Tomorrow night, GLORY stages its first-ever pay-per-view card.
LAST MAN STANDING will see three new world champions crowned. Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven are fighting for the vacant heavyweight title and Marc de Bonte is defending the welterweight title he won in Denver on May 3.
Eight middleweights will battle it out in a one-night tournament to crown a champion at 185lbs. The fighters taking part in the World Middleweight Championship have been drawn from all around the world.
Some are well-known to US fight fans, others less so. Below, our expert panel lays out a handy primer for a tournament stocked with top-tier killers.
In the first bracket, Schilling faces Marcus in the quarter-finals. Barrett faces Stoica, with the winners facing each other in the semi-finals. In the other bracket Levin faces Pereira and Manhoef faces Verlinden.
Then, once you know who everybody is, get an actual breakdown of the tournament on a fight-by-fight basis by reading Fraser Coffeen's piece when it goes live Saturday morning.
Joe ‘Stitch Em Up' Schilling (16-5, 10 KO's)
Won the GLORY 10 LOS ANGLES middleweight tournament last year by beating Artem Levin in the final. That was four-man though, so Saturday's ask is twice as hard.
Michael ‘Stets‘, MMA Mania: "Stitch 'em up" earned his nickname for cutting up his opponents with elbow strikes early on in his career. The American fighter is a three time WBC Muay Thai champion and has a record of 15-6 overall and is considered one of the elite fighters in the States.
Schilling, 30, got his first taste of fighting by entering "Tough Man" competitions in his late teens. In his GLORY debut, Schilling defeated Kengo Shimizu and No.1-ranked Artem Levin to with the GLORY 10 middleweight tournament. Schilling has been a training partner of Nick Diaz among several other UFC fighters.
Fraser Coffeen, Bloody Elbow: Joe has a lot in his favor here. He's the hometown fighter, and he won the last Glory Middleweight tournament, defeating Artem Levin in the finals. Schilling is an outspoken fighter with a nice Muay Thai game, and you can bet he will play off the crowd's emotions here.
Dave Walsh, Liverkick: Joe Schilling is hard to explain without making him sound like an asshole. Joe believes in himself and his skills and is able to back just about everything up in the ring. He's had a few lapses, but they usually come from him getting mad or cocky in the ring. He's tremendously gifted, hits hard and is one of the best "talkers" in the sport today.
I think that we see an uber-motivated Schilling take this in front of his friends and family.
Simon Marcus (39-0-1, 24 KO's)
The Canadian-Jamaican is a top-ranked fighter in the world of Muay Thai, world #1 in many lists. Now he switches to kickboxing and faces a new challenge, deprived of his beloved clinch.
Holds wins over Schilling, Levin and Verlinden under Muay Thai rules.
Fraser: Marcus is undefeated and holds wins over three other tournament participants. He may be making his GLORY debut but he is also a favorite.
Being a more traditional Muay Thai fighter, Marcus will need to adjust his game to the Glory ruleset. If he does that, he could be the division's Giorgio Petrosyan.
Stets: Marcus, a Canadian of Jamaican heritage, has won titles in the WCK, WBC and for the Lion Fight promotion. He owns two wins over Joe Schilling, one over Artem Levin and one over Filip Verlinden.
All those were under Muay Thai rules though. Marcus does a lot of his dirty work in the clinch with elbows and knees. Clinching and elbows are forbidden in GLORY so that might prove a problem for him.
That said, with his experience and who he has faced in the past, Marcus will be a tough opponent for whoever he is matched up against.
Walsh: Simon Marcus is a powerhouse. His style is brutal and he hits pretty damned hard, making him a pretty clear favorite in this whole thing and possibly the guy to dominate the division for years.
The only problem is that Simon's style is tailor-made to dominate Muay Thai and this is GLORY Kickboxing.
Joe Schilling, on the other hand, has the perfect style for Kickboxing. Sure, Marcus has two wins over Joe in Muay Thai, but Joe was winning that first fight until the questionable Muay Thai sweep and his head hit the canvas.
Wayne Barrett 4-0 (3 KO's)
A one-time Golden Gloves amateur boxing champion, Barrett is the newest to the professional kickboxing ranks but has a solid amateur pedigree. He has a well-rounded skillset, plenty of power and a killer instinct.
Walsh: Barrett kind of came out of nowhere, one of those guys GLORY picked up early on who has made a huge impact since. He might be "new" to professional Kickboxing, but you can't tell by the caliber of his wins, including a recent win over Joe Schilling.
Stets: My fellow New York native put himself on the map with a unanimous decision win over Joe Schilling at GLORY 12 in what was only his fourth pro fight. The Queens man is 4-0 but brought a 19-1 amateur record into the pro ranks with him.
He has also won a Golden Gloves amateur boxing championship. No surprise then that he has great boxing skills and is developing a very unique style among his middleweight counterparts. Last Man Standing will be his first-ever kickboxing tournament.
Fraser: His last fight was a win over Schilling right after Schilling was coming off that GLORY 10 tournament win, which says a lot. Barrett is low on experience but makes up for it with big talent and heavy KO power. I have Barrett by KO over Stoica.
Bogdan Stoica (38-5, 29 KO's)
Coming out of the Romanian capital city of Bucharest, Stoica got himself on the GLORY radar thanks to a highlight reel of big knockouts and unorthodox techniques. Flying knees and ax-kicks are a specialty.
Stets: "The Bucharest Bad boy" is part of the Romanian movement of kickboxers which includes: Andrei Stoica (his brother) Benny Adegbuyi and, of course, Daniel Ghita.
Currently ranked at No.9 in the GLORY middleweight division, the 24-year-old likes to throw flying knees as well as ax kicks and will be making his GLORY debut in this tournament.
Walsh: Stoica is a guy that Romanian fans will talk your ear off about, insisting that he's the best in the world. He's had a successful career thus far, but he hasn't gone too far from home in most of that career.
He's a technically sound fighter and this is his chance to really prove that he is as great as his hometown fans have made him out to be.
It's so difficult to scout either guy at this point. Does Wayne have enough experience? Has Bogdan shown us that he can't compete against the very best and that he needs to be protected? On styles alone I think that Barrett continues to be a wrecking ball.
Fraser: Stoica is a big underdog in this tournament, but he has the kind of aggression and power that means you can never rule him out. If he comes out guns blazing, he can end anyone's night early, and he'll need to show that to advance in his Glory debut.
Artem Levin 47-4-1 (33 KO's)
Ranked #1 in the world by GLORY, Russia's Levin is a very unique talent. He is often compared to US boxers like Roy Jones Jr and Floyd Mayweather because of his timing and quirky defensive skills.
Walsh: Levin is literally the best in the world. He's floated around weight classes like other guys have, but he's dominated in just about all of them. He dances his way to the ring and his style is that of looking effortless and smothering at the same time.
His fights aren't always pretty to watch, there can be a lot of clinching, a lot of stuff that makes you question if it was dirty or not, but it gets the job done.
Fraser: For years, Levin has been the uncrowned top dog at Middleweight. He's a very technical fighter with a weird style that opponents struggle to figure out.
Often he looks like a fight is not going his way, until you realize that he has controlled every moment. He's coming off a win at GLORY 16 and I have Levin over Pereira by decision.
Stets: Levin holds the WBC Muay Thai title, a prestigious one in the world of Muay Thai, and has also held the equally prestigious WMC title. He was also the champion in the now-defunct European organization It's Showtime champion.
The Russian has 44 career victories and is as technical and accurate a striker as they come with great timing and an ability to create opportune angles. His loss to Joe Schilling at GLORY 10 wasa huge upset. He bounced back with a win over Robert Thomas at GLORY 16 DENVER.
Alex Pereira (14-1, 9 KO's)
Pereira was not at all well known when he entered the four-man Middleweight Contender Tournament in Zagreb in March, but he woke everyone up by stopping UFC veteran Dustin Jacoby then running rings around former It's Showtime champion Sahak Parparyan in the final.
Walsh: Pereira is proof of GLORY's scouting being world class. When he first came to GLORY not many had heard of him.
Now, after winning the GLORY 14 Middleweight Contender Tournament, fans know that he's for real. He's tough, he's Brazilian, he's young and he hits hard, which is all that you need to know.
This might be the toughest fight to pick of the bunch, although on paper it shouldn't be. On paper Artem Levin takes this while dancing, but man, Peireira has shown something to the world. I'm still going to say that Artem Levin wins this, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Peireira win here and then take the whole thing. Not kidding.
Fraser: Pereira comes from the Brazilian kickboxing scene. He's a very tall fighter, who has been showing great improvement in his game from fight to fight. At Glory 14, he showed off nice power with a brutal KO of Dustin Jacoby.
Stets: He looked outstanding winning that Contender tournament, which earned him a spot in this one.
Pereira has one of the longest reaches of anyone in the division, and has power to go along with it, to pose many problems for his opponents.
Pereira showcased that power by knocking out Dustin Jacoby with a wicked left hook in the opening round. In the final he won a hard-fought decision over the former It's Showtime champion Sahak Parparyan.
Melvin Manhoef (47-11, 37 KO's)
If you don't know who Manhoef is, you need to head to YouTube immediately and spend an hour watching him. The word ‘explosive' was coined for him. He is a do-or-die fighter who has left a trail of mangled unconscious opposition in his wake.
Fraser: A true legend of the combat sports game, Manhoef has years of experience in kickboxing and MMA. He's fought the sport's best again and again, never backing down.
A longtime training partner of Badr Hari and others at Mike‘s Gym, Manhoef is a highly aggressive power puncher with insanely heavy hands - the kind of fighter who will sacrifice defense in order to go crazy on offense.
He holds KO victories over Mark Hunt and Kazushi Sakuraba, and his 2006 MMA fight with ‘Cyborg' Santos is one of the wildest fights you'll ever see.
Stets: Manhoef is a fighting legend. He's fought for Strikeforce, Dream, K-1, ONE FC and It's Showtime. The 38-year-old has a 48-11 kickboxing record with 27 career knockouts. He will now try his hand in GLORY in a tournament stacked with the elite talent of the division.
The odds will be against the aging veteran, but he still has the punching power, leg kick arsenal and years of experience to upset someone's night.
Walsh: Melvin Manhoef is a monster, just a monster. I don't know any other way to say it. I wish he would ignore MMA, where he's known as the guy who gets arm-barred a lot.
Oh yeah, he knocked out Mark Hunt, a Super Heavyweight who was known for never being knocked out, which was crazy considering that Melvin Manhoef is naturally a Middleweight.
In fact Melvin used to be a top guy at Heavyweight and Super Heavyweight - although he'd lose as many as he'd win - which is why him at Middleweight is really, really scary.
Verlinden is another case of a guy who could silently go all of the way and shock all of us. I mean, his experience is at higher weight classes, much like Melvin's. Then again, he doesn't have that KO power that Melvin does. Maybe it's just the nostalgia talking, but I got Manhoef by KO.
Filip Verlinden (42-11-1, 16 KO's)
The dark horse in this tournament, Verlinden used to fight at heavyweight because that was the only division a large kickboxer could make money in. When GLORY opened up other weight classes he dropped to light-heavyweight and then to middleweight.
He has tight defense and good technical skills. He won't be outsized like he has been in the past and a good number of people think he is a lurking power in this line-up.
Stets: Ranked #4 at middleweight, this two-time WKA champion is the only fighter to win fights in three different GLORY weight classes.
This will be the 31-year-old Belgian's third GLORY tournament. He lost to Remy Bonjasky in the GLORY 4 Heavyweight Grand Slam and to Tyrone Spong in the eight-man light-heavyweight tournament at GLORY 9.
Some knock his style as boring, but Verlinden has been very successful and has been in the ring with some of the best kickboxers on the planet.
Walsh: Verlinden was kind of a utility player for a good many years, serving as "that guy" on It's Showtime and various European undercards, floating between Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight. Now he's finally at Middleweight and it's his chance to prove himself. Dropping from heavyweight to light-heavyweight to middleweight makes him an interesting case.
Fraser: Verlinden is a veteran of the game. Middleweight will likely be a very good division for him. He's been a bit up and down in GLORY, but this could be the division where he finds his groove, using his nice kicks and technical skills to play spoiler and make his mark. I have Verlinden over Manhoef by decision.