This Saturday, Glory presents kickboxing action at Glory 14 Zagreb. Glory 14 airs on Spike TV at 9:00 p.m. ET, and Bloody Elbow will have Glory fight coverage all week. Here, enjoy our fight by fight preview of Glory 14, starting with Glory's signature 4 man tournament.
MIDDLEWEIGHT CONTENDER TOURNAMENT
Before breaking down the fights in this tournament, it's important to point out a distinction here. This year, Glory is moving to a more traditional championship format, with a titleholder in each weight class who defends that belt. As part of that new format, they have introduced two distinct types of tournaments: championship tournaments, where the belt is on the line and the winner is the champ; and contender tournaments, which feature rising fighters not quite at that title level just yet. This is a contender tournament, which is why you don't see the heavy hitters of the division. Winner here earns a shot in a championship tournament at a shot at the currently vacant belt later this year.
SEMIFINAL: SAHAK PARPARYAN VS. JASON WILNIS
Rematch time! Parparyan and Wilnis first squared off in September 2012, with Parparyan taking a decision win. Parparyan is a former It's Showtime Middleweight champion, who holds wins over some solid names including Mourad Bouzidi and Amir Zeyada. He came up through the famed Mike's Gym in Amsterdam, home to Badr Hari and Melvin Manhoef among many others.
Parparyan fights with that Mike's Gym style - a heavy emphasis on power shots, a lot of aggression, and a willingness to swarm a hurt opponent to go for the kill. He's the kind of fighter who will get inside and make a fight ugly if need be, but is happiest walking you down while throwing heavy leather. His technique can be a bit sloppy at times, but he makes up for that with that aggression. Parparyan has struggled to find success lately though. He's 0-1 in Glory after losing to Artem Levin at Glory 7, and is coming in off a KO loss to Pavel Zhuravlev.
Wilnis is another fighter out of The Netherlands where he trains at The Colosseum Gym. He too is a former It's Showtime champion, defeating fellow Glory 14 tournament participant Alex Pereira for the vacant title in November 2012. Wilnis is 1-1 in Glory and is also coming off a loss to Levin.
Wilnis is an athletic fighter with fast leg kicks and an excellent ability to mix it up in combos. In particular, he has a beautiful left hook to the body he sneaks into combos - that's the punch he used to KO Pereira, and it's a deadly one. With good defense, nice kicks, and those fast combos, Wilnis is a technically proficient fighter who continues to improve. One area of weakness for him is that he is a slow starter, often allowing opponents to dictate the opening minutes.
Though Parparyan holds the head-to-head win, their separate fights since then have decidedly favored Wilnis. He's shown nice growth, and should be able to use his technical superiority to outpoint the more bullish Parparyan en route to a decision win. Wilnis's biggest danger will be the opening minutes, where Parparyan will pressure him. In particular, Wilnis has a bad tendency to throw a far too looping and wide overhand right, leaving his head exposed for the counter. If he does that here, Parparyan is good enough to make him pay, and heavy handed enough to drop him.
Prediction: Jason Wilnis by decision
SEMIFINAL: DUSTIN JACOBY VS. ALEX PEREIRA
Dustin Jacoby is an unfairly maligned fighter among some kickboxing fans. He really shouldn't be. A former MMA fighter with 2 UFC fights under his belt, Jacoby tried his hand at kickboxing in 2012. He scored a surprise upset, winning a Road to Glory tournament in the US. Since then, he's fought exclusively in Glory. Jacoby now has a kickboxing record of 3-3, with all fights taking place under the Glory banner.
As you would expect from a fighter with that level of experience, Jacoby remains somewhat raw around the edges. His technique is not always crisp and perfect, but like Wilnis, he's absolutely advancing every fight. What disadvantages he has in perfect technique, he makes up for with guts and drive. Jacoby is a determined fighter and a very tough man to stop.
Opponent Alex Pereira is a Brazilian fighter making his Glory debut here. Pereira has experience fighting for It's Showtime (the loss to Wilnis), plus has fought as a professional boxer. In the kickboxing ring, Pereira carries himself like a Muay Thai fighter with a bit of that Brazilian Chute Boxe Muay Thai style thrown in. He's a tall, lanky fighter, and he uses that height well with a nice teep. But he also has a somewhat awkward style of movement, often putting his full weight on his lead leg, and moving in a less than fluid manner.
Given each man's experience, this is a close fight and a tough one to call. One potential X Factor here is the weight - Jacoby has been fighting a division up, but has opted to move down to Middleweight here. That's more in line with the weight he competed at in MMA, and should give him a power advantage. I expect to see Jacoby use his nice leg kicks to batter that heavy lead leg of Pereira.
Prediction: Dustin Jacoby by TKO
Given my predictions, I have this as Wilnis vs. Jacoby. One potential point to consider - given that Cro Cop vs. Bonjasky will certainly close the show and that this is a 5 fight card, there could be a relatively small amount of time between fights for these finalists. If that's the case, it's a point in favor of the extremely well conditioned Wilnis. Overall, I'll take the superior technique, experience, and speed of Wilnis over Jacoby. Look for him to outwork Jacoby to take home the crown.
Prediction: Jason Wilnis by decision