Last weekend, Glory wrapped up the stacked Glory 28, capping off an excellent card with a big title defense from Heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven. Now, the company looks ahead to Glory 29, featuring both a Welterweight title fight and a Heavyweight tournament to determine who is up next for the champ. With all of this action in the Heavyweight division, I figured now was a good time to unveil this new feature – a divisional breakdown of Glory. Here, we start with the Heavyweights. We’ll look at the top 10, giving each fighter a grade based on his current position in Glory. We’ll also take a look at the rest of the division, plus any key players not in Glory. Let’s get to it.
Champion: RICO VERHOEVEN
Verhoeven is just on another level from every other Heavyweight right now. He’s become a terrific all-around fighter with great kicks, heavy hands, cardio for days, and an ability to force fighters into his fight, then drown them. He’s an amazing 11-1 in Glory, with the only loss coming to Semmy Schilt way back at Glory 4, and now has 4 title defenses to his credit. He does have a more recent loss outside of Glory, so he’s not completely untouchable, but in kickboxing, no one is. It’s been quite a number of years since one man has been able to dominate as the sport’s clear top Heavyweight – Verhoeven has very obviously claimed that title.
#1 – BENJAMIN ADEGBUYI
The former two time title challenger is clearly #2 in the division behind the champ, as his only losses in Glory (in fact, his only losses in 4 years) are to Verhoeven. Adegbuyi is a big fighter with strong power who has had great success in first Superkombat and now Glory. That said, he seems stuck, as he’s not going to beat the champ. Also, his cardio is a little dicey. Hard to know what to do with him moving forward in Glory.
#2 – JAHFARR WILNIS
Wilnis started his Glory career with 3 decent but not notable wins, then was KO’d by Mladen Brestovac and seemed like a fighter without a huge upside for the company. He turned that around by winning a big tournament for Kunlun Fights in China last year, then returned to Glory and made it to the finals of the Glory 24 tournament, losing a great fight to Adegbuyi that some felt Wilnis won. He has yet to return to Glory, but when he does, he will be right in the title picture.
#3 – XAVIER VIGNEY
Vigney has less than a dozen pro fights to his name, but he’s already 6-0 in Glory and a top 5 fighter. He just won the biggest fight of his career, defeating veteran Freddy Kemayo in a very entertaining fight at Glory 28. That fight showed that Vigney is a game, tough fighter, but also hittable. Vigney is being brought up wisely, but he now finds himself in a position where he has to be in with some big names. He won the Glory 21 tournament, and with that, he should be in the Glory 29 tournament if he’s healthy.
#4 – ANDERSON SILVA
The 5-5 Silva is the classic example of an upper mid-level veteran – always a tough fight, never a true contender. He just had a good win at Glory 27, but that was after 3 losses. There’s always a place for a fighter of Silva’s skill level, but it’s hard to see him ever moving much further up the ladder.
#5 – MLADEN BRESTOVAC
Brestovac was somewhat gifted a title shot at Glory 28, where Verhoeven took him apart over 5 rounds. He had a great Glory debut, knocking out Wilnis in the midst of a 3+ year win streak mostly outside of Glory. He came back last year and has back to back losses to Adegbuyi and Verhoeven. Still, he’s an entertaining fighter who can be used well for good fights – but he probably won’t get that title shot again.
#6 – BEN EDWARDS
Edwards is a former K-1 champion with huge power and one of my all time favorite Glory wins over Jama Ben Saddik at Glory 12. But that was over 2 years ago, he’s 0-2 since, and looked really quite bad in his last outing – a Glory 24 loss to Wilnis. Edwards’s heart doesn’t seem in it right now, and I’m not sure what his future holds.
#7 – GUTO INOCENTE
Only 1 Glory fight, but what a win it was, as the MMA veteran knocked out Demoreo Dennis in spectacular fashion at Glory 27. Matchmaker Cor Hemmers says Inocente is not yet ready for a contender tournament, but he’s a fighter to watch, no doubt. Probably behind only Vigney in terms of momentum in Glory right now, and again, that’s after just 1 win.
#8 – ERROL ZIMMERMAN
The wildly popular Zimmerman will always entertain, but he’s a very hot and cold type fighter. His 2008 run in K-1 was great, then he faltered for a bit, then regained form with a big run around 2011. He looked tremendous when he won the Glory 16 tournament, but was then injured in his title shot. His return at Glory 26 was bad, as he was thoroughly outworked by the unranked Thomas Vanneste. Zimmerman will always be a marquee fighter, but he needs a win.
#9 – CHI LEWIS PARRY
Parry has the charisma you need to be a star, even if his skills don’t 100% back that up just yet. But he’s getting there, steadily improving his game. He has two very impressive KO wins, and is in a solid position. He’s also an MMA fighter, and I’m not sure where his attention will be focused moving forward (it’s been more on MMA just recently). If he commits to Glory, he’ll be a name to watch.
#10 – FREDDY KEMAYO
Kemayo just made his debut, losing to Vigney. That fight is exactly what this veteran’s position will be in Glory – gatekeeper type fighter who provides a real test to a younger fighter. He will win some, he will lose some, but much like Anderson Silva, he will have a place.
Outside the Top 10:
- ISMAEL LONDT – Just recently signed, and likely to appear at the Glory 29 tournament, Londt is an international powerhouse with great experience and the awesome nickname “Mr. Pain.” If he’s in that tournament, he’s an instant favorite, and I would not be surprised to see him in there against Verhoeven before the year is out.
- THOMAS VANNESTE (#11) – His win over Zimmerman should put him in the top 10, and should earn him a good opportunity next time out. That fight will show how much the win was Vanneste being that good vs. Zimmerman being unprepared.
- JAMAL BEN SADDIK (#13) – Because he can KO anyone, anytime, Ben Saddik will always be an interesting draw. He’s also wildly unpredictable, which adds something to his sort of Badr Hari-lite aura, but also will probably keep him from reaching the very top. Still, you should never write him off.
- MAURICE GREENE (#12), EVERETT SIMS (#16), DEMOREO DENNIS (#17), NICOLAS WAMBA (#18) – All fighters who are yet to distinguish themselves in Glory. Greene probably has the most upside of the group, but he’s very raw and still developing.
- JHONATA DINIZ (#14), ALEKSANDR VEZHEVATOV (#15) – Diniz is a veteran who is not very active in Glory and has not fought for them in 2 years. Vezhevatov is a Russian fighter who has been signed but not yet fought. Neither man should realistically be ranked.
- DANIEL SAM, JASON LEE – Neither is currently listed on the Glory roster, but Sam has a number of Glory fights and Lee won on the Superfight Series last year, so they are two men I could see on a card at any time.
- HESDY GERGES – The former It’s Showtime champion has Glory experience and is definitely a big name fighter, but he’s got some legal issues to sort out.
- BADR HARI – Everything I said about Gerges is true here too, minus the Glory experience. Hari is allegedly retired right now, but if were to come back, he’ll always be a huge draw.
- ANDREI GERASIMCHUK – The man who beat Verhoeven in China, Gerasimchuk has seemed like an obvious pick-up for Glory ever since. Honestly, I’m not sure why that hasn’t happened.
- ZABIT SAMEDOV – Easily the best Heavyweight not in Glory right now, Samedov is a veteran on a 3 year undefeated streak that includes wins over Badr Hari and Danyo Ilunga. Sign him Glory!
- BRIAN DOUWES – Douwes is a veteran with a lot of experience who could slot into the same kind of role Filip Verlinden plays at Middleweight (though frankly at a lower level). He’s not a really needed signing by any means, but he did beat Ben Saddik in November, which is probably worth a shot in Glory.
That’s my take, now it’s your turn to sound off in the comments. What did I get right, and where was I way off base?
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