Q: How does tonight’s fight between Schilling and Wilnis go?
Dave Walsh: I feel like Joe Schilling is the guy who is perhaps the best example of what happens when you are one of the best kickboxers in the United States; you end up getting frustrated with the lack of money, exposure and everything else so you find the greener pastures. Bellator seems to be Joe’s greener pastures and while he might be a divisive figure to some I like Joe a lot.
He’s got two awesome little dudes and a wife to worry about and while I think that American kickboxing could ride on his back for a while, I also get not wanting to always be that guy carrying the weight of the world. Joe has found a new home in MMA and while it has been a rough going for him, he return to the sport as a “name” thanks to his kickboxing and Muay Thai resume and has been fighting guys that are perhaps a bit too well rounded for him yet.
Chances are that this will be the last time that we see Joe Schilling in the GLORY ring, or maybe it won’t. I’ll go with never say never because I remember waaaay back when GLORY was first getting started and they offered Joe a contract he didn’t like and him talking about how pathetic of an offer it was, how awful the contract was and how he wanted nothing to do with them. Then he showed up in their ring, won a pretty packed tournament and decided that he was home.
All of this is basically to say that I’m not sure that his heart is into this whole thing right now. I know that Joe works hard and doesn’t tend to take anything lightly, but he’s already thinking that he got screwed out of another Artem Levin match and I think that he isn’t really into fighting Jason Wilnis.
Wilnis has a tremendous opportunity to make a name for himself here. So this is all on him and how much he wants this. I still pick Joe, though, by decision.
Michael Stets: It goes without saying that Joe Schilling the kickboxer is greater than Joe Schilling the mixed martial artist, but you have to commend the man for going after a challenge and also for making himself some extra money. Schilling looked great against Robert Thomas at GLORY 19, but not so great in his last two Bellator bouts. The vicious Hisaki Kato knockout loss was a shock to us all.
“Stitch ’em Up” returns to what he does best after eight months away from it against Wilnis. Like Dave said, he is definitely frustrated that he isn’t fighting Levin for the title, but Wilnis is still a very tough bout. The 24-year old Dutchman is improving with every bout, as evidenced by putting a whooping on Wayne Barrett at GLORY 18 and putting on an excellent performance in the “contender” tournament at GLORY 20 Dubai.
Wilnis is young, hungry, talented and has solid technique and power and has already fought some of the very best in the division. Schilling is still one of the best middleweight kickboxers on the planet, has fought in wars, always rises up in a tough spot and has a level of tenacity that is pretty much unrivaled.
This is a very tough spot for Schilling as he is coming off two straight losses albeit not in kickboxing. Meanwhile, Wilnis is playing with house money here. A win would be huge for him, and would really put him on the map, while a loss not too detrimental. I suspect a great battle is headed our way fellas, with Schilling’s forward pressure and aggressive attack clashing with Wilnis quick counters and combinations.
This will be a closely contested battle and call me crazy, but I’m picking the youngster by split decision over Schilling.
JJ: This one is really stacked against Wilnis. He has traveled to a high-altitude location in a time-zone eight hours behind his usual one, arriving on location just four days out from a fight with a top contender which he has taken on short notice. Talk about an uphill struggle.
Wilnis is a really good kickboxer and on his day can beat almost anyone, but I see these factors being incredibly difficult for him to overcome. He also fought just three weeks ago in Croatia. There are no obvious signs of injury but if there is any remnant shin or hand soreness that may become another factor against him.
Schilling lives just a few hours from Denver, has been sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber for altitude conditioning, has a reach advantage and has considerable fighting intelligence on top of a well-rounded game with hard punches and a box of tricks which includes an effective Superman Punch and spinning back-fist. These all combine to make for a formidable package.
Wilnis always looks to bring the war and he needs to close Schilling down in order to land his power shots and brutal leg kicks, the latter being some of the best in the business. Schilling knows that and he also knows the burden Wilnis’ travel will have placed on him. I see him letting Wilnis come forward and burn some gas while at the same time trying to land body kicks and punches to sap his energy.
Schilling is annoyed that he isn’t fighting Artem Levin for the title as originally arranged. Earlier in fight week that manifested itself as apparent disinterest in the Wilnis fight but the closer we got to game day the more Schilling’s annoyance became transformed into focus on his opponent. He looks to be in excellent shape and he is looking to prove a point after the Bellator loss. I see this being a really tough fight for Wilnis.
Fraser Coffeen: I have to echo Dave’s comments here – I just feel like we are nearing the end of “Joe Schilling: Glory fighter”. He’s been in MMA, talked about boxing at times, and rumors are flying that if Spike and Glory part ways at the end of the year (which is looking increasingly likely), Joe is more likely to stay on Spike and Bellator than follow Glory.
As for that Kato loss – I’m not 100% sure what to make of it. MMA is a very different beast than kickboxing, but that was still very much a stand-up fight, and Schilling got starched. I’m not counting it in my head the same way I would a kickboxing loss, but I’m also not discounting it the same way I would if he had just been grappled to death.
As for Wilnis – he’s a guy who has seemingly been around forever, as I remember watching him on It’s Showtime back in the day. And he seemed like a guy who would forever be just kind of “there.” But he’s looked really, really good lately (as has his brother) That win over Barrett was an eye opener but I still can’t bring myself to get massively excited about him.
As a result, no, I’m not super pumped about a possible Levin vs. Wilnis II match. Give me Levin vs. Marcus III instead. That feels unfair to Wilnis, and I can’t even really articulate why I feel that way. It’s sort of like Rafael dos Anjos over in the UFC – I am just having a tough time moving this person I filed into the category of “solid top 20ish fighter” into “top level contender” or even champion.
All that said, I actually have Wilnis here. He’s got the technique to stop Joe’s aggression, and if Schilling’s head is not 100% in it (much like Barrett’s wasn’t in Oklahoma), Wilnis will make him pay.
Final Decision: We have a Unanimous Draw, with two of us seeing the fight Schilling’s way and two seeing it Wilnis’s way. The question will be answered tonight in the main event of GLORY 24 DENVER, live on Spike from 11pm ET.
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