Rico Verhoeven (James Law/GLORY)

GLORY 22: Lille Preview and Predictions

On Friday, June 5, GLORY heads to France for its 22nd event, which will take place from the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.

In the night’s main event, heavyweight champion¬†Rico Verhoeven puts his belt on the line for the second time in 2015 when he goes up against Romania’s¬†Benjamin Adegbuyi. The 26-year-old Verhoeven has not tasted defeat in the GLORY ring since 2012. He captured the belt at GLORY 17 in 2014 and successfully defended it in February against Errol Zimmerman at GLORY 19.¬†Adegbuyi, meanwhile, has never lost under the GLORY banner and has won 15 of his last 16 bouts.

Also on the main card, there will be a lightweight contender tournament to determine which fighter will get the next crack at champion Robin van Roosmalen. In one half of the bracket, Canadian Josh Jauncey meets Frenchman Crice Boussoukou, while former champion Davit Kiria takes on Thai star Sittichai Sitsongpeenong in the other half of the ladder.


The night’s main card airs on Spike TV on Friday at 4 p.m. ET.

LW Tournament Semifinal: Josh Jauncey (22-4) vs. Crice Boussoukou (35-6)

At just 22 years of age, Canada’s Josh Jauncey is a superstar in the making. The Andy Souwer protege was originally expected to face¬†Niclas Larsen, but due to injury, Larsen has been replaced by Frenchman¬†Crice Boussoukou.

This match-up is arguably tougher for Jauncey. Boussoukou is a veteran Muay Thai practitioner who has twice fought fellow tournament participant Sittichai Sitsongpeenong.

At distance, this is Jauncey’s fight to lose. But as his GLORY 19 clash with¬†Max Baumert proved, he can be hit.¬†Boussoukou loves the clinch, and his length is bound to give Jauncey some troubles.

This one goes the distance and Boussoukou ekes out a narrow win on the scorecards.

LW Tournament Semifinal: Davit Kiria (22-10) vs. Sittichai (97-27-5)

It’s almost unfortunate that this fight is an opening-round bout. No offense to the other two fighters in the tournament, but this fight is essentially the tournament final.

Georgia’s Kiria is the former GLORY lightweight champion who stopped Andy Ristie in the fifth round at GLORY 14. He dropped a majority decision to Robin van Roosmalen at GLORY 18 in his first title defense¬†‚ÄĒ his third career loss to the Dutchman. Now, he’s got the chance to earn another shot at the belt.

This will mark the promotional debut of Thailand’s Sittichai. The 23-year-old is one of the most decorated Muay Thai stylists to ever enter the GLORY ring. The question is, can he adapt to the rule set? Many other Thai fighters have struggled with the elimination of elbows and limited clinching, but if there’s a fighter with the natural athleticism and skill to do it, it’s Sittichai.

To be blunt, this fight should be great. Both fighters possess iron chins, so expect three rounds of back-and-forth action. As long as Sittichai doesn’t struggle with the rules or start slow, his natural abilities will be too much for Kiria to handle. Sittichai earns a spot in the final with a decision win.

LHW: Zack Mwekassa (12-2) vs. Carlos Brooks (9-1)

The beauty of this fight card is that GLORY has broken up the fast-paced, technical action of the lightweights with some power-punching knockout artists in Zack Mwekassa and Carlos Brooks.

Congo’s Mwekassa put himself on the map with his violent knockout of Pat Barry at GLORY 16. The boxing stylist continued his path of destruction against Brian Collette at GLORY 18 before running into top contender¬†Saulo Cavalari.

Mwekassa will look to get back on track against American karateka Carlos Brooks. Brooks is a product of Tiger Schulmann’s in New York and has competed for Bellator MMA and Ring of Combat as a mixed martial artist.

This fight will come down to one thing: aggression. Brooks has knockout power, but with his karate base, he’ll be looking to counter. That’s a difficult task against Mwekassa, who tends to swarm and bull rush his opponents. Expect Mwekassa to deliver a series of looping hooks that drops Brooks early, before finishing him with an uppercut late in the first round.

LW Tournament Final (Predicted): Crice Boussoukou vs. Sittichai

Of all the contender tournaments GLORY has done in recent memory, this may be the toughest to predict. It would not be the least bit shocking to see a Jauncey vs. Kiria final, but the prospect of a third encounter between Boussoukou and Sittichai is very intriguing.

Sittichai has twice bested Boussoukou on the scorecards using Thai rules, in both Thailand and France. This is where the use of kickboxing rules could be a huge factor.

However, given the last-minute nature of¬†Boussoukou’s inclusion in this tournament, the longer this fight goes, the more it favors Sittichai.¬†Boussoukou may ride the wave of his home crowd to reach the finals, but he’ll fall short in the finals. Sittichai claims the win and the tournament with another decision victory.

HW Championship: Rico Verhoeven (45-10) vs. Benjamin Adegbuyi (19-2)

Headlining the promotion’s visit to France is a heavyweight title tilt between Holland’s Rico Verhoeven and Romania’s¬†Benjamin Adegbuyi. This fight came together after a GLORY 21 tilt between¬†Adegbuyi and Anderson “Braddock” Silva was scrapped at the last minute.

Verhoeven appeared to hit his prime in 2013 and 2014, defeating a who’s who of the heavyweight ranks en route to capturing the GLORY belt against Daniel Ghita last June. However, he ran into a roadblock in the form of Belarusian¬†Andrei Herasimchuk in January at Kunlun Fight 15. The loss was his first since 2012, but he rebounded at GLORY 19, where he¬†defended his belt against Errol Zimmerman. The fight with Zimmerman was surprising, as the usually conservative, range-controlling Verhoeven opted to stand and trade with the power-punching challenger. Unfortunately, an injury to Zimmerman halted the bout early, but Verhoeven’s willingness to engage in a firefight showed a new wrinkle to his attack.

Although he’s the older fighter in this match-up,¬†Adegbuyi will be at an experience disadvantage. A natural athlete, the Romanian packs power that has led to 13 knockouts in 19 career wins. However, he has not faced the same level of competition as the champion. His right hand is a dangerous weapon, but he’s going to have to work hard to find his range against Verhoeven.

Verhoeven has been criticized as a safe fighter that prefers to stay at range, but it’s hard to argue his success. He’s a far more technical fighter than¬†Adegbuyi and controls distance¬†as well as anyone in the heavyweight ranks. It’s unlikely that Verhoeven is going to stand and trade with¬†Adegbuyi like he did with Zimmerman.¬†Adegbuyi is going to have to hurt Verhoeven early if he hopes to make this competitive, but it’s hard to envision him leaving with gold around his waist. Verhoeven by lopsided decision.

Superfight Series Predictions

The Superfight Series is packed with some of France’s best kickboxing talent, including heavyweight Freddy Kemayo. He’ll face off with Morocco’s¬†Jamal Ben Saddik in a fight that will appear comical to the casual observer. Kemayo stands 6-foot-2 and roughly 230 pounds, while Ben Saddik is affectionately known as “Goliath” due to his 6-foot-9 frame and 285-pound base. This is the definition of a speed vs. power match-up, and as long as Kemayo can get in and out, he’ll batter the body of Ben Saddik and earn a stoppage.

Also noteworthy is the light heavyweight match-up between¬†Mourad Bouzidi and Filip Verlinden. Both fighters have struggled against the upper-echelon fighters in this division and outside it. Verlinden returns to the division after a spell at middleweight. It would be shocking if this fight doesn’t go the distance, as both fighters favor technique over power, but it’s Verlinden’s durability that will be the biggest factor on the scorecards.

The rest of the card features a barn-burner between Cedric Doumbe and Yoann Kongolo; Marat Grigorian will look to climb back into contention against Djimé Coulibaly; and Shane Oblonsky looks to earn a shot at revenge against Gabriel Varga as he takes on Thomas Adamandopoulos.

Fight Prediction
HW: Freddy Kemayo (67-20-1) vs. Jamal Ben Saddik (25-4)  Kemayo by second-round knockout
LHW: Mourad Bouzidi (77-22-2) vs. Filip Verlinden (43-12-1)  Verlinden by unanimous decision
WW: Cedric Doumbe (48-3-1) vs. Yoann Kongolo (59-5)  Kongolo by first-round knockout
LW: Marat Grigorian (36-5-2) vs. Djimé Coulibaly (50-11-4)  Grigorian by third-round TKO
FW: Thomas Adamandopoulos (47-28-1) vs. Shane Oblonsky (9-3)  Oblonsky by second-round knockout