Glory 17 fight preview: Featherweight Tournament

Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai vs Raz Sarkisjan, Glory 15, 2014 - James Law, Glory Sports International

Get a fight by fight breakdown of Glory 17 Los Angeles this Saturday June 21 on Spike TV. Here, we take a look at the Featherweight contender tournament.

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.

Featured at Glory 17 on Spike is a one night, four man contender tournament in the Featherweight division. By the end of this evening, Glory will have champions crowned in every division except for Featherweight. Winner here will fight for that belt later this year.

SEMIFINAL: #8 MARCUS VINICIUS (7-2 Overall; 0-1 Glory) vs. #9 SHANE OBLONSKY (8-2 Overall; Glory Debut)

Vinicius is, to be clear, not the UFC fighter. This Brazilian kickboxer made his Glory debut at Glory 8, losing a decision to Mosab Amrani in the Featherweight tournament quarterfinals there. Prior to that fight, he had competed exclusively in Brazil. Vinicius has trained at the famed Chute Boxe in the past, and that Chute Boxe influence can be seen in his style. He's an aggressive fighter with a heavy focus on his hands, and he loves those looping hooks made famous by Wanderlei Silva. When he gets inside, he pours on the offense, throwing a lot of punches in an attempt to get that KO. On the outside, he's more tentative, relying primarily on low kicks. Against Amrani, he came out aggressive early, but slowed considerably s the fight progressed and was easily outpointed in the final round. Vinicius is a fighter who can turn the tide with his punching power, but seems to have not yet developed a plan B for when that power does not work to his advantage.

Oblonsky makes his Glory debut here, and, as is something of a theme on this card, he will look to translate his Muay Thai game into the Glory ruleset. Oblonsky comes out of the California Muay Thai scene where he trains with the excellent Team Oyama camp. His biggest career win came at Lion Fight 14 relier this year when he upset Thai great Malaipet. Oblonsky is still something of a raw fighter with some technical weaknesses - his defense can be sloppy at times, and he is rather heavy on his feet with minimal movement. But he also has some real strengths - he's a tall fighter with a long reach that he uses very effectively. Against Malaipet, he stuck in the fight, wore Malaipet down and steadily increased the pressure until the veteran could not keep up. Oblonsky is clearly a motivated, hard working fighter who is dedicated to success in Glory. He's also the kind of fighter who improves whenever we see him. If he can adjust his game to eliminate his very good elbow strikes, he could be a spoiler here.

Stylistically, the match up here seems to really favor Oblonsky. He's the far superior outside fighter, and his range and use of teeps will allow him to dictate the range more easily, picking Vinicius apart from outside. If Marcus does get inside, Oblonsky's Muay Thai experience will serve him well as he will grab the clinch and take away the Brazilian's punching power. Vinicius does indeed have good hands, so a KO win is not out of the question, but I like Oblonsky here.

Prediction: Shane Oblonsky by decision

More Glory 17 Fight Previews:

Ristie vs. Hollenbeck

SEMIFINAL: #3 YODKHUNPON SITMONCHAI (83-21-1 Overall; 1-0 Glory) vs. #5 GABRIEL VARGA (23-2 Overall; 2-1 Glory)

For the scoop on Thai fighter Yodkhunpon, I turned to the newest addition to Team Bloody Elbow - Muay Thai guru Kyle McLachlan (read more of Kyle's superb Muay Thai analysis in his Beginner's Guide series).

19 year old Yodkhunpon (or Yodkhunpol depending on how your ears take his name) fights out of Sitmonchai gym, which is a few hours outside of Bangkok.

Like the gyms most famous fighter, action hero Pornsanae, Yodkhunpon has a basic style which utilises just a few of the facets of Muay Thai technique, but uses them well. He has good hands, a hallmark of the Sitmonchai school, and will unleash a blur of punches to mask his leg kicks, a smacking shot off the back leg which looks to be his bread and butter.

Unusually for Thai fighters, kickboxing may well be the sport for Yodkhunpon. I've seen him overwhelmed in the clinch, and in the GLORY promotional video (filmed by Timo Ruge of Muay Ties) he acknowledges a weakness in the clinch, or rather a dislike of that part of Thai boxing.

Moving to GLORY is likely the best move for Yodkhunpon in terms of maximising his career potential, as he currently sits outside the top ten rankings of both Lumpinee and Rajadamnern stadium, the only rankings that matter in Muay Thai. Although he is a young lad growing into his body, in the last year alone he's fought from 126 to 140lbs, so may be at a size disadvantage, though the superior technique of Thai's usually allows for them to give up a bit of weight.

It will be interesting to see how Yodkhunpon gets on as he further adapts his style to the GLORY ruleset.

I'll just add here that we have so far seen Yodkhunpon make that adjustment once as he was victorious at Glory 15. But that was an ugly fight where the adjustment did not go smoothly. It got the job done, and the Muay Thai fighter walked away with the win, but for him to succeed here, he needs to have learned from that experience and made some changes.

Varga brings in a great background as he grew up in a family of karate fighters. He's been training since a very young age and picked up solid amateur experience before turning pro. As you would expect from a fighter with that pedigree, Varga is an incredibly technically sound fighter in all aspects. He possesses a wide range of offensive tools that he uses to befuddle opponents, and he has the gas tank to keep pushing them for three rounds. He has fought Muay Thai before and brings some of those tools to his game, but has brought them into kickboxing nicely - his side knees from the clinch are gorgeous and one of his best weapons. At Glory 8, he made it to the semifinals of the last Glory Featherweight tournament, losing to eventual tournament winner Yuta Kubo. He has great combos, nice speed in his attacks, and is the kind of crisp, technical fighter that can give anyone trouble.

Head to head, Varga himself summed up this fight as a sort of Western vs. Eastern style, and I think that's accurate. Yod will try to focus on the single power shots typical of Thai fighters, particularly kicks, while Varga will vary his offense more and throw more combos. Those power shots from Yodkhunpon could make the difference, but I like Varga's better comfort level with the Glory ruleset, superior technique, and higher offensive output. Look for him to take the decision in a great fight.

Prediction: Gabriel Varga by decision

More Glory 17 Los Angeles Coverage

FINALS

By my count, I have this as Varga vs. Oblonsky. I would expect Varga to come in more damaged, as the powerful shots of Yodkhunpon will hurt him, while Oblonsky may come in having done a better job neutralizing his opponent's game. Still, Varga has the considerable experience edge, and is the all around better fighter. Everything Oblonsky does, Varga does better. Look for Varga to use his speed and movement to outpoint the less experienced Oblonsky, giving the Canadian fighter the tournament victory.

Prediction: Gabriel Varga by decision

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