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GLORY 20 Dubai post-fight reactions with Stets, Walsh, Coffeen and O'Regan

At GLORY 20, Robin van Roosmalen defended his lightweight title against Andy Ristie, Gabriel Varga defeated Mosab Amrani to win the first GLORY featherweight title, and Simon Marcus won the middleweight tournament. Michael Stets and a guest panel of kickboxing experts give their post-fight reactions and also, we announce the GLORY 20 contest winner.

James Law/GLORY Sports International

GLORY 20 took place this past weekend in Dubai (full results here). So, with two title fights and a middleweight-contender tournament in the books there is plenty of kickboxing to discuss. Joining Michael Stets to break down what took place will be Dave Walsh from, along with John Joe O'Regan and Fraser Coffeen from Bloody Elbow. Together they are known as The Four Horsemen of Kickboxing. Let's hear what they have to say. GLORY 20 Contest Winner: "Steady2Wheels"

Congrats for predicting a Simon Marcus tournament victory by unanimous decision. Marcus won by split decision, but that bold prediction is close enough for us. Congrats on winning a GLORY Leone signature glove signed by all the tournament fighters. Thank you to all the Mania readers who submitted predictions for the contest.

Robin van Roosmalen defeats Andy Ristie to retain lightweight title

Dave Walsh (Liverkick):

Man, what a fight, right? I love watching these guys fight and was really impressed by Robin here. I feel that Robin took it personally that everyone was picking Ristie, but history is a hard thing to overlook. I predicted a while ago that until Petrosyan returned that the title would be a hot potato, but I'm glad that the uber-marketable, exciting RvR walked away retaining the belt.

Fraser Coffeen (Bloody Elbow):

I said in my preview that as time passed the fifth round of Ristie vs.Kiria would be an outlier in Ristie's career. I was wrong. Dave will back me on this, but the guy has always been both super exciting and super inconsistent. He'll have great showings, but follow them up with something weird. Starting at Glory 12, I thought that phase of his career was behind him - that he had finally found the stability to dominate. But the Kiria fight is not an anomaly, it's just a part of Ristie, as is this one. I hear he may have been injured, and I get that, but still, I feel like this is who Andy Ristie is. He could win the belt at any time, he could lose at any time. Will be very interesting to see where things go from here, but van Roosmalen vs.Petrosyan II can not possibly come soon enough.

John Joe O'Regan (Bloody Elbow):

The laptop I am writing this on is generally super-fast at everything from video processing to movie downloads, yet occasionally will freeze, slow down or refuse to load for no good reason that I can discern. "The Machine" Andy Ristie is the same. Perhaps their processors were made by the same company.

Ristie has since posted about having some injuries late in his training camp. He says he sustained bone bruises in his final sparring session. But that doesn't explain how again he was fading out at the end of the third round and looking faded going into the championship frames. Also everybody fights injured and it is highly unlikely that Van Roosmalen didn't have some bumps and bruises going into the fight either.

It was not a case of Ristie losing the fight though, it was a case of Van Roosmalen winning it. From the second round onwards he got his head movement going, got his penetration right, made Ristie miss and then made him pay. Van Roosmalen's gameplan was pretty much perfect; Ristie repeatedly found himself swinging at air and then eating a big left hook or overhand right.

Two knockdowns in the fourth round says it all; Ristie would probably have been stopped via a third knockdown had not the round ended and bought him a minute's rest. This is such a big win for Van Roosmalen, professionally and psychologically. He is one of the hardest working fighters in the game and deserves that belt around his waist.

Ristie now goes back to climbing the ladder. Does he continue to terrorize the Top Ten? Probably. Does he come back for another title shot, this time successful? Who knows. His training arrangements are frankly chaotic and have been since he left Lucien Carbin. "Team Machine" is a rented room in a gym, into which he brings coaches and sparring partners on an ad hoc basis. He needs to address that.

Giorgio Petrosyan is apparently returning to GLORY around the Fall, provided his hands do not once again crumble to dust during this months' Enrikho Kehl fight. That is Van Roosmalen's only other loss in GLORY so seems an obvious fight, though it may be that GLORY opts to make a Petrosyan-Ristie rematch instead.

Michael Stets:

I was convinced that Ristie would mow down RvR based on the recent tear he's been on and due to the dismantling that took place at GLORY 12 in New York. Boy, was I wrong. Ristie looked great early and then just evaporated. RvR was able to move into range easier and easier and then began picking Ristie apart. I'm still shocked he beat the count in the fourth. Ristie mentioned his arm was injured prior to the fight, but if we are going based on what we saw, he faded and chose to fight in a phone booth, which paved the path to RvR's victory.

I suspect a lightweight tournament contender will be next (I'm hoping anyway) to decide who RvR will face next. I know Dave, Fraser and John are clamoring for Petrosyan, but I don't think that happens right away, or he is part of said contender tournament. As for Ristie, he will never stray too far from the title picture. But, it seems he needs to address his inconsistencies, because he is incredibly talented. With one win a piece, RvR and Ristie are destined for a rubber match.

Gabriel Varga defeats Mosab Amrani by unanimous decision to win first GLORY featherweight title:

Dave Walsh:

This was a pretty good fight, but Amrani clearly wasn't himself (he claimed that he broke his hand about seven weeks ago) and gassed out quicker than we've ever seen him do before. Varga is a talented, smart guy and I respect that, but he's not the most exciting guy in the world, which means he'll be tough to market. That might sound superfluous to you, but this is a business.

Fraser Coffeen:

Like the fight, though it never quite became the barn burner I was hoping for. I disagree with Dave that Amrani seemed off - he has not been at his best for awhile now. Even his win over Kubo, which is a huge win, came in an ugly fight and was not the kind of technique he'd shown in the past. The real question for me is what becomes of Varga and the belt - and indeed the entire division. The Japanese fighters don't seem to be coming back anytime soon. Unless Glory can draw them back, then Varga and Amrani are literally the only two guys in the division with a winning Glory record. It's just way too shallow to maintain right now.

John Joe O'Regan:

I am a huge Gabriel Varga fan. I love the fact that he has all this technicality but then when his opponent catches him with something he will frequently just hit the "fuck you" switch and stand in having a phone-booth war. It drives Varga's corner crazy but it makes for some great fights.

While Amrani did indeed have a hand issue, that can be trained around. His cardio was always going to be suspect in a five-round fight. And while Amrani is based in the kickboxing Mecca that is Amsterdam, Varga is out in the wilds of Vancouver and is the top guy in his gym by miles. He basically runs his own training camps, along with his brother, and he travels for hours to spar with GLORY lightweight Josh Jauncey. That to me is super impressive. I also like his personality. He's very well-spoken and comes across rather cerebral. This won't get the dudebros behind him, true, but performances like this against Amrani, or against Oblonsky, surely will.

GLORY had been toying with the idea of putting the featherweight division on ice due to the lack of available talent but the post-fight chatter indicated that idea has been scrapped and the hunt is now on for some fighters to join the ranks (this would be a good time for some ex-UFC featherweights to put their hands up...). GLORY now has two Canadian champions and one Contender. GLORY HQ must surely be looking into a Canadian event now.

Michael Stets:

I really enjoyed this fight. Varga looked outstanding throughout and had an excellent game plan. Amrani had a few moments here and there but started to tire in the third and struggled to figure out his opponent. Varga is very technical, but can brawl if he has to, which is fun to watch. The new champ was landing the left hook and left to the body whenever he wanted to during that fight and got better with each round. He became the second Canadian champion in GLORY, which is great for Canada and North American kickboxing. Dave said he isn't exciting, but I like that he is a completely different guy outside the ring than he is inside of it. I think GLORY can capitalize on that "Jekkyl and Hyde" marketing angle and how unique his training camp his compared to other fighters. The guy doesn't have a head coach, which is just crazy to me. He has his brothers, a pad holder and uses different sparring partners.

I'm looking forward to seeing his next match up. Also, he is represented by Ajay Chander of Epok Agency, who just locked up a partnership with Soul Artist management. Magazine covers, and other main stream opportunities are not out of the question for Varga.

Simon Marcus wins the middleweight contender tournament and will face Artem Levin at GLORY 21:

Dave Walsh:

Marcus is a talented guy and a living legend in muay thai for North America but in kickboxing he's had a rough go of things. We've seen him dropped in Kunlun a bunch of times, we've seen Schilling knock him out and the last time we saw him he was getting worked by someone we don't know that well. He proved a lot of us wrong and it'll be interesting to see how different Levin vs Marcus is under GLORY rules. I pick Artem every time, but then again, I picked Marcus to lose this tournament so what do I know?

Fraser Coffeen:

I pick Marcus to win Last Man Standing and he gets KO'd in the quarterfinals. I pick him to get KO'd by Barrett in this one, and he wins it all. I just can't get on the right page with this guy. This was not the most viscerally satisfying performance of Marcus's career, but he got the job done and set up a fight that I for one am pretty pumped about. Really hard to say how that one goes - logically Levin is the easy pick, but Marcus is so good when he's on, and he looked like he made the needed adjustments for kickboxing this time. The other big takeaways to me from this tournament: Wilnis is the real deal and showed that the Barrett fight was no fluke - he's a top guy in the division (and man was that fight with Pereira great). And Barrett is not. 3 fight losing streak, 2 in a row where he looked completely flat and off. It's early in his career, and I hate to just write the guy off, but I feel like we've seen the peak for Barrett and
it is in the past.

John Joe O'Regan:

My favorite thing about this tournament was Marcus' cousin and cornerman Roger giving him instructions and encouragement in Jamaican patois ("Yes lion! Feed him the bloodklaart knee again!"). I want that guy to be at every GLORY event now regardless of who is fighting. When Marcus won his fights there was a whole crew of Jamaicans ringside making guns with their hands and letting imaginary shots off into the air. You don't see that every day.

I digress.

Marcus came into this fight under tons of pressure. He lost by KO to Joe Schilling at GLORY 17 and was then stopped by Fang Bian in China during a performance so dismal that Artem Levin was openly chortling with laughter when he talked about it in a recent interview. To go from world #1 under Muay Thai rules to getting beaten like a dusty carpet in China must have been a hard thing to deal with, but Marcus used it as fuel.

OK, the semi-final fight with Barrett was meh. They both fought conservative and Barrett's sensible desire not to stand in front of Marcus and eat kicks and knees was sensible but made the fight sporadic. The final against Wilnis was much more compelling as Wilnis only knows how to move forward. I completely wrote Marcus off before this tournament and he made me eat my words, marinated in a jerk sauce with a side of rice, peas and plantain.

Can he beat Levin though? It's hard to see that happening under kickboxing rules; Levin's game is super-fluid and he barely broke a sweat when he fought Wilnis at GLORY 10. As much as Marcus surprised me in this tournament I just can't bet against Levin. The only caveat is that Levin recently moved to San Diego, CA and left all his old training partners behind. Does he maintain his sharpness working with the MMA fighters he now has for sparring partners? I worry the switch will take the edge off him.

I agree with Fraser, I am really sold on Jason Wilnis lately and he is still young for a fighter. In the next 12 months he is going to pick up more experience and a few more tricks and be right back up there as a challenger. I disagree that Barrett has peaked, I think he is still very much in a process of finding himself and finding his game. He's fighting at such a high level with such an experience disparity that I'd like to see him get some mid-tier opponents and be allowed the time to build.

Michael Stets:

Simon Marcus. Who knew? None of us picked him to win and the logic was simple: He got KO'd by Schilling at Last Man Standing and got drubbed by Fang Bian in China less than two months from this tournament. Then he goes out and wins it and makes us all look bad. Marcus fought conservative to start against Barrett, but he poured it on in the third to convince the judges and move on to the final. The Wilnis fight was close too, but once again Marcus found a way to get it done.

What a crazy turn around eh? He gets knocked out in the opening round of Last Man Standing, comes back to win a tournament and now he's fighting for the title. You have to love the tournament for reasons like that among many others. I will pick Levin in the title fight or against anyone for that matter. Marcus revealed he's been working with Buakaw Banchamek on the transition from Muay Thai to kickboxing, but Levin still wins this one going away.

Wilnis continues to impress. That fight vs. Pereira was bananas and a ton of fun to watch. Both fighters scored a knockdown and fought valiantly until the end. Doesn't get much better than that. I love Wilnis' forward movement and always on the attack style. It clearly makes for fun fights. He fought well against Marcus too, it just wasn't enough. The future is very bright for the 23-year-old Dutchman and I'm anxious to see who he faces next. As for Pereira, he showed his heart  and toughness and battled throughout, and although the Brazilian was one and done, it's by no means a bad loss for him.

Barrett is just an enigma at this point. There were rumblings he fought injured against Wilnis, but he was healthy this time around and once again he looked terrible. In my opinion it is a "between the ears" issue. You can argue that he should've won against Marcus, but he didn't push the fight or try to take it over when he needed to; Marcus did. He is way too content to sit back and has an unwillingness to pull the trigger and it is costing him big time. He has KO power and a ton of talent, but three losses in a row is brutal and he really needs to figure some things out. I agree with John, give him some mid-tier talent and let him work his way back up.

Overall, a great showcase of the unpredictability of the tournament and why it is one of the most entertaining things in all of combat sports.

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