Robin van Roosmalen (James Law/GLORY)

GLORY 20: Dubai Preview and Predictions

On Friday, April 3, GLORY will host its 20th event from the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

In the night’s main event, lightweight champion Robin van Roosmalen will look to defend his belt against the hard-hitting Andy Ristie. The pair met previously at GLORY 12 in late 2013, with Ristie claiming the victory via second-round knockout. Since then, both fighters crossed paths with Davit Kiria, who knocked out Ristie to earn GLORY gold, but gave up the title when he was defeated by van Roosmalen in November.

The co-main event will see the promotion crown a featherweight champion as Canada’s Gabriel Varga takes on Holland’s¬†Mosab Amrani.


Rounding out the main card will be the middleweight contender tournament which pits Canadian Simon Marcus against American Wayne Barrett and Dutchman Jason Wilnis against Brazilian Alex Pereira. The winner will earn a title shot.

The night’s main card¬†airs on Spike TV on Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

MW Tournament Semifinal: Wayne Barrett (5-3) vs. Simon Marcus (40-2-1)

The first half of the middleweight tournament ladder features a pair of fighters desperately in need of a win. The American Barrett seemed poised for greatness after winning his first four bouts under the GLORY banner, but has now lost two straight. Canada’s Marcus is in the same boat, suffering the only two losses of his career in the last year.

Barrett’s style was a tough read when he first made the transition to kickboxing. The former Georgia Golden Gloves champion is a tremendous athlete with experience in karate and Muay Thai. Add in lethal knockout power and it’s easy to see why Barrett is a fan-friendly fighter. However, when he faced fellow tournament fighter Jason Wilnis in November, he looked like a deer in headlights and fell via lopsided decision.

As a Muay Thai fighter, there are few people more dangerous than Marcus. He excels under Thai rules and holds wins over some of the sport’s best under those circumstances. Yet, under GLORY rules, Marcus has yet to truly find himself. He was brutally knocked to by Joe Schilling during the¬†Last Man Standing tournament and then fell to China’s Fang Bian in early 2015.

There’s a ton of talent and athleticism in this match-up, but experience is going to be the difference. Wilnis exploited some big holes in Barrett’s game last fall and Marcus should capitalize on those weaknesses. Look for Marcus to claim the win on the scorecards.

MW Tournament Semifinal: Jason Wilnis (23-4-1) vs. Alex Pereira (17-2)

The other half of the tournament features a rematch between Holland’s Wilnis and Brazil’s Pereira. The pair met previously in 2012 under the It’s Showtime banner, with Wilnis earning a second-round TKO via leg kicks.

Ironically, Wilnis isn’t known as big finisher. He’s efficient with his kicks (and strikes in general) and when Pereira showed an unwillingness to check them, he took advantage. The 23-year-old has had mixed results in the GLORY ring, besting Toshio Matsumoto and the aforementioned Wayne Barrett, but dropping decisions to champion Artem Levin and Sahak Parparyan.¬†His performance against Barrett was his most complete performance to date.

Pereira, meanwhile, is a strong finisher. At 6-foot-4, the Brazilian was gifted with an 80-inch reach that allows him to control range and attack from anywhere. He captured the GLORY 14 middleweight contender tournament with wins over Dustin Jacoby and Parparyan, but fell to Levin in the opening round of the Last Man Standing tournament last June.

In a match-up where one fighter is out for revenge and looking for a quick finish, look for Pereira to attack Wilnis early and often. If Wilnis settles in, he could repeat his performance from 2012, but the 27-year-old Pereira appears to have hit his stride. Look for him to earn a second-round knockout.

MW Tournament Final (Predicted): Simon Marcus vs. Alex Pereira

If things fall into place as predicted above, the tournament final has the makings of a barn burner. And it will be interesting to see if either fighter can make it through their opening round bouts unscathed. The reward of a title shot should be all the motivation either fighter needs.

Should Marcus come out of his bout with Barrett without damage, it’ll be his kicking game that will be his biggest weapon against the Brazilian. Undoubtedly, he’s watched how Wilnis and Levin were able to best Pereira previously.

For Pereira, if his legs hold up against Wilnis, he’ll have to be even more guarded against the experienced Thai fighter in Marcus. However, he’ll once again have height and reach on his side. If he can force Marcus to back straight up instead of circling, he’ll find openings for heavy shots.

There’s a lot of talent in this tournament and four hungry fighters, yet when it’s all said and done, expect Pereira to finish Marcus with a head kick late in the final and claim the tournament crown.

FW Championship: Mosab Amrani (51-8-4) vs. Gabriel Varga (25-2)

In the promotion’s 20th event, a king of the featherweight division will be crowned when the Dutch-Moroccan Amrani faces off with Canada’s Varga.

Amrani didn’t set foot in the GLORY ring in 2014, but has scored wins in three of his four appearances with the organization. He’s the more powerful puncher of the pair, but doesn’t land with a lot of volume. The biggest question going into the fight is which Amrani shows up in Dubai? Is it the one that has gone just 6-5 over the last four years? Or is the fighter that has won four of his last five bouts with wins over¬†Yuta Kubo¬†and Liam Harrison? When Amrani is on his game, he’s a very dangerous opponent and he’s performed well of late.

Varga will be competing for the first time since capturing the GLORY 17 featherweight contender tournament. The karate stylist cruised past Muay Thai veteran¬†Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai in the opening round, before throwing a lot of flashy techniques in his match-up against¬†Shane Oblonsky in the finals. What stood out about Varga’s performance was his ability to pour it on late when his opponent was tired. However, his loss to Kubo, whom Amrani defeated, does raise some questions.

There’s two things that are going to decide this fight: range and cardio. Varga is the taller and longer fighter and controls range well. Although he’s not afraid to stand in the pocket, that’s not his path to victory against the more experienced Amrani. Varga’s performance in June was impressive and if he can build on that, he’ll leave Dubai with a unanimous decision win and GLORY gold around his waist.

LW Championship: Robin van Roosmalen (33-6) vs. Andy Ristie (44-4-1)

The fight that every kickboxing fan wants to see headlines the promotion’s stop in Dubai as newly minted title holder Robin van Roosmalen once against clashes with Andy Ristie. The pair represent two of the longest tenured fighters with the promotion and far and away the most successful.

Van Roosmalen’s rise to the top of the lightweight division wasn’t without bumps in the road. He fell by decision against former world No. 1 Giorgio Petrosyan in the GLORY 3 tournament final and then was knocked out by Ristie in the GLORY 12 tournament final. Yet, the Dutchman’s consistency and persistence was rewarded in November when he bested Davit Kiria to capture the belt. The 25-year-old is constantly moving forward and his chin rarely fails him. Yet, he’ll have to close up the holes in defense if he wants to successfully defend his title for the first time.

There may not be a more fitting nickname in all of kickboxing than “The Machine.” Watching Ristie fight is like watching a robot terminate its target. The¬†Surinamese¬†fighter has tasted defeat just twice in the last five years, once to legend Andy Souwer and a stunning, fifth-round knockout loss to Kiria, which cost him the GLORY title. The loss to Kiria was even more surprising being that Ristie was coming off back-to-back knockout wins over¬†Petrosyan and van Roosmalen and was dominating Kiria throughout. He’s bounced back with two straight, first-round knockout wins of Ky Hollenbeck and Steve Moxon to earn another crack at gold.

Ristie is riding a path of destruction and the 33-year-old has already proven he can finish van Roosmalen. Even though the Dutchman holds the belt, he’s the one who has to prove that he’s not a paper champion. This fight pits two of the most aggressive lightweights in the world against each other and if history holds true, it will be Ristie’s ability to go for the kill that earns him victory and the title he’s been seeking.

Preliminary Card Predictions

The night’s undercard, dubbed the “Superfight Series,”¬†features its fair share of notable names and noteworthy bouts.

Brazilian Saulo Cavalari looks to continue the momentum of his GLORY 18 contender’s tournament win when he locks horns with Russian¬†Artem Vakhitov. Cavalari possesses an iron chin and his lone loss in the GLORY ring came against Tyrone Spong. Vakhitov is an accomplished Muay Thai practitioner, who hasn’t tasted defeat since 2011.

The circumstances of the match-up between Dustin Jacoby and Mourad Bouzidi may be less than desirable, but the fight has potential for fireworks. Jacoby steps in on short notice for his fellow American, Pat Barry. Tunisia’s Bouzidi will hold a significant experience advantage, but Jacoby has shown in the past that his toughness makes up for his lack of ring time.

Finally, towering Englishman Chi Lewis-Parry will make his GLORY debut against South Korea’s Yong-Soo Park. Lewis-Parry is a former basketball player who is currently undefeated in both kickboxing and MMA competition. Park, meanwhile, is a K-1 veteran that has faced a number of the sport’s biggest names.

Fight Prediction
LW: Eisa Al Dah (8-2) vs. Cesar Soriano (24-30-1)  Al Dah by unanimous decision
LHW: Saulo Cavalari (30-2) vs. Artem Vakhitov (13-4)  Cavalari by third-round TKO
LHW: Dustin Jacoby (4-5) vs. Mourad Bouzidi (76-22-2)  Bouzidi by unanimous decision
HW: Yong-Soo Park (3-8) vs. Chi Lewis-Parry (4-0)  Lewis-Parry by first-round knockout
MW: Samir Boukhidous (32-1-1) vs. Mikhail Chalykh (22-1)  Boukhidous by unanimous decision
WW: Atakan Arslan (18-7) vs. Chad Sugden (12-3)  Sugden by unanimous decision
LW: Anatoly Moiseev (9-0) vs. Max Baumert (13-5)  Baumert by unanimous decision