GLORY lightweight Josh Jauncey (24-6, 12 KO's) has marked himself out as contender material with a string of wins and exciting performances. Even Giorgio Petrosyan, regarded as the sport's pound-for-pound best fighter, said after winning a decision over Jauncey back in November that his opponent had "everything he needs" to become GLORY champion in the future.
Jauncey is definitely on the contender trail. His fight with Anatoly Moiseev sees him matched with something of a kindred spirit, a fighter who arrived in the division and immediately began making a name for himself. Moiseev (16-1, 4 KO's) has less fights in GLORY than Jauncey - he is 2-1 in the organization - but has showcased a destructive style which has proven to be crowd-pleasing.
"I've prepared for Moiseev already once before. I was supposed to fight him in March but things got switched around. We made a gameplan for him back then so we are just continuing on with that. He is a good fighter, no doubt - good hands, sharp kicks and he is quick. We have some similar attributes actually, but I think I have just a few more. He's got nice, fast high kicks, he's good with that," says Jauncey.
"We're fighting on the UFC Fight Pass card and I am pretty excited about that, I think that's a great spot to be in in terms of exposure. I can see this being Fight of the Night and even Fight of the Year. This is going to be a really good fight. There's no way that this can be a boring fight. He has got heart for days, as we saw against Grigorian."
Moiseev comes into the fight off the back of his sole career loss, sustained when he agreed to face Marat Grigorian on short notice at GLORY 28 Paris earlier this year. Moiseev had been due to face Jauncey on that card, but when Grigorian's Lightweight Contender Tournament opponent pulled out, he agreed to step and fill the gap.
As it turned out, it was a mistake. Grigorian has been woefully inconsistent in GLORY - perfectly illustrated by last year's loss to a usually-featherweight Serhiy Adamchuk who was taking the fight on a day's notice - but when he is on form he is incredibly dangerous. Moiseev caught Grigorian having a good day and suffered the results, taking a one-sided beating for most of the fight. It was a complete contrast to the Russian's previous two GLORY fights.
"Marat seems to intimidate a lot of people because he is so aggressive and he puts a lot of pressure on people. A lot of people don't know how to deal with that pressure, especially when they are pressure fighters themselves. Moiseev looked intimidated from the start." says Jauncey.
"Does that fight give me a model to copy? Every fight potentially gives me a model! But I am very different as a fighter to Marat and I deal with things differently. Moiseev kept getting up and wouldn't give up but you could see he felt like a caged animal in that fight."
On the subject of Grigorian's inconsistency, Jauncey points not to any Grigorian deficiency but rather to one of Adamchuk's key strengths.
"Look at how Adamchuk deals with pressure: he invites it, he wants it. He is like a matador, and that's how I see myself," he says.
"I think we're bringing a change in kickboxing actually. For a long time it has been dominated by the basic forward-pressure style of fighter but that's going to change. Each era kind of his its own style and I think you'll see more of a move towards our style coming in.
"It's funny, what people see as the Dutch style these days isn't what it was back in the day. Except for maybe Dekkers, the old school guys weren't pressure fighters. Hoost, Aerts, Kaman weren't pressure fighters, they were clever fighters who used a lot of low kicks. Out of the current Dutch guys, [my coach and former K-1 MAX champion] Andy Souwer is one of the last guys who does that, uses his brain and moves around a lot.
"So many fighters these days are just using that model of gluing their gloves to their head and just marching forwards throwing as hard and as fast as they can, just replicating hitting pads in the gym. It's unfortunate... well, not for me, it plays into my hands. But it's unfortunate for them."
Jauncey is presently in Den Bosch, Netherlands training for his fight with Moiseev. Since his teenage years he has spent as much time as possible training in the Netherlands. He used to spend his summer holidays in Meijiro Gym in Amsterdam. It was here he met Andy Souwer (and Jose Aldo) and became his friend and student, maintaining the relationship when Souwer left Meijiro and formed his own team. (Aldo also stayed with Souwer and still travels to the Netherlands to train stand-up with the team).
Den Bosch is also home to Robin van Roosmalen, the GLORY lightweight champion. If Jauncey's career path goes the way he wants it to then he will be fighting for the title in the not too-distant future. Whether the belt will remain with Van Roosmalen in the intervening time depends on his results, starting with the GLORY 31 Amsterdam headlining rematch with Sittichai.
Their GLORY 25 Milan fight in November ended with a controversial decision for Van Roosmalen, who retained the belt after the judges decreed that his punches landed in the clinch had counted for more than the many powerful body kicks Sittichai had thrown, many of which Van Roosmalen took on the arms.
He maintains that Sittichai did not land anything cleanly or anything which hurt him, but many fans felt Sittichai got shorted by the judges. The rematch will be heated - Sittichai's last post-fight speech in GLORY had him telling a ringside Van Roosmalen that he was going to knock him out. Van Roosmalen did not look impressed.
"Actually I have not had a chance to watch the first fight properly. I was ringside that night because I had already had my fight with Petrosyan but I was still kind of buzzed from my fight so I didn't really take it in properly. I don't know if Robin has changed much but Sittichai's hands seemed a bit sharper to me against Grigorian in Paris. I would imagine it will be similar to their first fight; a lot will depend on how judges assess Sittichai's kicks if they are landing on Robin's arms."
GLORY 31 Amsterdam takes place at the RAI Amsterdam on Saturday, June 25. Van Roosmalen and Sittichai headline; the card also features a four-man welterweight contender tournament, with Murthel Groenhart and Yoann Kongolo included in the line-up.
That card airs in the US on ESPN and is preceded by the GLORY 31 'Superfight Series' card airing live on UFC Fight Pass. Jauncey vs. Moiseev will open the card, which is headlined by Zack Mwekassa fighting Mourad Bouzidi for the Interim Light-Heavyweight championship.