomaly, and Ristie will cement his place as #1 in the division. At least until Petrosyan returns. Then things get real interesting. Andy Ristie, KO, Round 2
Michael Stets (MMA Mania): “The Machine” is going to go through “RvR” like The Terminator dispatched of the Sarah Connor not played by Linda Hamilton. Ristie has just been on a tear, as we’ve all witnessed in his last two fights. The Surinamese fighter has shored up his conditioning since running out of gas against Davit Kiria at GLORY 14 and has been chomping at the bit for another shot at the belt. “RvR” fought valiantly in a great split decision win over Kiria, but his title reign ends on Friday in Dubai. Ristie’s aggression, reach, knees and sharp hair cut will just be too much for “Pokerface” and he will knockout the Dutchman in the second round. Andy Ristie, KO, Round 2
Dave Walsh (LiverKick.com): I love Robin, I really do. He’s exciting, he’s fun to watch and he’s technical with what he does. The thing is that while he is great at what he does Ristie is great at spoiling what he does. We already know that he’s capable of doing this and I think that we’ll see it again. The angles of attack, the speed, the unorthodox rhythms and the ability to gauge his opponent’s rhythms and to completely figure them out, break said rhythm and frustrate them is on another level. He did that to Giorgio Petrosyan. Seriously, he did that to the best in the world. Ristie via KO in the fourth or fifth round.
John Joe O’Regan: This is a really tough fight for Van Roosmalen and he knows it. Despite being the defending champion, he’s considered the underdog going into this title defense due to Ristie having that GLORY 12 knockout win over him plus Ristie’s recent form in general.
Ristie’s strengths are myriad. Tall, powerful and unorthodox with a wide range of attacks, he is a nightmare opponent in many ways. He has killer push kicks and straight shots from range and on the inside he has caused carnage with his knee strikes. Look how he dropped Albert Kraus and Davit Kiria, for example.
By coincidence his main weakness is Van Roosmalen’s key strength: conditioning. Ristie would have won the championship at GLORY 14 if he hadn’t gassed out in his attempts to eradicate Kiria from the face of the earth, whereas Van Roosmalen’s fitness is never in doubt. He’s never once looked like he was having cardio problems even at peak work-rate.
As the shorter fighter, Van Roosmalen has to close distance to land his shots. He also has to stay in there and keep the work rate high in order to make Ristie work and put him on the back foot. His tendency to move forwards and backwards in straight lines makes the job dangerous though, as Ristie excels against opponents who give him a predictable pattern to work against. I would like to see Van Roosmalen retain the belt as nobody has worked harder than him to get where he is, but I think it will require the performance of a lifetime.
Staff picking van Roosmalen:
Staff picking Ristie: Fraser, Stets, Stephie, Dave
FW Title: Mosab Amrani vs. Gabriel Varga
Fraser Coffeen: Great fight here. Amrani is the more experienced fighter, and he’ll put the pressure on Varga early. He’ll try to get inside and work Varga over, and in the early stages he’ll likely have success. But as the fight continues, I see Varga being able to wear him down and win the war of attrition, particularly with his leg kicks. Gabriel Varga, decision
Michael Stets: I think we are in for a treat with this matchup boys. Varga can be technical and he can brawl. He proved that in both of his fights when he won the GLORY 17 featherweight tournament. Same can be said for “The Jaguar,” and he has more KOs to boot. They both switch stances seamlessly and mix it up rather well. I’m predicting five rounds of mayhem with the Canadian winning a split decision to win the inaugural GLORY featherweight title. Gabriel Varga, Split Decision
Dave Walsh: Gabriel is a good, technical fighter and should have all of the tools to neutralize Amrani’s crazy attacks. The thing is, he won’t be stopping Amrani or even coming close to hurting him. All it takes is for Mosab to break through Varga’s defenses once and we have ourselves a donnybrook and let’s be honest here; Amrani is the king of the donnybrooks in this division. Amrani via something crazy in the deep waters.
John Joe O’Regan: Amrani is well-known in kickboxing circles and has been one of the top names at this weight for a long time. Varga is newer to the top tier of competition but has proven his quality in his GLORY clashes, culminating in his winning of the Featherweight Contender Tournament at GLORY 17 in June last year.
Amrani is the more experienced against high-level competition and also has the power advantage. He likes to hurt his opponents and keep on hurting them; his body shots are killer, as neatly demonstrated against Liam Harrison at GLORY 5.
The range and speed advantage goes to Varga and for me he is also the better technical fighter. Watching him against Yodkhunpon showed how he can out-think and outfox a tricky opponent, but his fight with Shane Oblonksy showed how he can be lured into fighting a dirty war at close range if that’s what his opponent wants.
Varga has to keep discipline here. If he stays outside and plays the long game he wins the fight; if he lets Amrani draw him into a balls-out phone-box battle – which quite frankly I wouldn’t mind seeing – then Fortune’s gaze turns in Amrani’s direction. This has been widely predicted to be a ‘Fight of the Year 2015′ contender and I concur.
Staff picking Amrani: Dave
Staff picking Varga: Fraser, Stets, Stephie
Semifinal: Wayne Barrett vs. Simon Marcus
Fraser Coffeen: This is by far the toughest fight to call for me here. In fact, this entire tournament is ridiculously close. I said this in the preview thread, but there is literally no result in this tournament that would be a surprise, and that makes things very exciting. I’m big on Marcus and picked him to win the Last Man Standing tournament, but he has not adapted well to the Glory rules, and comes in off an embarrassing KO outside of Glory. Barrett had his own bad loss to Wilnis last time, but I think he can recover better. But again, I’m not at all confident in this. Wayne Barrett, KO
Michael Stets: I’m hearing stories from Barrett’s camp that he looks like a man possessed. I said it in the preview and I’ll say it again: I fully expect Barrett to be back on his “A” game for the GLORY 20 tournament. Wilnis fed him a nice slice of humble pie, and he will be more focused than ever I feel. Marcus looks lost without the clinch and it seems he hasn’t recovered from the loss to Schilling at Last Man Standing. Levin and Schilling have made the adjustment to life without the plumb, Marcus has not and boy has it showed. Especially in his last fight in China against Fang Bian, making that two knockout losses in a row after winning 39 straight. It will soon be three in a row. Barrett, TKO, round 2
Dave Walsh: I’m not really sold on Wayne Barrett being a top guy just yet and his lack of fights outside of GLORY is a bit confusing to me right now, considering most of the rest of the guys in this tournament have kept busy outside of GLORY cards. It’s what you’ve gotta to do be elite. That, or, make sure that GLORY books you every other show. Either way, look, Marcus is a great muay thai fighter but his movement is too linear and we’ve seen him dropped countless times while moving straight forward or straight back into a corner. I think that Barrett is too dynamic and KO’s him in the second or third. Barrett, KO
John Joe O’Regan: Both ride some recent hard results into this one but Marcus is having the tougher time of it due to his losses being by way of knockout. From being middleweight top dog under Muay Thai rules to suffering the first losses of your career, by KO at that, must be a bitter pill to swallow.
He hasn’t moaned about it in pre fight interviews ahead of GLORY 20 but nonetheless, there must be some effect on confidence. Some physical effect too; it takes time to recover from a knockout and I question whether Marcus has allowed himself enough of it.
Barrett’s style is more suited to kickboxing, although Marcus gave Joe Schilling a really hard fight up until the point he got stopped in the extra round. Marcus coming from traditional Muay Thai can make him rather static and lineal in his footwork and I see Barrett’s movement-based game to be an advantage, as is his use of angles. Barrett getting drawn into trading power shots would be a mistake I think, but I doubt he will do that anyway. This one could really go either way but I lean towards a mobile and varied Barrett taking it.
Staff picking Barrett: Fraser, Stets, Stephie, Dave, John
Staff picking Marcus:
Semifinal: Jason Wilnis vs. Alex Pereira
Fraser Coffeen: Wilnis won the first fight between these two and comes in here off his career best win and performance against Barrett. Hopefully that gives him the confidence to put all his tools together and keep his place as a world class Middleweight. Pereira has good hands, and it’s entirely possible he lights Wilnis up with boxing, but I like the better all around game of Wilnis. Jason Wilnis, decision
Michael Stets: I went back and forth with this one, but in the end I’ll side with the Brazilian. Wilnis won their first encounter in It’s Showtime, looked awesome against Barrett at GLORY 18 and is certainly capable of winning this fight and the tournament for that matter. But, I just think Pereira uses his reach along with those nasty hooks he has to get it done over three rounds for the decision to advance to the final. Alex Pereira, decision
Dave Walsh: Wilnis might be the younger of the two and might hold a victory over Pereira from a few years ago, but that being said I feel that Pereira is still evolving as a fighter and that we’ve seen what Wilnis has to offer. It’s not that what Wilnis has to offer isn’t great, it’s just that Pereira has more potential. Pereira can be downright scary and that is exciting. It’ll probably come down to a decision win for Pereira. Pereira, decision
John Joe O’Regan: This is a rematch of a 2012 fight which Wilnis won by punishing Pereira with leg kicks until he was forced to quit. But Pereira was still transitioning from boxing at that point and I think his leg kick defense was nowhere near what it is today.
Wilnis has said that he doesn’t think the same tactics will work again – although you can be sure he will try, just to see – so I am curious as to what the gameplan is. Boxing it out with Pereira probably wouldn’t be it. Artem Levin says Pereira is probably his hardest-hitting opponent and he is picking him to win the tournament.
Pereira hasn’t fought in a while whereas Wilnis fought in November and was on peak form against Barrett. If Pereira is a little rusty and Wilnis carries that November form into this bout I can see him taking it and moving forward to the final.
Staff picking Wilnis: Fraser, John
Staff picking Pereira: Stets, Stephie, Dave
Fraser Coffeen: I have this as the Barrett vs. Wilnis rematch, only this time, the result I originally predicted comes to fruition as Barrett comes in healthy, focused, and closes the show. Wayne Barrett by KO
Michael Stets: While Barrett winning the tournament would be nothing short of incredibly impressive, the buck stops here for the New Yorker. Barrett makes it a hell of a battle, but Pereira gets the decision win and the right to lose to Levin once again at GLORY 21 on May 8th. Alex Pereira, decision
Dave Walsh: This feels like a no-brainer to me at this point; Pereira wins and we move on from this. Barrett still has a lot of potential in his relatively young kickboxing career but he’s in the deep end. While he’s capable of pulling off good wins, there is a time and a place for that and there is also a time and a place for reaching your limits. Pereira via decision.
John Joe O’Regan: I can see a Barrett vs. Wilnis rematch in the final. Wayne told me he carried a bad injury into that first fight and it killed his training camp; he is dying for the rematch in this tournament. Obviously on the evidence of the preceding fight you’d have to expect Wilnis to win but Barrett is talking very confidently and that certainly isn’t a view he shares.
Staff picking Barrett: Stephie, Fraser
Staff picking Marcus:
Staff picking Wilnis:
Staff picking Pereira: Stets, Dave
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