This Friday, April 3, Glory presents Glory 20 Dubai. It's an excellent show, with two title fights and a quality Middleweight tournament. Glory 20 airs on Spike TV this Friday, April 3 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 first of the night's two title fights, as two highly talented fighters square off to crown the inaugural Glory Featherweight champion.
#1 MOSAB AMRANI (51-8-4 Overall; 3-1 Glory) vs. #3 GABRIEL VARGA (25-2 Overall; 4-1 Glory)
Top ranked Featherweight Mosab Amrani comes to this fight with a wealth of experience. He's fought primarily in the Netherlands for years now, scoring big wins over the likes of Anuwat and Liam Harrison. The Dutch-Moroccan fighter was probably at his peak in 2010 when he faced Mo Khamal in It's Showtime, losing a hard fought and close decision. Since that time, he's been a bit more spotty, going 6-4. He's looked good in Glory, defeating Harrison and Marcus Vinicius and losing to the highly skilled Masaaki Noiri. He's also scored arguably his career biggest win, defeating Yuta Kubo at Glory 13. But, any momentum he may have gained from that Kubo win in December 2013 is long gone, as Amrani only fought once outside of Glory in 2014 (and that fight only lasted 90 seconds before Amrani scored the KO win).
Stylistically, Amrani is a pressure fighter. He likes to get inside the pocket and throw combos. Like many Dutch trained fighters, he favors ending those combos with a leg kick, and often will use an opposite stance to land the even more brutal inside leg kick. A powerful striker, once inside, Amrani will unleash those combos with bad intentions on every single shot - he's one of those fighters who constantly puts power behind everything. That makes him very difficult to deal with if you can't slow him down.
Opponent Gabriel Varga is another in the line of successful Canadian fighters currently competing in Glory, and looks to follow in countryman Joseph Valtellini's footsteps by claiming Glory gold. Varga turned pro in 2009, but has relatively limited experience, fighting somewhat infrequently until he came to Glory in 2013. He's now 4-1 in Glory, with that lone loss coming against Kubo at Glory 8. At Glory 17, he won the Featherweight contender tournament, looking great in the process and earning himself this title shot. Varga has good amateur experience, and is decorated in Shotokan karate.
Thanks in large part to his karate background, Varga is excellent with his kicks. He has a very good push kick that he uses well. He's also somewhat unorthodox, mixing in a lot of spinning back fists, jumping knees, and slightly more flashy techniques along those lines. While he is more than capable of standing outside and fighting technically, he's also willing to get into a brawl and make it more of a battle. Where he particularly shines is his ability to cut off the ring, trap his opponent against the ropes, and unload. Many Varga opponents find their backs to the ropes, and when they do, Varga lands and lands a lot.
Head to head, this is a tough fight to call. Amrani will likely push the pace early and attempt to be offensive and in Varga's face, pushing the Canadian onto his back foot. This would be the best strategy for Amrani as not only does it play to his own strengths, it also should work well against Varga. In his loss to Kubo, Varga allowed Kubo to dictate the pace and be the aggressor and it cost him. Varga is also the taller fighter with longer reach, so for Amrani, getting inside to nullify that reach is key.
For Varga, this is all about his ability to not fight Amrani's fight. If he employs those long legs well, he may be able to keep Amrani outside, but Amrani is too good to let that happen for long. He'll break through that defense, get inside, and hurt Varga. Varga's willingness to brawl may actually work against him, as a more scrappy brawl is Amrani's preferred fight here.
All that said, there's a huge X factor at play here, and that is conditioning. This is a 5 round fight, and we have seen Amrani get tired before (this was what caused the loss to Noiri). That all heavy shots style wears you out quickly, and Amrani has let it cost him fights before. On the other side, Varga goes hard all the way until the final bell.
Early rounds here should be Amrani, but if he can't stop Varga, expect Varga to begin taking over as we get into deep waters. What it ultimately may come down to is the middle of the fight and round 3. Can Varga take over before he is too deep in the hole and behind on the scorecards?
Smart and easy money is on Amrani, but I think Varga has the stamina and the skills to deal with the early aggression and outlast Amrani in a dragged out war.
Prediction: Gabriel Varga by decision
Watch Amrani vs Varga for the Featherweight title at Glory 20, live on Spike TV this Friday, April 3 at 9:00 p.m. ET, and join us here at Bloody Elbow for live fight night coverage.