GLORY Kickboxing returns to Copenhagen, Denmark, on Saturday, April 29, for GLORY 40: Copenhagen.
In the evening’s headliner, GLORY middleweight champion Jason Wilnis puts his belt on the line against former titleholder Simon Marcus. The pair have met twice previously, with Marcus edging Wilnis on the scorecards in the first meeting at GLORY 20: Dubai. In the rematch, Wilnis won the title when he stopped Marcus in the third round at GLORY 33: New Jersey to even the score. Now the Dutchman will attempt to defend his title for the second time in the rubber match of this middleweight rivalry.
The next shot at the middleweight title will be decided when four fighters compete in a one-night middleweight contender tournament. In the semifinals, top-10 middleweight Alex Pereira takes on Sweden’s Burim Rama, while rising middleweight prospect Yousri Belgaroui meets Croatia’s Agron Preteni. Brazil’s Pereira previously won a GLORY middleweight contender tournament at GLORY 14 with victories over former title challenger Dustin Jacoby and Sahak Parparyan.
In the rest of the night’s action, Denmark’s Niclas Larsen defends his home turf against Thailand’s Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai. Former top-10 lightweight Josh Jauncey looks to end his two-fight skid inside the promotion against Spanish bruiser Antonio Gomez. GLORY 30 welterweight contender tournament winner Richard Abraham takes on England’s Road to GLORY U.K. tournament champ Jamie Bates. Finally, one of Denmark’s most experienced kickboxers, Mohammed El-Mir, looks for his first win inside the GLORY ring when he fights the debuting Norwegian Simon Santana.
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Jason Wilnis defended the middleweight title in a closely contested outing against fellow top middleweight Israel Adesanya. Will Wilnis put a stamp on his next performance and put away Marcus, or will Marcus recapture middleweight gold?
Wilnis made the first defense of his GLORY middleweight crown against the striking magician Adesanya at GLORY 37 in Los Angeles. The Dutch champion made use of his high guard and forward pressure to eke out the judges’ decision over the course of five closely contested rounds. Wilnis did a good job of not giving Adesanya the space to work, which made Adesanya’s task of unseating the middleweight king even harder due to the visibly smaller surface area of the ring. Adesanya was able to get his licks in with a more diverse offensive attack and supreme defense. However, Wilnis was the fighter who delivered the most damage throughout the fight. He chopped down the legs of the challenger with some heavy inside and outside low kicks, especially in the early rounds of the fight. The leg work for Wilnis started to pay off in the fourth and fifth rounds when he became more aggressive with his boxing combinations in pursuit of the victory. The case could be made that Adesanya should have taken the decision, but Wilnis was able to take advantage in the first, fourth and fifth rounds. Although the performance wasn’t flawless or dominant, Wilnis used his Dutch style of kickboxing to beat one of the very best kickboxers in the world, and he did so just a short time after losing his father.
Heading into the second defense of his title, Wilnis faces a familiar foe in Simon “The ONE” Marcus. The rubber match between these middleweight rivals will once again have major consequences on the line for both men. Wilnis dropped their first meeting in the finals of the GLORY 20 middleweight contender tournament in a fight that gave Marcus the shot at Artem Levin’s title. Wilnis evened the score when he stole the belt from Marcus at GLORY 33. Both fights included hiccups for both fighters during and prior to the bouts. In the first meeting, Wilnis had to go to war with top-five middleweight Alex Pereira in the semifinals of the GLORY 20 contender tourney, while Marcus cruised past a less formidable foe in Wayne Barrett. Wilnis was clearly wearing the damage when he made it to the final against Marcus.
In the second fight, the referee called two standing eight counts. However, according to the GLORY rules, a fighter is only down when a part of their body other than their feet hits the floor or the ring ropes keep them standing after taking a damaging blow. For the second offense, Marcus was clearly stunned and flailing all over the ring, but unless the referee was going to stop the fight, the action should have continued until Marcus went down or the fight was over. The first ruled knockdown from the New Jersey state-appointed referee Justin Crestowich was the most damaging. Not only did he call a standing count when he shouldn’t have, but he called a count on a fighter who wasn’t hurt. Marcus was baiting Wilnis with his hands down against the ropes, but he was never in danger of going down despite eating some clean shots from Wilnis. The referee’s ruling turned what could have been another 10-9 round for Marcus into a 10-8 round for the challenger. This swing in the scoring forced Marcus’s hand, which in turn made him push more at the start of the third round. Marcus came out firing with an aggressive attack as the bell rang. Unfortunately, his past struggles have come against heavy-handed punchers when he opens himself up to be hit while attacking. That’s exactly what happened when he didn’t move away following an attack. Wilnis cracked him with a massive right hand over the left guard that sent the champ reeling. Wilnis poured it on with heavy hooks, Marcus stumbled against the ropes, and the referee called another standing count. Despite the wrong call, it gave Wilnis his third knockdown in the fight and with just one more he would become the champion. Wilnis landed a few more big shots upon the restart and the referee called an end to the bout.
Marcus was clearly disappointed with the stoppage despite being visibly stunned. The loss was only the third of his career and the first since his championship reign. Now, the 30-year-old Canadian looks for redemption in Denmark. Since the loss, Marcus has picked up two stoppage victories. Marcus actually lost the first round on all three judges’ scorecards in his rematch with Dustin Jacoby at GLORY 34. Jacoby looked improved since their first meeting, which was for the middleweight belt at GLORY 30. However, Marcus threw a right middle kick that fractured the left forearm of Jacoby in the first round. The doctor stopped the fight and gave Marcus the win after the injury was apparent. Marcus found victory in his most recent outing against Wang Shaohua. The fight ended in the first round with similar circumstances when his Chinese foe couldn’t continue following a shoulder injury sustained during a throw by Marcus.
Marcus didn’t look great in either fight since his loss to Wilnis, which is why this fight is so tough to call. Marcus is a highly skilled fighter with an incredible resume. He’s defeated many of the world’s top middleweights. Yet, Marcus has his deficiencies that are now apparently clear. He likes to push the pace in the early going. He makes his opponent work in his range and at his pace. He likes to use his distance to land his tremendous kicks, step knees and solid right hand. Marcus closes distance with strikes more often than not. He is a skilled clinch fighter who, if given the opportunity, will actively look to make use of his Muay Thai background. However, this is where he finds the most trouble in his fights. Marcus wants to be either in or out of range, which means there is a sweet spot where Marcus is neither in or out and is open to be countered or attacked.
This range is where Wilnis makes his money. The Dutch-style kickboxer is always defensively sound with his high guard and ability to deflect most of the damage from his opponents. Wilnis doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense and ability to counter his opponent’s attacks. Wilnis was in the perfect position to counter Marcus with hooks to the body and head anytime he would get lazy getting in or out of range. Wilnis has a stellar boxing game with a remarkable amount of power in his hands. He has a strong low kick attack that has earned him victories in multiple fights. The combination of boxing, low kicks and stellar defense makes Wilnis a formidable match-up against most middleweights. This style match-up will again be apparent when these top middleweights clash in the main event.
In the first fight, Marcus was able to employ his game plan for the three-round affair. However, Marcus was visibly winded by the end of the fight. This is an important key heading into this fight. Marcus will have trouble sustaining an aggressive pace for the entirety of the contest. His pace won’t be the only factor. He will need to remain calm, cool and collected in his approach if he hopes to avoid the typical openings that tend to show themselves in his fights.
It’s conceivable that Marcus comes out with a more measured approach in the early going in this fight. He won’t be able to sustain it throughout the bout, though. He is more effective when he is throwing an endless stream of aggressive offense. However, neither approach from Marcus is without danger should he find himself stuck in punching range. It won’t be surprising if Marcus finds success in this fight, but it would be surprising if he finds a weak link in the defense of Wilnis.
Wilnis is as tough as they come. He is more than willing to take some shots to score his own effective offense. The key for Wilnis in this fight is to keep up his output. He has been known to throw a lower volume of strikes in the early rounds. He needs to make sure he doesn’t get too far behind on the judges’ scorecards or he will have to rely on getting the knockdown to get back into the fight.
Wilnis wants to put a stamp on his performance this time around with a clean knockout. He has all of the tools to put Marcus away in under five rounds, but there’s no guarantee of a finish. Wilnis remains the GLORY middleweight champion with his second defense of the title.
The middleweight contender tournament features a former contender tourney winner, a former tournament finalist and two more fighters making their GLORY debut. Will Alex Pereira capture another contender tournament, or will another fighter have a breakout performance on their way to a shot at the title?
Pereira is without a doubt the odds-on favorite to win this tournament. He is clearly the top kickboxer in this field of tough but relatively unknown middleweights. Pereira previously captured a GLORY contender tournament at GLORY 14. However, he never received his title shot because, a few events later, GLORY put together the eight-man middleweight championship tournament dubbed Last Man Standing. Pereira was bounced out of the tournament field when he lost to eventual winner Artem Levin in the quarterfinals. The Brazilian lost in the semifinals of the GLORY 20 middleweight contender tournament against current champion Jason Wilnis. He makes his return to GLORY after picking up a victory over former title challenger Israel Adesanya and winning the WGP 85-kilogram title against top Brazilian César Almeida. Pereira’s lone loss in his time outside of the promotion came against top-10 pound-for-pound great Artur Kyshenko at Kunlun Fight 48.
Pereira has earned two victories over Adesanya, but neither fight was an easy win. The first fight was a very close affair that really could have gone to either fighter. In Pereira’s most recent outing, he was clearly losing the fight against Adesanya at Glory of Heroes 7 through two rounds. However, Pereira put Adesanya away in the third round when he capitalized on his opponent’s mistakes. The impressive knockout earned the 29-year-old another crack inside the GLORY ring.
Pereira takes on Sweden’s Burim Rama in his return. The amateur Muay Thai champion entered the tournament as the appointed local fighter, but he has more experience than his record would suggest. Rama has 30 professional wins and 14 knockouts. Add in the years of experience in the IFMA world championships, and Rama should provide a tougher than expected match-up for the tournament favorite.
In the other semifinal, Dutch-Tunisian prospect Yousri Belgaroui stands opposite Croatia’s Agron Preteni. Belgaroui competed in a middleweight contender tournament at GLORY 34, where he defeated top-10 middleweight Ariel Machado before losing to the aforementioned Adesanya in the final. Belgaroui lost to Adesanya outside of the promotion as well, but he wasn’t run over in either fight, which could mean a promising future lies ahead for the 24-year-old. The Mike’s Gym product has 20 career victories with 10 wins by knockout. He found success outside of the promotion in 2016 with knockout victories over Sergio Eckhart and Sebastian Ciobanu.
Preteni is a well-known multiple-time W.A.K.O. amateur kickboxing champion. He has picked up big wins in his career over former top-10 light heavyweight Andrei Stoica (twice) and Bogdan Nastase.
Pereira is likely to meet Belgaroui in the tournament final. Belgaroui not only has a chance to win a shot at the title, but to make his debut in the Combat Press kickboxing rankings. This will be his biggest fight to date against one of the toughest opponents he has ever faced. Pereira is skilled in every area of the fight game, which doesn’t give Belgaroui many openings for victory. However, that doesn’t mean this won’t be tough for the Brazilian. Pereira should be able to get by his younger opponent, but it will be a tight, back-and-forth battle to find the next challenger to the middleweight title.
MW Championship: Jason Wilnis vs. Simon Marcus
Wilnis by decision
Projected MW Tournament Final: Pereira vs. Belgaroui
Pereira by decision
LW: Niclas Larsen vs. Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai
Yodkhunpon by decision
MW Tournament: Alex Pereira vs. Burim Rama
Pereira by decision
MW Tournament: Yousri Belgaroui vs. Agron Preteni
Belgaroui by decision
WW: Richard Abraham vs. Jamie Bates
Abraham by decision
LW: Mohammed El-Mir vs. Simon Santana
Santana by decision
LHW: Freddy Kemayo vs. Imad Hadar
Hadar by decision
LW: Josh Jauncey vs. Antonio Gomez
Jauncey by knockout
FW: Yuhang Xie vs. Chris Mauceri
Mauceri by decision
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