Glory visited Germany this weekend for a card in Düsseldorf. It was headlined by Marat Grigorian, who after years of coming second best to Sitthichai, finally managed to get a win over him in his fifth try back in May and was defending his title for the first time. The card also featured a local co-headliner between undefeated fighter and youtube star Michael Smolik and his longtime rival Mohamed Abdallah which turned out to be an abysmal fight. Fortunately, without being a blockbuster event, the card still had some interesting fights to offer beyond its awful co-main event.
Grigorian defended his lightweight title against 21 year old Tyjani Beztati. Beztati has been considered one of the top prospects in the sport since his teenage years and despite his young age that was already his second shot at the Glory title. He came up short but put in a solid effort against Sitthichai last year and put together a solid 3 fight win streak over Chris Baya, Stoyan Koprivlenski and Josh Jauncey to get back into contention.
Beztati had the right idea and had a very good first round against the champion. He attempted to outmaneuver and outbox the champion and managed to deal very well with Grigorian’s pressure at the start of the fight. But Marat Grigorian is one of the best pressure fighters in the sport and soon identified a flaw to exploit in Beztati’s game. Grigorian started to use his left low kick to the rear leg to cripple Beztati’s movement. As the fight went on, this pinned Beztati to the ropes and opened up Beztati to Grigorian’s body work and some nasty uppercuts. By the third round, the fight had turned to a beating. To his credit, despite a 4th round knockdown, Beztati wasn’t discouraged and never stopped trying but Grigorian’s iron chin meant that even on the occasions he managed to land a good punch, the champion just ate it and resumed beating him up without skipping a beat.
The loss is nothing to hang his head about for Beztati but although he earned his shot, he’s probably at least a couple of years away from being able to truly challenge the elite of the best division in kickboxing. Apart from Sitthichai, it is tough to see who could deal with Grigorian on the Glory roster.
In the co-main event, local favorite Michael Smolik came in his Glory debut with an undefeated 31-0 record, though it is the product of very careful matchmaking and some occasional help from hometown officials. This was the cause of his feud with fellow German heavyweight Mohammed Abdallah. The two have been jawing at each other for some time and their fight was the most anticipated domestic matchup in German kickboxing.
Stylistically, Smolik is an athletic and spectacular kicker specialized in spinning attacks but lacks in fundamentals, especially when it comes to boxing. On the other hand Abdallah is dreadfully slow and lacks power but possesses decent fundamentals and ok cardio for a heavyweight. I expected Abdallah to exploit Smolik’s boxing deficiencies to close the distance and pressure him to the ropes, which he did. However I also expected him to use that to punch Smolik, which he did not. Abdallah constantly walked into ineffective clinches which made for an absolutely dreadful fight.
Smolik managed to land a few knees and kicks on Abdallah’s way in which was enough to get him the decision since Abdallah did nothing but he didn’t exactly impress either. I am not quite sure if it was the worst fight I’ve ever seen but it would warrant reflection if one was feeling masochistic.
Smolik remains undefeated and has a decent German fanbase so it might be worth it for Glory to throw him a softball he could spinning kick and then sacrifice his undefeated record to Rico Verhoeven as soon as possible, but it’s unlikely to last much longer if Smolik is to face good fighters. Abdallah’s performance and 0-3 in the promotion record might have ensured he won’t get a call back any time soon.
At lightheavyweight, Luis Tavares rebounded from a disappointing loss to Felipe Micheletti by styling on veteran Michael Duut. Tavares has the fastest hands and some of the best technical boxing in the division and he easily outslicked Duut for 3 rounds (admittedly slickness is definitely not one of Duut’s main attributes). Duut couldn’t get anything going and outside of a nice left hook in the second round, he was thoroughly outclassed by Tavares. Tavares expressed interest in a fight with interim champion Alex Pereira, and if he shows up in that type of form, that would be a very interesting fight.
Former Enfusion middleweight Ulrik Bokeme’s debut was one of the points of interest of the card but the Swiss fighter put in a disappointing performance against former title challenger Yousri Belgaroui. Bokeme was never really able to find his distance and Belgaroui used his range advantage to outpoint him without too much trouble.
Dmitry Menshikov faced his first real test in Glory after 2 quick knockout wins in Yoann Kongolo. Kongolo, a former title challenger, was returning to Glory after focusing on a pretty successful boxing career for the last couple of years.
Menshikov still lacks a bit on the technical side and Kongolo was able to capitalize on it and dominated the start of the fight. But Menshikov’s power means he’s never more than a couple of strikes away from turning the tide of a fight. In the second round, he dropped Kongolo with a brutal knee and opened a deep cut with another one to force a doctor stoppage. It is a very solid win for Menshikov but I’m not sure how long he will be able to sustain that success at the elite level if he doesn’t find a way to consistently win rounds and keeps relying on “losing until you don’t”.
On the Superfight series portion of the card, French veteran Stéphane Susperregui put in a very good performance and used his experience and craft to overcome Felipe Micheletti’s size advantage. Susperregui suffered a knockdown in the first, which forced an extra round, but otherwise dominated the fight. Susperregui’s skillset and fight IQ represents a tough challenge for most, and since Michelleti was highly ranked by Glory, the 35 year old might be able to mount a late career run to a title shot. If Tavares doesn’t get a shot at Pereira, a fight with Susperregui makes sense.
Antonio Plazibat confirmed his good form since putting on size to move up permanently and beat up Tomas Mozny who was once promising but is looking more and more like a busted prospect.
Sergej Maslobojev is relatively unknown having spent most of his career in Eastern Europe but is quietly one of the best recent Glory signings. A top 5 lightheavyweight coming into the fight in my opinion, Maslobojev knocked the undefeated but untested Bahram Rajabzadeh down with a flying knee in the first round and dominated the rest of the fight on his way to a decision win. On paper, Maslobojev already deserves big fights but I figure Glory will probably want to give him a couple more fights to get him acquainted to audiences before that.
In the women’s superbantamweight division, Christi Brereton dealt well with 19 year old Sarah Moussadak’s pressure and cleanly outboxed her. Brereton should probably get the next title shot as she is the best fighter in the division that Anissa Meksen hasn’t beaten yet and represents one of the toughest stylistic matchups for the champion. The setback is probably a blessing in disguise for Moussadak as she’s definitely got high level potential but still needs at least a couple of years of seasoning before being ready for the elite level.
On the prelims, top Russian prospect rebounded from his debut loss by beating up Artur Saladiak, a tough journeyman who was tailor made for that purpose.
That wasn’t an all timer event for Glory but outside of the terrible co-main event, it had mostly good fights and showcased some very solid performances by fighters we should see in contention soon.
Glory 69 full results:
Marat Grigorian def. Tyjani Beztati by unanimous decision (50-44, 50-44, 49-45, 49-45, 48-46) – for lightweight title
Michael Smolik def. Mohamed Abdallah by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27) - heavyweight
Luis Tavares def. Michael Duut by unanimous decision (30-27 x5) - lightheavyweight
Yousri Belgaroui def. Ulric Bokeme by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27) - middleweight
Dmitry Menshikov def. Yoann Kongolo by TKO (doctor’s stoppage). Round 2, 2:59 - welterweight
Stéphane Susperregui def. Felipe Micheletti by extra-round unanimous decision (10-9 x5) - lightheavyweight
Antonio Plazibat def. Tomas Mozny by unanimous decision (29-25 x5) - heavyweight
Christi Brereton def. Sarah Moussaddak by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27, 28-29, 30-27) - superbantamweight
Sergej Maslobojev def. Bahram Rajabzadeh by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-27, 29-27, 29-27) - lightheavyweight
Arian Sadikovic def. Dani Traoré by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-27, 29-27, 29-27) - welterweight
Vlad Tuinov def. Artur Saladiak by unanimous decision (30-26 x5) - lightweight
Massaro Glunder def. Arbi Emiev by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27) - lightweight
River Daz def. Antonio Campoy by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27) - featherweight
Jakob Styben def. Kevin van Heeckeren by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27) - middleweight
Jos van Belzen def. Matthew Stevens by split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29, 28-29, 29-28) - lightweight