This weekend is Glory 35 Nice, airing live this Saturday, November 5 with an afternoon fight time of 2:30 p.m. ET for the Superfight Series on UFC Fight Pass and 5:00 p.m. ET for the main card on ESPN3. Here’s a look at all the action you can expect this Saturday.
C. ARTEM VAKHITOV (16-5 Overall; 5-1 Glory) vs. C. ZACK MWEKASSA (14-3 Overall; 5-2 Glory) - Light Heavyweight World Title
This main event is a unification fight to determine the true Glory Light Heavyweight champion. Artem Vakhitov won the title in March, defeating Saulo Cavalari. When he had to pull out of a summer fight, Glory made the somewhat surprising and hasty decision to crown an interim champion. That title was won by Mwekassa in June, defeating Mourad Bouzidi. The is each man’s first fight since winning their respective belts. Vakhitov vs. Mwekassa is a fight fans have been talking about for awhile, because it’s one of those fights that just makes sense. Both are aggressive, heavy handed fighters who should match up well. Vakhitov has the better experience, and has traditionally been the more technical of the two, though recently Mwekassa has clearly worked on improving his cardio and fighting with less of an all-or-nothing head-hunting style. He showed the improvements to great effect in his title win. Still, I see five full rounds as a tough road for Mwekassa - look for Vakhitov to wear him down just as he did Cavalari and win the war of attrition.
Prediction: Artem Vakhitov, decision
#6 ZINEDINE HAMEUR LAIN (56-13 Overall; 3-1 Glory) vs. #4 PAVEL ZHURAVLEV (69-11 Overall; 0-1 Glory) - Light Heavyweight
This is an interesting fight between two extremely talented Light Heavyweights, but also two fighters who have not always managed to truly shine in Glory. Both have a ton of experience against some major names in kickboxing history. Hameur Lain spent most of his career as an undersized Heavyweight, picking up a lot of losses along the way. But he looked pretty fantastic in his last outing, winning the Glory 32 tournament with two KOs totaling 4:12 of action. If he can keep that momentum going here, he could easily be next for the main event winner. Zhuravlev has some serious wins on his resume, including Gokhan Saki and Benjamin Adegbuyi. He didn’t look his best in his Glory debuting, losing in that same Glory 32 tournament. He has more to show and has the chance to play spoiler here - and I think he does it, shutting down Hameur Lain’s KO power and forcing a drawn out fight that favors the Ukranian veteran.
Prediction: Pavel Zhuravlev, decision
This is a fantastic, pick ‘em tournament - one of the best Glory has run recently. In one semifinal you have former title challenger #2 Benjamin Adegbuyi (22-4 Overall; 5-2 Glory) against former It’s Showtime world champion #4 Hesdy Gerges (49-17-1 Overall; 2-4 Glory). The other match-up is former title challenger #11 Mladen Brestovac (49-11-1 Overall; 1-2 Glory) against #3 Jahfarr Wilnis (29-7-1 Overall; 5-3 Glory). That’s 3 of the top 4 ranked Heavyweights in Glory, which only adds to the intrigue here. Adegbuyi is a Superkombat veteran who won the Glory 24 tournament. He only has two losses in Glory - both to champion Rico Verhoeven. Interestingly, he also holds wins over all 3 of the other participants here. Gerges is probably the most accomplished veteran here, but he’s also the one closest to the end of his career. He’s still winning good fights outside of Glory, but we’ve never seen his best in the Glory ring - at this stage in his career, you have to wonder if we ever will.
Brestovac lost to Verhoeven in March, but has had a comeback win since. He made his Glory debut way back at Glory 14, knocking out his opponent here Jahfarr Wilnis with a brutal head kick. He too has had good success outside of Glory, with his only losses coming against top talent. Wilnis is the brother of Middleweight champion Jason Wilnis, and like his brother, seems to be hitting his peak right now. He won a huge tournament in Kunlun last year, defeating Hesdy Gerges and making his claim as the lineal HW champ of the sport. He’s since made it to the finals of two Glory tournaments, losing both times (to Adegbuyi and Ismael Londt) though in both fights there were many who felt Wilnis deserved the win. Third time’s the charm?
Finals Prediction: Jahfarr Wilnis over Benjamin Adegbuyi, decision
The original main event here was to be Vakhitov vs. Mwekassa, with a Lightweight title fight between Sittichai and Marat Grigorian to headline the main card. But Sittichai went out with an injury, Vakhitov and Mwekassa got bumped up, and we are left with a somewhat ho-hum Superfight card. Main event is #16 Nicolas Wamba (42-5; 0-1) vs. the debuting Nordine Mahieddine (18-6; Debut). Neither has a win in Glory, though Wamba did score a win over Ismael Londt way back in 2009. Both are French fighters, but still, this is a weird choice to headline.
The Women’s Super Bantamweight Grand Prix continues here with France’s #3 Amel Dehby (27-0; Debut) vs. #10 Ji-Waen Lee (13-2; Debut). #3 Karim Benmansour (46-5-1; 0-1) vs. #10 Eyevan Danenberg (21-4; 1-0) is a solid Welterweight fight that could be a bit of a show-stealer. The card opens with two debuting fighters, as former Muay Thai champion #11 Petpanomrung Kiatmoo9 (151-34-2; Debut) takes on Stanislav Renita (12-3; Debut). I’m excited for the debut of Petpanomrung - here he is scoring a big win in Thailand earlier this year. Just added to the card is Cedric Castagna vs. Vang Moua (records unavailable) in another battle of debuting Fatherweights - both from France this time. Finally, there’s #4 Josh Jauncey (24-6; 5-3) against Chris Baya (56-5-1; Debut). Baya is a second late replacement as both Dylan Salvador and Serhiy Adamchuk had to pull out of the fight. He’s from Mike’s Gym, so not a pushover, but still should be a win for the talented Jauncey.
Join us here at Bloody Elbow on Saturday for live Glory 35 coverage.