Saulo Cavalari (James Law/GLORY)

GLORY Dynamite: Cavalari vs. Mwekassa Preview and Predictions

GLORY World Series returns in conjunction with Bellator MMA for Dynamite on Saturday, Sept. 19. The Bellator MMA cage and GLORY ring will be center stage in San Jose, Calif., when the two promotions combine for a kickboxing and mixed martial arts fight card. There are scheduled to be five GLORY rules kickboxing fights with the main attraction a GLORY light heavyweight world title bout between No. 1-ranked GLORY light heavyweight Saulo Cavalari and No. 4-ranked Zack Mwekassa.

Bellator MMA star Paul “Semtex” Daley straps on the GLORY gloves to face fellow Bellator MMA fighter and GLORY debutant Fernando Gonzalez. A featherweight title eliminator between Serhiy Adamchuk and Anvar Boynazarov is an exciting battle that has the potential to end quickly and violently. California residents battle it out in a clash of styles when Muay Thai stylist T.J. Arcangel fights veteran Sanshou fighter Jose Palacios. Another fight featuring West Coast fighters rounds out the kickboxing-rules bouts on the Dynamite card, as Washington’s Hadley Griffith takes on Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez.

The Dynamite main card begins at 9 p.m. ET and airs live on Spike TV. The preliminary card will air live on at 6:30 p.m. ET.


LHW Championship: Zack Mwekassa (13-2) vs. Saulo Cavalari (31-2)

Zach “The Black Warrior” Mwekassa is a 31-year-old Congolese kickboxer who now trains in South Africa. Mwekassa was displaced from Congo with his family in 1998 during the Second Congo War. He was taken into rebel custody and forced to join the ranks during the war. The No. 4-ranked GLORY light heavyweight escaped and made his way to South Africa with his family. Once in South Africa, Mwekassa began training with the late K-1 fighter Mike Bernardo. Mwekassa made his professional boxing debut in 2006 at the age of 22. He began his boxing career on an eight-fight winning streak before losing in his attempt at capturing the World Boxing Foundation world cruiserweight title. Mwekassa knocked down his Hungarian opponent, Jozsef Nagy, five times in the first five rounds of their championship contest, but he was at the end of a knock down of his own that called a stop to the fight, giving him his first professional loss. Mwekassa continued to win, piling up a record of 15-4 with 14 knockouts.

Mwekassa returned to kickboxing in 2014, soon after making his GLORY debut at GLORY 16 in May 2014. He dispatched of UFC and K-1 heavyweight veteran Pat Barry with a crushing left uppercut. He made his return to GLORY for the GLORY light heavyweight contender tournament at GLORY 18 in November 2014. Mwekassa stopped his semifinal foe, the No. 9-ranked Brian Collette, with a second-round left hook before moving on to the finals to face his upcoming Dynamite opponent, Saulo Cavalari. Mwekassa last fought at GLORY 22, where he stopped No. 10-ranked Carlos Brooks with a left hook just under two minutes into the first round of their main-card bout.

Mwekassa is a heavy-hitting striker who favors his hand combinations and boxing technique. With a combined knockout ratio of 92 percent and 26 knockouts between his boxing and kickboxing careers, the Congolese fighter does not lack power. Mwekassa is a rugged veteran who has good defense with his hands high. He looks to destroy his opponents with hooks inside boxing range, constantly looking for the knockout blow with his left hand and underrated straight right.

The 26-year-old Cavalari is from Curitiba, Brazil. The Brazilian made his professional debut in 2009 with much promise after an 18-2 amateur kickboxing record. The Thai Brasil team member has won regional tournaments and grand prixs, as well as the WGP Brazilian 94-kilogram championship. Cavalari made his GLORY debut in 2013 when he defeated No. 7-ranked GLORY middleweight Filip Verlinden at GLORY 11 by unanimous decision. Cavalari defeated another top opponent when he beat No. 7-ranked Mourad Bouzidi by first-round knockout at GLORY 12 in November 2013. A decision loss to Tyrone Spong at GLORY 15 in the light heavyweight world championship tournament would be just a small setback on his way to GLORY light heavyweight gold.

“Cassius Clay” Cavalari defeated the No. 2-ranked Danyo Ilunga in the semifinals of the GLORY 18 light heavyweight contender tournament in November 2014. Cavalari won the four-man, one-night tournament when he stopped Mwekassa with a head kick in the third round of their tournament final. Cavalari most recently took a split decision victory against No. 8-ranked Artem Vakhitov at GLORY 20 in a light heavyweight title eliminator.

Cavalari is a tall fighter who uses tight, technical power punches to damage his oncoming foes. He mixes his strikes often, throwing combinations alternating everything from punches to high kicks. The Brazilian won’t back down, as he tends to do well when the fight gets a little scrappy. Cavalari is a tough fighter who feels comfortable in most scenarios inside the ring.

The first fight between the two top light heavyweight kickboxers was contested after both men defeated top-10 opponents in their semifinal bouts. Mwekassa pushed the pace in the first round of the first meeting, landing a stiff jab and a few big right straights while moving forward. Cavalari spent most of the round moving back and attempting to counter with quick kicks to the legs and straight punches. The low kicks of Cavalari played a factor starting in the second round, slowing down the explosive footwork and movement of Mwekassa. Mwekassa kept landing strong punches despite getting chopped down by the Brazilian’s right low kick. Just seconds into the third round, Cavalari stepped into a left high kick that slumped the heavy-hitting South African.

The rematch stands out as a fight that could be finished at any point, but don’t expect Mwekassa to get caught with that fight-ending kick again. This contest will be determined by who can land the more effective strikes, with the majority of kicks from Cavalari and the majority of punches being thrown by Mwekassa. Cavalari should be the more effective striker after the first few rounds if he can land his kicks early and often. This GLORY light heavyweight world title fight is likely to end in knockout, but don’t be surprised if the fight makes it to the final bell.

WW: Paul Daley (20-3) vs. Fernando Gonzalez (24-13)

Paul “Semtex” Daley hails from Nottingham, England, and trains out of Spirit Dojo. The 32-year-old MMA fighter and kickboxer has an impressive resume of over 50 combined MMA and kickboxing wins with over 40 knockouts in 75 fights. Daley debuted in professional kickboxing and MMA in 2003, winning titles in both sports, including the Cage Rage welterweight championship and King of the Ring Muay Thai world title. Over a long career under MMA rules, Daley was able to fight on the highest level of the sport in the UFC, where he knocked out Martin Kampmann and Dustin Hazelett in the first round before losing to now fellow Bellator MMA fighter Josh Koscheck in a controversial bout that resulted in his release from the promotion.

Daley joined the Scott Coker-run Strikeforce promotion in 2010 and impressed in his debut when he landed a left hook that face-planted UFC veteran Scott Smith, earning Daley the 2010 “Knockout of the Year” vote from many fans and media. Daley put on a “Fight of the Year” bout in 2011 when he fought and lost against Nick Diaz for the Californian’s Strikeforce welterweight title. The Diaz fight is considered to contain one of the greatest rounds of all time. Daley returned to the regional scene and started another winning spree before signing with Bellator. After a parting of ways with former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and the former leadership of the promotion, Daley continued winning in his return to the European MMA and kickboxing scene before signing with newly appointed Bellator MMA president Scott Coker.

Daley has won two fights since returning to the promotion, defeating Andre Santos in a back-and-forth fight at Bellator 134 and most recently defeating Dennis Olsen by second-round knockout at Bellator 140 in July 2015. Daley has an impressive kickboxing record with 20 wins and only three losses. The Englishman knocked out No. 6-ranked GLORY welterweight Alexander Stetsurenko just 40 seconds into round one at the Siam Warriors show in Ireland in March 2014. Daley went 6-0 in a unbeaten stretch in 2014, defeating five of his six opponents by way of knockout.

Daley is a well-rounded striker with a good array of striking combinations from the orthodox position. He is a powerful athlete with quick hand combinations and a monstrous left hook that has knocked out many of his past competition. He will look to counter strike in between his explosive combinations. Daley will throw kicks, too. He has a strong right low kick, but tends to focus on his boxing during his offensive output.

Fernando Gonzalez is an American MMA fighter currently on a four-fight winning streak under the Bellator banner. Gonzalez puts down the MMA gloves and picks up the GLORY boxing gloves to make his return to kickboxing. The Team Quest fighter has competed in kickboxing and Muay Thai in the past, winning the WBC United States Muay Thai cruiserweight championship. The 31-year-old slugger has been fighting professionally in mixed martial arts for just under 12 years, debuting in the pre-Zuffa-owned World Extreme Cagefighting promotion in 2003. He has won titles in two different weight classes during his time in the West Coast-based King of the Cage and Gladiator Challenge promotions. Since joining Bellator in 2014, Gonzalez has defeated four consecutive opponents. He knocked out UFC veteran Karo Parisyan in one round sandwiched between decision victories over former Bellator title challenger Karl Amoussou and Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis. Gonzalez most recently defeated Curtis Millender with a guillotine choke submission in round three of their Bellator 137 bout in May 2015.

Gonzalez employs a brawling style from the southpaw stance. He likes to throw heavy leather from his left side, often finding a home for his left straight and big left overhand hook. Gonzalez moves well from side to side and is usually in good position to land his counter left hand and right hook. A counter striker by trade, Gonzalez will move in and attack when he sees an opening and is not afraid to pounce on a wounded opponent.

These two Bellator MMA welterweight contenders will meet under GLORY rules in the white ring. This is a fight that seems tailor-made for the British welterweight, who will have a large advantage in the technical aspects of the fight. Gonzalez is a rugged fighter who can survive a beating, and he will need to do so while landing some heavy punches of his own in order to sway the judges in his favor. The two-sport athlete Daley is the heavy favorite to get his hand raised on Saturday night, and that is exactly what is going to happen, whether or not he is able to land his fight-ending left hook.

FW: Serhiy Adamchuk (29-5) vs. Anvar Boynazarov (79-20-2)

Serhiy Adamchuk is a 25-year-old kickboxer born in Krivoi Rog, Ukraine, who currently trains with Mike’s Gym in Holland. Adamchuk began training in kickboxing, Muay Thai and combat sambo at an early age. The No. 3-ranked GLORY featherweight began fighting in mixed martial arts and kickboxing in 2009 and put together an 11-5 professional MMA record while frequently fighting in M-1 throughout his four-year career. In 2013, he put aside his MMA gloves to become a full-time professional kickboxer. Adamchuk made his GLORY debut on 24 hours’ notice against Marat Grigorian at GLORY 22 in Lille, France. The late-notice fight took place a weight class above his usual weight, but the smaller Adamchuk proved he was fighting at a high level. Adamchuk defeated the No. 6-ranked Grigorian after an impressive first round and close third round that earned him the decision victory. Adamchuk was originally scheduled to face GLORY featherweight champion Gabriel Varga before the champion had to pull out of the fight due to injury.

Adamchuk has a kick-heavy offense from the southpaw stance. The Ukrainian-born fighter has defeated past opponents with quick inside low kicks and a crushing lead right leg low kick. Adamchuk throws with a high volume while trying to set up his left straight. He uses explosive movement to land power strikes from just outside his opponent’s range. He will try to sneak in an effective high kick that has stunned past opponents. He is a power puncher and always looks to land the knockout blow.

Anvar Boynazarov is a 26-year-old Muay Thai fighter born in Uzbekistan. He moved to Thailand to further his career, training with Tiger Muay Thai on his way to a wealth of experience fighting in Thailand. Boynazarov has garnered many accolades during his time in Thailand, competing in the prestigious Toyota Cup and having an impressive 7-1 record at Lumpini stadium, one of the most popular boxing stadiums in Thailand. He was a two-time WMF World champion and five-time Bangla boxing stadium champion. The No. 7-ranked GLORY featherweight recently moved to Stockton, Calif., to be the head Muay Thai coach at Valor Training Center. He last fought at GLORY 23 in Las Vegas against Giga Chikadze on Aug. 7, 2015, taking the split decision by using his relentless pressure to win the last two rounds after surviving the aggressive push from Chikadze in the first round.

Boynazarov is a traditional Muay Thai fighter who doesn’t move laterally very often, instead moving in and out to land his power punches. He prefers to fight in the orthodox position with his hands high. Boynazarov will be very aggressive in his attack, throwing a high percentage of hooks and power punches while moving forward. He is a tough fighter who has weathered his opponent’s punishment and fought his way back.

Adamchuk will carry a slight advantage in size and speed, but Boynazarov won’t be pushed around the ring. The key factor to victory for Adamchuk will be his kicks. He will need to throw damaging kicks to the legs and body of Boynazarov to slow the aggressive fighter down. Adamchuk can become susceptible to strikes when pressured, but he has a good counter left hand that should do damage against the orthodox fighter. Someone will earn their second victory under the GLORY banner and move on to face the aforementioned GLORY featherweight champion Varga. The Ukrainian fighter should be able to land the more damaging blows and take the decision victory with the possibility of a stoppage if he can land one of his powerful counter strikes.

FW: Jose Palacios (44-13) vs. T.J. Arcangel (4-1)

Jose “El Matador” Palacios is a 31-year-old Nicaraguan Sanshou fighter currently training out Unlimited MMA. The former student of Cung Le has competed in many forms of martial arts, placing third at the Wushu World Games and winning national titles under kickboxing, Muay Thai and sanda rules. After a long stretch of competition, he briefly retired in 2009 after a short stint with MMA promotion Strikeforce. Palacios came out of retirement when he took a short-notice fight with Thai fighter Chunhawat. Palacios lost a close decision and would go on to lose his next fight by split decision against Malaipet under the Lion Fight promotion. The setbacks forced a change from the resilient fighter. He moved his training camp to Unlimited MMA in 2011 to train with Muay Thai coach Rudi Ott, a man he had previously trained with. Palacios last fought Gabriel Varga at GLORY 11 when he replaced Shane Oblonsky on one week’s notice. Palacios held his own in the first round, but the superiorly skilled Vargas dominated the latter two rounds to take the unanimous decision.

Palacios is an aggressive counter fighter who likes to throw a high volume of punches and kicks. The California native will fight both southpaw and orthodox, but he has preferred throwing his left straight and right hook from a southpaw stance at his coach’s request. Palacios will throw in combination, alternating punches from the head to the body and often ending the combination with a low kick. Palacios is a good puncher with sneaky power in his right hook and in his lead kick to the legs and body. He is a hittable fighter who can be backed up by his opponent’s pressure, but he is tough and has survived knockdowns in past fights.

T.J. Arcangel is a California native of Filipino descent. The 27-year-old Muay Thai fighter began his career in 2005 when his parents signed him up for San Francisco-based gym World Team USA. Arcangel took inspiration in one of his early instructor’s fight careers and he would soon follow in the footsteps of WMC and WBC International Muay Thai champion Mike Mananquil. Under the tutelage of Kru Sam Phimsoutham, Arcangel won the IKF Amateur Muay Thai California state title in 2009. He suffered the only loss of his career while attempting to defend the state title. Arcangel used the defeat as motivation, fighting his way back to the title and regaining his crown. He went on to win two more titles before he fought for the IKF Modified Rules light welterweight title against Canadian John Hamm on Oct. 8, 2011. Arcangel took at least four rounds on the judges’ scorecards on his way to a unanimous decision victory. He defended the belt one more time, defeating Lion Fight veteran Nick Chasteen by split decision, before turning professional. Arcangel claimed a decision victory from Wu Lin Feng champion Liu Xiangming in his first bout outside of the United States.

Arcangel is a southpaw with a traditional Muay Thai style. With the ability to fight while moving backward, Arcangel likes to use his tight defense and good head movement to quickly counter his opponent’s attacks. Arcangel has good hand speed, often throwing his left straight in combination with a right hook and kicks from his left side. He uses the front leg teep to control distance and find the range for his oft-thrown left high kick and rear leg front kick. Arcangel is good inside the clinch, landing knees entering exchanges, and he’s great at catching his opponent’s kicks.

The clash of styles will make for an interesting battle of who can land their counter strikes first. Both men traditionally fight from the southpaw stance, but Palacios has the ability to fight orthodox and may do so in this fight. Arcangel will need to increase his output when pressing forward, as Palacios will throw a high volume of strikes no matter how the fight is playing out. The fight should be close all the way until the final bell, with the experience of Palacios just edging out the youth of Arcangel.

Women’s BW: Keri Anne Melendez (2-1) vs. Hadley Griffith (debut)

Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez is a 31-year-old Muay Thai fighter who will be making her GLORY debut on Saturday night. The California native was a basketball player throughout her teenage years. She took interest in cardio kickboxing after her basketball career was over and eventually was convinced to try a Muay Thai technique class. Taylor-Melendez became attached to fighting, officially beginning her fighting career about 10 years ago while competing in local Muay Thai smoker events. She won over 10 bouts fighting in smoker events and moved on to have a successful amateur Muay Thai career, winning the IAMTF North America featherweight title in 2005. Taylor-Melendez fought for the Chuck Norris-promoted World Combat League from 2006-2008, compiling a 4-1 record while fighting for the Oklahoma Destroyers in the team-based league. She last fought Maia Kahaunaele Stevenson at 408 fights: Battle at the Bay II in California, taking the decision in the bout after a dominant performance. The win moved her record to 2-1 as a professional.

Taylor-Melendez brings experience and has exceptional comfort while in the ring. She is an orthodox fighter who uses her athleticism to move in and out, landing her strong right straight and left hook to the body. She likes to throw the front leg teep to control distance and her rear leg to cause damage. Taylor-Melendez will look to counter between her offensive attacks, which come quick and often at the surprise of her opponent. She can be pulled into a brawl if pressured, but she is comfortable in the clinch, frequently using her speed to throw her rear leg right knee into her opponent’s body.

Hadley Griffith is a 36-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Wash. The 5-foot-11 flyweight has fought under both MMA and kickboxing rules. “Relentless” has lost four consecutive fights in her MMA career, last fighting at Super Fight League 35 in October 2014 and losing by rear-naked choke submission in the third round.

Griffith is a tall fighter who looks to throw her right hand off of her jab. She keeps her hands high and fights tall, usually punching down on her opponents. Griffith is a counter fighter who likes to counter with kicks and a stiff right hand. Griffith has a solid check right hook and counter right kick when her opponent pressures forward. She is often backed up by her opponents, opting to use her straight punches while circling off to her right.

This battle of West Coast fighters seems tailor-made for Taylor-Melendez, the wife of UFC fighter Gilbert Melendez. She has an edge in experience, athleticism and skill. Expect her to move forward and throw early and often against Griffith. “Relentless” is a tough opponent, but she will eventually succumb to the pressure of her opponent. Taylor-Melendez will press forward and possibly finish Griffith late in one of the three rounds.