"The Lion" is headed to the 209.
Artem Levin, the GLORY middleweight champion, will be coming to the states to train and spar with Nick Diaz ahead of the Stockton-based fighter's UFC 183 showdown against Anderson Silva on Jan. 31, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Diaz has already been training with GLORY's No.1-ranked middleweight, Joe Schilling, in his current training camp and has worked with "Stitch em' Up" for the last few years, bringing him into several of his fight camps to add to his kickboxing and Muay Thai arsenal.
The two fighters have since become very good friends.
Levin and Schilling are fierce rivals in the ring, having put on two highly-contested battles at GLORY 10 and GLORY "Last Man Standing" and both are knotted at one win apiece with a potential trilogy fight looming. Those battles -- which both took place in tournament finals -- have forged a deep admiration between the two kickboxers.
Most recently, the GLORY champion came to the U.S. to support Schilling's Bellator MMA debut at Bellator 131. And after Schilling scored a second-round knockout over Melvin Manhoef (GIF), Levin ran up to the cage to high-five him.
That relationship has led to Schilling asking Levin to come in and join him in helping Diaz prepare for the former UFC middleweight champion.
"I want to get Nick the best kickboxers in the world to work with," Schilling told MMAmania.com. "Levin has a similar height and range and style to Silva's and I think it will be really good work for Nick. Levin is hard to hit, has that herky-jerky head movement like Silva, and also fights as confident as he does. I asked him to come out and he is going to come out a couple of times between now and Nick's fight and we will all spar together."
Levin is 84-6-1 overall and 6-1 inside of GLORY. The Russian has long been considered one of the best strikers on the planet. Bringing in "The Lion," in addition to already working with the highly-touted Schilling, could prove to be a tremendous asset for Diaz's preparation for "The Spider."
"He is looking good. I think it's going to be a good fight," said Schilling, who recently took the trip to San Francisco with Diaz to put some work in at Gilbert Melendez's gym along with Jake Shields.
"His kickboxing has gotten a lot better. Nick and Nate are high-level boxers. They just don't have a lot of good kickboxers to spar with."
Now Diaz will have the two best middleweights at his disposal before he takes on one of the best strikers in UFC history.
Schilling, a three-time WBC Muay Thai champion, is set to face Robert Thomas at GLORY 19 on Feb. 6, 2015. Should he prevail, the talk of a title fight with Levin will start up soon after.
"The fight with Levin is a fight everyone wants to see," Schilling said. "I'm a fan of Levin's. I support him. and I'm sure both of us have no problem putting on another amazing fight for the fans."