Mike Passenier is going be a busy man next Saturday.
The eponymous Mike’s Gym is located in north Amsterdam and the team has five fighters on the GLORY 45 AMSTERDAM card. It’s going to be a crowded dressing room and a non-stop night for the head coach.
“It’s my home town - I have to represent, I have to be busy!” He booms, unfazed at the prospect of guiding five fighters through key career bouts in one night.
One of them - Serhiy Adamchuk - is fighting for a world title, another - Yousri Belgaroui - is fighting for a title shot and the other three are looking for breakout performances which will push their names towards the title shot conversation.
Of those three fights, it is the featherweight encounter between Massaro Glunder and Zakarari Zougarry which is attracting the most interest from fans and fight media. Glunder stepped up on 48 hours notice at GLORY 42 PARIS to enter the Lightweight Contender Tournament and promptly stopped tournament favorite Niclas Larsen in the semi-final.
Zougarry’s debut at GLORY 41 earlier this year was also a remarkable performance. His fight with the veteran Yetkin Ozkul immediately found itself entered into the ‘Fight of the Year’ contender conversation, despite it being midsummer at the time.
Zougarry fights out of Team Souwer under K-1 MAX champion Andy Souwer and, by coincidence, Glunder also fought Souwer under short notice this year, also on short notice, only under MMA rules rather than kickboxing.
“They are both very good fighters and there is a real clash of styles here. They have very different styles but also very unique styles, you don’t really see other fighters who do the same as they do. Also it’s Amsterdam versus Rotterdam, which adds a little something to it,” says Passenier.
“Massaro is unusual. He was KO’ing people at 75 kilos, 70 kilos - he is a born fighter. At 65 kilos he has that same power. He’s a born puncher. In his career he has taken a lot of short-notice fights but that’s because he is always in shape and ready to go. He is always in the gym and he does exactly what he is told to do when he is in there.
“So that’s why he was able to take advantage of that opportunity to fight Niclas Larsen in the lightweight tournament and then go in there and KO him. And actually two weeks before that, we were at another show and somebody dropped out and he accepted to fight Andy Souwer in a cage under MMA rules!
“After his GLORY debut, Massaro got a little bit more hungry than he was before, a little bit more focused. It’s a good opportunity for him. He’s already gotten better since that win over Larsen.
Zougarry is also very good and also comes to fight. It’s going to be good.”
Another encounter Passenier expects to be a good one is when Belgaroui faces off with Wilnis.
“It’s two guys who come to fight, not to play games. We already fought against Jason two times already, with Sahak Parparyan, and won both of those fights. So I feel like we know what the key to victory is,” he says.
“The tactic for Yousri I think is to control distance and to switch things up during the fight. Jason bullies people in fights, he likes to be the bully. But what bullies don’t like is to be bullied back. He likes to go forward, not backward. So I think the key is to make him back up.”
His final two fighters on the card are Stoyan Koprivlenski, who opens the Superfight Series in a fight with Kevin Hessling, and Mike Sprangh, who headlines the local undercard in a fight against Kevin van Heeckeren, a teammate of Jason Wilnis’ at Team Colosseum.
“Stoyan took this fight a week ago but he’s been training hard and he’s ready. We’ve fought Hessling before - Massaro Glunder knocked him out with a high kick. He’s not a bad fighter, good leg kicks, but that won’t be a problem for us in this fight,” says Passenier.
“Mike Sprangh, this is a guy you really have to watch out for. This guy is a genuine kickboxer. Some guys are brawlers, some are athletes, some are punchers, kickers, whatever - this guy is a born kickboxer. He is a natural. Every problem he is faced with in the ring, he finds a kickboxing answer for it.
“He doesn’t even look like a kickboxer, he’s a nice kid. Recently we were in Romania, him and another of my guys were fighting, and when I got to the hotel with them the local promoters were like ‘oh, where are your fighters?’ I said ‘Here, behind me!’ They didn’t even realize they were fighters. But then in their fights they showed them - they just beat the shit out of their guys, ha!”
GLORY 45 AMSTERDAM takes place Saturday, September 30 at the Sporthallen Zuid in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Tickets are on sale now via tickets.glorykickboxing.com.