Saturday June 21, Bloody Elbow presents fight coverage of Glory 17 Los Angeles. Glory 17 airs live on Spike TV, Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. ET, and is followed by the Last Man Standing PPV at 10. We will have live fight night coverage and discussion right here. Here, we break down the Glory 17 card in our fight by fight preview.
#2 ANDY RISTIE (41-4-1 Overall; 6-1 Glory) vs. #4 KY HOLLENBECK (46-3 Overall; 3-1 Glory) - Lightweight
This is a very intriguing fight with a lot of backstory riding in. Originally, this was set to take place at Glory 14 Zagreb, with the winner walking away the first Glory Lightweight champion. However, because of commitments outside of Glory, Hollenbeck felt he could not sufficiently prepare for that fight, and he stepped out. Davit Kiria took his place, and in one of the most memorable fights in Glory history, Kiria staged an amazing come from behind win to topple the favored Ristie and take home the title - a belt he still wears today. Winner here will get a shot at taking that gold from his waist.
That quest for #1 status in the Lightweight division is a big story here. For quite some time, Giorgio Petrosyan was the undisputed king at 70 kg. But last fall, in one of the biggest upsets in kickboxing history, Andy Ristie stunned the world and defeated Petrosyan, staking his claim as the world's new #1. His subsequent loss to Kiria only confused things, as now you have Kiria, the champion, who has a win over Ristie but losses to both Petrosyan and Robin van Roosmalen - both men that Ristie has defeated. The end result? Lightweight is, after years of a dominant champion, wide open for anyone to make his mark, and both Ristie and Hollenbeck will attempt to do just that in Los Angeles.
Setting aside that story, this is also a very intriguing match stylistically. Neither man is your entirely run of the mill traditional kickboxer. Ristie is a product of the Dutch kickboxing scene, where he gained experience fighting for It's Showtime and has trained with the great Lucien Carbin. He brings in that Muay Thai influenced Dutch style, but has adapted it into his own form. Ristie is particularly aggressive and explosive, driving towards the KO at all times. In particular, his clinch knee is deadly, and I would argue he has the best knees in kickboxing today. Yet despite that aggression, he's also a deceptively technical striker, using stance and movement very effectively (for a much more detailed analysis on this, check out this Judo Chop Connor and I did on Ristie in the wake of his Glory 12 win). Though he can at times become reckless and leave his defense open (see the Kiria fight for an example), Ristie brings the whole package together to make him one of the best in the world.
Hollenbeck is an American fighter from the constantly improving Muay Thai scene in California. He's fought traditional Muay Thai all over the world, picking up some solid wins against the likes of Steve Moxon and Vusi Colossa. In some ways, Hollenbeck uses a very traditional Muay Thai style, as he is skilled at working from the clinch and grinding opponents down. However, that American side comes through in his punches - unlike most Thai fighters, Hollenbeck punches quite a bit and will use his hands for the KO whenever he can. The big question for Hollenbeck in Glory has always been his ability to adapt his Muay Thai game to kickboxing. Though the two are closely related, the differences in ruleset demand some adjustments. As his 3-1 Glory record shows (the one loss coming against Petrosyan due to injury), he for the most part has made these adjustments, though it hasn't always been pretty. His last fight, a Glory 12 win over Warren Stevelmans, was a very good win for Hollenbeck, but also a bit of an ugly fight as he used his Muay Thai to outpoint his kickboxing veteran opponent.
When you pair up these two unorthodox styles you are likely to end up with one of two things: either a dynamic, aggressive, thrilling fight, or an awkward clash of styles. Both men have fought fights under each category. If it's the former, it favors the firepower and varied attack of Ristie. If it's the latter, it favors the grind of Hollenbeck. I'll say Ristie comes in aggressive and out to reclaim his seat, forcing the action and benefiting as a result, but if Hollenbeck slows things down, he can win this.
Prediction: Andy Ristie by KO