'Lone American' Dustin Jacoby fully expects to win the GLORY 14 'Contender' tournament in Zagreb

James Law

Road to Glory winner Dustin Jacoby faces Alex Pereira in the semifinals of the "Contender" tournament at GLORY 14 later today (Sat., March 8, 2014) from Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia. The American kickboxer spoke about being the only United States representative in the "Contender" tournament, his experience in Road to Glory and training in Holland during his current fight camp.

What separates GLORY from all other promotions is the consistent delivery of a one-night tournament on every card.

Some are eight-man tournaments and some feature the four-man variety. And more often than not, an underdog will rise to the occasion and win it. Joe Schilling defied the odds at GLORY 10 and Rico Verhoeven over came even greater odds at GLORY 11. When nights like that unfold, the narrative takes on a whole new path and contenders are born.

Having seen the product of several tournaments already, Glory has put together a precursor to what will eventually be an eight-man battle for the Glory middleweight title, with Glory 14's middleweight "Contender" tournament. The winner gets penciled in to one of the brackets for a shot at the Middleweight championship.

One of those fighters vying for that coveted spot is American kickboxer Dustin Jacoby. He will face Alex Pereira in the semi-final round and he likes his chances against the 11-1 Brazilian.

"I feel it's a really good match up," Jacoby told MMAmania, at the Doubletree Hilton in Zagreb on Thursday afternoon. Being one of the few Americans in the hotel, the No.7-ranked Glory middleweight was easy to spot and happy to speak with someone from the United States.

"First of all, I'm very excited to be a part of this tournament," he continued. "I look forward to having all of my hard work pay off on Saturday night. I know Pereira is a very tough opponent, good boxer, has a strong record, but mentally I'm ready for this fight. Physically I'm ready for this fight and I'm ready for anything and everything."

Jacoby is no stranger to this one-night tournament thing. That's how he made it onto the GLORY roster. Filling in on two-days notice little more than one year ago for injured Manuel Quezada in the "Road to Glory" tournament in Tulsa, Okla., the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter knocked out all three of his opponents to win $20,000 and a GLORY contract.

Since winning the tournament, Jacoby hasn't the same good fortune, going 1-3 in his first four fights. Let's not forget, every fighter he has faced has a sizable advantage in kickboxing experience. The losses aren't getting him down though. He is keeping a very positive frame of mind heading into the GLORY 14 "Contender" tournament.

"I've improved in every single fight, he said. "I've fought some really good guys. I've fought guys in the Top 10. I'm in the Top10 right now in Middleweight, but I'm looking to solidify that ranking after this weekend by just going in and letting all my hard work pay off."

"Coming from MMA to kickboxing, I didn't realize the change in level, how high of level the kickboxers in Holland and in Europe were," he continued. "It was a huge eye opener. I come from MMA and the styles clash and it's just a completely different sport. That's why I came over and adapted and started training in Holland and being around all of these guys to elevate my game to where theirs is at. I'm a quick learner. I'm still young and like I said I've improved in every fight that I've had in Glory. I look forward to continuing that and putting on a show for the fans."

Jacoby has been in Holland the last six weeks for this fight camp training with Nicky Hemmers at Hemmers Gym. He has been going against the best of the best there every day to improve his skill set.

"We've got guys like Karapet Karapetyan, who is on the card," he says. "Errol Zimmerman is there every day, Jamal Ben Saddik, Felip Verlinden, the list goes on and on of a lot of guys I can't fully pronounce their name," he continues laughing.

"They are very high-level guys. Every morning I'm sparring with A-class guys who are signed to GLORY and in the evenings, I'm going against B- and C-class fighters who would give professional MMA guys who I train with back home a run for their money in stand up. That's how high the level of kickboxing is in Holland."

The former mixed martial artist traveled from Holland right to Zagreb for GLORY 14. He was asked if he missed being back in the states.

"I'm not homesick. My wife just got here so I'm excited about that," Jacoby says as he points out his wife and they both smile at one another. "I've been away from everything and I'm just trying to ignore the noise and go back to the states happy."

An intriguing question to ask any tournament participant is how he plans to fight in the first fight, knowing he may have to fight another time later that same evening. Some say tournament fighters need to conserve energy and stamina, others say they don't fight any differently. The 25-year-old fighter from Illinois gave his take.

"There is a strategy involved," he stated. "It's different then just going into one fight. With that being said, I am the type of fighter that I look at the task at hand. I have Alex Pereira in front of me, and if I don't' win that fight, I don't advance through the tournament. I know that I have to fight him first and I have to beat him. Realistically, he's the only thing on my mind and then whatever happens after that, wherever the cards fall I'm ready to play them and I know that the other two guys are very good opponents and they'll be beating each other up before we fight."

Jacoby said he "never really fatigued," when he won the Road to Glory tournament, and that was an eight-man tournament where he had to fight three times in one night. Being in a four-man tournament isn't necessarily easier, but the fact that he won one with eight fighters, is a little less of a daunting task.

"I will tell you that after winning an eight-man tournament, it gives me the confidence to not only win again, but when I see it's a four-man tournament it almost makes it seem easier. I know it's not going to be, but any way you look at it, fighting twice in one night is easier than fighting three times."

If he gets past Pereira he will have to take on the winner of Jason Wilnis vs. Sahak Parparyan. A fight he feels will serve as a disadvantage to whoever makes it to the final against the winner of his bracket.

"I feel like both of those guys are really good fighters and they will be doing some damage to each other," Jacoby said. "I think that they are going to have a pretty brutal fight. Whoever wins that fight is going to really know that he has been in a fight. I think that is going to wear on him in the championship round. I think the winner of Pereira and I -- which I totally see myself being -- has a really good chance of taking the tournament because the other two are going to be going so hard at each other the first fight."

Being the only American in the tournament here in Eastern Europe has made him the torch carrier for North American fighters this time around, continuing to attempt to close the gap on the highly skilled foreign field of competition in GLORY.

He is more than willing to place some of that weight on his shoulders.

"It's very important, not just because I'm the lone American in the tournament, but just for myself, my own pride and of course, fighting with the American brand behind me and trying to elevate kickboxing in America," Jacoby said, stating his reasons. "That's my goal. I'm not out here to be an American hero or anything like that. I'm just out here to represent my country against other top-level kickboxers who are representing their country and of course, Spike TV and the new deal and kickboxing and GLORY kind of pulled me into North America. I would definitely like to win it and carry some of that pressure on my back."

The winner of the "Contender" tournament will receive a slot in the forthcoming eight-man middleweight title tournament. Jacoby can't look that far ahead right now -- his eyes aren't drifting off the task at hand, which is his semifinal match up at GLORY 14.

"I am focused on this tournament right now," he said. "I fully anticipate winning this tournament and then jumping to the top of the division. I just want to continue to get better and start racking up the wins. I'm still very green in kickboxing and new in my career and it's important for me to continue winning and climb to the top of the ladder."

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