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Joe Schilling in no hurry to face Artem Levin, likes GLORY match up against Filip Verlinden

Kickboxing fans are champing at the bit for Schilling to take on Levin for the GLORY middleweight title, but with a Bellator 136 fight in April and a middleweight contender tournament at GLORY 20 in Dubai also taking place that month, it's looking like Levin will instead face the winner of the tourney, leaving Schilling vs. Verlinden as a potential match up. One that "Stitch 'em Up" is open to.

Joe Schilling lands a right hand on Robert Thomas at GLORY 19
Joe Schilling lands a right hand on Robert Thomas at GLORY 19
GLORY Sports International

A third fight between GLORY middleweight champion Artem Levin and Joe Schilling is one that the kickboxing world has been pining for ever since Levin defeated "Stitch ‘em Up" in the final of GLORY: "Last Man Standing" in June of last year. Schilling, of course, defeated "The Lion" in the GLORY 10 tournament final back in September 2013, so the rivals are knotted at one win apiece.

Kickboxing fans want and need to see these two rivals settle their score.

At GLORY 19, Schilling returned to action and dominated Robert Thomas over three rounds to win by unanimous decision in the co-main event of the evening. The California-based fighter improved to 5-2 in GLORY and 18-7 overall. Next up for the two-sport competitor is a fight against Rafael Carvalho at Bellator 136 on April 10, 2015.

As for when the much-anticipated third fight against Levin happens, that remains to be seen and some other fights will probably have to take place before the two rivals square off for the middleweight title.

While "Stitch ‘em Up" is the No. 1-ranked middleweight in GLORY, the title picture is a bit muddled and here's why: At GLORY 20 in Dubai, which takes place on April 3, 2015, a four-man middleweight contender tournament has been scheduled between Jason Wilnis, Simon Marcus, Wayne Barrett, and Alex Pereira, who are ranked three through six, respectively.

Conspicuously absent from the tournament are the top two fighters in the division: Schilling and the No. 2-ranked middleweight, Filip Verlinden. The Dutch veteran last fought at GLORY: "Last Man Standing," defeating Melvin Manhoef in the quarterfinals before losing to Levin in the semifinal round.

GLORY head of talent operations/matchmaker Cor Hemmers was asked at the GLORY 19 post-fight press conference about the possibility of a Schilling vs. Verlinden match up being made.

"Could be," Hemmers told MMAmania.com. "Joe is first fighting in Bellator and so we have to see when he is available, and then we will make a call to him and make a match up. He wants to go for the title. Mr. Levin also wants to defend his title. So, we have to look at the dates, otherwise Levin is fighting a contender because we have the contender tournament coming up at GLORY 20 in Dubai."

Schilling revealed to MMAmania.com at the post-fight presser that he is "really in no hurry to fight Artem," as he has other things he wants to accomplish first, not just fighting the GLORY middleweight champion. Not that he is ducking Levin, by any means, but based on what he was saying, the fight will happen when the time is right.

However, a fight against "The Belgian Bull" is something that very much has his interest.

"I like the match up with Verlinden," Schilling told MMAmania.com. "I think that is a good fight. I think that Filip and I are the only people that have had competitive fights with Artem. My goal this year is to go undefeated, stay busy, put on exciting fights and be the best I can be. If I do that, I will run into Artem eventually. I have a lot of respect for Artem. I think we both have mutual respect for each other and we are on the path to fight eventually."

Since Artem is most likely going to take on the winner of the GLORY 20 middleweight tournament, and he and Verlinden aren't in it, why not have a fight between the top-two ranked fighters in the middleweight division?

"I have no problem fighting Filip. I think he is a great fighter and we would put on a great fight for the fans," Schilling said. "I think it would be a good match up, but I'm not the matchmaker. I don't get to say who I fight. I fight who I'm told, when I'm told, and where I'm told to do it.

"It's up to this man sitting next to me (Hemmers) and I'm open to all fights. I think that is a great fight. I think Filip is a good guy. His fight with Artem at 'Last Man Standing' was really competitive. The contender tournament doesn't have the number one and the number-two ranked guy in it. Maybe the number one and the number-two ranked guy should fight separately on a different show. I'm open to that."

Verlinden has fought at heavyweight and light heavyweight in addition to his recent move down to middleweight. "The Belgian Bull" is 5-4 in GLORY, 2-1 as a middleweight and 44-12-1 overall. Verlinden was in Hampton, Virginia to corner Errol Zimmerman for his title fight against Rico Verhoeven. The No. 2-ranked GLORY middleweight confirmed his interest in fighting Schilling to MMAmania.com in Hampton, and has also taken to Twitter recently to reaffirm he likes the match up, saying "Let's do this."

With GLORY 20 in Dubai scheduled for April 3, 2015, the next GLORY event should be announced before too long and perhaps Levin vs. the GLORY 20 winner will be scheduled for that one. In any event, it's looking more and more like Schilling vs. Levin wouldn't happen until the end of the year, if it ever does.

With interest between both parties, Schilling vs. Verlinden could be made before too long and it would be an excellent match up between two of the division's best.

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