On, Saturday 16th April 2016, the main card of GLORY 29 in Copenhagen, Denmark delivered: a hard hitting 4-man heavyweight tournament, a superb performance by Serhiy Adamchuk and one of the best ever kickboxing fights under GLORY rules, Nieky Holzken vs Yoann Kongolo – despite all five fights being decided by the judges.

So, let us review all of the main card fights from GLORY 29:

Heavyweight Tournament Semi Finals:

Jahfarr Wilnis (Netherlands) vs Kirill Kornilov (Russia)

Of all four heavyweights in action tonight, the only athletic looking one was Kornilov but ‘never judge a book by its cover’ because Wilnis is a force to be reckoned with (and he doesn’t look very athletic in comparison to the physique of GLORY heavyweight champion, Rico Verhoeven).

Wilnis was the favourite against the Russian and one of the two tournament favourites (along with Ismael Londt) but by no means did the Dutchman steam roll past the lesser experienced, Kornilov.

Wilnis was relentless with his forward pressure and had Kornilov fighting on the backfoot for the majority of the fight. Considering this was only his 9th fight, Kornilov did very well under consistent pressure, displaying very good boxing and the repeated delivery of knees to Wilnis’s body when the Dutchman would close down the distance between them.

Wilnis won by unanimous decision and progressed to the final but Kornilov who, was a replacement for the injured Xavier Vigney, has an interesting future ahead of him from this performance. Vigney had won the heavyweight contender tournament last year at GLORY 21 and a match-up between Kornilov and Vigney in the near future would certainly make a good fight for the heavyweight divison.

Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva (Brazil) vs Ismael Londt (Netherlands)

A very good performance by Silva (he did much better than I had anticipated) who, was giving Londt a reasonably competitive fight, up until the third round when an overhand from the Frenchman connected with Silva’s head and sent ‘Braddock’ crashing down to the canvas.

However, Silva was able to recover and see off the fight to the end. Had ‘Braddock’ executed some of his more skillful kicking in his attacks then he would’ve been able to give Londt an even tougher GLORY debut.

As for Londt, he showed why he is regarded as such a troublesome, powerful and threatening heavyweight. Not only does Londt possess immense natural power but he has very good technical kickboxing skills which, he demonstrated despite the obvious concerns about his non-athletic physical appearance which, in my opinion is a bit harsh but understandable.

Londt won by unanimous decison and qualified for the tournament final to face Wilnis.

Co Headline Event:

Serhiy Adamchuk (Ukraine) vs Mohammed El-Mir (Denmark)

The GLORY featherweight champion, Adamchuk, was a last minute replacement for El-Mir at lightweight so, it was not a featherweight title defence.

El-Mir has over 113 victories to his name and will give anyone a tough time in the ring. The Dane would continually press forward with his Thai influenced style of fighting, even dumping Adamchuk to the canvas which, doesn’t score under GLORY rules.

Nevertheless, this was a very good fight between two world class fighters. Adamchuk’s movement under high pressure from such a strong opponent was fascinating to watch and should be highly appreciated by all kickboxing enthusiasts and fight fans. You can certainly learn a lot from studying Adamchuck’s fights and it would be fair to say that he is a fine example of how modern kickboxing has evolved from a technically smart perspective.

Adamchuk’s ring craft and technical kickboxing was absolutely awesome on the night in securing the decision win over El-Mir.

Heavyweight Tournament Final:

Jafharr Wilnis (Netherlands) vs Ismael Londt (Netherlands)

The key difference between these two Dutch heavyweights was that Londt had the greater skill set especially in the kicking department (with a variety of low kicks from different angles and several jumping knees). However, Wilnis showed that having a tight defence can benefit even a lower skilled fighter to deal with anyone before him.

Londt had started the fight better than Wilnis. However, with 30 seconds of the second round remaining, there was a dramatic resurgence by Wilnis who, attacked Londt with a barrage of unanswered punches. Londt had been looking comfortably ahead until this point and was suddenly in trouble but managed to survive the onslaught without receiving a count.

Both fighters were very active throughout the final which, for the most part, was at a reasonably high tempo for two sizeable heavyweights. By the third round, both would noticeably tired from the pace, compounded by the adverse effects of having previously fought three full rounds in the semi finals earlier.

Londt looked to have tired more than Wilnis in the third round but both fighters continued to fire off on each other and certainly provided a very entertaining fight for a weight class that is going through a period of change since the likes of Daniel Ghita were once on the scene.

Londt won by split decision setting up a future date to be confirmed against the champion, Rico Verhoeven. This was the second consecutive tournament that Wilnis was a runner-up (and by decision) but the latter was a good sportsman in defeat despite the obvious disappointment on his face.

Headline Event:

Nieky Holzken (Netherlands) vs Yoann Kongolo (Sweden)

This was an incredible fight to end what was overall, a very good night of GLORY kickboxing action at GLORY 29.

Its widely acknowledged that the first, second and fifth rounds were in favour of Holzken but the third and fourth rounds were when the champion was threatened the most by Kongolo who, was able to put the champion under pressure throughout the fight in a very impressive manner.

One of the biggest talking points of the fight was in the third round – a spinning back kick by Kongolo, landed on the body of Holzken and resulted in the champion ending up on his backside but sliding himself backwards (and using his hands in a reverse butterfly motion as he landed) to make it appear he was more off balance beforehand than anything else – this was not deemed a knock down by the referee. Holzken remained poker faced and there was nothing visible to suggest that the champion was hurt, although Holzken’s volume of output did decrease afterwards to finish the third round.

The natural advantage that Holzken had over Kongolo was being the taller of the two. Both showed that they have an excellent understanding of distance but Holzken being taller and having longer limbs allowed him to better utilize straight kicks to create distance between them and knees against Kongolo’s body when the challenger would close the distance. One thing Holzken didn’t use as much as usual were his trademark left hooks to the liver but instead, he did use a significant number of knees to attack Kongolo with.

Although this was the fifth decision win in a row on the main card at GLORY 29, I can not emphasise enough that both fighters bought the best out of each other and that this fight will be remembered in years to come as one of the best ever fights under the GLORY kickboxing promotion.

Holzken successfully defended the GLORY welterweight title by decision on his 100th career fight and Kongolo justified why the GLORY matchmakers had decided he should have a title shot without entering and winning a 4-man welterweight tournament which, had caused a bit of a stir when the fight was initially announced.

On a very positive note, this has to be one of the best nights ever for GLORY Kickboxing since, ‘The Last Man Standing’, 8-man Middleweight Tournament at GLORY 17 (held in Los Angeles back in 2014) which, despite failing as a PPV event on US TV, was the most epic event in GLORY’s history. GLORY 29 had everything any fight fan could ask for excluding, spectacular knockouts which, the ‘The Last Man Standing’ tournament had (especially that KO of Simon Marcus by Joe Schilling). However, the overall quality of fights at GLORY 29 were of a very high standard and something that past GLORY events (since GLORY 17) have struggled to deliver on a consistent basis.

GLORY are certainly building good momentum now as we return to Los Angeles for GLORY 30 which, will feature a wealth of US (based) kickboxing talent, and hopefully rebuild the brand’s image in The States, especially with BELLATOR Kickboxing now emerging as serious rival in the USA.

Further Reading:

A must read for any fight fan especially for technical kickboxing purists is, Jack Slack’s most recent in-depth technical analysis of Holzken vs Kongolo.

Also, GLORY 29 – Copenhagen: SuperFight Series Roundup