There will only be one representative of the U.S. flag in the light heavyweight contender tournament at GLORY 18 "Return to GLORY" in Shawnee, Oklahoma on Friday night (Nov. 7, 2014).
That would be the No. 8-ranked Brian Collette.
The Virginia-based fighter's opening-round opponent, Zack Mwekessa, hails from South Africa. In the opposing bracket: Danyo Ilunga is Congolese-German and Saulo Cavalari will be waving the Brazilian flag. When Collette was asked about being the lone American, he admitted he wasn't aware of that fact.
"Honestly, I didn't really look at it," said Collette. "Now that you say it, it feels great to represent the U.S.A. and have a strong standing in kickboxing. I mean honestly where I'm from, nationality doesn't mean anything to me. I'm just going to go in there. I know I have strong opponents and I know I have to train hard and come in and deliver."
The reason Collette didn't notice he was the only American in the tournament is probably because he really has no extra time in his life under his current situation. You see, not only is Collette a full-time fighter, he is also a full-time IT technician and web designer at Croston Industries. So when the average nine-to-five worker is hitting their snooze button, Collette has already completed his morning pad work session with his boxing coach Roger Belch -- who also works with him -- showered, got dressed and is in his office ready to go.
After a full day of work he heads to his Muay Thai training at Eastern Academy of Martial Arts and from there it's on to the gym for cardio and his weight lifting regimen. Each grueling day begins with at 5:30 AM start time and ends at some point into the evening.
Not only does Collette not have any free time on his hands, he is also spending time away from his girlfriend and nine-month-old son. "It's all going to be worth it," he says. "I'm doing this all for him."
At GLORY 18, all those days and hours of preparation will be whittled down to three-minute rounds. Any mistake and his night could be over quickly, especially against the man standing in the way of him advancing on to the tournament final, the heavy-handed Mwekessa. The South African has some of the scariest knockout power in the entire promotion, as evidenced by the vicious knockout of Pat Barry in a heavyweight contest at GLORY 16 in Denver.
How will the 21-2 fighter game plan for the "Black Warrior"?
"I'm just going to stay on my toes and be moving a lot, obviously," said Collette, who made it to the finals of the "Road to GLORY" eight-man tournament in 2013. "He is not someone you want to stand in front of. So I am just going to go in there and work our game plan and stick to my coaches and everything will be alright."
Collette, 27, said he is "not worried about two fights in one night" due to his experience in the aforementioned "Road to GLORY" tournament. "I don't really think about it. I just fight the first one and the next one I think about when it comes."
When he steps into the GLORY ring on Friday night at the Grand Resort Hotel and Casino, and in front of television audiences who are watching on Spike TV, it will be the biggest amount of exposure he has ever had in his fighting career. Collette said his goal is to one day be the "Floyd 'Money' Mayweather" of kickboxing.
While Mayweather is nearly incomparable to anyone else, should Collette win the contender tournament he will be $100,000 richer on Friday night and he plans on making a big splash in Oklahoma at GLORY 18.
"That is exactly my plan, said Collette, who knocked out Warren Thompson in his last appearance at GLORY 12 in New York. "I plan to show my talent and display my skill on a national level and have everyone witness it. I think it is going to be a great show and people are going to get a kick out of it."
Collette has his son and his girlfriend in his heart and his eyes on winning the GLORY 18 tournament and fighting for the GLORY light heavyweight title, which currently belongs to Gokhan Saki. All the long hours and tumultuous days of waking before sunrise to balance training and a full-time job are part of his devotion to reach his goals. Right now, it's no rest for the weary and Collette remains poised to walk on the path of perseverance.
"That is the dedication, he said. "I barely have any time to do anything else. I look forward to the victory. That is what I'm thinking about, how I am going to feel after winning the tournament. That is what drives me, just to have the feeling of being up next to fight for the light heavyweight belt."