GLORY returns to California on Friday, January 20 for GLORY 37 LOS ANGELES at 'The Novo by Microsoft', part of the LA LIVE! entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles.
We've got a stacked card lined up with two world title fights. The first – Robin van Roosmalen vs. Matt Embree – headlines the SUPERFIGHT SERIES card which we discussed in an earlier article. Now we are going to take a look at the GLORY 37 numbered card, headlined by middleweight champion Jason Wilnis against Israel Adesanya.
In the first part of his GLORY career Jason Wilnis had mixed results. His inconsistency was due to some sports psychology issues which he has since seemingly overcome, because his last three fights have been the best performances of his career.
He had a war with Filip Verlinden at GLORY 28 PARIS, another with Joe Schilling at GLORY 30 LOS ANGELES, and won decisions in both. Then at GLORY 33 NEW JERSEY he demolished Simon Marcus to take the belt from him. This is his first defense of that belt.
Adesanya won the Middleweight Contender Tournament at GLORY 32 VIRGINIA and looked very good while doing so. That wasn't actually his debut for us. That was at GLORY 15 ISTANBUL when he lost a decision to Verlinden. But back then he was working full-time and training on the side. These days he is a full-time professional and you can see the difference.
It's not an easy fight for either of them. Wilnis is a very hard-style fighter and everything he throws is to do damage. He comes to destroy you. But Adesanya is completely unorthodox, he moves a lot, bobbing and weaving, making angles, but he also hits very hard. He's a difficult guy to prepare for, to get your sparring partners to replicate.
The main piece of the card is a four-man Welterweight Contender Tournament to produce the first challenger to face new welterweight champion Cedric Doumbé at GLORY 39 PARIS in March.
In the first of the semi-finals, one-time title challenger Yoann Kongolo will face Russian fighter Konstantin Khuzin, who is making his debut. Kongolo we all know is a very strong fighter and a top contender in this division. He is a big test for Khuzin so early in his career but Khuzin wanted it, so here we are. Not surprisingly, Kongolo is the favorite in this fight and for the tournament.
Khuzin comes out of the Kuzbass Muay Thai team in Russia, home of Artem Levin and our light-heavyweight champion Artem Vakhitov, so he is from a gym with a very strong pedigree in terms of producing champion fighters. He has a good amateur record and we have signed him to a long-term deal as we feel like he is a welterweight with potential.
In the other bracket we have another newcomer vs veteran match as the debuting Alan Scheinson of Argentina meets Karim Benmansour, who will be making his third appearance for GLORY. I scouted Scheinson in China recently when I saw him fight a good opponent and dominate him.
Usually we allow a local 'wild card' fighter to take a place in a contender tournament, but as we did not have an American welterweight available we bent the rule a little and widened the net to include South America and thereby selected Scheinson.
He has a lot of experience in Muay Thai and from what I have seen of him he's a real die-hard fighter. He's a hard puncher and he likes to grind guys down with his pace, then slow the fight down, then suddenly surprise them by jumping on them and bringing the pace right back up.
Benmansour is 1-1 following a hard debut loss against Murthel Groenhart followed by a win over Eyevan Danenberg. He's an older fighter, a veteran with a big name in full-contact karate. I thought he might make for a difficult opponent for the orthodox kickboxers because he has his unique style, but he has had tough fights. He needs to take his chance now and show what he is about.
Finally, the card also features a heavyweight co-headline bout between Guto Inocente, now 3-0 in GLORY and climbing the ladder, and a new fighter by the name of D'Angelo Marshall. Originally it was to be Chi Lewis-Parry who was to face Inocente but when that match fell through we needed a replacement on short notice. Not many wanted to face Inocente on short notice but Marshall did.
He's tall and he is Amsterdam born and raised, so he's got that classic Dutch kickboxing style. He's well-rounded and he wants to take his shot at GLORY. He's won some tournaments in Europe at a good level and he comes out of Mousid Gym, which has produced some very good fighters in the past.
Inocente is strong and tricky, he has an arsenal of strange kicks and he is very good with them, as we saw when he stopped Demoreo Dennis last year with a spinning hook-kick to the head. He's a difficult opponent and he is on a good run, although many disagreed with the judges' decision against Gerges. Let's see how this one goes.