Tonight, Friday January 20 is Glory’s first show of 2017 as Glory 37 takes place live in Los Angeles. The show airs on UFC Fight Pass at 10:30 p.m. ET for the Superfight Series, with the Glory 37 main card to follow at 1:00 a.m. ET on ESPN3. Here’s a look at the card:
C. JASON WILNIS (29-6-1 Overall; 6-4 Glory) VS. #3 ISRAEL ADESANYA (65-3 Overall; 2-1 Glory) – Glory Middleweight Title
The main event here is a fantastic title fight that has hardcore fans extremely excited. Wilnis is a seasoned veteran who has really taken his game to a whole new championship level in the past few years. That culminated in his September title victory over Simon Marcus – considered by many to be one of the top 5 pound for pound fighters in kickboxing at the time. This is Wilnis’s first fight since. He’s got a real tough challenge for this first defense, as Adesanya looked fantastic in his Glory debut, winning the tournament at Glory 34. The New Zealand based fighter is on the cusp of real stardom in combat sports – he’s inches away from being the best Middleweight in kickboxing, he’s a perfect 9-0 in MMA, and he’s looked good in a burgeoning boxing career. People have high hopes for him, whatever sport he ultimately lands in. Some see an Adesanya coronation as a foregone conclusion, but Wilnis is the kind of technical perfect, durable fighter who you can never rule out. I like the momentum on Adesanya’s side, but don’t be surprised at all if Wilnis figures out how to stop that train.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya, Dec
The tournament portion of the main card takes place in the Welterweight division. That’s an exciting, wide open division now that long-time king Nieky Holzken was dethroned by Cedric Doumbe. Tournament favorite is #5 Yoann Kongolo (62-8; 3-3), who gave Holzken a tough fight last year and holds a 2015 Glory win over Doumbe. Best shot at spoiling Kongolo’s plans goes to #3 Karim Benmansour (47-6-2; 1-1), a very good fighter out of France who has seen some success in Glory. But I doubt it’s enough – look for Kongolo to win here and set up the big rematch. Rounding out the main card is Heavyweights #10 Guto Inocente (32-7; 3-0) vs. D’Angelo Marshall (14-1; Debut). Inocente is an MMA veteran who went a combined 1-2 in UFC and Strikeforce. He’s been focused exclusively on kickboxing since 2015 and is 5-0 since. He comes in off the biggest win of his career in either sport, defeating talented veteran Hesdy Gerges at Glory 33. Marshall is a fine fighter, but feels like a step down for the rising Inocente, who should take the win here and hopefully next be seen in a contender tournament.
ROBIN VAN ROOSMALEN (36-6 Overall; 12-3 Glory) VS. #4 MATT EMBREE (39-7 Overall; 2-0 Glory) – Glory Featherweight Title
The Superfight Series headliner was set to be the first title defense for Robin van Roosmalen. But those plans changed when the champ failed to make weight yesterday – he’s now been stripped of the belt. Should Embree win here, he becomes the champion, but should van Roosmalen win, the belt will remain vacant and the now former champ will be named the #1 contender. Van Roosmalen won the title last year, becoming the first ever two-division champion in Glory. Kickboxers traditionally are not known for weight-cutting, but we are seeing its role in the sport grow (and the consequences that come with that). Van Roosmalen looked amazing in his title win over Gabriel Varga, bringing his power and aggression down from Lightweight – if he can manage his weight consistently, he will be a force here. Embree is a Canadian fighter who made a huge impact in his Glory debut at Glory 33, scoring a tournament win with a pair of big KOs. Like Adesanya, he’s a very tough first title defense, as he is one of those fighters whose KO power is a instant equalizer. I’m not sure how the weight issue will impact van Roosmalen – I had picked him before due to his endurance and the variety of his game, and I will stick with that. But if he comes in at all off his game, Embree will make him pay.
Prediction: Robin van Roosmalen, Dec
The Superfight Series this time has some good names in action, but outside of the main event, there aren’t any major fights. #15 Jhonata Diniz (8-5; 2-3) returns to Glory for the first time since 2015, taking on #14 Tomas Mozny (15-4-1; 1-0) in a Heavyweight slugfest that should favor Mozny. Former Bellator champion #10 Zoila Frausto (Gurgel) (4-0; Debut) tries to keep her budding kickboxing career going as she takes on German boxer #4 Daniela Graf (24-5-1; 0-1) – I’ll take Graf for the experience edge here. #6 Mike Lemaire (18-3; 3-3) and #10 Warren Thompson (11-8-1; 0-4) meet in a battle of solid American fighters who have yet to really reach that next level. Look for the more well-rounded and technically sound Lemaire for the win there. Finally, #7 Giga Chikadze (36-5; 4-2) returns from his upset KO loss to Embree. He should be able to get it done against debuting French fighter Victor Pinto (72-26; Debut).
Join us tonight for Glory 37 live coverage, right here at Bloody Elbow.
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