When Tyjani Beztati (19-4, 6 KO’s) signed for GLORY as an eighteen-year old, he was at that time the youngest fighter ever to sign with the world-leading kickboxing organization. A run of wins took him up the rankings and quickly into title contention.
Beztati - now 22 - had set himself the goal of becoming the youngest champion in GLORY history, but the lightweight division is the deepest in the sport. A short-notice title shot against Sitthichai earned him plaudits but not a win, while a shot against current champion Marat Grigorian (63-11-1, 36 KO’s) last year also produced a gritty performance but no world championship.
Now locked down at home in Amsterdam as part of a widespread quarantine program to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Beztati has been using to imposed downtime to do some thinking and strategize for the future.
“My goal for this year is just to win every fight. Of course the title is always my goal but I’m not placing any kind of self-imposed deadline on it any more, where I am pressuring myself that it has to happen by this day or that date. Thinking like that spoils your focus,” he says.
“So this year my goals are to win all my fights and at the same time be patient. I will be champion in the future, I know that, so I don’t need to focus all my energy on thinking about that. My focus needs to be on winning all my fights and improving, then the title will come naturally.”
Beztati had just two fights last year - Josh Jauncey and Grigorian. It was a quiet year by his usual standards and not one he looks back on with any particular pleasure.
“I feel like 2019 wasn’t one of the better years in my career. I beat Jauncey and then had the title shot against Marat. But I wasn’t myself in that fight. I can’t explain why, because I don’t know exactly what it was.
“I wanted to fight much more last year but unfortunately I didn’t get the chance. I learned a lot from my title fight with Grigorian though and it only made me stronger. Sometimes you need a little setback for a major comeback. So this year will be my year!”
GLORY fans will remember the post-fight fireworks which went on between Beztati and Jauncey (31-10, 15 KO’s) as the two were leaving the ring. Jauncey disagreed with the judges’ decision and let his feelings be known, prompting Beztati to chide him about sportsmanship.
Members of both fighters’ teams then also got involved, leading to angry scenes as officials hustled both camps away from the ring. Neither fighter has changed their stance on the matter in the intervening period, raising the question of whether the two might need a rematch to settle their differences.
“Nah, for me that wouldn’t be interesting. He did nothing for two rounds, he lost the fight!” says Beztati dismissively.
“Last year he also got a split-decision over Stoyan Koprivlenski but I thought Stoyan won that fight. And if you look at my own fight with Stoyan, I gave him a kickboxing lesson. So I don’t have anything to prove with Jauncey.
“I’m not sure why I’m now ranked at #2 and Jauncey is ranked at #1 above me, because in my opinion I am #1 for sure! If GLORY wanted me to fight Jauncey again then I guess I could find a way motivate myself to do that, but I’d rather have a more interesting fight.”
Right now, Beztati - along with everyone else - is just sitting tight and counting the days until he can get back in the gym and then back in the ring.
“If it’s my choice, after we all beat the coronavirus together, then I hope I can get on that Badr Hari vs Benjamin Adegbuyi card,” he says.
“I’ll fight whoever GLORY wants me to fight, I don’t have any particular target. I just want it to be someone interesting for me and the fans.”
World locks down, GLORY unlocks vault
While fans all over the world quarantine themselves at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus, GLORY has opened up its library to provide free streams of full events to fans every weekday at 2 pm ET / 8 pm CET