This Friday night is Glory 27 Chicago. Glory 27 airs live Friday, February 26 with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET for the main card on ESPN3 and 7:30 p.m. ET for the Superfight Series live on UFC Fight Pass. We already took a look at the Superfight Series fights including Joe Schilling in the main event - here we break down the main card and the world title fight headliner
C. ARTEM LEVIN (50-4-2 Overall; 6-1-1 Glory) vs. #2 SIMON MARCUS (42-2-2 Overall; 2-1-1 Glory) - Middleweight Title
This main event title fight is one that the hardcore kickboxing fans out there are eagerly anticipating. Both Levin and Marcus stand among the elite as two of the best kickboxers in the world, not just in the division. Levin has been one of the top in the division for years now, winning titles in It's Showtime, the Tatneft Cup, and now Glory among many others. He has a Muay Thai base, and still competes in Muay Thai rules regularly (he's 4-0 under Muay Thai rules in the past 4 months alone). Levin is a highly strategic fighter who picks his shots carefully and has a terrific ability to force opponents out of their comfort zone and into his game, where he then picks them apart.
In Simon Marcus, Levin has the perfect foil. Everything that is true of Levin is true of Marcus as well. He's one of the best in the world, he has a Muay Thai base, he's highly technical and strategic, and he makes every fight his fight. When he made his Glory debut in 2014, Marcus was undefeated. He also was pretty much exclusively a Muay Thai fighter. With a high reliance on knees from the clinch in his arsenal, Marcus took some time to adjust his game from Muay Thai rules to kickboxing rules, and he went 1-2 after making that transition. He got back on track at Glory 20 and is now on a 2-0-1 run.
The big story here is that this is a trilogy fight. The two men first met under Muay Thai rules at Lion Fight back in 2013. Marcus took the decision win there. They rematched under kickboxing rules at Glory 21 in a fight that was ruled a draw. Many (myself included) felt that Marcus should have won that fight - now he gets the chance to correct that and claim the Glory title he feels is rightfully his.
Stylistically, expect a very close, even match between these two, but also don't expect a wild crowd-pleaser. The two are likely to engage in a lot of clinch battles (as they have in both of their previous fights) with any significant shot being hard won. It's a purist's dream fight full of high level striking, but it's not an all action style, and it's also, almost undoubtedly, going to be another tough one to score. But at the end of the day, it's a terrific rivalry between two of the world's best that are perfect foils for each other - I can not wait to see it play out.
Prediction: Simon Marcus, decision
GIGA CHIKADZE (33-4 Overall; 1-1 Glory) vs. KEVIN VAN NOSTRAND (11-0 Overall; 2-0 Glory) - Featherweight
This was originally scheduled as Chikadze vs. Anvar Boynazarov in a Glory 23 rematch, but a Boynazarov injury forced him out and Van Nostrand in. Chikadze made his Glory debut last year and made a big splash in a pair of exciting fights, first defeating Ken Tran, then losing a close fight to Boynazarov. He trains at King's MMA with Rafael Cordeiro - one of the top MMA gyms in the world today (Chikadze tried his hand at MMA in December, losing his debut via decision). Chikadze is known for his dynamic style, which incorporates a lot of spinning techniques - both effective and crowd-pleasing. Van Nostrand also had a splashy Glory debut last year, taking a decision win over Justin Houghton at Glory 24 in a fun fight. He has good amateur experience, but is taking a step up here. The Featherweight division is super shallow, so an exciting win here could put the victor in a solid position for a title shot after Serhiy Adamchuk vs. Mosab Amrani at Glory 28 next month.
Prediction: Giga Chikadze, KO
SEMIFINAL: #4 DUSTIN JACOBY (7-6 Overall; 4-6 Glory) vs. KARL ROBERSON (0-1 Overall; Glory Debut) - Middleweight
Dustin Jacoby has fought his entire professional kickboxing career in either Glory or the Road to Glory tournament. He's the absolute definition of being thrown to the wolves, as he was taking on world class talent like Danyo Ilunga and Mourad Bouzidi two years into his career. As a result, he's piled up some losses. But things seemed to have turned a corner with Jacoby lately, as all the pieces are really coming together for him. He's currently on a 3-0 run and coming in off the biggest win of his career - a stunning KO defeat of Wayne Barrett at Glory 24 (that loss was the first KO defeat of Barrett's career). Jacoby has caught a lot of criticism over the years, but he's at the top of his game right now, and is absolutely a legit contender to win this entire tournament. Roberson is a somewhat late replacement for Mike Lemaire (who now faces Joe Schilling in the Superfight Series main event). Roberson has a 2-0 MMA record and was originally scheduled to take on Pat Barry at Glory 24, but that fight was cancelled due to injury. His lone kickboxing fight is a highly controversial loss to Jerome Le Banner where Roberson absolutely should have been given the KO win. Our own John Joe O'Regan spoke to Roberson before the planned Barry fight - check out his excellent profile. Roberson is a huge MW who previously fought at Heavyweight, and he should have a power advantage because of that. He's less experienced than Jacoby, but he's a dark horse to pull off the upset and make a name for himself.
Prediction: Dustin Jacoby, decision
SEMIFINAL: #5 WAYNE BARRETT (5-4 Overall, 4-4 Glory) vs. #7 ROBERT THOMAS (8-3 Overall; 2-2 Glory) – Middleweight
At the end of 2013, Wayne Barrett was arguably the #1 Middleweight in Glory. Just 4 fights into his pro career, he defeated Joe Schilling in a great fight at Glory 12. The sky seemed to be the limit for this highly talented fighter. He's 1-4 since. In the past 2 years, the wheels have just completely come off for Barrett as he's looked mentally defeated in his last 3 fights. It's hard to know what has gone wrong for Barrett, but things are just not clicking for him at all right now, and he badly needs to recapture that fire of 2013 if he wants his career to keep moving. Canada's Thomas is a 23 year old much touted prospect who, like Jacoby, was quickly thrown to the wolves in Glory, making his promotional debut against Artem Levin. His only Glory losses are to Levin and Schilling in fights where the significantly less experienced Thomas was defeated, but did not look like he failed to belong. He feels like a fighter on the cusp of greatness, and tonight could be the night he makes that step.
Prediction: Robert Thomas, Decision
I have this as Thomas vs. Jacoby in what would be a terrific clash between two fighters who have both risen to the occasion in recent fights. Only bad thing about this as a potential final is that one of the men would have to be derailed for the time being.
Prediction: Robert Thomas, Decision
Join us here at Bloody Elbow Friday night for live Glory 27 coverage.