This Friday night, Glory returns with another night of kickboxing action. The main card for Glory 23 will air live from Las Vegas on Spike TV, but before that card airs, you can check out the Glory Superfight Series. The Superfight Series will again air in a live stream, right here at Bloody Elbow, starting at 9:00 p.m. ET this Friday, August 7.
As tends to be the case, these Superfights feature a nice mixture of rising talent and established veterans looking to break into title contention. The Superfight Series has been a real highlight of the past few Glory cards, and this one looks to be no exception. Here's what's on deck for Friday night
Heavyweight: #5 Anderson Silva (38-11-1; 4-4 Glory) vs. #12 Jamal Ben Saddik (26-4; 4-4 Glory)
Don't let the even records in Glory fool you - this is an excellent Heavyweight fight and a perfect main event for the Superfight Series. Anderson "Braddock" Silva has been fighting professionally for over 10 years all over the world. Though he is Brazilian, he spent most of his pro career training at Holland's fame Chakuriki Gym (longtime home to kickboxing legend Peter Aerts) and as a result, brings in a much more Dutch influenced style. Silva has fought the very best in the world consistently, and tends to go 50/50 at that level, with wins over the likes of Remy Bonjasky and Hesdy Gerges. He comes in here off a loss to Sergei Kharitonov.
Ben Saddik is a huge fighter - a Super Heavyweight who would struggle to make the HW limit in MMA. He's also a Dutch product, coming out of the Golden Glory gym (making this a classic gym vs. gym battle). He's a young and brash fighter who started his career strong, including defeating Rico Verhoeven before Rico was the champ, but has struggled lately. In 2014, in a fight outside of Glory, Ben Saddik was disqualified for kicking a downed opponent, resulting in a suspension from Glory. He sat out some time, and returned against an overmatched and easily dispatched opponent at Glory 22. This is his first real test in a year.
This is a tough one to call given Ben Saddik's time away. He clearly will have the significant size and strength advantage, but he's also the sloppier, more wild opponent. If he can throw bombs and get the more calculated Silva into a dogfight, the Goliath will get the KO. But I like Silva's chances to use his great leg kicks and a more precise outside game to wear the big man down.
Prediction: Anderson Silva, decision
Welterweight: #8 Murthel Groenhart (55-16-3; 2-2 Glory) vs. #11 Chad Sugden (13-3; 1-0 Glory)
This is a great fight and my sleeper pick for Fight of the Night. It's also a classic battle of the experienced veteran testing the young up and comer. In the veteran role is Groenhart, the 2012 K-1 MAX Grand Prix champion with over 10 years experience. Groenhart was a regular fighter for It's Showtime who really found his groove in 2012 when he claimed the K-1 MAX crown. While on paper he has not been quite as successful in Glory, that's somewhat relative - he holds a win over former champion Marc De Bonte and his only Glory losses are to Robin van Roosmalen and Davit Kiria. Groenhart trains out of Mike's Gym in Amsterdam, which has made him a strong, aggressive fighter - his jumping knees are a particularly great weapon. Notable that he's fighting back up at Welterweight here, after competing primarily at Lightweight for some time.
Sugden is a UK product who made a splash at Glory 20, winning his debut and looking very good in the process. Sugden is an accomplished amateur, with relatively limited pro experience. He has experience as an amateur boxer, and it shows in his good hands and nice footwork. Overall, he's a fighter with a ton of potential - one who could be a real player in the sport. But at not yet 25, he's still developing, and taking a huge step up here. I like Sugden quite a bit, and am eager to see him grow, but I think the MAX champion is too big a hurdle for him to clear today. Still, this is a close one, and I wouldn't be confident putting money on Groenhart, even with the experience edge.
Prediction: Murthel Groenhart, decision
Middleweight: Matt Baker (19-5; Glory debut) vs. Edward Hyman (2-2; Glory debut)
This is a contest between two American fighters, both making their Glory debuts. Baker is a part of Team Black in California, which is also home to main card fighter Xavier Vigney. He has some experience in Muay Thai and at the smaller show level, though it should be noted that kickboxing records are notoriously unreliable, so take that 19-5 pro record with a grain of salt. Hyman is a fellow California fighter, fighting out of Team Quest. He also has a 2-2 MMA record. There's not a ton of video on either fighter, but what is out there shows some fast hands for Hyman, and more Muay Thai style for Baker. Hard to pick a fight like this, but in these situations, I tend to favor the fighter from the dedicated kickboxing camp over someone alternating between MMA and kickboxing.
Prediction: Matt Baker, KO
Featherweight: #16 Giga Chikadze (33-3; 1-0 Glory) vs. Anzar Boynazarov (78-20-2; Glory debut)
It looks like this one is opening the Superfight Series. If so, be sure to tune in early, as this is another potential show stealer. Chikadze made his Glory debut at Glory 21, KOing Ken Tran via soul-destroying body kick. Even before the KO, it was a great performance, one that immediately announced Chikadze as a fighter to watch. Chikadze has a Kyokushin Karate background, and used it to land all manner of kicks on Tran, turning in not only an impressive performance, but an exciting one. Boynazarov is a pure Muay Thai stylist who has fought at Lumpinee Stadium in Thailand (though he does use his hands more than most traditional Muai Thai fighters). Interestingly, that experience could be his undoing - as Simon Marcus showed, it's not always a seamless transition going from Muay Thai to Glory rules, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts here. This is a super close, pick 'em kind of fight - one that I am very excited to see. As an extra bonus, it's in the very thin Featherweight division - an impressive win could put the victor into title contention immediately.
Prediction: Giga Chikadze, decision
Join us here at Bloody Elbow Friday night for a live stream and live coverage of the Glory 23 Superfight Series.