Glory: Collision III takes place on Saturday at Gelredome in Arnhem, The Netherlands. It features an heavyweight title fight, two very important matchups for the future of the welterweight division following the departure of champion Cédric Doumbé for MMA and some other very interesting match ups up and down the card.
Rico Verhoeven (58-10, 18 KOs) vs Jamal Ben Saddik (36-8-1 NC, 29 KOs)
Heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven has dominated the division for the better part of a decade and is struggles to find worthy opponents.Glory had to occasionally resort to signing MMA fighters to garner interest in his fights outside of the kickboxing bubble.
He fought Bigfoot Silva in an horrendous mismatch back in 2017 and was scheduled to fight Alistair Overeem this week end. Overeem got injured and replacing him is Jamal Ben Saddik. Verhoeven and Ben Saddik have history together, Ben Saddik knocked Rico out way back in 2010 at the beginning of their careers. He also gave him one of the toughest fights of his Glory run in 2017.
Ben Saddik’s size and aggressiveness caused Verhoeven trouble in the opening round of their rematch but he managed to weather the storm and stopped Ben Saddik in the final round. Ben Saddik earned another shot at Rico by winning an 8 man tournament in late 2018 but circumstances have kept him inactive since then.
He is a worthy challenger but the short notice and long period of inactivity are not ideal circumstances and make Rico a sizeable favorite. Ben Saddik has a small shot to shock him in the early rounds but he has little chance against the cardio and workrate of Verhoeven if the fight goes long.
Gokhan Saki (81-16-1 NC, 58 KOs) vs James McSweeney (46-7, 31 KOs)
Saki makes his return to kickboxing after being away from the sport since 2015. His MMA run didn’t go as planned with a KO loss to Khalil Rountree Jr. He’s been inactive since that loss 3 years ago. At 37 and after a lot of injuries in the last few years, I don’t have high hopes for his comeback but he should be able to handle a 40 year old journeyman in McSweeney.
McSweeney made his own kickboxing comeback a couple of years ago and picked up the two most relevant wins of his career, a spinning backfist KO of former light heavyweight title challenger Danyo Ilunga and a cut stoppage of previously undefeated Murat Aygun, though he was pretty fortunate in both cases. He then lost to Ismael Londt and got KO’d in a bare knuckle boxing fight. Both are old but Saki was once one of the best fighters in the sport and even a diminished version of himself should stop McSweeney. Given that he is a well known name, has a semi-controversial loss to Verhoeven and that Glory is desperate for marketable heavyweight title challengers, some careful matchmaking could set him up for a last payday against the heavyweight king.
Mohamed Mezouari (39-3, 29 KOs) vs Samuel Dbili (10-4, 5 KOs)
Mohamed “Hamicha” Mezouari has been one of the best prospects in kickboxing since he took then #1 lightweight Sitthichai to an extra round back in 2016. He only lost to another champion in Marat Grigorian since then. He signed with Glory and moved up to welterweight in 2017 and has gone 3-0 with 3 devastating KOs in the organization. He was rumored to be Cédric Doumbé’s next opponent before the champion announced his retirement from kickboxing and move to MMA.
He is a very good pressure fighter with devastating bodyshots and looks ready to hold a place at the top of division for the coming years. A win here should set him up to fight for the vacant title next. His opponent Samuel Dbili comes in on late notice but is an interesting test of how Mezouari will deal with an opponent he doesn’t have a size advantage over. Dbili is a very cradfty fighter, who has very good strike selection and is very good at setting up combos on the outside. However, he’s struggled to prevent his best opponents to close in on him and Mezouari should be able to get to the inside where is superior power should earn him a stoppage win.
Donegi Abena (15-7, 3 KOs) vs Sergej Maslobojev (32-5, 21 KOs)
Maslobojev has been showing high level potential for years but spent most of his prime fighting in Eastern Europe and despite likely being a top fighter he didn’t get to show it against the very best in the division. He finally signed with Glory in 2019 and didn’t disappoint so far with 2 wins including a KO of up and comer Roel Manaart in his last fight. Abena is an athletic prospect who recently made the jump to fighting elite level competition and so far fell short despite flashes of potential. He lost against light heavyweight champion Artem Vakhitov despite an honorable performance and got brutally KO’d by Alex Pereira. Another loss to Luis Tavares made it a three fight losing streak and a softer touch than Maslobojev might have been a wiser matchmaking choice.
Abena is big for the weight and has a solid workrate but his lack of power and his relatively basic technical game hold him back at the elite level. Maslobojev technical superiority and experience should allow him to overcome his size deficit and I like him to win a clear decision with a slight chance of late stoppage.
Benjamin Adegbuyi (35-6, 20 KOs) vs Antonio Plazibat (18-4, 9 KOs)
A good match up between an established heavyweight contender in Adegbuyi and a rising prospect in Plazibat. Adegbuyi fell short twice against Verhoeven in 2015 and remained a top 5 fighter ever since. He is coming off of a thrilling comeback victory over Badr Hari and is close to another title shot, though whether he would take it against his now teammate Verhoeven remains in question.
Plazibat started his career as a promising light heavyweight but has since moved up and bulked up to 240 pounds. He has gone 4-1 in glory so far and looks likely to establish himself as a contender in the coming years. Both are solid technicians to the division and should have an entertaining and competitive fight. Plazibat is a bit more comfortable on the inside and Adegbuyi should have the advantage at range. Adegbuyi’s size should allow him to keep Plazibat off of him and his experience makes me lean towards him in this fight.
Alim Nabiev (51-9, 20 KOs) vs Troy Jones (14-2, 11 KOs)
If Mezouari wins his fight and indeed earns a shot at the vacant title, his opponent will likely be the winner of this fight, one of the best match ups on the card. Nabiev is a southpaw slickster who challenged for the title twice (and arguably was hard done by judges in his first title shot). He holds wins over champions Cédric Doumbé, Murthel Groenhart and Nieky Holzken and is an undisputable top 5 fighter at the weight. Jones is one of the finest fighters of the to come out of the US in recent years. He is a brilliant offensive fighter and a great athlete, he looked spectacular against lower level competition but fell by knockout to Groenhart in his step up to the high level.
He suffers from defensive problems, likely due to being a big fish in a small pond coming up on the US scene and topping Nabiev will be a tough task. However at 33, if he is going to be an elite fighter he needs to do it now so it is sink or swim time for Jones. He has a shot to do it, but Nabiev is younger, more experienced and a tough match up in the first place so he is my pick in this fight.
Aleksei Ulianov (30-8, 7 KOs) vs Serhiy Adamchuk (40-12, 15 KOs)
A rematch between two featherweight veterans here between Ulianov and Aformer champion Adamchuk. Adamchuk defeated Ulianov by controversial split decision (I personally thought Ulianov deserved the nod) in 2019. Both are established top ten fighters and solid outfighters though Adamchuk has an unfortunate penchant for ocasional sterile clinching. Which is a shame because he can box very well and has solid low kicks to accompany it. Ulianov uses clan boxing to set up some very nice knees. Neither is a puncher so you shouldn’t expect a war but if Adamchuk is at his most fan friendly we should hopefully get a nice technical outside fight.
Stoyan Koprivlenski (12-5, 5 KOs) vs Bruno Gazani (66-6-1, 33 KOs)
Gazani spent the vast majority of his career being a good domestic level fighter in Brazil and defied expectations when he made the jump to international competition in his 30s. He scored 3 consecutive upsets over hyped prospects and established veterans of the European scene in an unlikely run that has him on the verge of lightweight contention. He is a pressure fighter that uses rudimentary but effective boxing to set up some brutal knees to sap opponents stamina and drag them into wars of attrition.
How this style match ups with the outside kicking game of Koprivlenski should be very interesting, as his first three opponents were more willing to engage him head on than Koprivlenski will. If he can make it past the Bulgarian, he should be in the conversation for a title shot against newly crowned champion Tyjani Beztati.
Glory Collision 3 airs on PPV on Saturday, October 23rd at 2:00pm ET / 11:00am PT with the Glory 79 portion of the card airing on Youtube at 12:00pm ET / 9:00am PT.