Artem Levin vs. Simon Marcus
Levin has looked almost untouchable in his GLORY run, with only Los Angeles’ Joe Schilling able to take a win over him in the course of nine fights. His run in the LAST MAN STANDING eight-man tournament at GLORY 17 last year was a masterpiece of skill and strategy and led him to take the World Middleweight Championship title belt while hardly sustaining a scratch in the process.
Marcus has been the Muay Thai world’s dominant force at middleweight for several years. He was undefeated before deciding to cross over into kickboxing last year to test himself in GLORY. His debut was against Joe Schilling in the opening stage of the LAST MAN STANDING tournament.
Holding two previous wins over Schilling, Marcus was felt to be the favorite in some quarters. But others pointed to his lack of experience under kickboxing rules, which require a different style and pace to Muay Thai and also vastly restrict the clinch, one of Marcus’ key weapons.
It turned out to be a ‘Fight of the Year’ for 2014. They traded back and forth and it went to an extra round before Marcus was stopped with a classic Schilling counter-right. It was a competitive fight but the finish was definitive; had Marcus made a mistake by moving into kickboxing?
A subsequent stoppage loss in China added weight to the argument that he had. Levin talked about the two losses in a recent interview and laughed at what he called a “terrible” performance from Marcus in the latter. That lit a fire under Marcus; he threw Levin’s words in his face by winning the GLORY 20 DUBAI tournament and now wants to take the belt from him on Friday.
Realistically, Levin is by far the favorite. He is far more experienced under these rules and has not looked troubled by any opponent he has faced in GLORY bar Joe Schilling, who beat him by decision at GLORY 10. Levin is like Marcus a Muay Thai stylist at heart, but he is a striker where Marcus has been predominantly a clincher, and that favors him under GLORY rules.
Marcus’ constant argument has been that he needed a couple of fights to get tuned in to the new rules he is fighting under. He genuinely does not seem bothered about the losses, ascribing them to a learning curve. His recent training camp with Buakaw in Thailand seems to have done him good and has been beneficial in helping him adjust from Muay Thai rules to kickboxing.
He didn’t look especially troubled at any point when beating Wayne Barrett and Jason Wilnis at GLORY 20, but Levin is a completely different challenge. His reflexes and defensive mastery make him difficult to score points on, let alone hit cleanly, and he won’t provide the kind of forward pressure that Marcus likes to fight against.
Levin has lost to Marcus once under Muay Thai rules but has spat about it being “a clinch fight… not even a real fight”, so he is clearly relishing the chance to get even in San Diego. He hasn’t fought since June, whereas Marcus fought a few weeks ago and is in full competition mode. Marcus hasn’t said if there are any injury niggles from Dubai but Levin certainly has a layer of ring rust on him.
Statistics and recent history alone mean the smart money is on Levin retaining his title via five rounds of defensive shutout punctuated by hard counter-attacks when Marcus is exposed. The GLORY 20 performance did indicate that Marcus is calibrated to his new ruleset though, and that makes things interesting. One hard shot can change the course of the fight instantly. Marcus is certainly not heading to San Diego with any doubt in his mind that he can take the belt from Levin.
Dave Walsh, Liverkick – I’m expecting this to be a different fight than their first one. Not only are the rules different but the circumstances are as well. There are no longer these “what if’s” hanging in the air of where everyone stands in the division, it is clear that Levin is the top guy and that everyone else is chasing him. Levin has grown as a fighter and a person over the last few years and without Marcus’s ability to utilize the clinch I’m not sure that he’s able to handle Levin’s slickness.
Andreas Georgiou, MMA Plus – Artem Levin’s return is the most exciting fight of GLORY 21. We’ve not seen him since that triumphant title win during Last Man Standing last June. His first title defense is against Simon Marcus and although Marcus is a good fighter, I feel Levin will use range and technique to score the win. Plus let’s not forget the Russian wants revenge for that 2013 loss under Muay Thai rules.
Michael ‘Stets’, MMA Mania – While Marcus should not be overlooked, especially after winning the GLORY 20 tournament in Dubai, I just don’t see how he defeats Levin. The champion has been on the shelf for a while, but I don’t see it being a factor. Levin’s striking accuracy and movement will be on full display, while Marcus will looking to bring the fight to him and get inside on him and rough him up.
I think Marcus has a chance to make it interesting, and he showed vast improvements at GLORY 20, but Levin won’t let him fight his fight long enough to take the title. “The Lion” knocks him down at least once, but doesn’t finish him. I see Levin winning a 30-27 unanimous decision.
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