Cor Hemmers, GLORY 35 Nice weigh-ins. Ben Pontier, GLORY Sports International

GLORY Redemption promises to be one of the biggest GLORY events to date, and will feature two title fights, a featherweight number 1 contender bout and the return of former welterweight champion Nieky Holzken.

The event is scheduled for December 9 in Ahoy Rotterdam.

Cor Hemmers, GLORY’s head of talent operations and managing director sports, previewed the card and some of the marquee match-ups with MMA Plus.

After a heated press conference, in which the Dutchman had to stand his ground to keep the two heavyweights separated, Hemmers said he didn’t expect there to be so much animosity between the two rivals.

“We always expect some sensitive emotions during staredowns. But those guys, this is really redemption,” Hemmers says. “They both were talking to each other during the press conference, knocking each other out in theory all the time and telling the one is not that good, the other one is nothing.

“There was some emotion and tension building up and it ended in a sensitive staredown. Luckily they didn’t touch each other. Hopefully, they keep their energy until the ninth of December.”

Hemmers believes the pressure is on Verhoeven in the rematch because he is the reigning champion: “If you’re the champion, the problem is that sometimes people get used to you being the champion. But you can’t forget that everybody is hunting for your thing. They all want that belt.

“So you always have to be in shape, always have to be focused that there’s somebody, even that you probably don’t know yet, is hunting for that belt. That’s an extra pressure for Rico. He has now defended his title six times successfully, so let’s see.”

Sittichai makes GLORY return in 2018

GLORY’s lightweight champion, Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong, is expected to return to GLORY in 2018, Hemmers says. The Thai fighter’s last GLORY match was in March 2017, when he beat Dylan Salvador on GLORY 39 in Brussels.

Hemmers explains that “Killer Kid” was giving permission to fight in other organizations, which resulted in him winning the WLF – Yi Long challenge Tournament. On November 4, Sitsonpeenong made the most of the opportunity given to him by Glory by beating Yi Long with a vicious head kick in the second round.  

Chris Baya and Marat Grigorian were scheduled to face off in a number 1 contender bout on GLORY 49: Rotterdam for the right to fight for the Sitsonpeenong stalwart’s title, but Grigorian has been replaced by Samo Petje.

Hemmers explains how this situation came about: “Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough fights for Marat Grigorian. We have our exclusive contracts, but sometimes, if we don’t have the right opponents on that moment, we can not keep a fighter waiting for like six or seven months.

“We decided to give Grigorian one opportunity to go to another organization, which was Kunlun, but the only possibility was to put him in a tournament. Well, we’re happy and proud of our GLORY fighter. We are very proud that he progressed to the next round.

“The bad thing about it is that he has an agreement and we agreed on that. So he had to fight last week, he won his fight again, and there is the final fight in another organization. We respect that and support him, but unfortunately, this was the disadvantage of that decision and we can’t use him in Rotterdam.

“Same thing happened to Sittichai. We gave him the opportunity, but after this, he has an exclusive contract with GLORY. We will see him back in a title defense in, I think, January or early February.”

Grigorian beat Mohamed Mezouari by unanimous decision last weekend on Kunlun Fight 67 to qualify for the semi-finals of the Kunlun Fight 2017 70kg World Max Tournament. The final four are expected to meet early 2018 in a one-night, four-man tournament.

Hemmers also gave inside on Robin van Roosmalen’s status, Michael Duut vs. Danyo Ilunga 3 and Tyjani Beztati’s future.