This Friday, April 3, Glory presents two title fights at Glory 20 Dubai. 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 main event and the night's second title fight: a big rematch for the Glory Lightweight championship.
ROBIN VAN ROOSMALEN (C) (33-6 Overall; 9-2 Glory) vs. #1 ANDY RISTIE (44-4-1 Overall; 8-1 Glory)
For a four year period from 2009 to 2013, kickboxing's Lightweight division was on lockdown because of one man: Giorgio Petrosyan. The incredible skill of Petrosyan was unmatched, and everyone else in the division was just vying for 2nd place. Then, in November 2013, the king was beheaded at the hands (fists?) of Andy Ristie. Since then, no one has been able to hold the crown. From Ristie to Davit Kiria and now to Robin van Roosmalen, it's been a revolving door at the top of this division. Here, we see if that pattern continues or if Roosmalen can bring in some stability.
Current champion Robin van Roosmalen claimed the title from Davit Kiria at Glory 18 last fall, and he makes his first defense here. Roosmalen has been around the sport for years, but made his name at the highest levels when he won the 2011 It's Showtime Fast & Furious tournament - the highest level 70kg tournament that year (though it must be noted that Petrosyan was absent due to injury). He's looked great ever since with only 3 losses in that 3+ year span - one flukey cut loss, one to Petrosyan... and one to Andy Ristie.
Ristie and van Roosmalen met once before in Glory in the finals of the Glory 12 tournament, and it was Ristie who walked away the winner via 2nd round KO. That event was the night of Ristie, as it was there that he KO'd both Petrosyan and Roosmalen, the sport's #1 and #2 Lightweights in a single night. When he stood with his arms raised, the flag of Suriname draped over his shoulders, it seemed the king was dead, but a new king was there to take his place. That all went awry in less than 3 months when Ristie was KO'd by Davit Kiria in a great fight. He's 3-0 since, all via violent KOs (one outside of Glory). And he's coming for the belt.
And realistically, the chances are very good that he gets it. Stylistically, this is just a tough match up for the champ. Van Roosmalen is at his best when he can turn it into a hard hitting tit-for-tat back and forth battle. This is how he beat Kiria for the belt - I take one shot, I give you back three. And hard. He's got a powerful arsenal of heavy leg kicks, hooks, and combos, and he uses them effectively to just batter his opponents into submission.
The trouble is, Andy Ristie is not going to play that game with him. Ristie is a much more mobile fighter who will not get drawn into that Thai style of standing in the middle of the ring exchanging. He's much more likely to use angles and head movement - to get in and out, exploding with shots that surprise his opponents and catch them unawares. The results of this style are self-evident. Since 2010, Ristie is an amazing 18-2 (losses come to Kiria and the great Andy Souwer). Of those 18 wins, 13 have come via KO - his last 6 fights have not seen the final bell. He's violent, and his style seems perfectly suited to bring that violence to van Roosmalen.
More Glory 20 Fight Previews:
Mosab Amrani vs. Gabriel Varga | Mourad Bouzidi vs. Dustin Jacoby | Middleweight Tournament
The only nagging trouble here is that Kiria fight. In that fight, Ristie dominated Kiria for 4 rounds, but the insanely durable Kiria took it all, hung in there, and when Ristie took his eyes off the prize in the 5th, Kiria knocked him out. Roosmalen is cut from a similar cloth, and could implement the same plan. But Ristie has spoken repeatedly about his humbling that experience was, and seems unlikely to make the same mistake again.
Since the fall of Petrosyan, the door has been rotating, and that isn't likely to change with van Roosmalen. But with Andy Ristie at the helm, I suspect it may. The more time passes since the Kiria loss, the more that is looking like one anomalous round in the otherwise flawless run of the world's new #1 Lightweight. At Glory 20, I anticipate he officially takes on that mantle.
Prediction: Andy Ristie by KO
Watch van Roosmalen vs. Ristie for the Lightweight 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.