Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao will be the next fighter to challenge Robin van Roosmalen with the featherweight title on the line.
Van Roosmalen lost the belt when he failed to make weight for his GLORY 37 fight with Matt Embree earlier this year, rendering it vacant when he went on to stop Embree. He will fight for it at GLORY 41 in May and Petchpanomrung will be standing opposite him.
The young Thai prospect booked his spot in the title fight by winning two fights in one night in the GLORY 39 Featherweight Contender Tournament, getting past Alexei Ulianov in the semi-finals and then taking a close split-decision over former champion Serhiy Adamchuk after five rounds.
It was a very even fight, Adamchuk having the better hands and Petchpanomrung the better leg work. Constant body-work from Petchpanomrung impressed some of the judges, while others were taken with the boxing work of Adamchuk.
The result was a split-decision, and fury from Adamchuk's corner team. They were adamant that their fighter had done enough to win a clear decision. “Since when do body kicks score when they are blocked by the arms?” demanded his coach Mike Passenier. On Petchpanomrung's side, they were equally certain their man had won. Either way, this is unlikely to be the last time they meet.
Semi-Final #2: Serhiy Adamchuk vs. Nafi Bilalovski
The tricky Adamchuk was on top form in winning a unanimous decision against Nafi Bilalovski in the second of the tournament's two semi-final bouts, playing his trademark game of sharp counter-attacking and misdirection over all three rounds.
Bilalovski, fighting out of Filip Verlinden's gym and making his debut here, made a spirited effort but had a lot of problems with the Ukrainian southpaw. Adamchuk is very good at distancing and at disrupting his opponent's timing, frustrating them as he comes in and lands his shots then positions himself just an inch outside their range so their return shots fall short.
Adamchuk was in solid control for most of the fight, racking up points with punches and his slick left knee to the body. In the last thirty seconds of the final round it became a dogfight though, Bilalovski throwing caution to the wind and looking to finish strong. Adamchuk had to knuckle down into a little close range war before the final bell rang.
Semi Final #1: Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao vs. Alexei Ulianov
Petchpanomrung set the tone in the first few seconds of the first semi-final bout. As soon as the fight started he stepped forwards and hammered a hard left kick into Ulianov's right side. Ulianov fired back, and they went into a close and competitive first round.
The knee work from both fighters was excellent throughout the fight. Ulinaov impressed with his timing on a hard right knee to the body as Petchpanomrung stepped in. He deployed it several times and Petchpanomrung clearly felt it. Ulianov also gave a good account of himself in spirited knee exchanges in the clinch, although Petchpanomrung generally got the better of them.
Ulianov's other top weapon in the fight was his right hand, which was stiff and lazer-accurate. He caught Petchpanomrung with right-cross counters a good number of times and generally appeared to have the better boxing skills, finding ways to beat Petchpanomrung to the punch repeatedly.
Where he couldn't get the better of Petchpanomrung was in the kicking game. While the first round was rather even, in the second and third Petchpanomrung had his timing worked out and did great work with his signature left leg strike, finding clean routes for it to land on Ulianov's head, body and leg.
The body in particular came in for a hammering; over three rounds, Ulianov absorbed more than fifty strikes to his torso. He did outland Petchpanomrung with clean head strikes, but the sheer volume of the Thai's output was not to be denied and made him the clear winner for all five judges ringside, sending him through to the semi-finals.