Kickboxing Panel: GLORY 24 Heavyweight Contender Tournament

Bloody Elbow has assembled a panel of experts - Dave Walsh of Liverkick, Fraser Coffeen and myself of Bloody Elbow and Michael Stets of…

By: John Joe O'Regan | 8 years ago
Kickboxing Panel: GLORY 24 Heavyweight Contender Tournament
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Bloody Elbow has assembled a panel of experts – Dave Walsh of Liverkick, Fraser Coffeen and myself of Bloody Elbow and Michael Stets of MMA Mania – to take a look at the tournament and its possible outcomes.

Adegbuyi faces Brestovac in the first of the semi-finals, Wilnis faces Edwards in the other, with the winners meeting in the final later that night.

Q: GLORY 24 DENVER’s Heavyweight Contender Tournament – who makes it to the final and how? How does the winner fare against Rico in Amsterdam

Dave Walsh:This tournament is exactly what I was calling for (although I’ll always prefer 8-man over 4-man, but alas). The four-man format and some recent complications mean that some names are missing to really decide the wheat from the chaff in the division, but hey, whatever, right? Braddock Silva, Jamal Ben Saddik and a few others probably deserve another shot at greatness, but I guess the future will tell what happens here.

Edwards vs. Wilnis… Wilnis is going to have some hype behind him because of his tournament win in the Kunlun tournament, but if you’ve actually been watching his fights, I dunno. I like Jahfarr Wilnis but I feel like he hasn’t really grown much as a fighter yet. He’s still gonna go out there and throw crazy bombs, be sloppy but put on a show.

You could say that Ben Edwards is also that guy, but that is unfair to the hardworking ‘Big Ben’. Ben Edwards has really become a much more complete fighter over the past few years. His fitness is always the question, though, and I’m not sure where it will be at here.

He seems like he’s doing the right things after showing up out of shape for his last boxing fight in Australia, but everyone going into a fight says they are feeling great and had the best training camp. Regardless, Ben takes this in his glorious return to kickboxing.

Poor Brestovac has been sort of out in the cold when it comes to GLORY. He fought in Zagreb but c’mon, he’s a Croatian fighter and they needed warm, local bodies for that show. He’s a lot more than a warm body and he could very well be this tournament’s spoiler.

He’s a talented, tough guy who doesn’t quite get the level of attention that he deserves, but that comes from his opposition usually not quite being on the same level as the top guys in GLORY. Benny is a huge, huge test for him at this point in his career and I see a hungry Adegbuyi looking for another shot at Verhoeven. Benny by decision.

So I’m seeing the final as Edwards vs. Benny, but it could be any combination really. That, to me, signifies that we have a good tournament here. If we indeed see my vision become a reality of the Battle of the Bens I’m going to give it to Adegbuyi. He’s taller, more technical and knows when to slow down, all things that against a guy like Ben Edwards tends to work. I see Adegbuyi taking this by KO and bringing us to Verhoeven vs. Benny II.

Sure, it was the last fight for the title, but we saw Ghita vs. Verhoeven a bunch of times and I feel like Verhoeven and Adegbuyi are two guys that have been brought up slowly and in the limelight properly making this a compelling rematch. Although, we don’t want Verhoeven turning into GLORY’s Frankie Edgar who just rematches the same guys over and over again, now do we?

Michael Stets Wilnis vs. Edwards fight will be a shining example of why heavyweight tournaments are fun. Edwards is down for a brawl every time out, and so is Wilnis. The Dutchman is the more skilled kickboxer, but the Aussie has solid boxing skills and throws bombs. This has “rock ’em, sock ’em” robots written all over it. I’ll side with the Aussie here and say he wins by TKO in RD 2.

Adegbuyi and Brestovac have met in the ring before with Adegbuyi getting the nod via unanimous decision. Brestovac is a southpaw and has good power and can throw a quick high kick for a big guy, which was his method of victory over Wilnis at GLORY 14. The Croatian is a tough fighter and more than capable of giving the Romanian trouble, but I will side with Adegbuyi here. The No.1-ranked heavyweight is too technical, has one of the best jabs of the division, and knockout power to boot. Adegbuyi by KO in the first.

There are always plenty of factors to weigh in when you get to a tournament final. Fatigue, and damage taken in first fight, are the two biggest variables. Sometimes the better fighter is too banged up or tired to fight at his best.

I think both fighters will almost be at their full potential here–at least if my semi-final picks are correct–and the final will end inside the distance also. Edwards will come fast and furious, but Adegbuyi will be too tall of an order for him. Adegbuyi will sit the Aussie down twice in the second to win the Ramon Dekkers trophy and get his second crack at current GLORY champion, Rico Verhoeven.

Fraser Coffeen: This is an awesome tournament, with so many interesting angles heading in to it. Let’s see, there’s…

-Adegbuyi’s quest for a rematch with Verhoeven

-Edwards making his return to Glory and kickboxing (and a very welcome return at that!)

-Wilnis bringing the lineal Glory title back home (that’s right, I’m bringing up lineal belts)

-Brestovac getting a MUCH deserved second shot at GLORY

-Rico waiting in the wings for the winner later this year

Really, it’s just awesome stuff all around, with four guys who consistently have entertaining fights. This one could go a lot of ways, which is why it’s kind of a bummer that I am echoing the exact same picks as Walsh and Stets, but it is what it is.

I like Edwards over Wilnis because of the KO power Big Ben packs in his fists; Adegbuyi over Brestovac by virtue of just being a better kickboxer (though Brestovac is the definite dark horse of the tournament); and Adegbuyi over Edwards in the final both for being more technical and because I can not trust Ben Edwards after a 1 year lay off and fighting for the 2nd time in a night IN DENVER to have cardio worth a damn.

But there are a lot of option here. I think a Wilnis win overall would surprise me, but outside of that, anything is possible.

As for Rico – I have no issue with a rematch with Adegbuyi, as that was my favorite fight of Rico’s since the first Ghita fight way back at Glory 11. I picked Adegbuyi to win the first time, and if they clash again, I will likely pick him again, not because I don’t think Verhoeven is very, very good, but because I see future world champ in Adegbuyi, and that time is coming soon.

JJ – This is an interesting and well-balanced tournament. It’s good to see Ben Edwards back in the ring and it is also surprising that this is only Brestovac’s second appearance considering he debuted so strongly at GLORY 14 ZAGREB.

That debut was over Jahfarr Wilnis and was a first-round KO by way of left head kick from his southpaw stance. Here he rematches Adegbuyi and looks for revenge for that 2012 loss under the SuperKombat banner.

Personally I don’t see Brestovac beating the 2015 Adegbuyi after losing to 2012 Adegbuyi, as the Romanian has improved so much since then. Brestovac is big and powerful, his stance is problematical due to its comparative rarity, but I can’t see him having the tricks in the toolbox to beat Adegbuyi.

The other semi-final fight, I can see it going either way. Wilnis is a much more complete kickboxer and has been on a great run lately, culminating in a win over Hesdy Gerges, while this is Edwards’ first GLORY fight since last year’s GLORY 16 DENVER heavyweight tournament in which he was stopped by Errol Zimmerman.

Last year Edwards went through some incredible personal turmoil. His seriously ill father received the Last Rites more than once and he also went through the trauma of his pregnant partner suffering a miscarriage. He says it was pretty much the worst year of his life.

This year has been better for him. He won the Australian Heavyweight Boxing Championship, although lost it to Peter Graham in his first defense, and is generally in much better headspace. Sparring apparently hasn’t been hard to find and he seems to be feeling confident.

Edwards has that Mark Hunt-style one-bomb power which can end a fight in an instant, which means you can never count him out even when you are wondering about such things as jet lag and not having fought under kickboxing rules for more than a year. For me this is a 50-50 fight.

Either way, I see Adegbuyi winning the tournament. He has height and range on both Wilnis and Edwards and I think that will prove decisive. It’s hard to predict finishes versus decisions but I am confident of Adegbuyi stopping at least one of his opponents tonight, probably in the final.

Look out also for Adegbuyi’s boxing; he spent three weeks as part of Tyson Fury’s camp when the Anglo-Irish heavyweight was preparing for his recent cancelled fight with Wladimir Klitschko. He says that the camp resulted in serious improvements to his accuracy, reactions and head movement.

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John Joe O'Regan
John Joe O'Regan

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