GLORY returns to the Sears Centre Arena in Chicago tonight, Feb. 26, for GLORY 27. GLORY’s first event of 2016 features many of the top middleweights in the world, and includes the GLORY middleweight championship and a middleweight contender tournament.
In the main event of the evening, GLORY middleweight champion Artem Levin puts his title on the line against former title challenger Simon Marcus. Both men last fought in the GLORY ring when they collided for the belt at GLORY 21. The judges were split after a back-and-forth fight, with two of the judges scoring the fight a 47-47 draw. Despite one of the judges giving Marcus the win by decision, Levin retained his title due to the fight being ruled a majority draw. Levin lost to Marcus just under three years ago under full Muay Thai rules at Lion Fight 9, giving even more intrigue to a fight that pits two of the best strikers above welterweight against one another.
The co-headliner was originally scheduled to be a battle of scrappy lightweights Anzar Boynazarov and Giga Chikadze in a rematch of their GLORY 23 bout. The fight was Chikadze’s chance to avenge his loss to the more experienced fighter, but the kickboxer and mixed martial artist will have to get back in the win column against a different challenge. That challenge comes in the form of undefeated American Kevin Vannostrand, who has earned nine knockouts and 11 career victories in his young career.
The main card also features a four-man, one-night middleweight contender tournament involving promotional mainstays Dustin Jacoby and Wayne Barrett, as well as tournament newcomers Karl Roberson and Daniel Thomas. Jacoby and Barrett are currently ranked in the Combat Press Kickboxing Rankings, but the men have swapped fortunes in the past year. Barrett burst onto the professional kickboxing scene in 2013 only to struggle in his recent fights. Jacoby lost every fight during an almost two-year stretch where he attempted to compete in both MMA and kickboxing-rules bouts. Once Jacoby hung up the four-ounce gloves, he started winning in kickboxing again, extending his winning streak to three in a row inside the promotion. GLORY veteran Robert Thomas is hoping to upset his higher-ranked opponents on his way to earning a title shot at the age of 23. GLORY debutant Roberson knocked out K-1 legend Jerome Le Banner in his professional debut, only to have the win taken away from clear favoritism exhibited by the referee’s decision to let Le Banner take nearly 30 seconds to recover from a second knockdown.
The GLORY 27 SuperFight Series card will be the first of many Super Fight Series events to air live on the UFC’s streaming service, UFC Fight Pass. The headlining bout on the Fight Pass portion of the card features multiple-combat sport athlete Joe “Stitch ‘Em Up” Schilling taking on French-American Mike Lemaire. Schilling will be fighting in the last fight of his GLORY contract before moving over to the newly created Bellator Kickboxing. Lemaire won the 2013 Road to GLORY middleweight tournament to earn a contract with GLORY. The fight card also features top heavyweight Anderson “Braddock” Silva taking on 6-foot-9 American kickboxer Maurice Greene, former UFC fighter and current WGP light heavyweight champion Guto Inocente against former GLORY heavyweight contender tournament participant Demoreo Dennis, and former Lion Fight title challenger Richard “Maximus” Abraham taking on the first Polish fighter to ever fight inside the GLORY ring, Pawel Jędrzejczyk.
Simon Marcus is a 29-year-old Canadian Muay Thai specialist who made the move to Thailand to begin his professional career. He won multiple amateur titles before turning pro and fighting all over Asia and North America. Marcus earned big victories early in his career, defeating top kickboxers Joe Schilling, Artem Vakhitov, Israel Adesanya and many others. Marcus won the WPMF, WBC, Lion Fight and Wu Lin Feng Championship titles on his way up the rankings, throwing himself into the top of the middleweight mix early and often.
Marcus made the move to GLORY for the GLORY: Last Man Standing tournament as an undefeated fighter in 2014. Marcus and Schilling fought in the semifinals of the tournament. One of the best fights of 2014 went to an extension round after the two men battled back and forth for the first three rounds. Schilling would have his revenge, becoming the first man to defeat Marcus when he knocked him out in the final frame.
Marcus made it back into the win column against Dmitry Valent shortly after, but he was again upset in his next bout. Unheralded Chinese Sanda fighter Fang Bian stopped Marcus after a brutal series of knockouts spelled the end for the once unbeaten prospect. Marcus regrouped at the GLORY 20 middleweight contender tournament, defeating top-10 middleweights Jason Wilnis and Wayne Barrett to earn a shot at the GLORY middleweight title against the aforementioned Levin. Marcus fought to a controversial draw with Levin in a fight many fans and pundits believed was a clear victory for Marcus. The third match between the two fighters was originally scheduled to take place at GLORY 24 in Denver, but Marcus was pulled from the fight due to injury.
Artem Levin, 29, is one of the very best kickboxers in the world. The Russian Muay Thai specialist has won many amateur and professional titles on his path up the rankings. Levin began his career in 2003, earning multiple amateur Muay Thai titles on the European and international scale. Levin, much like Marcus, earned big wins throughout his career. He spent much of his early career fighting a few weight classes before middleweight, earning victories over top fighters Murthel Groenhart, Marc de Bonte, Alexander Stetsurenko and many others. The move up in weight didn’t faze Levin until he met Marcus for the first time. Marcus was the first man to defeat Levin in two years, and he was the first man to defeat him in a bout above 80 kilograms. Levin continued winning before he was once again defeated by another top middleweight, the aforementioned Schilling, in the finals of the GLORY 10 middleweight championship tournament.
Levin was able to get back on the winning track outside of the promotion before returning to GLORY and claiming three straight bouts to win the GLORY Last Man Standing tournament. Levin defeated Alex Pereira, Filip Verlinden and Schilling on his way to the GLORY belt. He returned to Russia to compete in multiple Muay Thai fights in his home country in between fighting to a draw with Marcus in the incredible GLORY 21 fight.
Marcus might have the upperhand when the fight hits the clinch, but GLORY’s ruleset limits the use of some of the most dangerous weapons in his arsenal. Marcus will have to opt to use his kicks and heavy left hook to keep the pressuring Levin off of him. Levin has the better hand combinations of the two, but he most likely won’t be able to knock out Marcus, which is the only way the Canadian has ever lost.
This fight should play out similarly to the second fight, but with Marcus looking to get more aggressive earlier in the fight. Marcus won the last three rounds of their previous bout, but he will need to take away the impression of an early start for Levin. Marcus pulls this fight out to begin what should be a much better year.
Dustin Jacoby is a 27-year-old American who has competed in both MMA and kickboxing. Jacoby began his MMA career first, earning an undefeated record with six wins before getting the UFC call to replace an injured opponent. Jacoby lost his UFC bout to Clifford Starks by decision. Jacoby fought once more for the promotion, losing to middleweight gatekeeper extraordinaire Chris Camozzi by submission at UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis. Jacoby continued to win fights on the regional circuit before meeting future World Series of Fighting two-division champion Dave Branch. Branch defeated the out-matched Jacoby after three rounds, making way for Jacoby to compete in the 2013 Road to GLORY tournament. Jacoby won the one-night, eight-man, 95-kilogram tournament with victories over Randy Blake, Roy Boughton and Brian Collette. The wins earned Jacoby a shot with the promotion at GLORY 5. He lost in his debut, but picked up another win over Collette before falling to top-10 light heavyweight Danyo Ilunga in the semifinals of the GLORY 95-kilogram Slam tournament. Jacoby couldn’t find the win column when trying to compete in MMA and kickboxing at the same time. He lost twice in Bellator and three times under the GLORY banner. Jacoby put aside MMA in mid-2015 and has not looked back since. He won the GLORY 23 middleweight qualification tournament before knocking out fellow middleweight-contender tournament participant Wayne Barrett at GLORY 24.
Karl Roberson is a 24-year-old athlete. His coach, Brian Wright, believes Roberson will become the next big fighter at middleweight. Roberson trains at the Killer B Combat Sports Academy in New Jersey, displaying freak athleticism and the potential to be a fighter GLORY can sell to the American audience in the future. Roberson was originally scheduled to make his GLORY debut at heavyweight against Pat Barry, but his opponent had to pull out of the fight due to injury. Roberson recently fought K-1 legend Jerome Le Banner on his retirement tour. The bout was supposed to be an easy win for Le Banner, but it turned out to be a controversial refereeing decision that kept Le Banner from being knocked out. Roberson dropped the kickboxing legend twice in the fight, showcasing his raw talent and the supreme power in his hands. Roberson replaced Mike Lemaire in the contender tournament, so the more experienced fighter could face Schilling on the GLORY Super Fight Series card.
Expect this fight to get started quickly, and quite possibly to end just as quickly. Both of these men are looking to put their opponent face down on the mat with one shot. This could very well be the breakout fight for Roberson, but Jacoby’s return to the win column says otherwise. Jacoby hopes he will earn a title shot with two victories on Friday night. Roberson will throw a wrench in that plan, though, by knocking out Jacoby to the surprise of many.
Wayne Barrett is a 29-year-old American who started training in karate and eventually Muay Thai, where he amassed a promising record with plenty of knockouts. Barrett started off his professional career by shocking many by winning five straight fights, including four inside the GLORY ring. Barrett defeated Mike Lemaire and Robby Plotkin before being matched with one of the top middleweights in the world, Joe Schilling. Barrett took home the decision at GLORY 12.
Barrett earned his final victory of 2014 against Romanian kickboxer Bogdan Stoica in the quarterfinals of the GLORY Last Man Standing tournament. Barrett lost a split decision to Schilling in the semifinals of the tournament, ending his long winning streak. Barrett dropped fights against top fighters Jason Wilnis, Simon Marcus and Dustin Jacoby before finally returning with a renewed confidence for this contender tournament.
The Canadian Muay Thai specialist Robert Thomas, 23, began training in the sport he loves at an early age. “The White Dragon” debuted against Artem Levin, one of the very best fighters in the world, at GLORY 16. Thomas lost to Levin in his debut, but re-entered the win column with a knockout of the aforementioned Lemaire at GLORY 18. Thomas lost his next bout to Schilling at GLORY 19. He took some time off and then returned to the win column against David Radeff at GLORY 24. Thomas may be vastly underrated heading into this tournament, which certainly could be up for grabs.
Thomas is a well-rounded technician that will have to navigate and control the power of Barrett. Barrett looked timid in his past few losses, a trend he is hoping to buck heading into this tournament semifinal. Thomas will need to move well and keep Barrett at range if he hopes to win a decision. Barrett won’t let the fight hit the judges, Instead, Barrett will land a powerful left hook in combination and put the tough, young veteran away.
Barrett should have the upperhand in both experience and skill, but Roberson could certainly throw a wrench in the comeback plans of the American with one well-timed right hand. This is a fight that should entertain, whether it ends before the three-round distance or not.
Barrett will get back on top where he belongs, but Roberson will how he is a fighter to watch in the coming years.
|FW: Giga Chikadze (33-4) vs. Kevin Vannostrand (11-0)||Chikadze by knockout|
|MW: Joe Schilling (20-6) vs. Mike Lemaire (14-2)||Schilling by knockout|
|HW: Anderson Silva (38-13-1) vs. Maurice Greene (4-1)||Silva by knockout|
|HW: Guto Inocente (28-7) vs. Demoreo Dennis (9-5)||Inocente by knockout|
|WW: Richard Abraham (7-3) vs. Pawel Jędrzejczyk (19-6-1)||Abraham by decision|
|WW: Casey Greene (4-5) vs. Daniel Morales Jr. (0-0)||Greene by decision|