On Friday night, join Bloody Elbow for some kickboxing action as Glory returns with Glory 23. Glory 23 Las Vegas airs live on Spike TV this Friday, August 7 with a fight time of 11:00 p.m. ET.
The main card for Friday night includes a big title fight main event between Nieky Holzken and Raymond Daniels, which we will be breaking down in a separate preview. Here, we're looking at the rest of the main card, including the Middleweight tournament and a rising American Heavyweight prospect.
Heavyweight: #4 Xavier Vigney (8-1; 4-0 Glory) vs. #21 Daniel Sam (25-10; 1-3 Glory)
This featured Heavyweight fight is an interesting one in the ongoing development of Vigney. The relatively inexperienced Vigney has had a big year already in 2015, going 3-0 in Glory and winning the Glory 21 tournament. A big, tall fighter, Vigney packs a powerful punch and knows how to use it, stopping all of his opponents in Glory. But it would be a mistake to characterize Vigney as just a tall "side show" style fighter from the old K-1 mold. He's a very dedicated athlete who has made huge strides in his short time in the ring, improving constantly. He's got good hands (and a 2-0 pro boxing record), nice leg kicks, good movement for a big man, and killer instincts. He's undoubtedly still developing, but is absolutely a rising American fighter to watch.
That sense of continued development is what makes this match-up so interesting. Daniel Sam is a veteran of the sport, with 10 years pro experience against a lot of big names. Like Vigney, he's a very large fighter, though with Sam it's more about a chiseled physique than height. He has the clear experience advantage here, and represents a step up from most of Vigney's opponents so far. That said, he's still a very winnable fight for Vigney. Sam comes hard, but fades as the fight continues. Look for Vigney to exploit that hole and take a decision win to continue his growth as a fighter - though if he can KO Sam, it will make an even bigger statement.
Prediction: Xavier Vigney, decision
This is the first of two semifinals in the Middleweight Qualification tournament - winner will take part in a Middleweight Contender tournament down the road. On one side you have veteran Glory (and Bellator and UFC) fighter Dustin Jacoby. Jacoby has spent his entire kickboxing career in Glory, fighting against significantly more experienced foes, and his record shows it. But he's also often underrated - two of those losses are pretty questionable decisions, and in his last fight, he looked good against highly regarded veteran Mourad Bouzidi. Much like Vigney, Jacoby is constantly improving as a kickboxer, though he is doing so against top 10 opponents under the scrutiny of Glory lights, which makes it a tough journey indeed.
Sepulveda is a former MMA fighter where he had a 6-7 record, largely in the Ring of Combat promotion. Highlights include a 2013 win over UFC veteran Mike Massenzio. Sepulveda first trained in jiu jitsu, brought that ground game to MMA, fell in love with striking, and has now dedicated himself to kickboxing and Muay Thai. He's a physically strong fighter, but it's hard to evaluate his Glory skills as he has few kickboxing fights and his MMA fights are more ground-based.
This is the rare fight where Jacoby is not the less experienced kickboxer - maybe the first time in his entire pro career. Given that, I expect he will finally have the chance to show off what he has learned against those tough opponents and get a much earned Glory victory.
Prediction: Dustin Jacoby, decision
Middleweight Semifinal: #14 Casey Greene (2-4; 1-1 Glory) vs. Quinton O'Brien (2-0; Glory debut)
Casey Greene was on the undercard of Glory 12, but made his proper debut at Glory 21, dropping a decision to Mike Lemaire. As is something of a trend in this tournament, he also is an MMA fighter (4-1 record, no notable opponents). Last time out, Greene struggled against the more experienced Lemaire, and wasn't able to really find his offense until late in the fight. He did however show a tough spirit, staying in it until the final bell. O'Brien is a more technical Muay Thai fighter with a lot of amateur experience and limited pro experience. He has good movement and kicks. Greene is the easier pick here, but I actually like the more technical approach from O'Brien who could point his way to the upset.
Prediction: Quinton O'Brien, decision
Middleweight Tournament Final
I have this as Dustin Jacoby vs. Quinton O'Brien. And just as I did in the first fight, I am picking the experience of Jacoby to pay off now that he is fighting guys with relatively the same level of pro kickboxing experience he has.
Prediction: Dustin Jacoby, KO
Join us here at Bloody Elbow Friday night for live coverage of Glory 23.