Some tension was present in the build-up to this fight between former champion Jason Wilnis and would-be champion Yousri Belgaroui. The pair made barbed comments in their pre-fight interviews and promised to show the other man the error of his ways once they got in the ring.
Belgaroui had disparaged Wilnis as “one-dimensional” and said he expected the former champion to just march forward throwing bombs.
Wilnis begged to differ; he said he’d been studying tape with his team, considered Belgaroui to have a poor gas tank, and would be looking to take him into deep water late in the fight and then drown him.
And so in the first round we saw Wilnis expend very little energy and offer little in the way of attack, his level of output so conservative that it was a given the first round would be scored against him.
If, that is, the fight went to the judges.
The height and reach disparity between Belgaroui and Wilnis first became obvious at the weigh ins as Belgaroui towered a head over his opponent. Size and reach are not everything in a fight - look at the success Melvin Manhoef has had - but a fighter who knows how to use such advantages is dangerous.
Belgaroui knows how to use them. His long straight punches make opponents cover up and then he steps into knee strikes which hammer the body and do the kind of damage which makes the opponent drop his hands, thereby exposing the head again.
Those knees can also easily reach head height, and that is what happened to Wilnis. In a scuffle against the ropes, Belgaroui brought his knee up and caught Wilnis above the left eye. A huge gash opened up and immediately began pouring blood, prompting the referee to call for a doctor’s assessment.
After a quick inspection, the doctor ruled that the cut was too bad for the fight to be allowed to proceed. Proceedings were officially ended at 2:47 of the first round, with Belgaroui declared the winner by TKO.
Belgaroui now moves forward to a middleweight title shot against the winner of the GLORY 46 CHINA fight between Simon Marcus and Alex Pereira later this month.