GLORY first visited the capital city of Denmark in April last year and now, twelve months on, we are back. GLORY 40 COPENHAGEN takes place at the Forum Copenhagen on Saturday, April 29 and it's another stacked card we are bringing.
The headline fight is a middleweight title rematch between former champion Simon Marcus (45-3-2, 24 KO's) and the current champion Jason 'Psycho' Wilnis (30-6-1, 28 KO's), who took the belt from him at GLORY 33 NEW JERSEY late last year.
Wilnis made relatively short work of Marcus in that fight, stopping him early in the third round, and says he will do the same this time, only quicker.
Marcus didn't take Wilnis seriously for that first fight. At times he stood there in front of him with his hands down, ducking and diving in front of him, playing around. Then he got caught with a big punch and that completely changed everything, Wilnis took over and eventually stopped him on knockdowns.
That should have been a learning experience for Marcus; he needs to take Wilnis very seriously if he wants any chance to get his belt back. Wilnis is powerful, explosive and now he has that confidence from being champion. It used to be that Wilnis had good days and bad days in his head but now he is confident in himself and that was the missing piece of the puzzle for him.
Wilnis is now dangerous for anybody in this weight class and because he stopped Marcus so solidly last time, he is absolutely positive he will do it again. His confidence is surging. Marcus is world-class and even has a speed advantage maybe, but he needs to be 100% fully focused for every second of the fight if he wants to lay hands on that belt again.
In the co-headline fight, local lightweight Niclas Larsen (45-8-2, 24 KO's) returns to the ring for his second fight since coming back from the nightmare two years he endured battling a staph infection. His performances at GLORY 10 and GLORY 15 marked him out as a prospect but the nasty infection he subsequently picked up nearly cost him not only his career, but his actual legs.
Thankfully he refused amputation and battled back to full health and fitness. It was great to see him back in the ring at GLORY 38 CHICAGO and he was on his prior form as he took a win over Lukasz Plawecki of Poland. Now in Copenhagen he will fight a more established name, Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai (83-22-1, 51 KO's).
Yodkhunpon comes to us from Thailand and previously competed for us at featherweight. But he has grown a little bigger recently and his team have moved him up to lightweight. So now we get to see what he is like at this weight. It's an interesting clash, the Thai style versus Larsen's very unique and unorthodox mobility.
This is an important fight in the lightweight division. The winner will go forward to fight in the Lightweight Contender Tournament at GLORY 42 PARIS in June. And then whoever wins that tournament goes forward to fight Sitthichai. So either Larsen or Yodkhunpon is potentially three fights from a title shot right now, with their fight being the first of that three.
Rounding out the GLORY 40 COPENHAGEN card is a four-man Middleweight Contender Tournament. Notable here for long-term GLORY fans is the return of Alex Pereira (17-3, 10 KO's) of Brazil, winner of the Middleweight Contender Tournament back at GLORY 14 ZAGREB.
Pereira is a very complete talent: good hands, kicks and knees, professional boxing experience, stoppage power in every weapon.
After winning the tournament at GLORY 14 ZAGREB it looked like he would go all the way but then his form wobbled, he took some losses and ended up returning to the lower leagues. Recently he is back on form and earlier this year he stopped Israel Adesanya in Brazil, which was very impressive and earned him this invitation.
He's facing Buri Rama (30-12-1, 14 KO's) of Sweden in the semi-finals. Rama is a strong talent and he is making his debut here, he gets the slot under the 'wildcard' rule we have in GLORY which allows us to appoint a local fighter to a tournament slot to give some local flavor. You have think Pereira is the favorite obviously, he has competed a much higher level, but Rama is powerful and hungry and fighters from the Scandinavian scene are always tough.
In the other semi-final we have Yousri Belgaroui (20-3, 10 KO's) against a new fighter we signed recently, Agron Preteni (20-4-1, 5 KO's) of Croatia.
Belgaroui is young and I think he is going to go up in weight as he gets older. Right now he is a light-heavyweight and he actually reminds me a little bit of a young Badr Hari. He's tall and talented, likes to fight. He fought in the last contender tournament and even though he didn't win he looked good and he is always improving. One to watch for the future.
Preteni is good, he caught our attention a while back with a win over Romania's Andrei Stoica, who is a GLORY veteran. So now he gets his own chance to fight for GLORY. He's not as experienced as Belgaroui at this level but he has all kinds of potential and if he can win then he secures himself a spot on the roster.
GLORY 40 COPENHAGEN takes place Saturday, April 29th – tickets are available now via http://bit.ly/GLORY40tix