When the GLORY middleweight division gets discussed, there are two names that are always a constant: the GLORY middleweight champion, Artem Levin, and Joe Schilling.
Levin will be defending his title at GLORY 21 against the winner of the GLORY 20 middleweight tournament featuring Simon Marcus, Wayne Barrett, Jason Wilnis, and Alex Pereira. Schilling just fought Robert Thomas at GLORY 19, and will be fighting Rafael Carvalho next at Bellator 136 on April 10, 2015.
But there is one middleweight who was left out of the tournament and he is growing impatient. That would be the No. 2-ranked Filip Verlinden.
The most recent GLORY appearance for the "Belgian Bull" was at "Last Man Standing" in June of last year where he defeated Melvin Manhoef in the opening round, before losing a hard-fought battle with Levin in the semifinals.
It's safe to say that Verlinden feels left out of the loop.
"I do feel overlooked," Verlinden recently told MMAmania.com, after completing an afternoon training session. "I am the No. 2. They didn't give me a fight after Last Man Standing. Almost every middleweight had a fight after Last Man Standing. Wayne Barrett fought Wilnis and got his ass kicked and he gets in the tournament. Then Wilnis is also in the tournament because he won against Barrett. And Schilling had his fight against Robert Thomas. So everybody has fought in the top-ranked division, only me, I haven't had a fight."
Verlinden, 30, has been keeping up with his training and watching his weight since he last fought. He is 2-1 as a middleweight, but has fought at light heavyweight and at heavyweight prior to dropping down. A consummate professional, Verlinden knows the game, and he is fully aware he can get the call at any moment if someone falls to injury. So he plans to always be ready.
"I'm about 93 kilos," he said (7Kg over the limit). "If I have a fight in a few weeks, I can make weight no problem. I am just going to be prepared. I have to keep things like that in mind so I have to be prepared that I can have a last-minute call to fight. So this is why I keep in fighting shape and keep ready. You never know, right?"
The talk of Verlinden taking on Joe Schilling has been brought up as recently as the GLORY 19 post-fight press conference. With Levin facing the winner of the GLORY 20 tournament, it appears to be the most logical fight to make in the division. Schilling said he would be down for it, and it is a fight that definitely interests the Belgium native.
"It would be a great fight," Verlinden said. "As you said, we are not in the tournament and we are the ranked one and two, so we should be the first chance to fight for the title. Because that is normal for rankings. I think it is the most logical fight. Joe is up for it and I am up for it. I think it would be a great fight. I think Joe is busy with Bellator for his next fight. Afterwards, let's make it happen."
Where does he think his advantages lie against the No. 1-ranked Schilling?
"Maybe my experience, my power," Verlinden said. "I haven't really thought about it fighting-wise yet. I know it would be a good match up, but I haven't really thought about how I would fight him. But, I think Schilling is a guy that always puts on great fights because he comes to fight and can make a war out of it. I think if I play my game I can beat him and we can have a great and exciting fight. I think our styles match for an exciting fight. That's what I think."
As far as Levin goes, Verlinden isn't saying he deserves the shot against the champion over anyone else, but he wants to remind everyone that he "had a competitive fight with him," and he wants an opportunity to fight for the right to face the champion again.
"I don't think I deserve an immediate shot at Levin, but I think I deserve a shot at the No. 1-ranked to earn a shot at the title," said the 43-12-1 fighter. "I don't want to step or go to the front of the line, but I think I deserve a shot to fight a higher-ranked fighter. The only higher ranked are Artem and Joe. So that is the most logical I think.
"If you have the ambition to be a champion then you have to fight the guys who are higher ranked than you are. This is why I really want to fight Schilling and that is the most logical fight. For Schilling it's the same. He fought Artem two times already. This would be the third time now, but if there is a fight outside of Artem, than I am the most logical because I am the number two beneath him. I think that will always be good."
For now, Verlinden will continue to train and stay in fighting shape as he champs at the bit to get back into the GLORY ring.
"I hope they can put me in somewhere," he said. "They didn't put me in the tournament. They didn't put me in a reserve fight. Maybe that is also a possibility. Joe fought Thomas and I could fight another guy and afterwards fight Joe. It would be a good thing if they give me a fight. I feel overlooked and I don't deserve it because I put on a lot of fights for GLORY. I always try to put on exciting fights. I think I deserve my shot as the number two. I gained my points and I didn't get them for free."