First of all, the lightweight title fight between Robin van Roosmalen and Sittichai Sitsongpeenong. They went the distance, which few expected, but then the judges' decision sparked major controversy. The audience booed when Roosmalen was announced as the unanimous decision winner and the internet chatrooms went into meltdown.
Dave Walsh: I've made my thoughts clear on this one; Sitthichai got robbed. Even if you watch the fight in favor of Robin and say "Well, he blocked those kicks with his arm," the question is, when do these kicks to the arm move from being "blocked kicks" to being an offensive tool, like they were?
Those kicks were clearly an offensive tool. Hitting the ribs would have been good, sure, but hitting the arm also targets Van Roosmalen's strength and helps to nullify his punching power. But yeah, not counting those as kicks landed is the only way you can get the stats that we saw on screen and the win for Robin.
That being said, Robin was still being walked down, backed into the corner, etc. I don't know. The only people that I've seen confidently calling it for Robin have been Dutch fans. I understand national pride and all but we've all seen Robin van Roosmalen win fights before and that didn't look like a Robin win to me. What made matters worse is that it came after a night of poor officiating, so it was maybe amplified by that. I don't know. ISKA Europe didn't have a great showing here.
JJ: On first viewing, the fight looked like a Sittichai domination due to the sheer amount of massive body kicks he was throwing and the sound they made when they landed. But on second and subsequent viewing, it is clear that what they are landing on is largely an arm-block, glove or knee-block.
A lot of debate is raging right now as to whether the strikes should still be counted as significant because they are - theoretically at least - damaging when they land on the arm. But the rules don't allow for that interpretation and so they were apparently discounted by the judges seated ringside. That actually surprises me because I watched the fight live in the arena myself and the sound of the kicks landing made me think Roosmalen was taking a beating.
On first viewing I had the first two rounds for Roosmalen and the last three for Sittichai. But that's just counting strikes landed. The ISKA judges appear to have decided that punches are more damaging than kicks and accorded them more weight under the rule regarding damage. And it's true that the only fighter you see getting his head snapped back or cleanly struck is Sittichai.
I don't see the fight as a clear win for Roosmalen but neither do I see it as Sittichai being robbed. I ca take the ISKA interpretation of ‘damage done', but the fact the judges disagreed between themselves on who won what round is a little troubling. Overall this fight and its aftermath remind me of the UFC a couple of years ago when furious debate raged after every card about what weight should be attached to takedowns and top-control on the ground.
The day after the fight Roosmalen posted a picture to his social media. It was his bare torso, with nary a mark on it. "What kicks?" the accompanying text asked. And it was true - he was unmarked bar a single scratch in the middle of his abdomen. On first viewing those middle kicks looked ferocious but actually they seemed to have detonate harmlessly.
All this said, the only obvious answer is a rematch. Whether that happens off the bat or whether Sittichai is made to go through another Contender Tournament is yet to be seen. But given the ease of his progression through the first tournament, you'd have to back him to win a second. If he does get a rematch with Roosmalen he needs to change tack a bit as well. Despite his reputation for being a quick starter he still took two rounds to really get going.
Giorgio ‘The Doctor' Petrosyan returned to GLORY with a point-perfect win over rising Canadian talent Josh Jauncey in the co-headline fight. The gulf in experience was enormous but Jauncey acquitted himself well and looks set for a glittering future. Petrosyan is now re-established as a title threat.
Dave Walsh: First of all, give it up for Josh Jauncey. He showed a lot of guts and I was impressed with his ability to dodge every big shot Petrosyan threw. That being said, he still got Petrosyan'd at the end of the day. Every time that Jauncey moved in closer to strike he'd eat knees to the gut, get clinched, get worked out or even dumped to the mat. I do think that this Petrosyan looks different than 2010 Petrosyan, but that is to be expected.
Personally, I think that Sitthichai deserves an immediate rematch, but as we've seen with Simon Marcus, that doesn't always happen. Petrosyan deserves a title shot, no doubt. Putting him into a contender tournament would be a travesty.
JJ: Well, it depends. On name value and status yes, he can get an immediate title shot. On the other hand he is now 1-1 in his last two in GLORY and the loss was a bad knockout, so statistically you'd maybe want to see another win before giving him that shot. Personally I would make the title fight immediately because its a huge, sellable rematch which would attract attention the world over. But I expect probably he will be placed in a Contender Tournament.
Jauncey is a f--king star. The kid has got everything: the talent, the training, the heart, the looks, the swagger. He is kickboxing's Conor McGregor, albeit McGregor in his CageWarriors era, before he had completely broken out of his chrysalis and attained his final form. Jauncey talks well and moves beautifully. He has cat-like balance and reflexes. Petrosyan is of course part-robot in both regards - fighting him is like facing a game's Final Boss on hard mode - but still Jauncey had him swinging at air several times, which you don't often see.
Next for Jauncey? For me, GLORY should carefully manage his progress. Throw him into another contender tournament next and anything could happen. He has such star potential and is still so young and relatively inexperienced that I would return him to mid-table matches for his next two matches, but maybe progress him to the main card.
Gabriel Varga lost a decision to Serhiy Adamchuk in a fight which was frankly frustrating for everyone involved: fighters, fans and officials. I've never heard so many orders to break a clinch in one GLORY fight.
Dave Walsh: This was such a terrible fight. Essentially two defensive-minded fighters butted heads and clinched a lot. Varga's style got completely exposed here and I'm not sure how much longer he'll be able to employ the "throw a flurry, then move head first into an opponent with his guard up and clinch" game plan. Adamchuk had a perfect defense for it by putting him into a headlock, though.
Adamchuk probably should have been docked a point or two for the holding, but then again, Varga was making it difficult NOT to hold. I don't know, ugly fight and not the kind of thing you'd want to proudly display on television.
Unless GLORY can scoop up some of the world's top Featherweights soon this division is dead in the water. Adamchuk was a good addition, but now what? Mosab Amrani and Varga can only be swapped out so many times before you wonder why they aren't bringing in the top guys from Japan and Thailand already. What's especially glaring is that K-1 Japan and KRUSH are putting on incredible shows with this weight class right now.
JJ: See, I don't agree with Dave here. I like Varga, he is defensive but he is capable of mixing it up and having a war when he has an opponent who wants to go that route. Adamchuk wasn't one of them, but I expected one of them to land a significant blow and then click up a gear into finish mode.
I also blame Adamchuk for the clinching, not Varga. He initiated the clinch an astonishing number of times. The only more surprising thing was that the referee was content to repeat himself 500 times instead of docking a point for excessive clinching. Adamchuk was very lucky there - had he been docked a point, the fight would have been scored a draw and Varga would have retained his belt.
Overall it was a disappointing fight. Adamchuk himself acknowledged that in the post-fight press conference, saying that "people love drama, but this fight had to be technical". So we will see what comes next. There's a featherweight contender tournament at GLORY 26 AMSTERDAM next month, Adamchuk will face the winner in 2016.
Murthel Groenhart won the Welterweight Contender Tournament and booked himself a fight with Nieky Holzken at GLORY 26 AMSTERDAM on December 4. Aside from the ridiculously tight turnaround having an impact, what are his chances?
Dave Walsh: Man, I don't know. I've always liked Murthel a lot, but he's going to get eaten alive by Holzken with that gas tank of his. Holzken doesn't have these same defensive holes as the guys he was ripping into at GLORY 25. Murthel punching himself out in round one and then falling prey to Holzken seems academic.
JJ: This is definitely a tough ask for Groenhart. Two fights in one night and then he has to fight Holzken four weeks later? He has already tweeted about being banged up from the tournament and having injuries to train around. Not ideal to have the tournament so close to the title fight. All the odds are in Holzken's favor so Groenhart has to put it on him from the outset and look for one of those knees to land and end the fight early. He needs an early finish I think. I don't see him winning on points. I don't think he does either. Groenhart is going in there to do-or-die in front of a home crowd. I will be amazed if this goes five rounds.
Artem Vakhitov beat Danyo Ilunga to go 4-1 in GLORY and position himself as a title contender. Is it about time for a rematch with Saulo Cavalari now that Cavalari is the title holder?
Dave Walsh: Unless Saki returns soon, yeah, Vakhitov deserves another crack at Saulo. Ilunga/Vakhitov was probably the best fight of the night and I'm more stoked on the light heavyweight class knowing that there is more depth of talent than most people assumed when it lost Saki and Spong.
JJ: Sources indicate that Saki and GLORY are close to working something out. Almost certainly that would be on condition of an immediate title shot. So let's say that happens early in 2016, then is Vakhitov in position to fight the winner of that fight? You'd have to think so. His hands are outstanding; superb boxing work in the fight with Ilunga, especially that uppercut as a counter to the leg kick.
The only other viable contender is Mourad Bouzidi. If he beats Michael Duut at GLORY 26 AMSTERDAM he will be on a 4-0 run. He also has history with Saki (lost to him at GLORY 2, Saki talked some trash afterwards) and Cavalari (he was on the receiving end of a brutal KO from the Brazilian at GLORY 12)