GLORY kickboxing heads back to Europe this afternoon (Nov. 6, 2015) after two straight cards in the U.S. with GLORY 25 from The Palalper in Monza, Italy.
The fight card will be headlined by a lightweight title fight between current champion, Robin van Roosmalen (34-6) and No. 1-ranked contender Sittichai Sitsongpeenong (103-28-5).
In his last fight, van Roosmalen defended his belt for the first time in a unanimous decision win over Andy Ristie at GLORY 20. "Poker face" won the belt by defeating Davit Kiria by split decision at GLORY 18 last November. Sitsongpeenong defeated both Kiria and Josh Jauncey in the GLORY 22 "Contender" tournament to earn the title shot against van Roosmalen.
The co-main will see kickboxing legend Giorgio Petrosyan (81-2-1) return to GLORY action against rising Canadian, Josh Jauncey (23-5). "The Doctor's" last fight in GLORY was a knockout loss to Andy Ristie. After some time away from the sport, Petrosyan returned to action earlier this year and won two fights on the Italian regional scene. Jauncey finished Coulibaly Djime in the opening round of the GLORY 22 tournament before succumbing by decision to Sitsongpeenong in the final.
There will also be a one night, four-man "Contender" tournament in the welterweight division. The semifinal pairings are Murthel Groenhart (56-18-3) vs. Nicola Gallo (19-7) and Yoann Kongolo (60-5) vs. Karim Ghajji (94-11-1).
Let's take a closer look at the matchups:
Robin van Roosmalen (34-6, 10-2 GLORY) vs. Sittichai Sitsongpeenong (103-28-5, 2-0 GLORY)
I love this fight, and I feel strongly we will have a new lightweight champion when it is over. Van Roosmalen is as good as they come and we've seen the Dutch veteran battle and deliver great performances many times, especially vs. Ristie and Kiria, but Sittichai is a machine, both furious and technical with thunderous capabilities. The dude just smoked the former champion, Kiria inside two rounds at GLORY 22 and made it look easy. That was the same night he let Josh Jauncey -- one of the division's youngest and best fighters -- know that it's just not his time yet. I honestly think the Thailand native finishes "RvR" worse than Ristie did at GLORY 12 two years ago.
Prediction: Sitsongpeenong TKO RD 2
Giorgio Petrosyan vs. (81-2-1, 5-1 GLORY) vs. Josh Jauncey (23-5, 4-1 GLORY)
This fight really does have the "is this the passing of the torch?" narrative. The Armenian-Italian legend holds quite a bit of experience and savvy over the young Canadian, but I love Jauncey's confidence and moxie on top of his skill set. That being said, I think it could be a similar fight like when Jauncey fought Sittichai, a strong showing in a decision loss. Jauncey will fight great, but Petrosyan fights a classic fight despite showing signs his skills are diminishing. I'll say Petrosyan by a split decision. His ring smarts along with the crowd behind him and he gets it done. Jauncey's stock only rises.
Prediction: Petrosyan by split decision
Tournament semifinal: Murthel Groenhart (56-18-3, 2-3 GLORY) vs. Nicolas Gallo (19-7-1, 0-1 GLORY)
If there is to be a fight that ends inside the distance in this tournament, this is it. Groenhart is a much better fighter than the Italian and should cruise to a victory, despite his recent inconsistencies. The Dutch fighter known as "The Predator" is filling in for the injured Chad Sugden, who he lost to at GLORY 23.
Prediction: Groenhart by unanimous decision
Tournament semifinal: Karim Ghajji (94-11-1, 0-3 GLORY) vs. Yoann Kongolo (60-5, 1-0 GLORY)
Don't let the poor record in GLORY competition fool you, the Frenchman had to face current champion Nieky Holzken, Joseph Valtellini and Alexandr Stetcurenko, yet he fought valiantly in all three of those bouts and will proved to be a tough out in this tournament as well. Kongolo is a tough fighter too and the No. 4-ranked welterweight from Switzerland will occasionally bring some unorthodox kicking attacks into the mix. The two make for what could be a very explosive contest, but in the end I'll side with Ghajji to advance to the final.
Prediction: Ghajji by unanimous decision
Tournament final: This could make for a fun fight too, but I think Ghajji is taking the Ramon Dekkers memorial trophy home with him. I expect a competitive bout, but Groenhart will fade late and Ghajji will do enough to convince the judges.
Prediction: Ghajji by unanimous decision.