This Friday, April 3, Glory presents the stacked card on Glory 20 Dubai. Glory 20 airs on Spike TV this Friday, April 3 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, a look at the big fight on the Superfight Series – watch the Superfight Series in a live stream right here Friday morning.
#3 SAULO CAVALARI (30-2 Overall; 4-1 Glory) vs. #10 ARTEM VAKHITOV (13-4 Overall; 3-0 Glory)
Glory has really worked to establish the Superfight Series as a home for top level fights and more than just “the prelims” and in the last two shows, they have put at least one major fight on the Superfights. For Glory 20, that’s this fight. Cavalari vs. Vakhitov is a huge, fantastic fight – one made even greater when you consider that Glory Light Heavyweight champion Gokhan Saki’s status with the company is very much up in the air at the moment.
Fans who have watched Glory on Spike will be more familiar with Cavalari here, as he has been seen on Spike at Glory 15 and 18. At Glory 15, he lost a good fight against Tyrone Spong, but at Glory 18, he came back strong to defeat highly regarded Danyo Ilunga and Zack Mwekassa en route to winning the Glory 18 Light Heavyweight tournament. That win earned him a title shot down the road, though again, Saki’s current status makes the status of that shot uncertain. A native of Curitiba, Brazil (a city whose name packs quite a meaning for any MMA fan), Cavalari also holds one of Glory’s best KO wins when he completely smashed Mourad Bouzidi at Glory 12.
Vakhitov has yet to make it out of the Superfight Series, but don’t let his somewhat lower profile fool you into discrediting him. The young Russian fighter came to Glory with a wealth of amateur experience, and is undefeated in the Glory ring, looking better and better every fight. That culminated in his dominating win over Igor Jurkovic in Denver last year. Since then, he’s won twice outside of Glory under Muay Thai rules. Vakhitov is a training partner to Glory Middleweight champion Artem Levin – the two men actually faced each other very early in Vakhitov’s career, with Levin understandably taking the win.
Both of these fighters possess a similar hard hitting, driven style, and it’s hard to envision how that leads to anything other than a great fight here. Thanks to his experience edge, plus his strength of opposition, Cavalari is the favorite here. He looked very good in that tournament win, first putting the pressure on Ilunga and outmuscling the more technical fighter by not giving him any breathing room, then using leg kicks to wear down Mwekassa before closing the show with a head kick. Two different, but highly skilled performances.
But they are also two performances that will not work against Vakhitov. Against Ilunga, Cavalari played the bull because he did not respect the power of Ilunga, and Ilunga was never able to earn that respect. Vakhitov will. He’s got powerful hands, a strong spinning backfist he likes to use, and those brutal hooks to the body you often see out of Russian fighters. If Cavalari just comes in with the pressure game as he did against Ilunga, Vakhitov has the defensive skills to move and avoid the shots while adding in his own powerful offensive skills to push Cavalari back.
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Though he’s not at the same level, the closest Glory opponent of Cavalari’s that you see in Vakhitov is Tyrone Spong. Like Spong, Vakhitov will not let Cavalari dictate where the fight takes place, and will be willing to push back himself, and like Spong, he can use his counter punching and heavy hands to make Cavalari question his game. And that’s bad news for the Brazilian, because once Spong pushed him out of his normally more aggressive style, he was lost. At Glory 18, he showed more maturity, fighting more patiently and being willing to not be the aggressor, and it served him well, but it is a danger here.
Still, Cavalari has big power, and that could be a real difference maker. Cavalari is big for the division as he made the move to Light Heavyweight from Heavyweight. Vakhitov meanwhile comes here after fighting earlier at Middleweight. So look for the power edge to go to Cavalari. Vakhitov typically has the speed advantage, but Cavalari is not a slow fighter himself by any means, so may nullify the Russian’s advantage there.
In the end, this is a close, hard fought battle. Cavalari is the favorite for good reason, but I like a lot of what Vakhitov brings to the table here. He’s been underrated so far in Glory (#10? No chance.) and he has the opportunity here to make a serious statement. I think he takes that opportunity and runs with it.
Prediction: Artem Vakhitov by decision
Watch Cavalari vs. Vakhitov and the Superfight Series in a live stream Friday morning or on CBS Sports Network Saturday night. And be sure to watch Glory 20 on Spike TV this Friday, April 3 at 9:00 p.m. ET, and join us here at Bloody Elbow for live fight night coverage.
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