Artem Vakhitov (James Law/GLORY)

GLORY 47: Lyon Preview and Predictions

GLORY Kickboxing travels to the Palais des Sports de Gerland in Lyon, France, on Saturday, Oct. 28, for GLORY 47: Lyon.

The promotion’s fifth trip to France features Artem Vakhitov’s third defense of his GLORY light heavyweight title against contender tournament winner Ariel Machado. Vakhitov makes the return to the ring for the first time since defending his belt against former champ Saulo Cavalari at GLORY 38.

Former GLORY welterweight champion CĂ©dric DoumbĂ© returns to his native France against one of the country’s other top stars, Yohan Lidon. DoumbĂ© fell short against Murthel Groenhart in his failed title defense at GLORY 44 in August.


In the night’s featherweight contender tournament, current Rajadamnern stadium champ Fabio Pinca looks to earn a title shot against reigning GLORY champion Robin van Roosmalen. The fight comes just one month before Pinca clashes with Buakaw Banchamek at All Star Fight 3. However, standing in his way is well-traveled Muay Thai veteran Anvar Boynazarov. On the other side of the four-man bracket, top-15 featherweight Abdellah Ezbiri welcomes Azize Hlali to the GLORY ring.

In the night’s Super Fight Series headliner, former top-10 talents Dylan Salvador and Massaro Glunder lock horns for positioning in the competitive featherweight division.

Elsewhere on the card, the world’s top-ranked female kickboxer, Anissa Meksen, returns to the GLORY ring against Turkey’s Funda Alkayis, top-10 welterweight Alim Nabiev makes his GLORY debut against French Muay Thai specialist Jimmy Vienot, and a pair of French light heavyweights battle when undefeated Florent Kaouachi takes on Abdarhmane Coulibaly.

The GLORY 47 SuperFight Series airs at 1 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass. The main card airs live at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3, Fox Sports Africa, SFR Sport 5, Fight Network (Canada), FreeSports (United Kingdom), OSN Sports (Middle East), Ziggo Sport (The Netherlands), Sky (New Zealand), Digisport (Europe), KBS (South Korea), Fight Channel (Bosnia & Herzegovina), KIX (Asia), QQ (China), and GLORY pay-per-view (International).

GLORY light heavyweight champ Artem Vakhitov attempts to defend his light heavyweight title for the third time. Can his opponent, Ariel Machado, upset the clear No.1 fighter in the division? If not, is there anyone who could potentially beat him?

Vakhitov has cemented his place at the top of the light heavyweight rankings with dominant performances that ended in stoppages against Saulo Cavalari and Zack Mwekassa. However, he was one of the best in the division far before his most recent title defenses. Vakhitov is a multiple-time IFMA Muay Thai world champ with over 100 career wins in amateur and professional competition. The stellar Russian holds victories over top-10 opponents Danyo Ilunga and Luis Tavares, former top-10ers Javier Lorenzo Jorge and Alexander Oleinik, fellow IFMA world champion Dzianis Hancharonak, and former FFC champ Igor Jurković.

Machado entered GLORY as a relative unknown on the international level, but he has now beaten three current or former top-10 fighters, including current GLORY interim light heavyweight titleholder Pavel Zhuravlev in his debut. The Brazilian fell short in tournament action against Zinedine Hameur-Lain, but avenged his loss to the Frenchman in the finals of the GLORY 38 contender tournament. The victory is what afforded Machado this opportunity to take on the consensus best fighter in the division. Machado also took a win over former top-10 light heavyweight Danyo Ilunga in the semifinals of that same tournament. His only other setback inside of the promotion came against No. 2-ranked middleweight Yousri Belgaroui after a close back-and-forth fight. The former Brazilian MMA champion has made major strides in his game since switching to the striking arts full-time.

Machado believes he has the tools to not only unseat the champ, but to stop him early. Machado will make this a fight and does offer some interesting qualities. The Brazilian does possess power. Of his 45 wins, 34 were stoppages. His power-punching style and low-kick game certainly factor into these stats. Machado prefers to play the aggressor, which has led to victories over fighters with a lower output. Those same attributes also provide a look into his drawbacks. Machado can be hit, especially when facing a fighter who is willing to throw a high-output offensive attack. Machado likes to brawl and throw powerful hooks inside.

A fighter with the footwork and skill of Vakhitov is tailor-made to put a stop to Machado’s linear forward movement. Vakhitov has the technical tools to dismantle Machado on the feet. The Brazilian is as tough as they come, however. He won’t go down easy or lay down for the skillful Muay Thai specialist. Machado will need to make this fight more about his strength and power, and much less about trying to box the more skilled and experienced champion. Both men have the power to put each other away, but there’s only one fighter who will walk away with the GLORY belt. That man will be Vakhitov after a stoppage midway through the five-round championship fight.

There are a few potential match-ups in the promotion for Vakhitov, including against the aforementioned interim champ Zhuravlev. Obviously, the heavy-handed Ukrainian should be first in line to challenge Vakhitov. Does he have a chance to stop Vakhitov? Sure, but the real question is whether it is likely or not. Once again, the probabilities don’t line up. It’s hard to imagine Vakhitov dropping a five-round fight against the likes of Zhuravlev or even Mourad Bouzidi, who is still hovering around the top five in the weight class. GLORY needs to go outside of the promotion to add some depth to the division in the form of top-10 fighters like Igor Bugaenko. The Belarusian has won his past seven fights, including victories over top-15 opponents Hicham EL Gaoui, Redouan Cairo and Luis Tavares.

The GLORY featherweight contender tournament features top-flight talents Fabio Pinca and Abdellah Ezbiri, as well as skilled veterans Azize Hlali and Anvar Boynazarov. Where does this tournament rank in terms of talent compared to other recent contender tournaments? Who takes home the chance to challenge for the title?

This bracket is the best four-man venture the promotion has put together since the GLORY 42 lightweight tournament, which featured top-10 lightweight Chris Baya, former top-10 kickboxers Massaro Glunder and Anatoly Moiseev, and rising veteran Niclas Larsen. The talent in this tournament is far superior to the last featherweight contender tourney, which took place at GLORY 43. In comparison, Kevin VanNostrand won that tournament with a decision over Giga Chikadze in the final. The GLORY 39 featherweight tournament featured former champion Serhiy Adamchuk and title challenger Petchpanomrung. The featherweight division needed an influx of talent, and that’s exactly what GLORY did when it brought back Pinca and Ezbiri.

Pinca has established himself as one of the best kickboxers and Muay Thai fighters in the division. The 33-year-old Frenchman recently won the 147-pound title of Rajadamnern stadium, which is one of two prestigious venues in the home of Muay Thai. He has 13 victories in his past 14 fights, with his lone loss coming in a controversial split decision against Tie Yinghua. Pinca’s recent resume features a plethora of solid opposition, including Manaowan Sitsongpeenong, Liam Harrison, Andrei Kulebin, Mosab Amrani, Charlie Peters and Yang Zhuo. He is a threat to every fighter in this division and stands as the clear favorite heading into this tournament. He even holds a win over fellow tournament participant Hlali.

Ezbiri, 31, has returned to form in 2017. After nearly capturing the 16-man Kunlun Fight 66-kilogram tournament in 2016, the Frenchman has picked up wins this year against Giovanni Boyer and Belgian prospect Mohamed Hendouf, who recently beat Jimmy Vienot. During Ezbiri’s run to the Kunlun Fight tournament final against top-10 featherweight Wei Ninghui, he picked up solid victories over Kim Minsoo, Buray Bozaryilmaz, Modibo Diarra and Edouard Bernadou. Ezbiri was stopped in the finale, but he already fought twice that night prior to the loss. In fact, Ezbiri’s only loss outside of a one-night tournament was over three years ago. Two of his three losses that happened in tournament finals came against top-10 opponents, including the world’s top-ranked kickboxer, Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong.

Hlali makes his GLORY debut opposite Ezbiri. The 27-year-old won’t enter the ring with a ton of hype behind him, but don’t let his record fool you. Hlali has fought and beaten top fighters. He has only won two of his six fights in 2017, but he fought two of the most popular and greatest Muay Thai fighters in the past decade, Saenchai and Buakaw, in losing efforts. His other setbacks came against former Sportswriters of Thailand “Boxer of the Year” Yodwicha Por Boonsit and Charlie Peters, who has won seven straight. Hlali also holds victories over top-ranked featherweight Qiu Jianliang, former Rajadamnern stadium champ Singmanee Kaewsamrit, former Lumpinee champions Singdam and Kongsak, and WBC champs Bobo Sacko and Morgan Adrar.

With over 100 fights in Muay Thai and kickboxing, Boynazarov is the second most experienced fighter in the field. The GLORY veteran has fought all over the world, but he has settled into fighting out of Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand. Hailing from Uzbekistan, Boynazarov has continued his fighting career in China and taken on tough challenges like Saenchai and Adrar. Despite falling short against the upper echelon of the sport, Boynazarov holds wins over GLORY vets Maykol Yurk, Giga Chikadze and Quade Taranaki.

This tournament does feel like it means something in the grand scheme of the featherweight division in the sport, and more importantly, GLORY. Pinca has an easier route to the final. He’ll put together back-to-back wins to move one step closer to Robin van Roosmalen’s title.

The welterweight showdown between Cédric Doumbé and Yohan Lidon could have likely headlined the event in France. Which fighter builds their star power and pushes for a shot at the title?

DoumbĂ©’s loss to Murthel Groenhart wasn’t a major upset, but the title defeat for the young Frenchman did come as a surprise to many due to DoumbĂ©’s track record over the past two years. His wins over Nieky Holzken and dominant performance against Yoann Kongolo made it seem like DoumbĂ© was finally breaking into the upper echelon of the kickboxing world. That came crashing down with a lackluster and inconsistent performance against Groenhart at GLORY 44. DoumbĂ© looked flustered by Greonhart’s game plan, which was to make the excellent counter striker and defensive fighter push the offense. The plan worked out for Groenhart, who captured the welterweight title by split decision.

Lidon finally cracked into the GLORY ranks when he made his promotional debut at GLORY 42 against the aforementioned Kongolo. Lidon fell short in the contest, but he was able to regain his momentum in the following months with a massive head-kick knockout against Florian Kroger. Lidon has been consistently among the best fighters in his division. The well-decorated champion has been competing for nearly 20 years. His style seems to suit the five-round Muay Thai contests he more often competes in, but Lidon is an excellent boxer with sneaky high kicks that mask his serious power.

Lidon actually holds a win over DoumbĂ© in the finals of an A1 Grand Prix in Lyon in 2014. Years later, DoumbĂ© has developed his skills and taken his game to a whole new level. Meanwhile, Lidon has been consistently dominating almost every opponent put in front of him. The dynamics of this fight change with only three rounds to work. Both men are accustomed to five-round affairs, which allows more time for a fighter to find their range and timing while figuring out their opponent’s attacks. The shortened time will force both fighters to open up their games. The rounds won’t be easily won by either man.

DoumbĂ© will approach this fight with a sense of urgency. However, if he can’t find any flow or consistency with his offense, he will have a rough night at the hands of Lidon. The backdrop of Lyon and the French kickboxing fans will make this an incredible fight. DoumbĂ© will regain his championship aura.

Fight Picks

Fight Pick
GLORY 47 Main Card
LHW Championship: Artem Vakhitov vs. Ariel Machado Vakhitov by knockout
Projected FW Tournament Final: Pinca vs. Ezbiri Pinca by decision
WW: Cédric Doumbé vs. Yohan Lidon Doumbé by decision
FW Tournament: Azize Hlali vs. Abdellah Ezbiri Ezbiri by decision
FW Tournament: Fabio Pinca vs. Anvar Boynazarov Pinca by decision
GLORY 47: SuperFight Series
FW: Dylan Salvador vs. Massaro Glunder Salvador by decision
Women’s BW: Anissa Meksen vs. Funda Alkayis Meksen by decision
MW: Ahaggan Yassine vs. Maxim Vorovski Vorovski by knockout
WW: Alim Nabiev vs. Jimmy Vienot Nabiev by decision
LHW: Abdarhmane Coulibaly vs. Florent Kaouachi Kaouachi by decision