Glory 6 preview: Is this the time for Gokhan Saki to shine?

Ben Pontier/GLORY

In the main event at Glory 6, Gokhan Saki gets a chance to defeat Daniel Ghita once again. What does this fight mean for Saki, and can he get it done again? Bloody Elbow breaks it down in this Glory 6 Istanbul preview.

When Gokhan Saki and Daniel Ghita step in to the ring at Glory 6 Istanbul, you would think it was Ghita with something to prove. After all, he's the one who was on the losing end of a decision the last time these two fought. He's the one looking for revenge. And he's the one trying to do it in front of a hometown crowd for Saki in Turkey. Yet in many ways, it's Gokhan Saki who truly needs this win to prove something.

Saki should not need to prove anything to anyone. A veteran of over 10 years, Saki fought in K-1 from 2006-2010. During that time, he reached the semifinals of the K-1 Grand Prix twice. He won a GP tournament in Hawaii. He defeated Tyrone Spong, Ruslan Karaev, and of course, Daniel Ghita. But there's one thing he has never had - a career defining win that clearly establishes him as one of the sport's very best. The Ghita win was a big one, but it was a very close fight, and the shine of Saki's victory was somewhat dulled by his subsequent loss to Alistair Overeem.

Full Glory 6 coverage from Bloody Elbow

For quite some time, Saki has seemed like a top 5 - top 10 fighter. And that's an impressive accomplishment. But it's not quite enough for Saki, who has made his goal clear - to be the #1 Heavyweight kickboxer in the world. Two men stand in the way of that goal. The first is Daniel Ghita. The second is a man who looms large over this fight.

If I had got the extra round... I would have won the fight. But they didn't give it to me. -Gokhan Saki on his 2012 fight with Semmy Schilt

Semmy Schilt. The Glory Heavyweight champion is the clear cut #1 Heavyweight in the world, and he has been for quite some time. Winner here will definitively move into the #2 spot. He'll also earn a shot at Schilt, his Glory Heavyweight title, and, most importantly, his #1 status. Both have already had a shot at Schilt and fallen, but as Saki made it clear in an open workout this week, he's ready for attempt #2:

"I want to fight Semmy Schilt again because he is the best heavyweight in the world. Not technically, but he won the tournament four times and he is still the champ now. I fought him over two rounds and I don't think I lost the fight but they gave it to him. No problem, no worries. If he won, he won. But I would love to fight him again because I want to show everybody that a small heavyweight like me can beat a big heavyweight. If I fight him again with a new system, I think I can knock him out...

"He is just big, yeah. If he was the same height as me, he would not fight like this. He has a big reach advantage. If you know how to fight smart, it's not too difficult to fight him, but the bigger guys like Ghita, they want to make a war with Semmy. If Ghita had moved a little bit, played a little bit, I think it's easier for him to fight Semmy Schilt than for me. But I think they don't know the system. Or they know, but they can't play it...

"I would fight him again tomorrow, I swear it. If I could fight him tomorrow I would do it. I could see everything he wanted to do before he did it - he wanted to make a jab or give a knee, I could see it, my eyes were faster than his movement. If Semmy wasn't as big as he is, he would not win these tournaments. For sure not...

"In my opinion I think that [my first fight with Schilt] should have been at least an extra round. I could have gone around the ring screaming and crying but, what would that have changed? The result was the result and that's it. But at least I won the hearts of the people - I don't think anybody except Peter Aerts gave him a fight like that in the last three or four years. And with my height [disadvantage]. I was happy with the performance in the two rounds. If I had got the extra round, my condition was good, I would have won the fight. But they didn't give it to me."

That drive to once again challenge Schilt is admirable, and Schilt vs. Saki 2 would be a much anticipated fight. But we're not there yet, as Ghita stands in the way. Still, Saki is confident that he has the skills to topple Ghita once again, and he credits those skills in large part to his new training at Mike's Gym under Mike Passenier:

"I train only with Mike - a lot of pad training and condition training. Also a lot of technique. Sometimes we train for three or four hours only technique. Every training (session) is different, always good things and he has a lot of new things for me. We changed a lot of things. It's not only the left hook any more. It's complete, you know? Kicks, boxing, right hook, right straight, high kick, left, right - everything is now complete...

"More hands but also more kicks... I don't know, it's hard to explain. More kicks at the end of combinations. Sometimes I used to throw a low kick without making any punch first. Or the head kick, if you don't punch first it can be easy to see the head kick coming. So we work on things like this, it's really important...

"Also moving in and out, because I am small. I need to hit two or three times and go out without getting hit. If you saw the fight with (Anderson) ‘Braddock' Silva, my system was good and I knocked him out. He did three rounds with (Remy) Bonjasky, three rounds with Badr Hari. I knocked him out. Obviously there is some luck as well, but still, it shows the system works for me."

Clearly, Gokhan Saki is confident. He sees the road ahead of him, and on that road, he sees both Daniel Ghita and Semmy Schilt laid out, defeated. If that happens, then Gokhan Saki will no longer be "close" to the top - he'll be the greatest Heavyweight kickboxer on the planet today. He's two fights away from finally reaching that goal. The journey begins now.

Glory 6 Istanbul airs this Saturday, April 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Bloody Elbow will have live fight coverage, including results and discussion.


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