Photo credit: James Law/Glory Sports International

It’s been a long and rough 2017 for GLORY heavyweight contender Ismael Londt, but finally there is light at the end of the tunnel in sight.

“Mr. Pain” is fit to return on December 9 after a long injury layoff and aims to live up to his nickname in his upcoming bout with D’Angelo Marshall at GLORY Redemption in his hometown of Rotterdam.

When the Dutchman steps back in the ring, it will be 364 days since his last fight his longest injury layoff to date, all due to one misplaced shot in his fight against Jamal Ben Saddik at last year’s GLORY Collision card which took place in Oberhausen.

“Halfway in the second round, I wanted to turn up the pressure. I hit him a couple times to the body, which he was having a hard time with,” Londt tells MMA Plus, reflecting on his last bout.

“I tried a liver shot and let my hands go. In that movement, I felt a sting in my left arm, so I stopped while my body was still turning. I overstretched my arm and hit him in his crotch.

It turned out that sting wasn’t just any sting. Londt learned after the fight his left bicep was completely torn off. “Mr. Pain” fought through the pain to eventually lose a decision, but never thought about quitting.

“I knew something was wrong, but giving up is never an option. I rather die than give up at that moment. It’s not always the brightest thing to do, but it’s the fighter’s mentality. I kept hitting with the arm too, also in fear of giving up. I should have started kicking and kneeing him instead of using the arm.”

“Four days after the fight I went under the knife. At first, I thought: ‘Okay, sh*t, let’s deal with it.’ But six weeks later after my cast came off, I panicked. I never had something so severe and I felt no power in my arm at all. I thought it would never come back again. Total panic.

“But it only lasted 24 hours. I called the people around me, who calmed me down and said everything’s gonna be alright. Genetically I’m blessed with how my arm is put together and I healed up. In June I resumed training, without pressure or hurry, and now we’re here. Everything goes well.“

Ismael Londt versus Jamal Ben Saddik Photo credit: James Law/Glory Sports International

It seems the quest to find his old self will be one of the few unfamiliarities in this fight. Earlier this year, Londt returned to Mike’s Gym to prepare with his old trainer, Mike Passenier, for a fight in a familiar venue, the Ahoy arena, one minute from where he grew in the south of Rotterdam.

“While battling with my injury, I thought long and hard and I looked at myself from the outside looking in. That’s when I made the decision to return to Mike’s Gym. I always had a good connection with Mike and we had a good collaboration during my time in K-1.

“When I began training again and everything went well, Mike and I mentioned some names who would be good for a return fight. It was never really my plan to return in Ahoy, but when I found out I could return around the same date GLORY would put this event on in Rotterdam Ahoy, I became hyped up.

“We ended up with Guto Inocente, so I started training for him in my head. Not much later, Mike came to me with the official name and it wasn’t Guto’s, but D’Angelo’s. I didn’t expect it at all. I’m not the type of guy to say no, but I would have preferred another opponent.

“D’Angelo and I have a special connection. We both trained at Team Slamm and I still remember him when he was a fourteen-year-old boy riding his bicycle to the gym. At that time I already started making a name for myself, so I helped him grow from scratch and always coached and helped him on the right path. When I left, we always kept in contact and saw each other grow.

“Now this… I recently saw him at a wedding and didn’t know what to say to him. I love him like my brother. But, a fight is a fight. We’re both sportsmen, so we’re gonna be going for it. I’m glad he reached the same level I did.”

Marshall won the GLORY 41: Holland contender tournament during his last outing in May by beating Mohamed Abdallah and Anderson Silva in back-to-back fights. Just like Londt, who made his GLORY debut in April 2016 by winning a contender tournament on GLORY 29: Copenhagen.

Ismael Londt after winning the GLORY 29 heavyweight contender tournament Photo credit: James Law/Glory Sports International

But in the end, it didn’t land Londt a title shot. That left a sour taste in his mouth looking back on it.

“Did it bother me? Yes, but not enough. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken the other fights (against Hesdy Gerges and Ben Saddik) and made a point out of it. Did I drag myself into that situation? A bit.

“First up: I like fighting for Glory. But, how serious do they still take those contender tournaments if they promise a title shot without giving it afterward? I respect all fighters, but it makes you think: Do they wanna protect someone? Is there a financial plan behind it?

“If you agree to face (GLORY heavyweight champion) Rico Verhoeven after winning a contender tournament, but then say ‘Rico needs a fight with someone else first’, who then faces someone you beat in the same contender tournament you won. That’s when I thought ‘what’s this?’”

Despite the setback with a loss and long injury, Londt, currently ranked fifth in the GLORY rankings, is still in the title picture. GLORY matchmaker Cor Hemmers told MMA Plus that the winner of Londt vs. Marshall will be ‘pretty close’ to a title fight.

But Londt says he’s currently not focused on the gold: “I’m just focusing on getting as fit as possible for now. It’s a re-introduction with myself after one year, I think that’s the most important thing in this one. I’ll fight this fight and we’ll see what happens afterward. There have been no guarantees.”

“But if they offer a title shot, I’ll take it of course. It’s possible that I’m ready after this one, that’s what I’m about to find out. I’m turning 33 in July, so the time to play around is over. It’s time to be the best version of myself.”