Saturday April 12, Bloody Elbow presents fight coverage of Glory 15 Istanbul. Glory 15 airs on Spike TV, Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. ET, and can be seen in a live stream outside of the US during the day Saturday, right here. Here, we break down the Glory 15 card in our fight by fight preview.
ROBIN VAN ROOSMALEN (31-6) VS. MARAT GRIGORIAN (35-4-2)
The Glory Lightweight division feels quite a bit like the UFC Welterweight division right now. It's a division that was long ruled by a seemingly unbeatable champion, but that champion is no longer untouchable, as Andy Ristie proved when he knocked out Giorgio Petrosyan last year in New York. Now, with Petrsoyan no longer the king of the mountain, everyone is looking for that #1 spot. Ristie looked like the new king after New York, but then he lost to inaugural champion Davit Kiria at Glory 14. Now you have a tricky situation - Ristie beat Petrosyan and Roosmalen, both of whom beat Kiria, but Kiria beat Ristie. So... who's the top dog now? It's a wide open division, which makes a fight like this that much more exciting.
Rossmalen is currently the #2 ranked contender in the division. He's an extremely impressive 7-2 in Glory, his only losses tournament finals to Ristie and Petrosyan. He holds wins over huge talents, including Murthel Groenhart, Artur Kyshenko (in a stacked It's Showtime tournament), and Murat Direkci. And, of course, champion Davit Kiria. Despite all these wins, Roosmalen has never won the big one in Glory, coming so close twice, but just not quite getting there. A win here makes Roosmalen a possible title challenger next time out.
Opponent Marat Grigorian is 1-0 (1 NC) in Glory, and though he's lesser known, he is no less formidable an opponent. The 22 year old is already a 5 year pro and has been fighting high level opponents since signing with It's Showtime back in 2008. He challenged for the It's Showtime title in 2011, but lost a decision to Yohan Lidon. Grigorian has looked very good in his 2 Glory fights and seems on the cusp of greatness - a win for him over Roosmalen instantly inserts him into the title hunt.
Stylistically, this is a great fight. Both fighters are most comfortable when moving forward, and both are very offensive-minded fighters, which should make for a very action packed fight. For Grigorian, the most common gameplan is to push forward, throwing a high volume of strikes. He is great at mixing things up, throwing punches, a variety of kicks, and nice knees into his combos. If you don't push him back, he'll keep coming and overwhelm you, turning up the pressure until you go down.
Roosmalen is also most inclined to walk you down. But unlike Grigorian, who constantly throws when on the move, Roosmalen is very willing to tighten up his guard and come forward in a more defensive mode. Until he gets inside, at which point he unleashes his heavy shots. And that is where Roosmalen shines - power. He is a fighter who can come forward while absorbing shot after shot, then fire back with one brutal series of punches that instantly turns the tide and knocks his opponent down - and with enough power that they don't always get up.
In this fight, Grigorian simply must respect Roosmalen's power. While both men will want to move forward, Grigorian is more willing to yield that position. I expect to see Roosmalen keep his hands tight and wade in, with Grigorian using his arsenal of strikes to keep Roosmalen at bay. Best weapon for Grigorian will be his very nice teep - if he uses that effectively, he can avoid feeling those heavy hands inside.
Ultimately though, Roosmalen is likely to get in there and drop Grigorian, and he's likely to do it more than once. Look for Grigorian to keep up a high volume of strikes and have early success before Roosmalen finds his way in and hurts him badly enough to take home the win in a superb fight. From there, a title shot will be hard to deny.
Prediction: Rovin van Roosmalen by decision