This Saturday, Glory returns to action with Glory 29 Copenhagen. Headlining the show is Nieky Holzken vs Yoann Kongolo in a Welterweight title fight. With Holzken in the main event and a few Welterweight fights in the Superfight Series, this is a good opportunity to continue our divisional breakdown of Glory with a focus on the 77 kg / 170 lb Welterweight division. 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: NIEKY HOLZKEN
88-11; 10-0 Glory
Holzken officially became Glory Welterweight champion just last year, but unofficially, he’s been the king of this division for years. Holzken has been a staple of Glory since their very first show, and has been virtually flawless for the company. He’s undefeated since 2012, and the losses on his record are mostly when he was forced to fight outside of his ideal weight at 70kg. He has perfect technique, nice power, and a brutal body punch. The one thing holding him back is his last official win, where most felt he should have lost the decision to Murthel Groenhart. Still, he is one of the sport’s absolute elite right now, and doesn’t seem poised to lose any time soon.
#1 – MURTHEL GROENHART
58-20-3; 4-5 Glory
Groenhart is such a tricky, hot-and-cold style fighter. Consider his last batch of fights in Glory – he was pretty easily handled by newcomer Chad Sugden at Glory 23, looked great in the Glory 25 tournament, turned in the definitive best performance of his career against Holzken at Glory 26, and then lost to the unranked Cedric Doumbe at Glory 28. Groenhart is a very good fighter, but he lacks any consistency (especially against top fighters), and that will always be an issue for him.
#2 – KARIM GHAJJI
95-12-1; 1-4 Glory
Ghajji is an odd fighter to see this high, and frankly, an odd fighter to see ranked at all, as he fights this weekend for Bellator Kickboxing, so may not be long for the Glory ring. Ghajji is a very experienced veteran, but he’s never found much Glory success. That said, he’s been matched incredibly tough, with losses to Holzken, Valtellini, Groenhart, and Stetcurenko, and a win over Kongolo. He is a fighter with the potential for great things, but it has not yet been the reality.
#3 – YOANN KONGOLO
61-6; 2-1 Glory
Kongolo challenges Holzken for the title this Saturday at Glory 29, and comes in to that fight off a career best win over Karapet Karapetyan. Prior to that, he lost to Ghajji. Kongolo is a tough fighter with some flashy offense that he’s used well in his career so far. He has a lot of experience, yet still oddly feels kind of raw and developing. Will be very interesting to see if he has anything to offer Holzken.
#4 – CASEY GREENE
5-5; 4-2 Glory
Apologies to Greene, who I think is coming along nicely as a fighter, but for him to be ranked at #4 shows a real lack of depth in this division. He’s very inexperienced, and has been fighting on a mostly lower tier level at Glory (though he did make the finals of the Glory 23 tournament, losing to Dustin Jacoby). He won at Glory 27 and showed improvement, but he’s just not a top 5 fighter yet.
#5 – CHAD SUGDEN
14-4; 2-0 Glory
Sugden only has two Glory wins, but they are good wins, looking impressive in his debut victory at Glory 20, then upsetting Groenhart at Glory 23. He seemed on the verge of title contention, but an injury has kept him out. Sugden is a young fighter with great potential. If he can come back and build on the momentum of the Groenhart win, he’ll be fighting for a title before long.
#6 – KARAPET KARAPETYAN
43-12-2; 3-3 Glory
Karapetyan is a veteran with a lot of experience and a .500 record in Glory. He’s been in there with the company’s big names, and had some success but not consistently. He came back to the company late last year after a long layoff. Karapetyan would best be used as a gatekeeper type fighter – beat him and you are ready for the big leagues.
#7 – ALEKSANDR STETCURENKO
51-11; 1-2 Glory
Stetcurenko has a lot in common with Karapetyan above him – a lot of experience, and a solid test for any fighter. The Russian figher has terrific experience, including a win over Artem Levin back in 2009. Not sure what his future holds in Glory, but he’s a fighter who will always be around and always be a worthy foe.
#8 – JONATAN OLIVEIRA
20-4; 2-1 Glory
Brazil’s Oliveira fights this weekend at Glory 29 – his first time in the Glory ring since Glory 19 when he was cannon fodder for Raymond Daniels. Oliveira is a fine middle of the road fighter. He’ll likely keep beating lower end fighters while falling against the higher end.
#9 – FRANCOIS AMBANG
14-5; 2-3 Glory
Ambang won a Road to Glory tournament a few years back and has been win-one-lose-one in Glory ever since. Like Oliveira, he’s a middle of the road type fighter, but a step below. Eddie Walker is his best win back at Glory 13 with little of note since then.
#10 – DANIEL MORALES
NA; 0-1 Glory
There are some weird rankings in Glory’s system, but this one is the strangest. Morales is an unheralded fighter who made his Glory debut at Glory 27, losing to Casey Greene. Which makes him #10 in the world?
Outside the Top 10:
- OMARI BOYD (#11) – Boyd is 2-0 in Glory, both in the Superfight Series. Neither is a particular stand-out win, but if he keeps scoring those kinds of wins, he’ll be worth keeping around and moving up.
- CEDRIC DOUMBE – Doumbe is 1-1 in Glory, with a loss to Kongolo and a huge win over Groenhart at the last show. That’s a major victory, and he absolutely should be ranked in the top 10 at this point.
- RICHARD ABRAHAM – Abraham is a talented Muay Thai fighter out of the Chicago area who had a terrific debut at Glory 27. He’s slated for the Welterweight tournament at Glory 30 Los Angeles, where he will be a dark horse. Watch him.
- PAWEL JEDRZEJCZYK – Abraham’s opponent in Chicago, Jedrzejczyk is also a good fighter, he was just matched tough in his debut. Hopefully he’ll be back – he deserves another shot.
- MAXIMO SUAREZ, HARUT GRIGORIAN, MERAN ZANGANA – All three are debuting this weekend at Glory 29. Both Grigorian and Suarez (who face each other) are very good, experienced fighters who are excellent additions to a thin division. That should be a good fight, with the winner getting a solid push. Zangana gets an opportunity against Oliveira – he needs to win if he wants to distinguish himself.
- JOSEPH VALTELLINI, MARC DE BONTE – Two former Glory Welterweight champions, but both are currently inactive. De Bonte is in boxing for the pay, while Valtellini remains sidelined with an injury. They are both missed, greatly.
- RAYMOND DANIELS – Daniels is one of the most pushed fighters for Glory thanks to his crazy highlight reel KOs. But he’s now fighting for Bellator Kickboxing, and seems to be gone from Glory. Would love to see him back down the road.
- ARTUR KYSHENKO – A long-time veteran, Kyshenko has a ton of experience in K-1, Glory, and all over the world. He’s past his prime at this point, and not sure how much he has left, but he’s the kind of person you can bring in at any point for a good opponent.
- HICHAM EL GAOUI – El Gaoui has flown under the radar so far, which is a shame. He holds wins over Karapetyan, Stetcurenko, and a lot of other strong names. He’s an Enfusion champion, a Tatneft runner-up, and a definite must-grab for Glory.
- PAUL DALEY – The UFC and Strikeforce veteran splits his time between kickboxing and MMA, and he’s done quite well in both. I’m sure he’s going to stay part of Bellator Kickboxing, but he’s probably the biggest name in the division for casual fans, period. Holzken called him out at one point – that would be a terrific fight.
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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