GLORY Contender Tournaments are four-man affairs which reward the winner with a shot at their division’s belt. This is Jauncey’s first major tournament and he is in there with some seriously top-tier talent: former champion Davit Kiria is in the line-up, as is Thai champion Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong.
If he wins the tournament he will go forward to face lightweight champion Robin van Roosmalen later this year. It would be a lightning-fast ascent through the ranks of one of the most stacked divisions in the whole combat sport scene.
“If I get that title shot it will all have happened fast, or at least faster than I expected it. But f–k it, you know? That’s how fighters make their legends, beating guys they aren’t supposed to beat at that stage of their career,” says Jauncey a few days out from the battle.
“I believe in myself and I know that I can do it but it has been a pleasant surprise to read on the internet that other people are backing me and saying they think I will win the tournament. That’s pretty cool because usually people on the internet just talk s–t.”
Confidence is a Jauncey strong point. So is charisma. So are flair, athleticism and a degree of unorthodoxy. Unsurprising then that he has drawn comparison with the UFC’s Conor McGregor. But while he does radiate confidence, Jauncey is by no means underestimating the challenge ahead. On the contrary, the fact that he recognizes it for what it is only makes him more determined.
“This is THE weight class. This is kickboxing’s weight class. This is the hardest one in the sport. It is the most stacked and if you are a champion of this weight class, if you are doing well here, then you have to be in that pound-for-pound conversation,” he says.
“At this weight you have the KO power, the speed, the movement, everything. It is the most exciting weight class in the sport.”
As it happens Kiria and Sitthichai – the two biggest names in the tournament – are set to face each other in the semi-finals. Jauncey was due to face Niclas Larsen, another bright prospect, but the Danish fighter suffered a bad foot injury last week. He has been replaced by Crice Boussoukou, a French fighter and Muay Thai stylist who is stepping in on a week’s notice.
Theoretically, Jauncey has some advantages here. The two tournament favorites are in a semi-final elimination match and he has a late stand-in opponent who is not used to fighting under kickboxing rules.
But there are of course no certainties in fighting. Boussoukou’s height is an unexpected factor; he is also likely to try and clinch a lot, despite GLORY rules heavily limiting such techniques. He will present different challenges to the one Jauncey faced in his last fight, a clash with German professional boxer and kickboxer Max Baumert in which Jauncey was knocked down and forced to take a count.
“I let him dictate too much. I was doing most of the punching and kicking but I think I let him dictate certain other things a little too much; that won’t happen again. He didn’t think he lost that fight, he thinks he would have won had it continued but I don’t agree at all,” he reflects.
“I smashed him the first round and I was smashing him the second round until he caught me with a lucky punch, plus a punch in the back of the head after the bell. I got knocked down but it was the punch after the bell which did it, I wouldn’t have gone down without that. And then I took a count after the bell had sounded to end the round. I didn’t agree with that. I don’t think that knockdown should have been counted.
“All that said, I do not blame him at all and in the same situation I probably would have done the same thing. If I saw a guy that close to going down then I probably would have carried on punching as well. I’m only blaming the ref for giving me a count and not calling the back-of-the-head shot and making me lose a round I won.”
Still, it is all experience and at his young age Jauncey is already racking up an incredible amount. For the last few weeks he has been training in the Netherlands with former K-1 MAX champion Andy Souwer, something he has done since his teenage years. And as a new breed of kickboxing athlete, presumably he has been eating very carefully and making sure he gets enough slee-
“Actually no, that’s not true, I don’t pay attention to my diet ‘til like a week before the fight and I don’t get nearly enough sleep. I just don’t like going to bed early. Its not a problem because I am used to it plus I just turned 22 years old.” he interjects.
A little sheepishly he adds, “I had a McFlurry on Thursday night…. and fries…. and that was after dinner…But weight is never an issue for me at all and I fight week I eat clean. I’m naturally light for this weight class – I used to fight at 67kgs – so I probably need the extra calories anyway!”
Jauncey’s fight airs LIVE in the US on Spike TV this Friday, June 5 at 4pm ET and airs live in France from 10pm ET on Canal+
The card is headlined by Rico ‘The Prince’ Verhoeven defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi of Romania. The co-main event has light-heavyweight powerhouse Zack Mwekassa against karate stylist Carlos Brooks of New York.
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