GLORY kickboxing returns to Europe for its second straight fight card on Friday (Dec. 4, 2015) with GLORY 26, live from RAI Amsterdam in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The fight card will be headlined by a pair of title fights in the heavyweight and welterweight divisions.
In the main event, the GLORY heavyweight champion, Rico Verhoeven (46-10), will defend his title against No. 1-ranked contender, Benjamin Adegbuyi (25-3) in a rematch from GLORY 22, where Verhoeven dominated en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Adegbuyi earned a second chance at Verhoeven by winning the GLORY 24 "Contender" tournament in October. "Mr. Gentleman" defeated Mladen Brestovac by technical knockout in the first bout and squeaked past Jahfarr Wilnis by split decision in the final to win the Ramon Dekkers memorial trophy and get another crack at GLORY gold.
In the co-main event, GLORY welterweight champion, Nieky Holzken (87-11 1NC), will defend the welterweight title against the No. 1-ranked welterweight Murthel Groenhart (58-19-3). This fight is a rematch from United Glory in 2010, where "The Natural" defeated Groenhart by decision after the bout went into an extension round.
Groenhart earned the shot at the title by winning the "Contender" tournament at GLORY 25. "The Predator" defeated Nicola Gallo by technical knockout and Karim Ghajji by unanimous decision to win the Ramon Dekkers memorial trophy and a date with Holzken.
There will also be a one-night, four-man "Contender" tournament at GLORY 26. This one will be taking place in the featherweight division, with the winner getting a shot at facing current featherweight champion, Serhiy Adamchuk at a later date. The semifinal matchups are Mosab Amrani (53-10-4) vs. Chibin Lim (69-17) and Shane Oblonsky (10-4) vs. Maykol Yurk (7-3).
Let's take a closer look at the matchups:
Rico Verhoeven (46-10, 9-1 GLORY) vs. Benjamin Adegbuyi (22-3, 5-1 GLORY)
Adegbuyi had a great first round against the champion in their first encounter at GLORY 22 this past June. But, from the second round on, it was all Verhoeven. The champion was just too technical and fluent a striker for Adegbuyi to keep up. Fatigue also played a factor as well, with Adegbuyi fading in the later rounds. "Mr. Gentleman" is still a formidable opponent. He packs a hell of a punch and has a great jab. He went through Mladen Brestovac and Jahfarr Wilnis at GLORY 24 to win the "Contender" tournament and earn a rematch with Verhoeven. In the final, he dug deep to win a spit decision. That can only help against the heavyweight champion, but in the end Verhoeven should win another convincing decision.
Prediction: Verhoeven by unanimous decision
Nieky Holzken (87-11 1NC, 9-0) vs. Murthel Groenhart (58-19-3, 4-3 GLORY)
Holzken has won eight in a row and is now back in the swing of things after missing almost all of 2014 with a shoulder injury. When he is on his "A" game, it's Dutch kickboxing at its finest: aggressive, accurate and powerful. "The Natural" has finished six of his nine opponents in GLORY competition. He has devastating hooks as well as body punches and puts together crisp and well-timed combinations. Groenhart is a Dutch kickboxer as well and has faced Holzken before in a fight in 2010, which he lost in an extension round. Groenhart has excellent power in his punches and great jumping knee attacks. Lately he has been inconsistent and has started to fade later on in his fights. He did so in the GLORY 25 final, but held on to defeat Karim Ghajji and earn the title shot vs. Holzken. Groenhart will be game early on, but Holzken will prove to be too much for him and finish him off later in the fight as he begins to fade.
Prediction: Holzken by KO RD 3
Shane Oblonsky (10-4, 2-1 GLORY) vs. Maykol Yurk (7-3, 0-0 GLORY)
At six feet tall, the American holds an advantage over most in the featherweight division. He isn't ultra fast, and his punches are often wide and looping, but he has a lot of power and good knees from the clinch. Also, his lead leg can at times be susceptible to low kicks. That being said, he should have no trouble advancing to the tournament final over Yurk. The Brazilian's overall game is very unrefined, he doesn't possess a lot and he often gets out muscled in the clinch. That doesn't bode well for him against the No. 3-ranked GLORY featherweight.
Prediction: Oblonsky by TKO RD 2
Mosab Amrani (53-10-4, 3-2 GLORY) vs. Chibin Lim (69-17, 0-1 GLORY
This is the first time these two featherweights will meet in GLORY, but it is a rubber match. Lim won a decision in It's Showtime back in 2011, in a highly-competitive and exciting bout that went to an extension round. Amrani won the rematch by KO in Qabala Fight Series in 2014. Both fighters will come forward and attack and both can fight from orthodox or southpaw stances. Amrani likes to attack the body and has ended several fights that way. Lim isn't too flashy, but he's solid everywhere and a former K-1 Korean champion. This could end up being the best and most exciting fight of the tournament. I'll side with the "Jaguar," in a close battle.
Prediction: Amrani by unanimous decision
Tournament final: Amrani vs. Oblonsky
I think Oblonsky will fight Amrani tough, but I think it will end up being a similar fight to when he faced Gabriel Varga in the GLORY 17 final. Amrani will be just a little too quick for him and will land inside on him despite his reach advantage and counter his looping punches. Oblonsky will get some offense in before all is said and done, but in the end the Moroccan-Dutch veteran gets it done to win the tournament.
Prediction: Amrani by unanimous decision
For much more on GLORY 26 click here.