At GLORY 39 this past Saturday, Cedric Doumbe successfully defended his welterweight title against Yoann Kongolo, Sittichai Sitsongpeenong retained his lightweight title against Dylan Salvador and Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao earned a shot at the featherweight title by winning the night’s four-man “Contender” tournament.
Now that a couple days have passed and the dust has settled from all the kickboxing action that took place inside Forest National, let’s take a deeper look at some of the key moments that went down in Brussels, Belgium over the weekend.
Cedric the Entertainer
Doumbe puts on one hell of show doesn’t he? From his pre-fight trash talk, to the two-handed shove at the weigh-ins, or his in-ring taunting throughout his five-round unanimous decision victory over Kongolo, the welterweight champion gets it. He’s there to put on a show for the fans and get people hyped for a fight. He can talk the talk and walk the walk. Kongolo was the No.1-ranked challenger entering the fight and had beaten the champion twice in his career prior to GLORY 39, but this time Doumbe would have his way with the Swiss veteran.
Four of the judges gave 50-45 scores for Doumbe, while one inexplicably scored the contest 48-47 for the champion, giving the challenger two rounds. I, along with most who saw the main event, laughed at the idea that was somehow a reality. Doumbe was faster, more accurate and in the final two rounds was just flat-out clowning Kongolo. The moment that summed up the entire fight for me was when Kongolo missed badly on a spinning-back kick and fell to the canvas. While Kongolo was returning to his feet, Doumbe had leaned back and was resting both of his arms on the top rope of the ring like he was in relaxation mode. Since before his title-winning fight against former champion, Nieky Holzken, he’s been a breath of fresh air and just what GLORY needs. Circle your calendar for the next time he fights, because it will undoubtedly be entertaining.
GLORY backstage reporter Whitney Miller asked Doumbe about a potential rematch with Murthel Groenhart, but that fight really doesn’t make any sense at the moment. Yes, Doumbe beat Groenhart back at GLORY 28, but “The Predator” just lost to Holzken at GLORY 34 so there is no way he leapfrogs Holzken. The champ mentioned Artur Kyshenko. Kyshenko isn’t currently on the GLORY roster and last fought for the promotion in 2014. The Ukrainian is currently on a 13-fight winning streak, but I don’t see that fight getting made. I point to the obvious, which is a rematch with Holzken, who just re-signed with GLORY and said he will be fighting at GLORY 41 in Den Bosch, Netherlands on May 20. Holzken told MMA Plus last week he was hoping Doumbe would win at GLORY 39 so he could fight him for the title. GLORY should make that rematch before any other title fight in the welterweight division.
Petchpanomrung had fought only once in GLORY before GLORY 39, defeating Stanislav Renita at GLORY 35, but his performance was good enough to earn a spot in the “Contender” tournament in Brussels. The Thailand native may be fairly new to GLORY, but he has held several titles in his home country in addition to winning an incredible 156 fights in his career thus far, which is insane because he is only 21 years old. With victories over former champion Serhiy Adamchuk and Alexei Ulyanov, Petchpanomrung has earned a shot at the GLORY featherweight title.
In the tournament final victory over Adamchuk, he was out boxed, but his kicking game–which was highly effective–was enough to earn a split decision victory. Petchpanomrung cruised to a unanimous decision win in the semi-final round over Ulyanov. The 21-year-old featherweight is now ranked No.3 in the division. His style is very similar to the current lightweight champion Sittichai Sitsongpeenong, using a left round kick as the main weapon in his striking arsenal. Can he defeat Robin van Roosmalen? While I will favor the former champion whenever that fight happens, after seeing the two van Roosmalen vs. Sittichai fights, a tough fight to judge that results in a split decision win for the Thai isn’t out of the question.
What can you say other than Sittichai is arguably the best lightweight kickboxer alive right now. The 25-year-old Thai fighter finished Dylan Salvador with vicious knee strikes to the body in the fourth round at GLORY 39 and has now defended his title twice in a row. He’s managed to come from Muay Thai into kickboxing and adjust to the rules and style of fighting almost flawlessly. The Thai veteran has now won 114 fights in his career and holds a 7-1 record in GLORY. His lone loss was a controversial unanimous decision loss to van Roosmalen at GLORY 25. Since that loss “Killer Kid” won his second “Contender” tournament at GLORY 28, took the lightweight strap off of Van Roosmalen at GLORY 31, and has defended the title twice. Each time he’s fought he’s looked better and better.
I’m not quite sure what GLORY does with him next. The promotion announced that there will be a lightweight “Contender” tournament at GLORY 42 in Paris on June 10, but GLORY are often unpredictable with what four fighters are placed in a tournament. No.1-ranked contender Marat Grigorian, who lost to Sittichai at GLORY 36, knocked out Anton Petrov on the GLORY Superfight Series in a one-sided route, so he could be in there. As could No.4 and No.5-ranked lightweights Josh Jauncey and Yodkhunpon, who are both fighting on the upcoming GLORY 40 card next month. Niclas Larsen is back in the fold in the division now too and he will be fighting on the GLORY 40 card as well. Then there is Salvador, who won the GLORY 36 “Contender” tournament back in December and is sitting at No.2 after the KO loss to Sittichai. And Anatoly Moiseev is currently at No.5. I’d say there is a good chance at least two of the six lightweights I mentioned will end up in that tournament. We shall see, but I’m not sure anyone is a match for Sittichai right now unless van Roosmalen moves up to lightweight again, which he’s mentioned he would do.
Is Jamal Ben Saddik the next challenger for Rico Verhoeven?
Let’s be real here, there are no real challengers for Verhoeven right now. Badr Hari is dealing with more legal issues, so that rematch is going to have to wait. Benjamin Adegbuyi is the No.1-ranked contender, but he has lost to Verhoeven twice already. Not to say that fight won’t happen again, but for right now everyone has seen that movie and knows how it ends. So yes, after what transpired at GLORY 39, Ben Saddik is unequivocally the next challenger for Verhoeven.
“The Goliath” got the ball rolling by mentioning Verhoeven in the lead up to his fight vs. Guto Inocente, which he won by unanimous decision after a three-round snoozer, and then called out the champion in his post-fight interview. It was perfect timing as Verhoeven was on commentary with Todd Grisham and “Bazooka Joe” Valtellini during the bout, which led to an in-ring stare down and a bunch of trash talk between the two. There was some good back and forth between both heavyweights with Ben Saddik mentioning how he knocked the champion out once before and Verhoeven saying Ben Saddik “isn’t even a challenge.” Verhoeven is right, Ben Saddik, who did defeat him by TKO in the It’s Showtime promotion back in 2011, likely won’t be a formidable challenge for the champion, but he does deserves the next crack at the heavyweight strap. “The Goliath” wants it. Verhoeven said “let’s do it.” GLORY should make it so. With GLORY 43 in New York City on the horizon, I say they should make it the headliner of that card, which is slated for Madison Square Garden on July 21.
Also of note: Verhoeven’s brutal honesty in his assessment of the fight between Ben Saddik and Inocente while he was on commentary was both hilarious and refreshing.
The Superfight Series took a big hit on Saturday with the cancellation of the heavyweight co-main event between Chi Lewis-Parry and Hesdy Gerges, and making matters worse–and extremely bizarre–it was surrounded by controversy due to reports that conflicted GLORY’s statement on why the fight was cancelled. Before the bout was set to take place it was announced that Lewis-Parry vs. Gerges was being moved to the headlining spot ahead of the lightweight title fight between Sittichai and Salvador. Then, when that title fight concluded, Todd Grisham broke the news that the bout between Lewis-Parry and Gerges would be cancelled due to Lewis-Parry falling ill and the statement by GLORY (saying the same thing) was released soon after.
Not long after the card ended, though, reports started circling that it was, in fact, an issue with the promotion not having any gloves that fit the large hands of “Chopper,” and not an illness that led to the fight’s cancellation. Gerges’ coach Thom Harinck and sources close to Lewis-Parry’s camp both confirmed with MMA Plus that was indeed the case. Lewis-Parry also put a post up on his Facebook page saying that he wasn’t sick. This wasn’t the first time Lewis-Parry has had an issue with gloves fitting either. Back at GLORY 33, he had a similar issue, but it was rectified before his bout vs. Anthony McDonald took place.
Following GLORY 39 at the post-fight press conference, GLORY CEO Jon Franklin was asked about the situation and he said the following: “Originally Chi was not feeling well this morning and he wasn’t going to fight and then he changed his mind and he was going to fight. And then in the back he was having some problems with his equipment and some problems with other equipment and ultimately as things got delayed he decided not to fight. So, if he’s not ready to fight we are not going to push him into the ring.”
The whole thing was just really odd from start to finish, but something smelled funny right from the start. The swapping of the co-main and main–which just seemed really weird while it was happening–was likely just GLORY buying time to get the glove situation figured out, and once they couldn’t, they said that “Chopper” had fallen ill. If Lewis-Parry was actually sick then then the fight would’ve likely been scrapped long before that time. As to why GLORY didn’t have gloves that fit Lewis-Parry at GLORY 39 or why the No.8-ranked heavyweight didn’t have a pair of his own gloves handy (the ISKA would’ve likely signed off on a personal pair after inspection), we will likely never know. But it seems pretty clear that he had not fallen ill.
Five judges = Confusion
I’m all for fighters getting assurances that they will receive a greater chance at a fair and impartial decision from the judges, but having five judges is not the answer. It has become confusing and cumbersome. When I hear the scores get read, especially with several different ones, it’s a lot to process and most times hard to discern. Full disclosure: A fighter will get their hand raised and I’ll still be figuring out the scores that were read because I had to jot all of them down to make sure I got them all correct. Tim Hughes told me himself that it can get confusing for him to read some of the scores. It’s just too much. And what about this? If one fighter has four out of the five score cards in their favor it’s called a split decision. Well, sorry, but that is not a split decision. That is an “Almost unanimous decision.” Not only is that hard to make sense of, but if you haven’t seen the fight and are reading results, you’d be led to believe that it was a close fight when it really wasn’t. Thankfully, five judges will never become a thing in the U.S. Unfortunately it seems like it’s there to stay in Europe.