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Glory 19 fight preview and prediction: Joe Schilling vs. Robert Thomas

Get ready for Glory 19 this Friday with our fight by fight preview and analysis. Here, we break down the featured fight with Joe Schilling vs. Robert Thomas.

Joe Schilling vs Simon Marcus, Glory Last Man Standing
Joe Schilling vs Simon Marcus, Glory Last Man Standing
James Law, GLORY Sports International

This Friday, February 6, Glory kicks off 2015 with Glory 19. This show features a stacked line-up including a hugeHeavyweight title fight, and is live from Virginia. Glory 19 airs live on Spike TV this Friday, February 6 with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET. Bloody Elbow will have live fight night coverage, and to get ready for the show, we have you covered with our fight by fight previews.

Here, a look at the night's featured Middleweight fight, featuring a fighter who has been very much in MMA news in the past few months.

#1 JOE SCHILLING (18-6 Overall; 4-2 Glory) vs. #9 ROBERT THOMAS (7-2 Overall; 1-1 Glory)

Joe Schilling has been one of Glory's featured attractions over the past year plus. Since making his debut at Glory 10, he's looked impressive, winning that tournament by defeating Artem Levin in an absolutely huge upset, then making it to the finals of the Last Man Standing Middleweight title tournament where Levin avenged that loss. His high action style has made him a lot of fans, and has resulted in the 2014 fight of the year against Simon Marcus, and two fight of the year contenders in 2013 (against Levin and Wayne Barrett). He's also been in the MMA news as of late thanks to first his tremendous come from behind KO of Melvin Manhoef in Bellator last year, and then for cornering Nick Diaz last weekend at UFC 183.

Still, Schilling has a vocal number of detractors - those who feel that Glory has coddled Schilling and that his #1 contender ranking is more the result of hometown bias in scoring than Schilling's actual skill. While there may have been some controversy, particular in that Glory 10 win over Levin, anyone who denies that Schilling has high level skills is fooling themselves.

Prior to coming to Glory, Schilling was making a name for himself largely in the exciting California Muay Thai scene. While he's made a smoother transition to Glory rules than some Muay Thai purists (such as Schilling's longtime rival Simon Marcus), those roots in Muay Thai are very evident in his style. He is excellent at mixing up strikes, using kicks, punches and knees and flowing nicely between the strikes. Perhaps his greatest technical strength is how well he uses those various strikes to control range. When on the outside, he uses kicks to maintain distance; step inside and he will punch; come in closer and he will throw knees, with a particular emphasis on a great side knee to the head out of the clinch. By using the right tools at the right time, Schilling controls the fight and his opponent.

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Welterweight Tournament

Canada's Robert Thomas also comes from a Muay Thai background, and like Schilling, brings that style into Glory. While he has an extensive amateur background, he is relatively new as a professional, just 10 fights into his pro career. It's rather remarkable that Thomas is already facing Schilling so early in his career - even more remarkable is that he faced Artem Levin when he debuted for Glory last year in only his 8th professional fight. While he lost to Levin (understandably), he has since come back with a great KO win over Mike Lemaire at Glory 18.

Although they share that Muay Thai skillset, the two men employ it quite differently. Schilling tends to be a bit more loose, mixing things together and willing to let the fight get sloppy if needed. Thomas is more technical, fighting with a slightly slower pace and measuring his shots. He has very nice kicks, but his best technique is an inside step up knee to the body, which he throws often and with great efficiency.

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One bad habit Thomas brings in from Muay Thai is being a slow starter. Like many Muay Thai fighters, it takes Thomas some time to warm up, as he can begin the fight a bit too stiff and slow, giving away the opening moments. Once he gets into his groove, his confidence increases (though you can still see that he is a relative newcomer), but it takes a round. Against Schilling, that could be deadly.

Joe Schilling is at his best when he can push the pace with a high volume output, walking his opponent down with strikes. For Thomas to pull off the upset, he will have to break Schilling's rhythm. Fighters have had the best success against Schilling when putting him on his back foot, though Melvin Manhoef got knocked out when Schilling was on the defensive, showing that he remains very dangerous. Here, I don't see Thomas being able to establish his game early on, instead allowing Schilling to fight his fight and impose his will on the younger fighter. Look for Schilling to come out hard and heavy, and potentially to shut Thomas down before he can even get in the fight.

Prediction: Joe Schilling by KO

Watch Schilling vs. Thomas and Glory 19, live on Spike TV this Friday, February 6 at 9:00 p.m. ET, and join us here at Bloody Elbow for live fight night coverage.