Last week, GLORY announced that its October 9 event – GLORY 24 DENVER – will be headlined by Artem ‘The Lion’ Levin defending the World Middleweight Championship against Joe ‘Stitch ‘Em Up’ Schilling in what will be their third encounter and also a tie-breaker, as they are 1-1 against each other.
Simon Marcus could probably have expected an instant rematch following the very close fight he had with Levin at GLORY 21 SAN DIEGO – it ended in a controversial draw, so Levin kept the title – but he is on the injured list at present. His rivalry with both Levin and Schilling adds another dimension to the drama playing out at the top of the 187lb division.
Dave Walsh, Liverkick – I mean, people that are complaining are the same people that complain about everything that GLORY does. I’m not going to say that they aren’t justified in their reasoning for most of their complaints because damn, I don’t like some of these recent tournaments either and a draw usually does elicit an immediate rematch, but this is a business.
Joe Schilling is probably their biggest name American and unlike some of the guys getting chances in these tournaments he’s not only legit, he’s one of the best in the division. Any combination of Joe/Levin/Marcus is great at this point and they all have unfinished business with each other. Marcus will get his time when he’s healthy.
GLORY’s Middleweight division is definitely one of their most compelling considering having essentially three top guys right now.
Fraser Coffeen, Bloody Elbow – Is Levin vs. Schilling III of interest? Oh, undoubtedly. Their first fight was great, the second was not as exciting, but Schilling had been through some wars that night, and I want to see a third. Both previous fights have reasons to question them – the weird scoring in the first, the tournament nature in the second – so a final rubber match is perfect.
JJ O’Regan, Bloody Elbow – Just from a storyline point of view alone I love this match-up. The whole Russia vs. USA element from Rocky IV is ingrained in the rivalry, plus this is for the world title and is also a rubber match. How can you not be interested in this fight?
Marcus’ fight with Levin produced some fireworks but also some frustrations as Levin really went to town with his clinch tactics and faced accusations of spoiling the fight afterwards. Schilling is a more experienced kickboxer than Marcus and I don’t see him falling into the same trap Marcus did of feeding Levin relentless forward pressure to step forward and grab hold of.
When Schilling fights he always comes to do damage, with point-scoring a secondary consideration. Levin is extremely clever, a very tricky fighter, but Schilling won’t be gassed and battered this time like he was in the LAST MAN STANDING final, so I expect this to look more like their GLORY 10 meeting.
Levin and Schilling’s previous two fights have taken place in tournament finals, which means neither has been fresh going into it. Does this fight being a single match mean that it can be a definitive encounter or does the fact that Denver is a high-altitude (5,000ft above sea level) add a variable element?
Fraser – I care not a bit about the altitude factor – if one of these guys doesn’t train properly for that and gasses, well then he shows he’s the inferior fighter.
Walsh – These are professional athletes at the top of their game, if they aren’t doing elevation training they are doing it wrong. This is a huge fight and a big deal for GLORY. It was talked about from the second the final bell rang in their second meeting and I think that we’ll definitely get a definitive winner in their series.
JJ – I’m with these two; I expect both will factor the elevation into their training somehow. Word has it that Schilling has also quit smoking cigarettes at last, which if true cannot but boost his cardiovascular capacity come fight night.
The Chechen capital city of Grozny isn’t somewhere which immediately jumps to mind when one thinks of fight-sport hotbeds but the country’s president Ramzan Kadyrov is almost single-handedly changing that. The 38-year-old former guerrilla leader is a huge fight fan and has put his patronage – and finances – behind various fight-related endeavors.
Among these are Akhmat Fight Club and the Akhmat Fight Show. Both are named in honor of his late father, assassinated by political opponents in 2004. Akhmat Fight Club serves as a developmental platform for regional talent in boxing and MMA while the Akhmat Fight Show was a showcase event which took place on Saturday night.
Badr Hari was in the headline slot against Ismael Londt. President Kadyrov was ringside and was joined by guests of honor Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa, both of the UFC’s light-heavyweight division.
Hari knocked Londt down just 15 seconds into the first round but Londt came back into the fight to score a knockdown of his own in the second. Hari knocked him down three more times though to secure a stoppage victory under the ‘four knockdowns in one fight’ rule. Is Badr Hari back?
Walsh – I don’t know about that. I think that Londt is the most legit opposition that he’s faced outside of Zabit Samedov (whom he is 1-1 with) but he looked awful and from what I heard had some “travel issues” getting him into Chechnya. That just mysteriously happened, it wasn’t because the president of Chechnya was putting on the show and is Badr Hari’s personal friend with an investment in Badr winning…
Londt looked off. I’m not saying that Londt usually looks amazing, but he usually looks better than that. Then again, he got dropped immediately so it’s hard to expect much from the rest of the fight. I’m not sure how Badr fares against the top guys in the division at this point, but he sure is an attraction.
Fraser – “Badr is back” feels a little bit too much like “Vitor is back!” or “BJ Penn is motivated!” – I just can’t buy it, and a win over Londt means absolutely nothing to me.
Badr will always have a particular place in my kickboxing love – when I made the transition from casual fan to serious watcher it was during Badr’s ascension – but I just don’t see him as ever being truly relevant again. He’ll keep taking these kinds of fights, and he’ll keep winning most of them, but it just doesn’t matter.
JJ – Londt coming back from that first knockdown was impressive. Badr wasn’t on peak-years form but he still has serious power and that right hand has put a lot of opponents away. Questionable fitness on both sides – Londt especially – but Badr’s footwork and movement did look good and you can see he has still got what it takes to compete at the elite level, fitness provided. The lapse in concentration which got him knocked down highlights how being inactive has dulled his competition sharpness. If he had been competing regularly, I think he would have won that fight in the first or second round via brutal stoppage.
Two questions which hang over him now are his motivation and his options and both depend on the other. He’d be an obvious draw for GLORY but his legal issues and past actions make him a potential PR time bomb, plus there are no guarantees he could get a visa to fight in the USA.
I wouldn’t see him beating Rico Verhoeven on current form and I’d probably put my money on Benjamin Adegbuyi to win as well, but the rest of GLORY’s heavyweight division I think a fit Badr could handle. But Badr also commands a high price and that may fall outside GLORY’s spending limits at present.
So if GLORY is out of the picture, what is Badr’s plan – marquee fights such as this and GFC? They are good paydays but they don’t provide Badr with the platform to fight towards being a real world champion. Is he going to be happy with that? I don’t know. I like to think Badr’s fighting is still about more than money.
Walsh – I dunno, Badr fighting in GLORY would be a cool attraction and as we all know that guy attracts web clicks unlike anyone else in the sport and also brings out the crazies on social media and in comments sections. This would be good for GLORY internationally for sure.
As for a potential fight against Rico? LOL. Rico is everything that Badr Hari has problems with; disciplined, careful and defensive who looks for his openings instead of throwing like crazy. Watch the Gerges fight or the second Bonjasky fight to see how Badr handles this. Maybe we’d see Rico get soccer kicked?
Fraser – It’s a tough spot for the company. On the one hand, yes, he draws interest. On the other hand, he has a terribly negative reputation that brings all kinds of bad stuff with it. Very similar to the position MMA organizations are in with Nick Diaz – do you bring this guy in and all the baggage that accompanies him, or do you let him go?
If I’m GLORY, I would probably go for it right now, because they could use the views. If he does come in, and if he does go against Rico? Well then he has no chance. Like Dave outlined, Rico’s style frustrates Badr Hari to no end. My prediction: Verhoeven via DQ, round 1.
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