The finals of GLORY's 70 kilogram tournament went down in Rome yesterday (Sat., Nov. 3, 2012) with a field bursting with talent, with top-tier veterans and prospects duking it out for $300,000 and the right to call themselves the best in the world.
When the dust settled, there was no question who that man was.
In the opening bout of the tournament, America's Ky Hollenbeck looked to upset the two-time K-1 MAX champion and undisputed number-one pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, Giorgio Petrosyan. Before the fight, Hollenbeck expressed confidence that his high-octane, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style would overwhelm the technical wizardry of Petrosyan.
Not so much.
It wasn't long before the enormous gap between Petrosyan and, well, the rest of the world became apparent. As Hollenbeck tried to get his offense going, Petrosyan buckled him with a beautiful counter right hook, forcing a count. While Hollenbeck got to his feet, it was the Petrosyan show up until a misstep injured Hollenbeck's knee in the second, sending "The Doctor" through to the semis.
On the same side of the bracket, rising Karate stylist Davit Kiria looked to build on his surprising upset of Kem Sitsongpeenong in the Final 16 when he took on the most favored non-Petrosyan member of the tournament, Shemsi Beqiri. Impressively, the young Semmy Schilt understudy's rapid, relentless attack paid dividends, especially his extremely quick lead leg to the body. While Beqiri started to put his punches together as the fight progressed, Kiria had built up enough of a lead to take the decision and meet Petrosyan in the next round.
On the other side, England's Tim Thomas failed to live up to his pre-fight smack talk, getting battered by heavy-hitting Robin van Roosmalen en route to a second-round stoppage loss. The lanky Thomas initially had some success keeping the shorter van Roosmalen at bay, he simply couldn't handle his power once the latter made his way inside. As soon as the bell rang for the second round, van Roosmalen swarmed him, dropping him twice and pouring on the heat until the referee stepped in.
Arguably the most impressive effort of the quarters, however, was that of Sanny Dahlbeck, who stunned late-notice replacement Yoshihiro Sato with an awkward, effective style that left the Japanese veteran flabbergasted. Dahlbeck's left straight, which had been landing all day, hit the sweet spot in the second round, dropping the notoriously-sturdy Sato and eventually leading to a finish after a hard knee to the body.
As impressive as Kiria looked against Beqiri, he was as helpless as all the rest against Petrosyan, as the latter's brilliant defense kept him out of harm's way as he steadily battered his Georgian foe from range with long punches and knees. Kiria did everything he could to make it a fight, even firing off a Peter Graham-esque Rolling Thunder kick, but seemed completely unable to touch "The Doctor," who picked up a sweep on the card on his way to the finals.
In the early going of the other semi-final, Dahlbeck looked on his way to another impressive victory, using a lead-leg teep to great effect on the stocky van Roosmalen; throughout the first round, the latter had only one good flurry.
It was a REALLY good one, though, dropping Dahlbeck hard in the closing seconds. The second round was an almost eerily-similar repeat, with Dahlbeck's one-twos doing good work at range before a last-second thumping put him on his seat once more. A vicious body shot ended things in the third round, ending Dahlbeck's impressive run and putting van Roosmalen on a collision course with Petrosyan.
Unfortunately, despite his power, van Roosmalen simply couldn't penetrate the Armenian-Italian's shell, eating dozens of leg kicks, knees to the body, and straight shots as his heavy punches fell short. While he gave a spirited effort and took the third round on a couple of judges' cards, he never managed to buckle or even faze Petrosyan, who picked up the decision win and a cool 300 grand for his efforts.
Honestly, at this point, Giorgio Petrosyan isn't just the greatest kickboxer on the planet; he's the greatest combat athlete, period. In over seventy fights in a sport, he has one loss where your average legend has about fifteen. He's consistently and with no trouble owned the best the sport has to offer.
And he's freaking 26. That's frickin' scary.
For full results and play-by-play of the event click here.