On June 22, Glory kickboxing returns to action for the first time since their May 17th card in Utrecht, Netherlands. This time around they’re bringing a trifecta of title fights with them to Paris, France, airing on YouTube and Fight Pass in the US.
In the night’s main event, welterweight champion Cédric Doumbé (26 years old, 70-6-1, 41 KOs) will defend his title against Alim Nabiev (24 years old, 49-7, 20 KOs). Doumbé made his name in Glory as a slick, taunting counter fighter—a run that culminated in 2 wins over Nieky Holzken to gain his first title. He then lost it in a close, debatable decision against Murthel Groenhart, and subsequently lost an excellent fight to Nabiev. The losses prompted Doumbé to return to his roots, mixing his slickster style with the raw-er, more aggressive KO-artist form he had coming up through the French scene. The change brought fantastic results, with a 4 fight win streak—including 3 KOs. His knockout of Harut Grigorian in March brought him back the welterweight title.
Nabiev also made his name by taunting and out-slicking Holzken, and followed it by beating Doumbé—to earn a shot at then-champion Grigorian. Unfortunately for him, he came up just short against the Armenian. However, he quickly rebounded with a pair of wins over Eyevan Danenberg and Groenhart to get a second crack at the belt.
The taller Nabiev’s unpredictable boxing, stance switching and knees gave Doumbé a lot of trouble in their first bout, and make Nabiev a very tough match up for the champion. Doumbé’s adjusments and more aggressive style lately should yield better results than the backfoot approach he used in the first fight, but I’d still have Nabiev as a slight favorite. Either way the fight goes, this is one the finest contests kickboxing has to offer. And the 5 round title match up should provide a worthy follow up to the 3 round appetizer of their first meeting.
In the co-main event, Anissa Meksen (31 years old, 98-4, 31 KO) – and perhaps the best female kickboxer in the world – will defend her super bantamweight title against 2-time amateur Muay Thai world champion Sofia Olofsson (29 years old, 49-8, 25 KOs). Meksen has dominated the weight class since coming to Glory, only losing once, against Jady Menezes, in one of the worst robberies in recent memory—which she immediately avenged with an authoritative TKO.
Olofsson won the 2016 and 2018 IFMA world titles and beat top Muay Thai fighter Iman Barlow prior to signing with Glory late last year. She was plagued by a slow start in her debut fight against former champion Tiffany Van Soest, but has since rebounded with wins over Cindy Sylvestre and impressive newcomer Chriti Brereton.
Meksen’s Savate base has provided her with very good boxing and movement, which should prove very useful to deal with Olofsson’s relentless pressure and relatively simple boxing, coupled with a left middle kick. The Swede should make it a tough fight, though, and a win for Meksen would be an excellent scalp to add to her already superb résumé.
The third and last title fight of the card will headline the Superfight Series and pit light heavyweight champion Artem Vakhitov (28 years old, 20-5, 8 KOs) against Donegi Abena (21 years old, 23-5, 6 KOs).
Vakhitov has established himself as the best in his division over the last few years, but was extremely lucky to escape with the win in what looked to be a routine defense against Danyo Ilunga (who subsequently got spinning backfist KO’d by James McSweeney of all people, because the world is a very strange place). However Vakhitov deserves the benefit of doubt for the rest of his body of work, and his performance can probably be chalked up to a bad night combined with a career performance by Ilunga.
The young Abena earned his shot with wins over the likes of Clyde Brunsjuik, Andrei Stoica, Luis Tavares, Stéphane Susperregui and Michael Duut. As good as this list reads, especially for a 21 year old, I’ll admit I don’t him as convincing in the ring as I’d expect reading his record. He’s a rather standard fighter in the dutch mold who shows flashes of talent, but I don’t think that’ll be enough to deal with the much deeper tool-set of the champion—especially when it comes to boxing and defense.
The rest of the card:
Prospect Mohamed Mezouari first made noise at 19 when he took then pound-for-pound king Sitthichai to an extra round, knocking him down in the process. He then went on a 7-1 streak, only losing to now Glory Champion Marat Grigorian before moving up to welterweight for his Glory debut. That proved to be a tremendous success. “Hamicha” destroyed Miles Simson in less than a round. He’ll look to replicate the feat here. And although his opponent is a good, smart fighter, Hadfield seems too limited athletically to prevent it.
A win here might earn the very good Tavares a rematch with Vakhitov, who knocked him out at Glory 9, way back in 2013.
Gorlov is pretty unlucky to be 0-2 in Glory, having lost a razor thin split decision to Tavares and having been DQ’d after a push into the ropes aggravated a back injury to Zinedine Hameur-Lain. He’s an excellent athlete and very solid technician, and could soon become a contender in the division.
Action fighter Mohamed Jaraya finally (check out his fight with Nordin Ben Moh, if you haven’t seen it) finally came back to his senses and decided to drop back down to lightweight.
Nordine Mahieddine (18-7) vs Antonio Plazibat (15-3, 9 KOs) heavyweights, Super Fight Series.
2017 K-1 GP champion Antonio Plazibat comes in on short notice against solid French heavyweight Mahieddine. Plazibat is more suited to lightheavyweight, but should be talented enough to deal with Mahieddine. And will be a very good addition to the roster—whether or not he drops down following this fight.
The slick Ulyanov shouldn’t have much trouble with Japanese journeyman Kubo, but he’s always a nice watch if you enjoy the technical Russian type.
Michaël Palandre (27-2, 10 KOs) vs Vlad Tuinov (20 years old, 41-3, 13 KOs), lightweights, prelims.
Top Russian prospect Tuinov finally makes his Glory debut against Michaël Palandre (2-0 in Glory). Nice style match up, and an excellent test for both fighters.
Guéric Billet (30-3, 14 KOs) vs William Goldie-Galloway (13-5, 9 KOs), lightweights, prelims.
Goldie-Galloway is not an uninteresting prospect, but he’s being matched surprisingly tough in Glory so far. Billet is more experienced, a bigger puncher and should just overall be too much for Goldie-Galloway at this stage.
Sarah Moussadak (9-0, 3 KOs) vs Aurore Dos Santos, superbantamweights, prelims.
19 year old Moussadak looked excellent in her Glory debut and is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Overall this is the best card Glory has put on this year with fights worth your attention from the Main Event to the prelims.
Glory 66 airs in its entirity on Fight Pass in the United States, with prelims staring at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT, the Superfight Series at 1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT, and the main card at 3:00pm ET / 12:00pm PT.
Here’s a look at the lineup as it stands right now:
FIGHT PASS MAIN CARD | 3PM/12PM ET/PT
Cedric Doumbe vs. Alim Nabiev
Anissa Meksen vs. Sofia Olofsson
Mohamed Mezouari vs. Adam Hadfield
Felipe Micheletti vs. Luis Tavares
FIGHT PASS SUPERFIGHT SERIES | 1PM/10AM ET/PT
Artem Vakhitov vs. Donegi Abena
Artur Gorlov vs. Yegish Yegoian
Mohammed Jaraya vs. Stoyan Koprivlenski
Nordine Mahieddine vs. Antonio Plazibat
Aleksei Ulianov vs. Masaya Kubo
FIGHT PASS PRELIMS | 11:30AM/8:30AM ET/PT
Michael Palandre vs. Vlad Tuinov
Matthieu Ceva vs. Matej Penaz
Guerric Billet vs. William Goldie-Galloway
Sarah Moussaddak vs. Aurore Dos Santos