Photo: James Law/GLORY Sports International

NEW YORK–Guto Inocente (34-8) looked like he was going to be on the wrong side of the score cards after he fought the No.1-ranked heavyweight Benjamin Adegbuyi (28-5) in the main event at GLORY 43 on Friday night, but the Brazilian prevailed, earning a split decision victory inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden. 

Inocente earned a pair of 29-28 scorecards, with the third judge ruling a 29-28 in favor of Adegbuyi.

“I’m looking for the belt,” Inocente said after the bout. “I want Rico [Verhoeven] or [Jamal] Ben Saddik. But anyone that GLORY puts in my way I will beat and get the belt sooner or later.”

“Mr. Gentleman” came out looking sharp and immediately connected with a vicious left hook, which rocked Inocente, but he couldn’t capitalize and score the knockdown. After the first round ended, though, the Romanian appeared to be up 1-0.

The tide shifted in Inocente’s favor in the second when he caught Adegbuyi, who was in deep trouble, but somehow managed to avoid getting knocked down, which would’ve resulted in him losing the frame by a 10-8 margin. The momentum would swing back toward Adegbuyi in the final stanza as Inocente began to show signs of fatigue. Adegbuyi had him in trouble several times and was landing key punches during the entire round, but he could not score the knockdown.

Inocente, ranked No.10 heading into GLORY 43, improves to 5-1 in GLORY competition and bounces back into the win column after losing by unanimous decision to Jamal Ben Saddik at GLORY 39. Meanwhile, Adegbuyi has his three-fight winning streak snapped in defeat. A tough loss for Adegbuyi, who looked to have won the first and third rounds. This will shake up the division a little bit with Adegbuyi having been ranked No.1 heading into GLORY 43, and the champion Rico Verhoeven due to fight on the October card in China and also in December against Saddik.

In the lightweight co-main event of the evening, Elvis Gashi, (19-0) a local undefeated fighter, absolutely ran through Josh Jauncey (26-9), knocking the Canadian out and sending the crowd into a frenzy. The official time of the stoppage came at 2:59 of round two.

The first round was closely contested, but Jauncey looked to have won it by being a bit more accurate. Gashi was aggressive and although unknown to many, he proved to be a game opponent. In the second he rocked Jauncey with a big punch and jumped on him with multiple strikes until scoring the first knockdown of the fight.

Jauncey, ranked No.5 in the division, beat the count, but Gashi was relentless in his pursuit. He connected moments later, sending the Canadian to the canvas for the second time. Referee Paul Nicholls could’ve waved it off right there and no one would’ve complained. Jauncey beat the count once more, though, and once more he was bludgeoned with punches until he was knocked down for a third and final time, ending his night.

“I may not be the greatest fighter,” Gashi told Whitney Miller after the bout at, “but I always want to fight the greatest fighters.”

An outstanding performance by Gashi, who was making his GLORY debut. A crushing defeat for Jauncey, who falls to 6-5 in GLORY.

Kevin Vannostrand (14-1) defeated Giga Chikadze (37-6) and Mo Abduraham (24-7) to win the featherweight “Contender” tournament and Ramon Dekkers memorial trophy. Vannostrand has now won three fights in a row and has earned a title shot against current champion Robin van Roosmalen. 

In the final, which was an action-packed barn burner, Vannostrand earned three 30-26 scores to earn the unanimous decision victory over Chikadze. The bout was a rematch from their first encounter at GLORY 27 back in 2016. Referee Dan Miragliotta deducted a point from Chikadze in the second round after an illegal sweep, which slammed Vannostrand down hard to the canvas. After a 1-1 evening, Chikadze, who was ranked No.4 heading into the bout, falls to 6-3 in GLORY.

In the semi-finals, Vannostrand made quick work of Abduraham, knocking him down twice in the opening round to earn the TKO victory. The official time came at 1:52 of round one. Vannostrand scored the first knockdown with a spinning-back fist, and the second on a well-timed straight left hand.

In the opening semi-final bout of the evening, Chikadze earned a split decision victory over Aleksei Ulianov (21-4-1). Two of the judges scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Chikadze, with the third scoring it 29-28 in favor of Ulianov. The Russian falls to 0-2 in GLORY after the loss.