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GLORY 18 preview: Meet the light heavyweight contender tournament participants for 'Return to GLORY' in Oklahoma

GLORY returns to action on Nov. 7, 2014 with GLORY 18 at the Grand Resort Hotel Casino in Shawnee, Oklahoma, airing live on Spike TV. A lightweight title fight between Davit Kiria and Robin van Roosmalen will headline the evening, but all eyes will once again be tuning in to see who will win the one-night tournament, this time in the light heavyweight division. Let's meet the participants.

GLORY Sports International

GLORY returns to action on Fri., Nov. 7, 2014 from Shawnee, Oklahoma, at the Grand Resort Hotel Casino and live on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET. The main event will see lightweight champion Davit Kiria defend his strap against Robin van Roosmalen, the third-ever fight between the two fighters.

The last GLORY lightweight title fight was an absolute war between Kiria and Andy Ristie back at GLORY 14 in Zagreb, Croatia. In true storybook fashion, Kiria came from behind and knocked Ristie out in the final stanza to become lightweight champion. Van Roosmalen has two career wins over Kiria and last defeated the current champion in the semifinal round of the GLORY 12 lightweight tournament before succumbing to Andy Ristie in the finals.

The main event promises to be a battle, but once again all eyes will be fixated on the one-night, four man tournament. GLORY 18, the world's leading kickboxing promotion, will put on a light heavyweight contender tournament with four of the division's best ready to do battle and eventually face current GLORY light heavyweight champion, Gokhan Saki.

Among the participants are No. 1-ranked Danyo Ilunga who replaced No.6-ranked Artem Vahkitov, No. 8-ranked Brian Collette, No. 3-ranked Saulo Cavalari, and No. 11-ranked Zack Mwekessa.

The four light heavyweights have a combined knockout ratio of 80 percent coupled with a combined total of 90 knockouts. So don't expect to see a lot of decisions on Nov. 7.

Let's take a closer look at the four kickboxers vying for the contender-tournament title.

Danyo Ilunga: 56-5 (6-1 GLORY) 44 KOs
Last fight: Won via third-round TKO over Ondrej Hutnik at Gibu Fight Night in Prague, Czech Republic.
GLORY 18 matchup: Saulo Cavalari

This is the second GLORY tournament for the Remy Bonjansky protege. Back at the eight-man tournament at GLORY 9 in New York, Ilunga defeated Mourad Bouzidi and Dustin Jacoby before succumbing to Tyrone Spong in the finals.

Ilunga, 27, has really come into his own within the last two years. The loss to Spong is the lone loss in the Congolese-German fighter's last 18 fights. He has shown he can end fights with flying-knee attacks or with his fists, which suited him well over his last three fights, all knockout victories. "Dibuba" is by far the most experienced and savvy of the four tournament participants. The No. 1-ranked GLORY light heavyweight will also be highly motivated, as he was very upset at not being in the last light heavyweight tournament at GLORY 15.

Saulo Cavalari: 28-2 (2-1 GLORY) 18 KOs
Last fight: Lost via decision to Tyrone Spong in semifinal round of LHW tournament at GLORY 15
GLORY 18 matchup: Danyo Ilunga

The Brazilian standout put the division on blast back at GLORY 12 in New York when his vicious knockout over Mourad Bouzidi led to him being carted out of the ring on a stretcher. Cavalari is now ranked third in the division and has great power, quick combinations and is as tough an out as there is in the division. He comes from Curitiba, a city that produced fighting legends Anderson Silva and Wanderlei Silva. Calvalari is only 25 years old and is just scratching the surface of his fighting potential. This will be his second tournament in GLORY. Cavalari lost in the semifinal round to Tyrone Spong at GLORY 15 Istanbul back in April.

Brian Collette: 21-2 (2-1 GLORY) 18 KOs
Last fight: Won via first-round KO over Warren Thompson at GLORY 9 in New York
GLORY 18 matchup: Zack Mwekessa

Collette, 34, has a very unique story in that he is a full-time IT technician when he isn't fighting inside the GLORY ring. His first GLORY action took place in the "Road to GLORY" tournament, where he lost in the final to tournament winner Dustin Jacoby. The No. 8-ranked GLORY light heavyweight is the lone American in the GLORY 18 tournament and is a knockout threat with 18 career KOs in 21 career fights. This will be his first action on Spike TV, so you can expect Collette to try an make a statement.

Zack Mwekessa: 10-1 (1-0 GLORY) 10 KOs
Last fight: Won via first-round KO over Pat Barry at GLORY 16 in Denver
GLORY 18 matchup: Brian Collette

The masses quickly learned who Mwekessa was after his vicious KO over former UFC heavyweight Pat Barry at GLORY 16. Mwekessa, 30, possesses frightening power in both fists and can end anyone's night with one punch. The Johannesburg fighter is also an accomplished boxer with a record of 15-4. He is the former WBF International cruiserweight champion and the current ABU Africa heavyweight champion.

Mwekessa began his career in kickboxing and trained with the late Mike Bernardo, a K-1 veteran, and also served as a sparring partner for Francois Botha. Opportunities were scarce back then so he moved on to boxing. Now that GLORY has brought kickboxing back into the main stream, he has found a place to ply his trade. "The Black Warrior" will be coming fast and furious on Nov. 7 and could easily win the tournament with two knockouts.

Early predictions?

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