A successful competitor on the Brazilian circuit and with some international appearances to his name, Ariel Machado was nevertheless rather an unknown on the world stage when he got his GLORY call-up. But he impressed with his performance at GLORY 32, particularly with the clever tactics he used against the fearsome Zhuravlev and his discipline in sticking to them throughout the fight.
He debuted at GLORY 32 VIRGINIA as a light-heavyweight and came runner-up in that card’s Light-Heavyweight Contender Tournament. In the semi-finals he beat the much-vaunted Pavel Zhuravlev of Ukraine but took some damage along the way. He was then stopped by France’s Zinedine Hameur-Lain in the tournament final.
Standing opposite Machado will be Yousri Belagouri from Amsterdam, Netherlands. He fights out of the infamous Mike’s Gym (Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoef, Murthel Groenhart) and is making his GLORY debut in Denver. He has an all-action, varied style and has earned a reputation as a finisher. With just one loss on his record, he’s now getting the call-up to kickboxing’s big show.
The other semi-final bracket in the four-man tournament sees Canada’s Robert Thomas taking on Israel Adesanya of New Zealand. Muay Thai stylist Thomas was a bright prospect when he joined GLORY but was immediately thrown to the wolves (Artem Levin, Joe Schilling) and suffered as a result. Adesanya has made one previous appearance for GLORY – a decision loss to Filip Verlinden two years ago – but since then has become one of the most desirable free agents in kickboxing.
The tournament winner will be granted a shot at the middleweight championship, currently held by Jason ‘Psycho’ Wilnis following his stoppage of former champion Simon ‘The One’ Marcus in the main event of GLORY 33 NEW JERSEY last month. Marcus had in turn taken the belt from Artem Levin in his previous fight.
GLORY 34 DENVER takes place Friday, October 21 at the 1st Bank Center in Denver, Colorado and is headlined by featherweight champion Gabriel Varga defending the belt against former lightweight champion Robin van Roosmalen.
On the SUPERFIGHT SERIES card, which precedes the numbered card and airs live on UFC FIGHT PASS, welterweight champion Nieky ‘The Natural’ Holzken will defend his belt against bitter rival Murthel Groenhart in a highly-anticipated trilogy match. Holzken is 2-0 in the series but Groenhart strongly disputes both decisions.
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