In sports, there are times when it appears that one opponent just has your number. Take GLORY welterweight champion Cédric Doumbé, for example. The talented kickboxer has 71 fights and just five losses, but two of those losses came to the same man, Yoann Kongolo. Kongolo took the nod over Doumbé in Switzerland in 2014 and then again in France in 2015. Perhaps, though, the third time will be the charm for Doumbé.
GLORY kickboxing returns to the Forest National in Brussels, Belgium, on Saturday, March 25, for GLORY 39: Brussels. The promotion’s second trip to Belgium features Doumbé and Kongolo in a welterweight championship tilt. Doumbé took the title from long-reigning champ Nieky Holzken at Combat Press’s Kickboxing Event of the Year, GLORY: Collision, in December 2016. The Swiss challenger earned his shot at the belt after two victories in one night at GLORY 37 in January.
The top pound-for-pound kickboxer in the world, Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong, defends his GLORY lightweight title for the second time against the winner of the GLORY 36 lightweight contender tournament, Dylan Salvador. Sitthichai fights for the first time in 2017 after stringing together 55 wins and just five losses in the past five years. Salvador looks to take home the GLORY title in the pair’s third encounter.
The featherweights are on display when four men compete for the next shot at the GLORY title, which is currently vacant after Robin van Roosmalen missed weight for his scheduled title defense at GLORY 37. Former champion Serhiy Adamchuk tops a group that features Thailand’s Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao, Russia’s Alexei Ulyanov and local favorite Nafi Bilalovski.
In the other action, top-10 heavyweights Jamal Ben Saddik and Guto Inocente clash on the main card, top-10 lightweight Marat Grigorian takes on Bulgaria’s Anton Petrov, and welterweight knockout artist Harut Grigorian fights Slovakia’s Pavol Garaj.
Cédric Doumbé makes the first defense of his GLORY welterweight title against Switzerland’s Yoann Kongolo. Does the title change hands again, or does Doumbé get his revenge after two previous losses to Kongolo? Where does the welterweight division go from here?
Doumbé, the 2016 Combat Press Kickboxing Fighter of the Year, capped off 2016 with his 12th win and the GLORY welterweight championship. Nieky Holzken was considered the favorite heading into the fourth defense of his title against the French challenger Doumbé. That didn’t matter on that night in Oberhausen, Germany. Doumbé cemented his position as the top welterweight in the world with his consistent work over the five-round championship affair. The 24-year-old picked up his 10th win in a row after the judges’ decision to cap off the best year of his young career.
Now, Doumbé has a chance to avenge not only one, but two of his losses against the challenger, Kongolo. The Swiss kickboxer previously defeated Doumbé at GLORY 22 and at a local show in Switzerland. Kongolo picked up victories over Konstantin Khuzin and Karim Benmansour at GLORY 37 to earn his right to challenge for the welterweight belt for a second time.
The welterweight division is very strong at the top with promotional mainstays Holzken, Murthel Groenhart, Doumbé and Kongolo proving they are the cream of the crop at 77 kilograms. It’s without question that this fight makes the most sense for the division’s future. Not even taking the contender tournament win into account, Kongolo holds victories over top GLORY welterweights Harut Grigorian and Karapet Karapetyan, and has only lost to the top fighters in the division — Holzken, Groenhart and former Bellator kickboxing champion Karim Ghajji. Kongolo’s ability to fight in any range and in any stance while remaining defensively sound makes him a dangerous opponent for anyone inside the top-10. It was no mistake that he ran through two tough opponents in one night to begin the year, and now he has a chance to get the biggest win of his career against a man he has already defeated twice.
Regardless of who wins or loses, this fight is going to be great. It is a high-level contest between two of the very best kickboxers in the world. Their previous encounters were not only thrilling fights, but proof that tactical, technical match-ups can be just as exciting as your local heavyweights throwing down at the bar. This fight is going to be a close, tit-for-tat battle, and whichever fighter can capitalize on their opposition’s mistakes will walk away victorious.
In the first encounter, Kongolo dropped Doumbé with a high left knee to the chin as the first round came to a close. He went up on the scorecards after a strong second frame where he employed an effective striking offense. He scored with his left kick while in the southpaw stance and came back with his right hand and low kicks in orthodox. Doumbé took some heavy damage to the legs before bringing the fight back to Kongolo in the third round. Doumbé badly hurt Kongolo with a right uppercut. Doumbé did his best to finish the fight, but he couldn’t. Kongolo did enough in the early rounds to get his hand raised.
The second contest was a short-notice bout for Doumbé, who replaced Karim Ghajji at GLORY 22. Doumbé ate a heavy inside low kick to the groin to start the contest. The skilled veteran was visibly affected by the blow as the referee restarted the action. Doumbé did a much better job of creating openings for his offense in the fight, but Kongolo’s high-guard defense and lightning-quick stance switches kept Doumbé guessing. Kongolo scored more frequent and effectively throughout the three-round bout. Doumbé showed he was the quicker, more agile fighter, but Kongolo proved to be the sharper, more well-rounded man.
This fight is not only a treat for the fans of kickboxing, but it could be one you’re telling your friends about for years to come. These men are very familiar with each other, and with nearly two years since their last fight, there are still many question marks leading into this third bout. Will Doumbé make the necessary improvements in his skill level and strategy, or will Kongolo stay calm, cool and collected in his attempt to steal the GLORY belt?
There are many challengers waiting for the winner. Perennial title challenger Groenhart and former champ Holzken top the list. Groenhart picked up a knockout victory over Thongchai Sitsongpeenong at GLORY 38. Rival promotion Kunlun Fight is vying for Holzken’s services in a fight against its 80-kilogram champion Artur Kyshenko. GLORY could look to sign new talent currently outside of the promotion, like Yohan Lidon and Alim Nabiev, or give a promotional fighter like Harut Grigorian a crack at the title. It’s the perfect time for another welterweight contender tournament, too.
Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong defends his GLORY lightweight title against Dylan Salvador in the main event of the GLORY Super Fight Series. Who wins the rubber match?
Sitthichai is considered by many to be the top fighter in the world. In his most recent outing, he returned to the win column with his third victory over top-10 lightweight Marat Grigorian in the first defense of his GLORY title. The win put Sitthichai back on track after he lost a close decision to Kunlun Fight 70-kilogram tournament champion Superbon Banchamek. The loss was just the third defeat for the Kunlun Fight and GLORY champion in his past 33 fights. This man has more than 15 top-10 wins and even more against fighters just outside the rankings.
One of the very few setbacks for Sitthichai in the past five years came against the man he is set to face on Saturday night. Salvador upset Sitthichai in a non-tournament, super fight on Kunlun Fight 24 during the dominant reign of Sitthichai’s 2015 Fighter of the Year campaign. Their two fights came just six months apart, but both men had their hand raised once. Sittichai scored the victory in front of Salvador’s hometown fans, while Salvador shocked Sitthichai in Verona, Italy. Both fights were closely contested bouts with back-and-forth technical battles during each exchange.
Salvador has proven himself with big victories over Muay Thai veterans in his nearly six-year career. The 23-year-old Frenchman holds victories over Sitthichai’s training partner, Manaowan, and top featherweight Kaew Weerasakreck. He earned his shot at the title with two victories in one-night during the GLORY 36 lightweight contender tournament. He picked up a hard-fought decision over top-10 kickboxer Anatoly Moiseev in the semifinals and cruised past Hysni Beqiri in the finals.
This match-up of highly skilled southpaws will come down to who lands the clean shots. Both men employ high-level Muay Thai. Sitthichai’s primary weapon, the left middle kick, is one of Salvador’s best weapons too. Sitthichai has continued to improve his boxing as he trains for a potential career in the sweet science following his kickboxing and Muay Thai career. He throws a strong right jab and a good left straight. He does his best work in combination, but most of the time he doesn’t need to come out of second gear to easily beat his competition.
Salvador has traded wins and losses with some of the best in the world, and now he has an opportunity to cement his place among the greats. He fell short against another Muay Thai turned kickboxing great, Buakaw, at Kunlun Fight 53, so this certainly could be his redemption outing.
With five rounds to work, the game plans for both fighters will have to adjust as the fight plays out. The fight’s duration will help Sitthichai distance himself from Salvador, though. The last bout was very close, if not for some small exchanges that favored Salvador. Sitthichai will turn it up to win rounds this time around. Sitthichai walks away with the belt.
The GLORY featherweight contender tournament features former champion Serhiy Adamchuk, Muay Thai champ Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao, Tatneft Cup 2016 70-kilogram tournament champion Alexei Ulyanov and local favorite Nafi Bilalovski. Who wins the next shot for the vacant featherweight title?
Former GLORY featherweight champion Adamchuk, 27, makes his return to the ring against ISKA light welterweight champion Bilalovski in the first semifinal bout. Adamchuk will enter the ring on a two-fight skid after losses to Gabriel Varga and Giga Chikadze at GLORY 32 and GLORY 33, respectively. Adamchuk dropped outside of the top-10 rankings after earning his spot with victories over Marat Grigorian (on just 48 hours’ notice), Varga and former top-10 featherweight Mosab Amrani. The 23-year-old Bilalovski makes his GLORY debut after three straight wins over Jean-Pierre Habimana, Julien Minot and Olivier De Feyter. The relatively inexperienced Belgian has finished 12 of his 17 wins.
The second tournament bout features Kiatmookao against Russia’s Ulyanov. The 28-year-old Russian isn’t a stranger to the tournament format. He won the the 2016 Tatneft Cup 70-kilogram tournament after a strong outing against Maksim Smirnov at the Tatneft Cup Final. The win showcased Ulyanov’s toughness and offensive output, traits he has shown throughout his career, including in an absolute war against Ilya Sokolov in the tournament semifinals. Ulyanov won the tournament in 2014 and has competed in one-night tournaments in Russia in the past. Kiatmookao won his GLORY debut against prospect Stanislav Renita at GLORY 35. The former World Muay Thai Council and Thailand champ dominated the scorecards with his devastating left kick, an essential tool in the arsenal of an experienced southpaw fighter.
Adamchuk will have the easier path to victory in the semifinals. The former champion takes on the usual local entrant in the contender tournament while the two fighters on the other side of the bracket are potentially scheduled to put forth heavy damage on their opponent. The winner of the second semifinal will most likely be battered and bruised on their way to the final. Kiatmookao’s skillful left middle kick should pull him through a tough bout in the opening round, and his experience in tournament action makes him the favorite in a potential match-up with Adamchuk. Both fighters are southpaws, which certainly opens up more options for Adamchuk to defend the left kick from Kiatmookao.
Kiatmookao’s condition following the first fight will be key to his chance at victory in the finals. If he comes in overly damaged, or if he can’t adjust to fighting a fellow southpaw, Adamchuk will come away with the tournament crown.
The Muay Thai specialist Kiatmookao will earn the next shot at the currently vacant title.
|WW Title: Cédric Doumbé vs. Yoann Kongolo||Doumbé by decision|
|Projected FW Final: Kiatmookao vs. Adamchuk||Kiatmookao by decision|
|HW: Jamal Ben Saddik vs. Guto Inocente||Ben Saddik by decision|
|FW Tournament: Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao vs. Alexei Ulyanov||Kiatmookao by decision|
|FW Tournament: Serhiy Adamchuk vs. Nafi Bilalovski||Adamchuk by decision|
|LW Title: Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong vs. Dylan Salvador||Sitthichai by decision|
|LW: Marat Grigorian vs. Anton Petrov||Grigorian by knockout|
|HW: Hesdy Gerges vs. Chi Lewis-Parry||Gerges by knockout|
|WW: Harut Grigorian vs. Pavol Garaj||Grigorian by knockout|
|LW: Tyjani Beztati vs. Sabri Henia||Beztati by knockout|
|LW: Meng Qinghao vs. Junus Majandinov||Qinghao by decision|