On Friday, Nov. 6, GLORY returns to the European continent for the first time since GLORY 22 in France. GLORY 25: Milan takes places at the PalaIper in Monza, Italy.
In the evening’s main event, two of the world’s very best lightweights will vie for the GLORY lightweight title. GLORY champion Robin van Roosmalen looks to defend his title for the second time against surging No. 1 contender Sittichai Sitsongpeenong. The champion last fought Australian Muay Thai fighter Steve Moxon outside of the GLORY organization. The bout in New York City was a charity event for the Happy Hearts Fund. His last bout under the GLORY banner took place at GLORY 20 in Dubai. It was a bout in which he battled back and forth for five rounds with top lightweight Andy Ristie. The win avenged van Roosmalen’s last career defeat, which came by way of second-round knockout at GLORY 12 against the Dutch fighter. Sittichai entered the GLORY ring with a bang, winning the GLORY 22 lightweight contender tournament by defeating two top-10 lightweights in one night. The Thai fighter has already earned wins over top fighters Andy Souwer, Jonay Risco and Murthel Groenhart in 2015 during the Kunlun World Middleweight tournament, a tournament in which Sitthichai has qualified for the final eight.
In the evening’s co-main event, one of the sport’s most revered fighters will be making his return to GLORY for the first time since only his second career defeat at the hands of Andy Ristie at GLORY 12. The Italian lightweight Giorgio Petrosyan will hunt for his 80th career victory when he meets fellow top-10 lightweight Josh Jauncey. The Canadian will be making his return to GLORY after losing to Sitthichai in the finals of the lightweight contender tournament at GLORY 22, a loss that marked his first defeat in five fights with the promotion.
The main card also features the GLORY Welterweight Contender tournament, a four-man, one-night tournament that features three of GLORY’s top-10 welterweights and one local entrant. Swiss fighter Yoann Kongolo fights Frenchman Karim Ghajji in one semifinal contest, while Dutch kickboxer Murthel Groenhart takes on Italian Nicola Gallo in the other semifinal bout. The winners will fight again in the tournament final for a shot at Nieky Holzken’s GLORY welterweight title. Italian fighters Hosam Radwan and Stefano Bruno clash in the welterweight tournament reserve bout on the undercard.
The GLORY SuperFight Series features GLORY featherweight champion Gabriel Varga putting his title on the line against No. 1 contender Serhiy Adamchuk. Adamchuk burst onto the scene with a win over Marat Grigorian on less than 48 hours’ notice at GLORY 22. The Ukrainian fighter followed up the impressive victory by earning his title shot with a decision win over Tiger Muay Thai fighter Anvar Boynazarov at Dynamite in September 2015. Varga last fought Mosab Amrani at GLORY 20. The five-round decision victory earned Varga the vacant featherweight crown. This match was previously scheduled to take place at GLORY and Bellator MMA’s Dynamite show before Varga had to withdraw due to injury.
The GLORY SFS will also feature top light heavyweights working toward a shot at the newly crowned champion Saulo Cavalari. Russian Artem Vakhitov and German Danyo Ilunga were both on the wrong end of decisions when they fought the current champion in both men’s respective last contest in the GLORY ring. Russian lightweight prospect Anatoly Moiseev looks to keep his undefeated record unblemished when he takes on Croatian Teo Mikelic, who will be looking for his first win inside the GLORY ring. Moroccan fighter Samir Boukhidous seeks to earn his 35th career victory when he takes on 78-fight veteran Vittorio Iermano.
The GLORY 25 main card will begin at 4 p.m. ET and airs live on ESPN3. The GLORY SuperFight Series stream will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET.
LW Championship: Robin van Roosmalen (34-6, 19 KO) vs. Sittichai Sitsongpeenong (103-25-5, 26 KO)
GLORY’s lightweight champion Robin van Roosmalen has fought his way through the best of the best to become the champion. He was thrown into deep waters early in his GLORY career, but despite a setback in the finals of the GLORY 70-kilogram Slam tournament at the hands of Petrosyan at GLORY 3, van Roosmalen kept on winning. The tenacious Dutch kickboxer earned victories over cosplayer Jienotsu, Murthel Groenhart and Davit Kiria on his way to the GLORY 12 lightweight tournament. He fell short when he was defeated by fellow Dutch kickboxer Andy Ristie on his way to the GLORY lightweight title. The 26-year-old wasn’t deterred, continuing his winning ways in his next bout by defeating Kiria at GLORY 18 in November 2014 to earn the GLORY title. He defended the title with a five-round decision in a rematch with Ristie. Van Roosmalen brings a four-fight winning streak into his second title defense.
Sittichai Sitsongpeenong is a Muay Thai fighter training out of the Sitsongpeenong gym with many other top fighters in Bangkok, Thailand. The 24-year-old has put together an impressive 2015 campaign with victories over multiple top-10 fighters. Not only does he have a chance to win GLORY gold, but he is in the final eight of the 2015 64-man Kunlun FC 70-kilogram tournament. Barring any injuries in this title affair, Sittichai has the chance to prove he is the best fighter in any weight class in 2015. Sittichai has the chance to further cement the claim with a win over the world’s current No. 1-ranked lightweight. With his impressive victories over Kiria and Josh Jauncey at GLORY 22 in June, the Thai fighter has all of the momentum heading into this title affair.
In a clash of Asia vs. Europe, Dutch vs. Thai, kickboxing vs. Muay Thai and orthodox vs. southpaw, this fight has all the makings of an instant classic. Two superbly skilled fighters will meet in the center of the ring to fight for the claim to the throne as the best fighter in the world. While van Roosmalen will have a slight height disadvantage, he makes up for it in sound defense and an aggressive attack. Van Roosmalen employs a high guard and boxing style. The Dutchman fights with a chip on his shoulder, always pressing forward and looking to break his opponent with his pace and volume. Van Roosmalen throws his hands to hurt his opponent, often using his pressure to force his opponent to make mistakes. Sitthichai is an impressive Muay Thai practitioner who excels in the clinch and on the outside. A technically proficient fighter, Sitthichai has great hand combinations, strong knees and a very good kicking offense.
While this fight is incredibly close, van Roosmalen will have his hand raised after five rounds to remain the GLORY lightweight champion.
LW: Giorgio Petrosyan (81-2-1, 35 KO) vs. Josh Jauncey (23-5, 12 KO)
One of the most technically sound fighters to grace the ring in the past decade, 29-year-old Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan returns to GLORY after an almost two-year absence from the promotion. While the Italian fighter hasn’t fought for GLORY, he has picked up wins over veteran opponents Xu Yan and Erkan Varol, as well as a win over 2014 K-1 MAX Grand Prix champion Enriko Kehl. With only two defeats in his professional career, Petrosyan went on a run from 2007 to 2013 where he racked up impressive wins over top fighters Andy Souwer, Albert Kraus, Dzhabar Askerov, Artur Kyshenko, Davit Kiria and many others. Petrosyan holds a victory over current champion Robin van Roosmalen that he earned at GLORY 3 in the finals of the GLORY Slam 70-kilogram tournament.
Josh Jauncey is a Canadian kickboxer with an impressive record of 4-1 in the GLORY ring. He made his promotional debut at GLORY 16 in Denver in May 2014. He defeated South African Muay Thai fighter Warren Stevelmans by decision before returning to the GLORY ring at GLORY 18 in November 2014 and stopped South Korean fighter Jae Gil Noh. Jauncey would again taste victory with a knockout of German fighter Max Baumert at GLORY 19 in February. Jauncey entered the GLORY Lightweight Contender tournament with the hopes of earning his first title shot, but he fell short in the finals to Sitthichai after knocking out his semifinal opponent, Coulibaly Djime.
Petrosyan is the favorite heading into this bout, and for good reason. He has proved fight after fight over the past 10 years that he is one of the very best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. A technical wizard with sound ability in all areas of fighting, Petrosyan is a counter striker at heart. Often compared to boxer Floyd Mayweather, the master of distance and space will make this a difficult fight for Jauncey.
This may be a case of too much, too soon for the Canadian lightweight. If Jauncey can consistently press Petrosyan, he may have a chance to land the one strike he needs to put the fight away, just like Andy Ristie was able to do two years ago. I don’t believe Jauncey finds the sweet spot, though. Instead, he will fall short to Petrosyan, who will earn a decision victory.
Nicola Gallo is an Italian kickboxer who last competed under the GLORY banner at GLORY 5 in March 2013. Gallo fought Brazilian Jonathan Oliveira in a tough bout. Gallo was dropped twice in the first round by the Brazilian, but he stormed back in the final two frames. The knockdowns were an obstacle that Gallo couldn’t overcome, but he looked much stronger in the latter rounds. He tends to employ forward pressure to land his hand combinations. Gallo will often press forward with strikes and clinch, or he will look to land his right leg kick on his way out of the combination. He is a tough fighter who just keeps coming forward with a high volume of strikes in an attempt to wear down his opponent.
While Gallo earned his position in the tournament due to GLORY rules giving one local fighter a spot, Murthel Groenhart has proven to be among the best fighters in the welterweight division. The Dutch-Surinamese kickboxer has fought many of the best in the world in his 11-year kickboxing career. Groenhart’s most impressive career achievement was his string of 2012 K-1 MAX tournament wins over Artur Kyshenko, Mike Zambidis and Yasuhiro Kido all in one night. Groenhart made the move to welterweight at GLORY 23, but he lost a decision to top welterweight Chad Sugden in his debut. The 29-year-old enters the tournament as one of the favorites despite not having won in 2015. The long striker will have a few inches on his opponent. Groenhart embodies the style of Mike’s Gym, consistently pressing forward and looking to finish the fight.
Gallo will certainly make this an exciting affair, but the Italian fighter does not have a clear path to victory. As a slow starter, his style doesn’t bode well against the fast-starting Groenhart. The technically superior fighter, Groenhart will move away from his opponent, set up his strikes and land early and often against Gallo. Groenhart showcases his skill and moves on to the final with a second-round knockout.
Karim Ghajji is a 34-year-old French kickboxer with over 100 fights. Considered to be one of the best fighters from his homeland, Ghajji has used his karate background to compete among the best welterweights in the world. Despite his winless record under the GLORY banner, Ghajji is the odds-on favorite to win the tournament. He has career victories over the likes of Aikpracha Meenayothin, Dmitry Valent, Marat Grigorian and Yohan Lidon. Ghajji’s losses in GLORY have come against welterweight champions Nieky Holzken and Joseph Valtellini, and to Alexander Stetsurenko in Ghajji’s last bout at GLORY 13. Ghajji has since defeated Stetsurenko in a rematch and gone on to win his last seven bouts.
Yoann Kongolo is a Swiss fighter with a karate background. He earned his spot in the welterweight tournament with a decision victory at GLORY 22 over French fighter Cedric Doumbe, whom he had previously beaten in 2014. He also defeated fellow tournament semifinalist Gallo in a 2014 bout in France. Kongolo spent the last month with Mike’s Gym preparing for this tournament, creating an interesting dynamic if he were to make it past Ghajji in his semifinal bout. The 27-year-old uses an orthodox stance, but switches often while moving his feet and looking for a new angle of attack. Kongolo is an aggressive fighter with sound overall defense.
This is a high-level welterweight fight between two fighters with a wealth of experience. Ghajji has an edge in his offensive attacks, usually throwing with a high volume of strikes in combination. Ghajji is an athletic fighter who often throws offense in bursts, whether it is a three-punch combination followed by a kick or one of his spectacular flying double knee strikes. Kongolo will be the toughest opponent Ghajji has faced since he fought Stetsurenko last year. The Swiss fighter has great defense, using his layered defensive style to either move out of striking range, deflect punches with his guard or slip punches to land his straight-line attacks. Kongolo fights on the outside, but is always close enough to punish his opponent with a counter. Kongolo likes to attack in angles, often switching stances to attack and throwing usually one or two strikes at a time. This may be where Ghajji can take the fight over. The Frenchman’s aggressive attack could mute the volume of Kongolo, leading to Ghajji advancing to the tournament final after three hard-fought rounds.
Projected WW Tournament Final: Karim Ghajji vs Murthel Groenhart
In a clash of similar styles, Groenhart may have the upper hand in what should be an easier route to the finals, but Ghajji’s always-aggressive attack could again earn him the victory via the throwing of a higher volume of strikes. Groenhart is a top-level fighter in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions, but Ghajji will have a strong advantage in the match if the Dutch fighter can’t find his rhythm and throw with volume. In a grueling affair, Ghajji will emerge with the victory to earn his shot at avenging his loss to Nieky Holzken that occurred at GLORY 6 in April 2013.
GLORY SuperFight Series Predictions
FW Championship: Gabriel Varga (26-2, 8 KO) vs. Serhiy Adamchuk (30-5, 14 KO)
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