Usually we present you with separate Matchmaker Notes for the Superfight Series card and the Main Card but here we are rolling them into one, because the Superfight Series card consists mostly of bouts from the eight-man tournament.
Let’s begin with the GLORY 57 SHENZEN main event: Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong defending his lightweight championship against Marat Grigorian for the second time.
This is their fourth fight overall, so it’s two fighters who really know each other.
Sitthichai has won all three of their encounters thus far, although two of their fights have been extremely close and GLORY 28 PARIS in particular I felt that Grigorian should have been declared the winner, rather than Sitthichai being the winner by Majority Decision.
We’ve had Majority and Split decisions in their fights so far, so these two are clearly razor-close. They have very different styles but they match perfectly - Marat the forward-pressure fighter and Sitthichai the chess-player with counter-attacking.
In fights outside GLORY, Marat has beaten fighters like Superbon and Jomthong Chunatawa, so he’s on the way to beating all the major Thai champions of the current era. By coincidence - or not - he is trained by the brother of Ramon Dekkers, who in his time did the same. So I see a thread of history in this fight, if Marat wins.
From the moment I first saw Sitthichai he reminded me of the legendary Thai fighters of the old days, when I first went to Thailand. He’s explosive and powerful, with perfect timing.
His amazing record includes wins over Robin van Roosmalen, Marat Grigorian, Davit Kiria, Josh Jauncey, Murthel Groenhart and Andy Souwer.
He’s a real champion, difficult to beat under Muay Thai or kickboxing rules. All his weapons are sharp - boxing, kicks, knees, everything.
Sitthichai vs. Grigorian is for me that old style confrontation between two of the best fighters in the two different disciplines of Muay Thai and Dutch-style kickboxing.
History shows that both fighters are very close so I cant give any prediction. The best of that day will win and I am excited to see it happening.
Staying with the theme of great Thai fighters, on this card we mark the debut of Russian featherweight Khaial Dzhaniev. He is best known for his 2015 win over the hugely popular Buakaw under Muay Thai rules and now he is coming to test himself in GLORY.
Opposite him is Julio Lobo, who comes from Sao Paolo in Brazil but relocated to Thailand in search of his dream. He’s really hungry for success and Dzhaniev is standing in the way of that. These are two gritty fighters and this should be a good fight.
Another fight I am expecting a lot of heavy firepower in is Asa Ten Pow versus Yuhang Xie.
Ten Pow made a strong debut in New York recently, stopping his opponent after dropping him multiple times with body shots. He’s of Asian heritage so its nice we can bring him out to this part of the world for his second fight with us.
Xie is a tough kid. He debuted at GLORY 40 in Copenhagen and was having a hard time of it against Chris Mauceri before he managed to turn the tables, stage a comeback and ultimately win the fight.
For me, when I look at fighters who suffer and fight through it, I think, ‘Thats a real fighter. This is not a guy who gets knocked down and stays down’ - and that’s what you’ve got with Xie. So I think this is a tough fight for both of them.
Kayin Zhang a national hero in China. He’s a veteran who has been winding down his career but I am glad he came back to fight here for us. He’s had a great career and we are proud to host him.
He was trained by the Shaolin Tagou Institute, a famous martial arts institution in China, and originally he was set to face Alan Scheinson here on this card.
The reason being, Scheinson fought at GLORY 46 and beat a fighter from the Shaolin Tagou school, so this was like an opportunity to see if Zhang could get revenge.
But when Scheinson was hit with a medical suspension from his GLORY 55 loss to Cedric Doumbe, we had to take him off the card. The slot then passed to Cedric de Kiersmaker, who fights out of Filip Verlinden’s gym and is a team mate of Nafi Bilalofski.
In the peak of Zhang’s career, I’d say he wins this fight three times out of four. Now that he’s winding down, it’s a 50-50 fight. Old dog versus young lion, with the young lion making a name for himself in the Chinese fight media if he wins.
Chenglong Zhang has been the most successful Chinese fighter thus far signed to GLORY. He’s gone 4-1 and he’s ranked in the top ten, so he’s on track towards that title shot he so badly wants.
Zhang has a strong attacking style. He’s looking to do damage and make his opponent move backwards. He’s also ready with big counters when the opponent tries going on the attack.
Here’s facing Nafi Bilalovski, from Belgium but experienced on the Chinese circuit. Their styles are quite opposite; Bilalovski has power but he tends to outwork you, looks to wear you down and massively outpoint you.
Zhang probably needs to stop Bilalovski; if he can’t then he’s going to have to try and match Bilalovski’s pace or else he’s going to get left way behind on the scoring.
Staying in the featherweight division, we have Chenchen Li against Masaya Kubo. This is a rematch of their GLORY 46 encounter last year.
Kubo stopped Li with a head kick in the second round in that fight fight, but li’s team were really unhappy because at the start of the fight their guy went for a glove touch and got hit with a head kick instead.
They claim that materially affected the rest of the fight, up to and including the stoppage. Now they get a chance to run it back. My guess is Li doesn’t go for the glove touch again this time.
And finally, another rematch from the GLORY 46 GUANGZHOU card. This time it’s in the women’s division.
Jia Liu got a bad cut in her fight with Zaza Sor Aree so the doctor stepped in and stopped it. The Chinese fans wanted this rematch and a conclusive fight so we ordered the rematch and hopefully this time we get a definitive contest.