Last weekend GLORY was in Chicago, USA for a world welterweight title fight and a card full of interesting bouts. Overall I feel like the event delivered for fans in the arena and watching at home, although I felt the main event was a little scrappy.
Cedric Doumbe was defending the belt and Murthel Groenhart was there to take it from him. Some tension had built up between them since their first fight at GLORY 28 PARIS, which Doumbe won, and also fighting with the world title on the line brings its own pressure.
It may also be that their styles simply don't complement each other; they have very different ways of fighting, with Doumbe being mobile and Groenhart being a more traditional Dutch style. Either way, it was a messy fight, they couldn't find a good rhythm or strategy against each other.
I don't think either fighter came away amazed by his own performance in that one, but for them the main thing is the result. Groenhart won a split-decision and thereby became champion. Like all split-decisions, you can debate the result in favor of either side. It probably won't be the last time they meet in the ring, maybe they can settle things more decisively in the future.
In the meantime, attention will turn toward Groenhart’s first title defense and who his first challenger will be.
One guy who has put his name forward strongly for that slot is Harut Grigorian: he was stopped by Groenhart at GLORY 42 PARIS in very controversial fashion but then came back at GLORY 44 to win the Welterweight Contender Tournament with two very convincing performances.
We all know what happened in Paris so I won't recap it in detail. He was really upset about that result; he was doing well in the first round and then got stopped with a really hard knockout. And although it was a legal shot, it wasn't the best-looking kind of thing for our sport.
People questioned whether he should be back in action so soon after a knockout loss like that but he was 100% sure he was ready and that was backed up by scans and medical reports. His trainer kept him out of sparring totally before Chicago, just had him fit and ready.
I think he released a lot of his frustrations in the tournament. His fight with Karim Benmansour in the semi-final was a war, they both went for it, and then in the final he handled Antoine Pinto well, even though he had suffered a lot of damage to his legs from Benmansour in the earlier fight.
Pinto carried a lot less damage into the final. He met newcomer Zach Bunnell in the semi-finals due to Casey Greene pulling out and even though Pinto has a lot more experience, Bunnell made a fight of it and gave a good account of himself.
So Grigorian is the tournament winner and that places him in the mix for a title shot. I don't think there are any fans out there who don't want to see that rematch between him and Groenhart after everything which happened in Paris.
We have a pay-per-view card at the end of the year with Rico Verhoeven defending the heavyweight title and this welterweight rematch could be a good fit for that card; we will see.
Another title fight in Chicago was between Tiffany van Soest and Meyrem Uslu, who came in on a weeks notice to replace Funda Alkayis. It's always hard to step in on short notice but Uslu is very experienced and accomplished in her own right and she was sure she could beat Tiffany in her own back yard.
Well, it didn't work out like that. Van Soest put on a great performance and showed people why she is the champion. She stopped Uslu in the fourth round by TKO, becoming the first female fighter in GLORY to win by stoppage.
At the end of October we are in Lyon, France and that card will feature Anissa Meksen against Funda Alkayis, with the winner facing Van Soest for the title. Either one of them will be a tough challenger for Van Soest’s second title defense and that’s fight we can look forward to.
With the event taking place in the US there were a good number of American fighters on the card and as usual we are looking for new North American talent to bring through and develop.
I thought that Nate Richardson did well against the much more experienced Rafal Dudek and even though he lost a decision, when you take into account the huge difference in experience, I feel like he passed a test. We will certainly bring him back, probably against a fellow American next time.
Another newcomer, Sean Choice, faced Dustin Jacoby, who was coming off a ten-month layoff due to a broken arm he suffered against Simon Marcus last year. Jacoby has a lot of experience against top level fighters now but after such a long break it would not have been fair to put him back right away at that level, so Choice got a chance against him.
It was a good opportunity but Jacoby was too much for him. I should point out that he also came in quite late though; originally Mike Lemaire was scheduled for the spot but he dropped out. There was a noticeable size difference between Choice and Jacoby also; it may be that he wants to think about fighting a weight-class lower in the future.
Elsewhere on the card: Catalin Morosanu lost a decision to Michal Turynski and it caused some controversy, a lot of people disagreed with it. Morosanu did his best not to leave it to the judges but Turynski weathered some hard shots and ended up getting the decision.
Warren Thompson looked good against Rob Thomas, winning two rounds then being stopped in the third. It was a good piece of matchmaking i think, both of them at a similar point in their careers and both of them having come through really hard starts to their GLORY careers. Both of them are real fighters, always ready to fight and take risks.
The younger Pinto brother, Victor Leo Pinto, opened the card with a fight against Adrian Maxim, who comes from Romania but is based in the UK. It was a good fight. Pinto is more experienced and that probably helped him, he is more used to a big platform like GLORY, but I was impressed with Maxim’s efforts and we will surely see him again.
GLORY’s next event takes place closer to home for me. We are in Amsterdam on Saturday, September 30 for GLORY 45 HOLLAND at the Sporthallen Zuid. Featherweight champion Robin van Roosmalen defends his belt against former champion Serhiy Adamchuk in the main event.