On Saturday, kickboxing is back in its proper home as Glory presents Glory 31 Amsterdam. Glory 31 airs live Saturday, June 25 with a fight time of 4:00 p.m. ET for the main card on ESPN3. Before that, the Glory Superfight Series will air live on UFC Fight Pass with a fight time of 1:30 p.m. ET. Here, we break down the complete Superfight card – check back later this week for the main card.
#3 MOURAD BOUZIDI (79-22-2 Overall; 6-4 Glory) vs. #4 ZACK MWEKASSA (14-3 Overall; 4-2 Glory) – Light Heavyweight
This was originally scheduled as a Light Heavyweight title fight with new champion Artem Vakhitov defending his belt, but an injury instead brings us this very good fight. Bouzidi is a road-tested veteran of the sport who has come into his own lately. After fighting for years at Heavyweight, he now seems really at home at Light Heavyweight, and he comes in here off a major win over Danyo Ilunga. Mwekassa made waves in his Glory debut when he KO’d Pat Barry, and his combination of crazy life story and heavy hands have made him a real fan favorite. In his last fight, he showed a new side of his game, patiently outworking his opponent instead of going all in for the KO. It wasn’t as exciting perhaps, but he’s a better fighter for it. But interestingly that probably isn’t his wisest move here. Bouzidi is the better technical fighter, and if it goes long, he’ll take the decision. But he’s also been KO’d before – badly – and if the Black Warrior can find that chin, he’ll end it.
Prediction: Mourad Bouzidi, Dec
#5 JOSH JAUNCEY (24-6 Overall; 5-2 Glory) vs. #6 ANATOLY MOISEEV (16-1 Overall; 2-1 Glory) – Lightweight
This is a strong card overall, but if there’s one fight to really get excited for, it’s this one. Jauncey and Moiseev represent two of the young guns in the always deep and talent-rich Lightweight division. Canada’s Jauncey trains with Andy Souwer, and possesses superb technique. He also earned major big fight experience last year, competing against both Giorgio Petrosyan and Sittichai – undeniably 2 of the top 3 Lightweights in the world. He looked great in his last fight, and seems to be constantly improving. Moiseev has also looked terrific in Glory, with his only loss coming to Marat Griogorian. He’s a bit more aggressive and heavy handed than Jauncey, but both are exciting, action fighters. This is a pick ‘em, and a GREAT fight.
Prediction: Josh Jauncey, Dec
#3 ISIS VERBEEK (8-2 Overall; Glory Debut) vs. #4 IRINA MAZEPA (10-19 Overall; Glory Debut) – Super Bantamweight
This fight is the second quarterfinal in the recently announced Glory Women’s Super Bantamweight Grand Prix. Tiffany Van Soest has already advanced, and the winner here takes a spot in the semifinals on the other side of the bracket. Verbeek comes out of the Netherlands and has trained at Hemmers Gym, so she’ll be the clear hometown favorite here. As you would expect from anyone with that pedigree, Verbeek is a technically solid fighter in the Dutch mold. She’s already talking about a possible Van Soest showdown in the finals, stating that she was not impressed by Time Bomb’s Glory debut. Her opponent is Russia’s Mazepa. Mazepa was originally in the reserve fight, but got the call up when Iman Barlow stepped out of the tournament. Mazepa went 2-0 in MMA last year, and also holds a kickboxing loss to UFC fighter Valentina Shevchenko. She’s more of a dedicated boxer that Verbeek, and I don’t see her having the well rounded game needed for the win here.
Prediction: Isis Verbeek, Dec
SAENCHAI PKSAENCHAIMUAYTHAIGYM (264-48-2 Overall, Glory Debut) vs. #5 EDDY NAIT-SLIMANI (60-1 Overall; 1-0 Glory) – Featherweight
OK, let’s be perfectly clear here – Glory’s signing of Seanchai is a BIG DEAL. There are a lot of great and highly respected Muay Thai fighters out there, but Saenchai is a class above. He’s one of the all time greats in a sport that has generated a lot of all time greats, and while he is certainly a bit past his prime at this point, he’s not far past it. Saenchai is a beautiful fighter to watch, possessing a grace of movement and perfection in his technique that is simply amazing. He is a legend, and a legend who still ranks as one of the finest strikers in the world today, no matter the ruleset. All that said, it’s important to remember that this is not Muay Thai. Many fighters have struggled to bring their Muay Thai into kickboxing rules, and while Saenchai has a bit of experience with these rules, it’s not much – and it includes a loss in K-1 3 years ago to a largely unknown fighter. Eddy Nait-Slimani is not a largely unknown fighter. The French fighter made a much anticipated Glory debut at Glory 28, and he looked very good there. He has the experience and skills to make Saenchai work, and if he can exploit Saenchai’s weakness with these rules, he absolutely can play spoiler here – remember that Glory MW champ Simon Marcus struggled with his transition from Muay Thai to Glory as well. I rate Saenchai very, very highly, but I think he will need to learn the adjustments here, and Nait-Slimani may be the man to teach him.
Prediction: Eddy Nait-Slimani, Dec
#13 MAXIMO SUAREZ (38-4 Overall, 0-1 Glory) vs. EYEVAN DANENBERG (21-4 Overall; Glory Debut) – Welterweight
Suarez is an accomplished fighter with a good record who made his Glory debut at Glory 29. That fight didn’t go his way, as he was KO’d by Harut Grigorian in 1 round, but Grigorian is a tough fighter, and that loss should not discredit Suarez. Still, he needs a win here badly as he takes on the debuting Danenberg, a Dutch fighter with good experience in FFC. Though Suarez is the easier pick here given his experience edge, this is not a gimme fight for him by any means, and should be a very good, action-packed opener.
Prediction: Maximo Suarez, Dec
Join us here at Bloody Elbow on Saturday for live Glory 31 coverage.
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