On Friday, May 8, GLORY returns to U.S. soil to host its 21st event from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.
In the night’s main event, middleweight champion Artem Levin will lock horns with Simon Marcus. The Russian Levin captured GLORY gold by winning the one-night, eight-man Last Man Standing tournament last June. The 28-year-old has reeled off seven straight wins, including four straight in the GLORY ring. Canada’s Marcus, meanwhile, bounced back in a big way at GLORY 20 in Dubai. After dropping his promotional debut to Joe Schilling, Marcus claimed wins over Wayne Barrett and Jason Wilnis in Dubai to earn his shot at Levin.
Also on the main card will be a heavyweight qualification tournament which pits Chi Lewis-Parry against Demoreo Dennis and Xavier Vigney against Maurice Jackson.
The night’s main card airs on Spike TV on Friday at 11 p.m. ET.
This four-man tournament is intended to elevate one of these heavyweights to contender status, and there’s a good chance that the promotion is hoping that it’s England’s Chi Lewis-Parry.
Why, you ask? At 6-foot-9, the former pro basketball player is a towering presence in the ring. Couple that with his undefeated record in both kickboxing and MMA, and GLORY has a potential star on its hands. His 25-second destruction of Yong-Soo Park at GLORY 20 in Dubai turned some heads and the promotion quickly moved to include him on this card. Now is Lewis-Parry’s chance to prove he’s the real deal.
Across the ring will be American Demoreo Dennis, who will be making his GLORY debut as a late replacement. Dennis is another fighter with both kickboxing and MMA experience, but he has not fared quite as well as his opponent. Dennis fought GLORY veteran Pat Barry in January and dropped a split decision in a fight that many felt he won.
This fight will come down to one of two things. Either the experience of Dennis will help him survive the first round and allow him to test Lewis-Parry’s gas tank, or Dennis will become yet another knockout victim of the towering Brit. Expect the latter. Lewis-Parry punches his ticket to the final.
The other half of the bracket features more Americans, as Xavier Vigney welcomes Maurice Jackson to the promotion.
Vigney earned his spot on the GLORY roster by a capturing a one-night Road to Glory tournament. Since then, he’s scored back-to-back finishes, including a TKO over Everett Sims at GLORY 19. The Northern Californian fighter has shown solid boxing technique and finishing ability.
Jackson, meanwhile, is yet another imposing specimen. At 6-foot-9 and 275 pounds, Jackson has yet to taste defeat as a kickboxer, and he also has MMA experience. However, his level of competition is largely a question mark.
Vigney isn’t the flashiest of fighters, but he’s solid in all areas. He’ll outpoint Jackson en route to the final.
If there’s one fighter on this card looking to erase his last appearance in the ring, it’s welterweight Raymond Daniels. The karate stylist fell short in the GLORY 19 tournament, suffering a TKO against Nieky Holzken in the final. He’ll have the chance to get back on track against Justin Baesman.
Baesman will be making his GLORY debut and is better known for his MMA resume, which includes appearances with Bellator MMA and World Series of Fighting. The 33-year-old was in the cage just six weeks ago, suffering a first-round TKO loss against Randall Wallace.
This is the definition of a showcase fight. Daniels is a decorated stand-up fighter with a propensity for high-flying, highlight-reel finishes. Baesman has plenty of combat-sports experience, but he’s got a suspect chin and will simply be outclassed in this match-up. Daniels ends this one early with a spinning heel kick to the solar plexus.
If things play out as expected, the tournament final may look similar to both opening-round bouts. Lewis-Parry will look to swarm and overwhelm Vigney, while Vigney will once again look to use his technique to take this fight into deep waters.
Should Lewis-Parry need more than a round to get past Dennis in the semifinals, it will be interesting to see if his explosiveness carries over to the finals. If it doesn’t, he may be ripe for the picking against someone like Vigney. Vigney possesses strong cardio and knows when to go for the finish, but he’ll be spending more time playing defense than generating offense in this contest.
Lewis-Parry looks the part of the next heavyweight superstar. If he plays his cards right in San Diego, he’ll get the better of Vigney with another first-round finish via punches.
It is always a treat to watch the No. 1-ranked fighter in any discipline ply their trade, and the fans in San Diego will have the pleasure of watching Russia’s Artem Levin in action. “The Lion” has been out of action since last summer when he captured the middleweight title by winning the one-night, eight-man Last Man Standing tournament with victories over Joe Schilling, Filip Verlinden and Alex Pereira. Now, he’ll look to defend his title against the resurgent Canadian Simon Marcus.
Levin is the perfect balance of technique and violence. He’s not the flashiest fighter on the planet, but he utilizes movement and angles as well as any kickboxer. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s motivated. One of his two losses in the last four years came against Marcus under Muay Thai rules in a closely contested fight. Now, he’ll have the opportunity for revenge under rules that favor his style more than the style of Marcus.
Marcus suffered the first loss of his career in the Last Man Standing tournament, falling via knockout to eventual finalist Schilling. But that was only the beginning of a tough last year for the 28-year-old. In January, Marcus suffered a TKO loss to China’s Fang Bian. Although Marcus thrives under Muay Thai rules that allow clinching, he’s struggled mightily outside those rules. However, he bounced back in a big way last month in Dubai at GLORY 20. He edged Wayne Barrett and Jason Wilnis on the scorecards and proved he could find success under GLORY rules.
It’s hard to take much from the pair’s first fight when looking at this rematch. Marcus got the better of the clinch work as that fight progressed and it slowed down Levin’s movement. Since clinching is limited in GLORY, the biggest advantage of Marcus’s game will be taken away. Marcus is notorious for coming forward and pushing the pace, but look for Levin to use his footwork and angles to get the better of the exchanges. They’ll go the distance again, but this time Levin will come out on top and remain champion.
The gem of the Superfight Series is the heavyweight bout between Anderson “Braddock” Silva and Benjamin Adegbuyi, which will likely determine the next fighter to challenge heavyweight kingpin Rico Verhoeven. Brazil’s Silva has been inconsistent of late, going just 4-6 over his last 10 fights. Even more troubling is the fact that his last four defeats have come via stoppage. Romania’s Adegbuyi has been steadily climbing the heavyweight ranks and has yet to taste defeat in the GLORY ring.
California’s Mike Lemaire is also returning to the GLORY ring. He was gifted a decision over Dustin Jacoby last June, which kept him from falling to 0-3 with the promotion. He’ll get a more favorable match-up this time out when he takes on Sean Choice.
|HW: Anderson Silva (38-11-1) vs. Benjamin Adegbuyi (18-2)||Adegbuyi by unanimous decision|
|MW: Mike Lemaire (13-2) vs. Sean Choice (16-3)||Lemaire by unanimous decision|
|LW: Luis Castaneda (30-8-1) vs. Ken Tran (14-4-1)||Tran by third-round TKO|
|LHW: Andre Walker (1-0) vs. Manny Mancha (1-1)||Walker by second-round knockout|
|WW: Omari Boyd (32-2) vs. James Steelsmith (10-4)||Boyd by unanimous decision|