Saturday May 3, Bloody Elbow presents fight coverage of Glory 16 Denver. Glory 16 airs live on Spike TV, Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. ET. We will have live fight night coverage and discussion right here. Here, we break down the Glory 16 card in our fight by fight preview.
One of the big draws for Glory 16 is the Heavyweight contender tournament. As always, this is a 4 man, one night tournament. Winner here moves on to a Heavyweight title shot later this year. This is a pretty fantastic tournament - let's take a look.
Semi-Final: #7 SERGEI KHARITONOV (5-3) vs. #4 ANDERSON SILVA (37-10-1)
Very interesting fight here between two different fighters. Anderson "Braddock" Silva is a Brazilian fighter who has worked with the great Thom Harinck and Peter Aerts out of the legendary Chakuriki Gym. That time spent training in Amsterdam has made Silva much more of a European styled fighter. He's technically sound in all areas, with nice leg kicks, and the kind of overall game that will always make him a legitimate challenger. In 2009 he made his debut for It's Showtime, and has been a part of Glory since headlining Glory 2 against Remy Bonjasky. He's been fighting around the top of the Heavyweight division for some time, and has never gotten over the hump and found consistent success. For every big win he has (Remy Bonjasky, Stefan Leko, Igor Jurkovic), he has a loss (Daniel Ghita, Gokhan Saki, Badr Hari). He's 3-3 in Glory, which I think sums him up pretty accurately.
Kharitonov is no stranger to the hardcore MMA fans thanks to his runs in Pride and Strikeforce. In recent years, Sergei has been more focused on kickboxing, taking only the sporadic MMA fight. He made his K-1 debut back in 2009, having the unenviable task of debuting against Daniel Ghita. Not surprisingly, Kharitonov lost. After going 1-2 in his first 3 kickboxing fights, he seemed like a non-factor in this sport, but he has shown incredible improvement since and is currently on a 4-1 run all in Glory (and its predecessor, United Glory). Kharitonov is very much a no-frills kind of fighter. He walks forward, walks you down, and delivers heavy blows. It's simple, but very effective. Often, he uses a great body blow - a particularly good weapon when fighting Heavyweights who struggle with cardio issues. Kharitonov trains at the famed Golden Glory gym.
Head to head, Silva clearly has the better kickboxing experience, and there's potentially an obvious path to a Silva victory through a heavy leg kick attack. But if Kharitonov can get past those leg kicks and get inside, I think his power will make a difference. I'll take the MMA veteran in a mild upset.
Prediction: Sergei Kharitonov by Decision
Semi-Final: #6 BEN EDWARDS (36-9-3) vs. #9 ERROL ZIMMERMAN (101-11-1)
This is going to be good. In Edwards vs. Zimmerman you have your classic Heavyweight fight - two big guys, with huge power and sometimes breach-able defense, ready to throw bombs. Australia's Edwards is coming off an incredible come from behind win over Jamal Ben Saddik at Glory 12. In that fight, Edwards showed great heart, staying in the fight until the closing minutes, then taking advantage and blasting a tired Ben Saddik for the win. An extremely heavy handed fighter, Edwards has KO wins over a wide range of fighters. He also holds the record for fastest ever K-1 tournament win, defeating three opponents in a combined time of roughly 3:30.
Zimmerman is, at this point, an accomplished kickboxing veteran. He's fought every major name out there, and holds wins over Rico Verhoeven, Jerome Le Banner, and many more. When Zimmerman is on point, he is devastating, with nasty knees, and brutal shots that few can take. But Zimmerman can also run cold. After a breakout year in 2008, Zimmerman went on a rough 3-7 run. He came back in 2011, looking phenomenal once again in an 8 fight win streak, but is now coming off a loss to Daniel Ghita as part of a 1-4 run. With Zimmerman, consistency is tough.
Pairing these two up was simply a stroke of matchmaking genius. It's hard to think of many dull fights from either man, as their all-in go for broke style makes things great. It also makes their fights incredibly unpredictable. Comparing the two, Edwards is a bit more one-dimensional, with a heavy emphasis on his boxing, while Zimmerman possesses more tools and will be able to hurt Edwards with different techniques. Who wins this may come down to who lands that first major blow and who has the chin to withstand it, and that is hard to predict. One thing you can say though - this will be fast and furious.
Prediction: Errol Zimmerman by KO
I have this as Kharitonov vs. Zimmerman, but part of the fun of this tournament is that I could easily see any possible permutation of these four in the finals - and I would be glad to watch any of those fights. If it is indeed Kharitonov vs. Zimmerman, then I would expect Kharitonov to be coming in off the more grueling war of attrition type fight, Zimmeman off the quicker KO. That's a plus for Zimmerman, who has sometimes struggled with cardio issues. If he can get off first, be explosive, and light Kharitonov up quickly, he can end this. But I like the chin from Kharitonov, and think he can slow things down, drag the fight past the first, and wear Zimmerman down for the win.
Prediction: Sergei Kharitonov by decision