This Friday, join Bloody Elbow for kickboxing as Glory is back in action with Glory 25. Glory 25 Milan airs live on ESPN3 this Friday, November 6 with a fight time of 4:00 p.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. PT
This is Glory’s first show since the end of their deal with Spike, and it was just announced one day before airing that the show will be on ESPN3. Let’s hope that still brings them a crowd, because this is a must-watch Glory event. Here’s what to expect.
Lightweight Title: Robin van Roosmalen (C) (34-6; 10-2 Glory) vs. #1 Sittichai Sitsongpeenong (103-28-5; 2-0 Glory)
The Glory Lightweight title is on the line in this superb main event pitting the division’s top two fighters against each other. For a number of years, Robin van Roosmalen was that “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” kind of fighter, coming oh so close to the top position, but never quite getting there. But in the past year, he’s firmly claimed that spot with his title win over Davit Kiria, and his big defense against Andy Ristie. RvR has a great, powerful Dutch style, with ferocious combos and heavy shots. He’s used it very effectively as of late, and absolutely deserves his #1 Lightweight in the world status.
And yet, all that said, I’m picking against him here. And I think in fact that it might not even be close. That’s because Thailand’s Sittichai Sitsongpeenong is a destroyer. In his Glory debut, he KO’d former champion Davit Kiria – the first man to ever stop the uber-tough Kiria – then outclassed Josh Jauncey to win the Glory 22 tournament. He also beat Andy Souwer and Murthel Groenhart in a single night earlier this year, and is curently a ridiculous 9-1 in 2015. What sets Sittichai apart is his ability to use Muay Thai inside a Glory ring. Many highly skilled Thai fighters have made the move to K-1 or Glory ruleset and have faltered. But Sittichai uses the more kickboxing-friendly side of Muay Thai, focusing on precise and hard strikes over inside clinch work (which is not allowed in Glory). The result has been a highly accurate striking game that simply dominates opponents.
Head to head, look for Sittichai to expertly use range to keep van Roosmalen exactly where he wants him, wearing him down with nasty leg kicks en route to a stoppage win and a new champion.
Prediction: Sittichai Sitsongpeenong, KO
Lightweight: #5 Giorgio Petrosyan (81-2-1; 5-1 Glory) vs. #4 Josh Jauncey (23-5; 4-1 Glory)
All hail the king: Giorgio Petrosyan is back. From 2009 to 2013, Petrosyan was the undisputed king of the sport – not just of the 70kg division, but of all of kickboxing. No one had better technique, no one could control fights the way he could, no one had better mastered the art of hitting without being hit. For an example of what true, high-level technical kickboxing is all about, pick any Petrosyan fight from that period and you will see something special. Then, in 2013 at Glory 12, his run came to a sudden end when Andy Ristie knocked him out. He took a year off after that, has had three solid wins outside of Glory in 2015, and now makes his return to the top organization in the world, looking to regain his #1 status in front of his proud Italian fans.
Looking to spoil the party is the highly motivated Josh Jauncey. The young Canadian trains in part under Andy Souwer, and has been seen as one of those future of the sport kind of fighters. He’s been moving up the Glory ranks, and this year has made the step up to the highest level, coming in here off a loss to Sittichai. Jauncey also has an excellent technical game, and he’s also a very strategic fighter.
The easy pick here is Petrosyan, but there are a lot of factors that make this a very tough to call fight. Petrosyan has been fighting, so ring rust shouldn’t be an issue, but how are his notoriously fragile and injury-prone hands holding up? Also, Jauncey and his team asked for this fight, and have been preparing a gameplan specifically designed to topple the king. But that’s easier said than done. This will be an important test for both Jauncey and Petrosyan – and I am not sure which man will pass it.
Prediction: Giorgio Petrosyan, decision
Welterweight Semifinal: #6 Murthel Groenhart (56-18-3; 2-3 Glory) vs. Nicola Gallo (19-7-1; 0-1 Glory)
The first fight of the Welterweight tournament sees the tournament’s biggest name fighter in action. Murthel Groenhart is a longtime veteran of the tough European scene, and has been in there against many of the sport’s best. He trains these days at Mike’s Gym under the excellent Mike Passenier, who guided Groenhart to great success in 2012 when he won the K-1 MAX Grand Prix. Yes, it was a depleted field, but it was still a solid line-up, and his win there should be respected. But since then, he’s struggled, going 3-4 overall and a paltry 1-3 in Glory. He moved back up to Welterweight for his last fight, and it didn’t do him any favors, as he dropped a decision to Chad Sugden at Glory 23. Gallo was last seen for Glory way back at Glory 5 where he lost to Jonatan Oliveira. He’s an Itlalian fighter, which is why he is here, because while Gallo is not a bad fighter, he’s out of his league here. Groenhart can be very up and down and hard to predict, but this is the kind of fight he wins with little trouble.
Prediction: Murthel Groenhart, KO
Welterweight Semifinal: #4 Yoann Kongolo (60-5; 1-0 Glory) vs. #8 Karim Ghajji (94-11-1; 0-3 Glory)
The other half of the bracket is a much closer fight, with two fighters in the Glory top 10. Kongolo had a solid Glory debut at Glory 22, taking a nice decision win in the Superfight Series. He fought in Superkombat last year, winning his debut with a pretty spectacular spinning back fist / jumping knee combo. Check out that fight here. He also has strong experience in Karate, and in the European Muay Thai scene. He’s a dynamic, exciting fighter with a lot of potential. Karim “gadjetboy” Ghajji is a veteran of the French scene. He also moonlights as a b-boy. He’s competed under a wide range of rule sets, and really is a very skilled, often underrated fighter, who holds wins over Marat Grigorian, Alexander Stetcurenko and Yohan Lidon. Unfortunately, Glory has not been good for him, as he is winless for the company, though it must be noted that two of those losses come against Joe Valtellini and Nieky Holzken. No shame there. Don’t let that 0-3 fool you – Ghajji has the goods. That makes this a really solid, closely matched fight, and a hard one to call. But in the end, I’ll take the explosiveness and power of Kongolo to take this one.
Prediction: Yoann Kongolo, KO
Welterweight Tournament Final
For me, this is Groenhart vs. Kongolo. Gut instinct is Groenhart – after all, he’s the veteran, he’s got the big fight experience and the top level camp, and when he’s on, he’s more than capable. And yet the more I think about it, the more I am reminded that Groenhart’s greatest successes come at Lightweight, and here, he’s facing a powerful and big Welterweight. I’ll take the upset in an exciting firefight.
Prediction: Yoann Kongolo, KO
Join us here at Bloody Elbow later today for live coverage of Glory 25.
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