Adegbuyi has already had one title shot, facing Verhoeven in the main event of GLORY 22 FRANCE back in June and losing a decision after five rounds. The latter half of the fight was one-sided as the master-technician Verhoeven put on a career-best performance, but Adegbuyi notes that he took the fight on rather short notice and wasn’t able to do a lot of specific preparation.
“It’s a little bit too soon [for a rematch] maybe but at the same time I would have a proper two-month training camp. For the first fight he was originally supposed to fight somebody else and I only got short notice, so I didn’t have too much time to prepare. So I think with a two-month camp I can make a proper preparation and a different fight,” he says on the prospect of rematching Verhoeven in December.
“I really want to fight in Amsterdam man! It will be amazing. Amsterdam is such an important city in kickboxing, the place where it all started, so it will be an incredible atmosphere… Everybody sees me as the favorite [in this tournament] but I don’t like that. I am always the underdog and when you are the favorite it just means like an extra layer of pressure, there’s no real benefit to it.”
Since the GLORY 22 fight, he and Verhoeven have struck up a friendship of sorts. It led to Adegbuyi recently spending three weeks in Manchester, England as a sparring partner for the boxer Tyson Fury, who was preparing for a title fight with Wladimir Klitschko. Fury used to live in the Netherlands and is a good friend and consistent training partner of Verhoeven’s.
“Training with Fury was a good thing. Boxers are more slippery, they move a lot, always try to avoid punches. He was very hard to hit, so I think sparring with him has made my eyes better, made my reactions better,” says Adegbuyi.
“Kickboxers don’t move so much, which makes it easier for me than trying to hit someone like Tyson Fury. So I think it’s a good thing. It has improved my boxing and I think I will be able to hit these guys in the tournament even better than before.”
Adegbuyi is paired with Croatian giant Mladen Brestovac in the semi-finals. They have already fought once, with Adegbuyi winning a unanimous decision over him at a 2012 event staged by top Romanian promotion SuperKombat.
“He is a strong fighter and he has a slightly different style to the average fighter, because he is a southpaw. But I already beat him once and I am much better today than I was back then. He wants the revenge but I am taking him very seriously, I have been training against southpaws in preparation,” he says.
Tactics are always a key consideration in tournaments, whether four- or eight-man. Does Adegbuyi see himself pushing for an early knockout or fighting conservatively to save energy and avoid damage for the tournament final?
“Good question. Normally it is better to win quickly but at this level that is not so easy. So I have to just fight my fight and see what comes. If I feel that I can finish him I will definitely push harder and try to finish him. Otherwise no, because you can risk running out of gas and we are at high altitude here in Denver. I used one of those elevation masks for every training session, I don’t know if they work or not, we will see,” he says.
The other semi-final bracket has Australian one-bomb specialist Ben Edwards, former heavyweight boxing champion of Australia, against Jahfarr Wilnis, one of Verhoeven’s main training partners and winner of a recent major grand prix in Chinese organization Kunlun.
“Ben Edwards is a monster, he is a good puncher, but Wilnis is on good form right now. He is coming off the Kunlun tournament win and beat Hesdy Gerges in the final, Gerges is a top fighter to that means something,” he says.
“But for me it is hard to say who can win the fight because they are both good. I am slightly towards Wilnis because he is a more complete kickboxer but I know Ben Edwards from back in the day and he only has to hit you once and you go out, KO.”
GLORY 24 DENVER takes place today, Friday October 9, at the Magness Arena in Denver, Colorado and airs live in the US on Spike TV from 11pm ET. The main event features middleweight contenders Joe Schilling and Jason Wilnis squaring off with the winner moving forward to challenge Artem ‘The Lion’ Levin for his belt.
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