GLORY kickboxing returns to the United States on Friday, May 13, for GLORY 30: Los Angeles. The world’s consensus top kickboxing promotion travels across the Atlantic after two successful events in Europe. The middleweight division will be in the spotlight with four of the world’s top six 187-pound kickboxers fighting at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.
Newly crowned GLORY middleweight world champion Simon Marcus puts his title on the line against surging top contender Dustin Jacoby. Marcus won the title when former champion Artem Levin decided he didn’t want to continue fighting after the third round at GLORY 27. Marcus spent much of the past year tied up with Levin after meeting him for the title twice, with their second of three meetings taking place just over one year ago. Jacoby has been the more active fighter of late, earning his place opposite Marcus with two one-night, four-man tournament victories.
The GLORY qualification tournament series returns as four North American welterweights vie for a position in an upcoming welterweight contender tournament. Tournament favorite Casey Greene is unbeaten since dropping to welterweight in October. Greene puts his impressive GLORY record on the line against Lion Fight veteran Richard Abraham, who is undefeated since debuting at GLORY 27. Greene holds wins over the two men fighting in the other tournament semifinal, Francois Ambang and Daniel Morales. Ambang held his own against Greene before getting finished at GLORY 24, and Morales went the distance with Greene in a losing effort at GLORY 27.
The co-feature pits GLORY 28 contender tournament runner-up Marat Grigorian against GLORY 22 contender tournament participant Coulibaly Djime. Grigorian is among the best lightweights in the world. He is looking to rebound after losing a close, but clear, decision to Sittichai Sitsongpeenong. Grigorian currently holds the K-1 World GP 70-kilogram title and has been very active fighting outside of the promotion as well. He is one of the most skilled and heavy-handed boxers in the division.
The stacked GLORY Super Fight Series features two of the world’s top middleweights fighting for their shot at the winner of the middleweight main event. Joe “Stitch ’em Up” Schilling returns to face Jason Wilnis in a rematch of their hotly contested GLORY 24 bout just seven months ago. Schilling took the fight to Wilnis from the opening bell. Schilling’s high volume output kept Wilnis from landing much of his own offense in the early going. Schilling’s output waned as he tired and took the full force of a powerful right hook from Wilnis against the ropes in the second frame. Wilnis was in the driver’s seat as the second round ended, but a partially blocked kick left him unable to continue in the third round with a fractured right foot. The rematch will surely start off where the previous fight ended, so consider this to be rounds three, four and five for a shot at the middleweight belt, unless the fight ends in spectacular fashion before the three-round distance.
Schilling has won five of his past six fights, with his only loss coming by decision against the aforementioned Levin in the finals of the eight-man, one-night tournament at GLORY: Last Man Standing. Schilling last competed on just two weeks’ notice in a tougher than expected affair against Mike Lemaire at GLORY 27. Wilnis has stayed active in GLORY and the world’s other top kickboxing promotion, Kunlun Fight. He is coming off a win over former top-10 middleweight Filip Verlinden at GLORY 28.
Tiffany van Soest, one of the world’s top female Muay Thai fighters, makes her GLORY debut along with the introduction of a future GLORY women’s division. The former WBC Muay Thai and two-divison Lion Fight champion left Muay Thai rules behind to build her career as a GLORY kickboxer and future Invicta Fighting Championships MMA fighter in a landmark deal for the 27-year-old. “Time Bomb” will meet Moroccan Esma Hasshass in her GLORY debut. Hasshass brings nine victories and just two defeats into her own debut against the aggressive van Soest. The big question leading into the fight is how van Soest will adjust to fighting without clinching and with just three rounds to work instead of her usual five rounds in Lion Fight.
Exciting Brazilian heavyweight Guto Inocente returns to GLORY after winning heavyweight gold last month at WGP Kickboxing 29. After landing one of the best knockouts of the year in his GLORY debut against Demoreo Dennis, his return to the promotion is highly anticipated.
Inocente was originally scheduled to face off with rising heavyweight prospect Chi-Lewis Parry before his opponent had to pull out due to a hand injury sustained while training with UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. Inocente didn’t get an easy replacement opponent, though. Top heavyweight Brian Douwes looks to end his two-fight losing streak. Douwes defeated top-10 heavyweight Jamal Ben Saddik to enter the heavyweight rankings discussion before dropping to light heavyweight to take on top-five fighter Pavel Zhuravlev for the Final Fight Championship 95-kilogram title. He was knocked out in the third round at FFC 22: Athens, but his time as a top-10 heavyweight officially ended when he dropped his last fight to Fabio Kwasi in April. A big win over Inocente could get him right back in the mix. On the other hand, Inocente could further his claim as one of the fastest-rising heavyweights in kickboxing.
In a middleweight contest, 24-year-old American prospect Karl Roberson will look for his first GLORY win against longtime GLORY veteran Mike Lemaire. Finally, light heavyweights clash when American Manny Mancha takes on GLORY veteran Warren Thompson.
Marcus will be training for an opponent other than former GLORY champion Levin for the first time in over a year. The championship saga with Levin has been rife with controversy, but Marcus walked away with the only thing that mattered to him, the belt. Levin and Marcus went toe-to-toe for five rounds at GLORY 21 to only have the fight be ruled a majority draw with one judge handing the bout to Marcus. Because of the draw, Levin left the ring with the belt, a feat he might have accomplished with a majority decision victory if not for a point that was deducted by the referee in the third round. The close fight could have gone either way, which gave birth to the third contest between the fighters at GLORY 27.
Marcus continued where he left off in their second bout. He was winning most of the exchanges and forcing Levin to clinch more than the referee would have liked. The ref warned Levin on multiple occasions, eventually taking a point away from the fighter in the second round. Levin showed visible frustration with the referee’s decision, turning his back to Marcus in the corner of the ring. Marcus attacked Levin with a right hand and much more before the round came to an end. Levin continued to clinch in the third round, forcing the referee to take another point away from the champ. Levin had enough. He refused to continue the fight, awarding Marcus the belt he has long sought.
The 29-year-old Canadian-Jamaican finally earned his place atop the middleweight rankings with the win over Levin. He will meet Dustin Jacoby, an unlikely title challenger, in his first defense. In the GLORY 30 countdown show, Marcus seemed to downplay his opponent’s abilities, something Marcus was guilty of when he was completely dominated by Chinese kickboxer Fang Bian in the 2015 Combat Press Kickboxing Upset of the Year. Marcus took his heavy-handed opponent lightly, and he paid dearly, losing only his second professional fight in absolutely devastating fashion.
Jacoby will try to do the same in his well-deserved title challenge. The heavy-handed 28-year-old American believes he has the most power in the division. Jacoby has completely turned his career around after deciding to make the full-time switch to kickboxing after unsuccessfully competing in MMA and kickboxing simultaneously. The skilled striker lost five consecutive fights under kickboxing rules and two more in Bellator before making the much-needed change. Jacoby took a trip to the Netherlands to train with some of the best kickboxers in the world, and the change paid dividends in his return a few months later at GLORY 23. Jacoby defeated Ariel Sepulveda and Casey Greene in the GLORY 23 middleweight qualification tournament to earn a place in the next middleweight contender tournament. He upset former top-10 middleweight Wayne Barrett at GLORY 24 before entering the GLORY middleweight contender tournament at GLORY 27. Jacoby knocked down his semifinal opponent, Karl Roberson, twice to earn his place opposite Barrett in the finals, and he put a cap on his fifth straight win with a beautiful right hook that put Barrett out against the ropes.
Marcus will be a heavy favorite heading into this championship bout, and Jacoby knows full well what obstacles he will have to overcome to become the new GLORY middleweight champ. Jacoby will need to find a consistent home for his powerful right hand if he hopes to throw Marcus off of his game. Marcus will be the more aggressive fighter inside, but he has overextended himself a few times and left himself open for counter strikes. Jacoby will likely look to take advantage of his shortcomings and land a hard counter strike every time Marcus leaves a small opening. Those openings will be few and far between if Jacoby is unable to fight at a controlled pace.
Don’t count out the American in his biggest career test to date, but this is a test that he is unlikely to pass without everything falling into place. Marcus will keep the GLORY middleweight belt and likely awaits the winner of the Super Fight Series headliner.
Abraham impressed against Paweł Jędrzejczyk at GLORY 27 in his hometown of Chicago. Abraham’s GLORY debut was a showcase fight for the former Lion Fight title challenger. He seemingly landed his punching combinations in each and every exchange. He hurt Jędrzejczyk multiple times throughout the dominate three-round performance. Abraham landed a brutal right hand that started a series of punches that forced the referee to call a knockdown. He continued his ferocious punching combinations in the second round, almost finishing Jędrzejczyk many times with only the ropes keeping him off of the canvas.
Greene has won two fights since losing in the finals of the GLORY 23 middleweight qualifying tournament to Jacoby. Greene made the drop to welterweight following the knockout loss, and he hasn’t looked back since. He made an impressive welterweight debut after dropping the first frame to Francois Ambang. The powerful Ambang pushed Greene in the early going, but the American stayed consistent with his defense and picked up his counter striking as the fight continued. Greene landed a strong rear-leg knee strike to Ambang’s chin that started the beginning of the end. Greene threw with a ferocious finishing flurry that eventually put Ambang down and out of the fight in the second round. Greene changed his approach against the debuting Daniel Morales at GLORY 27. He used pressure and kicks to take the unanimous decision in another impressive showing.
Abraham, who suffered through the loss of his mother at the age of 12, overcame a tough upbringing. That toughness shows in his fighting style. Abraham is an aggressive puncher who holds a high pace for all three rounds. Greene, meanwhile, is a skilled striker who likes to switch his striking output to the situation. Greene may take a more measured approach to Abraham’s style and look to turn up his pressure and output in the latter two rounds. Greene is a long fighter who will have a nearly seven-inch height advantage over the former lightweight.
Greene will switch stances and look to land his kicks off of his lead leg to control the distance. The winner of this fight will be the man who can find a consistent home for their punches and kicks. Abraham’s aggressive output should give him the victory and the spot in the finals.
Ambang is a powerful puncher who has been in the ring with some of the top welterweights in the world despite only having 19 career fights. He fell short to former champion Joe Valtellini and Raymond Daniels, but he surprised many with his ability to compete before he eventually succumb to the better fighter. Ambang has picked up knockout victories Brett Hlavacek, Stephen Richards and Eddie Walker in GLORY. Ambang put together a strong showing against Casey Greene before getting knocked out with a knee and strikes in the second round. He will surely be looking for redemption in the finals if Greene gets past Abraham.
Mexican fighter Daniel Morales made the switch to kickboxing after competing in MMA and boxing. He put together a pretty good showing against Greene in his GLORY debut at GLORY 27. Morales took one round from Greene in the three-round fight, but he showcased good defensive and offensive abilities in the bout. Morales will need time to fully adjust to the powerful kicks of his opponents, but he is a fighter to watch for with a strong performance against Ambang.
Both fighters have good hand combinations and offensive striking abilities. Ambang likes to use powerful punching and kicking combinations to overwhelm his opponents. Morales is a sharp striker with good straight punching and lateral movement. Morales is a good defensive fighter with good head movement and comfort during exchanges. He will certainly have to be careful of the strong right hand and left hook of Ambang.
Ambang should look to throw his kicks and come upstairs with punching combinations. He will need to switch up his striking attack and not get into a boxing affair with the skilled Morales. This fight comes down to the kickboxing, and Ambang has a clear advantage when it comes to a varied offensive attack.
The winners of the semifinal fights will be tired, battered and not fighting with all of their strength and talent. A match-up between Ambang and Abraham would most likely look different with both men being fresh, but they could be in store for a tough semifinal match-up.
If Abraham gets past Greene in the semifinals, he will most likely enter this bout with battered legs and arms, which could take away much of his power. His aggressive style won’t be as effective, especially against a skilled boxer like Ambang. Ambang could get Morales out of the semifinal fight quickly, or it could take all three rounds, but the American is most likely hoping for the former. If a fresh Ambang steps into the finals opposite Abraham, the former Lion Fight fighter’s style could be conducive to getting himself knocked out. However, the super-tough, never-say-die attitude instilled in Abraham since a young age will likely carry him through the three rounds.
Abraham is the fighter with the best chances to leave Los Angeles with his place secured in a future welterweight contender tournament.
|LW: Marat Grigorian (45-9-2, 26 KO) vs. Coulibaly Djime (51-13-4, 18 KO)||Grigorian by knockout|
|MW: Joe Schilling (21-6, 12 KO) vs. Jason Wilnis (27-6-1, 7 KO)||Wilnis by decision|
|HW: Guto Inocente (30-7, 17 KO) vs. Brian Douwes (41-18-2, 23 KO)||Inocente by decision|
|Women’s Div: Tiffany van Soest (14-2-1, 5 KO) vs. Esma Hasshass (9-2, 3 KO)||van Soest by decision|
|MW: Mike Lemaire (17-3, 8 KO) vs. Karl Roberson (0-2)||Lemaire by decision|
|LHW: Warren Thompson (11-6-1, 3 KO) vs. Manny Mancha (4-2, 4 KO)||Mancha by knockout|