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Simon Marcus: I'm 'not walking away with anything less than a victory' at GLORY 21 vs. Artem Levin

The GLORY 20 tournament winner silenced doubters in Dubai and now he is looking to carry that momentum to San Diego, and take the title from GLORY middleweight champion Artem Levin at GLORY 21 on May 8, 2015, and bring it back to Canada.

GLORY Sports International

Prior to GLORY 20, there weren't many kickboxing experts who were picking Simon Marcus to get past Wayne Barrett in the first round of the four-man middleweight contender tournament, let alone win the whole thing.

Combat Sports analysts, like most, follow a "what have you done lately?" approach. Fighters are often only considered as good as their last fight. And for Marcus, that was a brutal technical knockout loss in February to Fang Bian on a Wu Lin Feng card in China; A fight where he was knocked down four times.

Two fights before that, Marcus had entered the GLORY Last Man Standing tournament in June of last year at 39-0, but suffered the first loss of his career to Joe Schilling in the quarter-finals. He would bounce back into the win column in his next fight and pick up a decision victory over Dmitry Valent at Kunlun Fight 12, but that win was sandwiched in between two knockouts and the public perception on him had drastically changed.

The 40-2 fighter obviously never doubted himself or his abilities and he kidnapped the narrative that evening at GLORY 20 in Dubai, besting Barrett in the semi-finals as well as Jason Wilnis in the final to win the tournament. From afterthought to hoisting the Ramon Dekkers memorial trophy and earning a middleweight title shot against Artem Levin at GLORY 21 on May 8, 2015, "Bad Bwoy" flipped the script, seized the opportunity, and silenced the doubters.

"A lot of people doubted," Marcus told MMAMania recently, acknowledging those that dismissed his chances at GLORY 20. "A lot of people didn't see it. I guess in the kickboxing world a lot of people haven't seen much of me in that world. It's understandable, but the more people see me, the less they are going to doubt. They will see what kind of fighter I am and what I bring to the table. I'm looking forward to changing everybody's mind a lot more as well."

The fight against Schilling was an all-time classic that went into an extension round before Marcus would get knocked out for the first time in his career. Marcus admitted he "wasn't at his best" that night, but said he had trained hard for that fight and his goal was to be champion and walk away with the belt and $200,000 dollar winner's check.

He revealed it was the loss itself that was disappointing, and that alone was difficult to deal with, not the fact that he was no longer undefeated.

"Every time I step in the ring I know it's a possibility, especially the sport we do: it just takes one mistake and then you've lost," Marcus said. "There isn't much you can do about it. I've never gotten in the ring like I was unbeatable and no one can stop me. I go into every competition to win and that is my expectation. It was depressing to lose period, but it really didn't have to do anything with my record or being undefeated"


Prior to the Bian fight in China, the No.1-ranked GLORY middleweight explained that it was a much different scenario as far as training and being fully prepped and ready to fight.

"Things got in the way of my training camp and I didn't prepare properly," explained Marcus. "Just balancing time management and making time for my family. At that time I was a little sidetracked by everyday tasks and it took away from my profession. So, I knew when I stepped in the ring I wasn't at my best at all. I wasn't sharp or anything. I was looking forward to still doing my best and being able to get the win, but it didn't happen."

Seeing Marcus get dropped four times throughout the bout was alarming to those that follow and cover the sport, especially since it occurred only a few months after his KO loss against Schilling.

The six-year veteran fighter wasn't worried though.

"It didn't really concern me, because I know I wasn't prepared the way I should've been," Marcus admitted. "Preparing the way that I need to and stepping back in the ring I knew that wouldn't happen again and that wasn't really something that would just happen again because of the other two fights. It was an isolated thing in my opinion.

"It didn't really shake me up too much. It also pointed out some things I needed to work on. So, I mean, every experience is a learning experience and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I stayed at it, worked on what I needed to work on and got back in the ring and everything has turned out good so far."

When news broke that the Canadian-Jamaican fighter would be entering the GLORY 20 tournament only two months after that February loss to Bian, many were concerned that Marcus wasn't giving his brain and body proper time to fully recover. The GLORY middleweight champion, Levin, and Schilling both stated it wasn't a good idea for Marcus to fight again so soon.

Marcus was asked specifically if he had any lingering effects from the two knockouts.

"No, it wasn't anything physical," he said. "I had to get an MRI anyway for the competition (GLORY 20) and everything was clear. It was just more mental and not being able to focus on training at the time."

The two losses are obviously something he would love to erase from his record, as would any fighter. But, Marcus is grateful for the knowledge he was able to attain because of them, and also to have the task of getting back on the proverbial horse and seeing how he would respond his next time out.

"I am glad for the opportunity to learn from my losses," he said. "I'm glad for the experience to bounce back. You can knock me down but you can't keep me down, you know. That is the kind of fighter I am. I take the challenges as they come. It was just another challenge I had to deal with, and I am glad for that challenge as well."


With the two knockout losses in his rearview, Marcus went into the GLORY 20 tournament with an intense focus. His semi-final opponent, Barrett, was on a two-fight losing streak, so the fight was a pressure cooker due to the loser dropping further away from the middleweight title picture.

Marcus came out tentative, as did Barrett, and the fight was fairly close after two rounds. Marcus was able to find a home for his left kick to the body several times, and looked like he made vast improvements as far as his transition from muay thai to kickboxing—which he worked on in Thailand with legendary fighter Buakaw Banchamek during his fight camp.

"It was amazing," said Marcus. "I always went and trained with Buakaw in the past so it only made sense I did it this time. He gave me some good pointers and I look up to him. I know he is a real champion. I see him train and I know what he does in the ring. I worked on a few things and they paid off in the ring."

With the fight with Barrett being a closely contested one for the first two rounds, the third round looked like it would more than likely be the deciding factor. To his credit, Marcus turned it up a notch and earned the decision victory to advance to the final.

"The first fight, the conservative part had nothing to do with moving forward because I knew I was fit, and I'd be able to fight two fights as I trained for," he said. "It was more about Barrett's style and getting used to his movement in the ring and not making any mistakes, especially after coming off that kind of loss. So I just wanted to be conservative and kind of just pick my shots, wait, be patient, and not make any mistakes.

"So, once I got more comfortable in the ring with Barrett and I just got more comfortable in general. Then in the third round I knew it was a close fight, I got more aggressive because I could feel it more as opposed to just going forward right at the bell. I was expecting him to be him, so I was prepared. I just followed the game plan. I stayed calm and I didn't rush anything. That was the plan."

In the opposing bracket, Wilnis fought an absolute war against Alex Pereira and the Dutchman was certainly worse for wear heading into the tournament final. Marcus' conditioning looked up to par and Wilnis appeared like he didn't have much left in the tank as the final unfolded.

With tournaments, there are always different strategies, Marcus had done his homework for his matchup with Barrett, but for Wilnis it was more or less making adjustments on the fly.

"I've seen him fight a few times," Marcus said about Wilnis. "I didn't focus on exactly what I was going to do and what I wasn't going to do, but I just read him as he came in. With a fighter like Wilnis, it's more comfortable to me. He comes at you. I like to bang. He likes to bang. I was able to pick my strikes. I was able to hit well and hit comfortably. I got into the zone and did my thing."

When GLORY announcer Tim Hughes read the score cards indicating the fight was a split decision, it was surprising to many. Marcus said he "definitely" felt he won the fight outright, but he wasn't nervous before the final decision was read in his favor.

"I knew I won the fight," he said. "I thought it was clear. I didn't know what the split decision was about. I guess dramatics," he laughed.

After being counted out by many, to winning two fights in one night, there Marcus stood inside the ring at the Dubai World Trade Centre with the Ramon Dekkers memorial trophy in hand, winner of the GLORY 20 tournament. He was elated, but mentioned that in his eyes there is still one more round to go.

"It felt amazing," he said on the tournament victory. "It's something I've been thinking about for awhile, leading up to my camp, I really wanted to get the 'W.' I said before, my focus is on the title so I don't feel the tournament is over. I feel the tournament...the end goal of the tournament is winning the title. I wasn't so happy and so feeling like I accomplished so much. I'm still looking forward to the next fight. All my focus is on that right now. After that, then I'll celebrate."


A man who was overjoyed with the victory was Marcus' trainer of the last nine years, Ajahn Suchart Yodkerepauprai. One of the GLORY post-fight photographs really captured the moment and shows the jubilant head coach beaming and holding both his hands in the air alongside Marcus. In fact, he looks even happier than his pupil.

"He actually is," Marcus laughs after the photo is mentioned. "He is just happy that I won. He feels it too when I don't. "He has been something like a father figure to me. He has taught me a lot in life as well as in muay thai. I can continue to grow as a person by staying close to him. It's more than a trainer/fighter relationship and I'm very lucky to have that actually."

Marcus also had the support of his cousin Roger—who was in his corner—and other friends that made the trip to support him in Dubai. Bloody Elbow's John O'Regan was ringside for the event and he said you could hear Roger yelling instructions and encouragement in Jamaican patois and see the crew of Jamaican friends making guns with their hands and firing off imaginary shots in the air.

"When you have close people to you, with you for a fight you get a little extra inspiration and a little extra vibe," Marcus said. "They are in there with you and it was amazing. It was just how I wanted it to be."

Marcus already holds a victory over Levin, a unanimous decision win at Lion Fight 9, which took place two years ago. The two seemed destined to collide at GLORY Last Man Standing, but Schilling spoiled those plans. The GLORY 20 tournament winner revealed that he did speak to the GLORY middleweight champion before and after that event, which adds some depth to the current narrative for GLORY 21.

"The only time we really spoke, I saw him before the tournament and he said to me he thought we would meet in the finals," Marcus said. "I saw him after the tournament after he won and I congratulated him and that was it. I respect him as a great fighter. He knows what I bring to the table and I knew we were going to meet again and I'm pretty sure he felt the same."

"I KNEW WE WOULD MEET AGAIN AND I'M PRETTY SURE HE FELT THE SAME."-Marcus on seeing Levin after Last Man Standing

When the two combatants meet inside the ring for a second time, Marcus says he will continue to prove those that doubt him wrong, and more importantly, prove to himself that he is the best no matter if it's in muay thai or kickboxing competition.

"I'm looking forward to it. Everyone knows he is ranked as the best in the world in our weight class. Everyone knows that I am ranked first in muay thai. I'm looking to take that title over. That title to be the best in both categories. Like you said, a lot of people have doubted my performance in kickboxing and with one or two losses they doubted what I can do.

"I'm looking to show everybody and prove to myself that I am the best regardless of what combat sport you put me in. I'm a fighter and I can adapt; I can change; I can grow and I can dominate my opponents regardless. I'm looking to show everybody and bring that belt back home to Canada."

"Bad Bwoy" closed the interview with a message for Levin.

"Tell Levin to bring his 'A' game because I'm bringing mine. I'm not walking away with anything less than a victory. Everybody tune in if you want to see a great fight. It's my time now to shine. I got my opportunity and I'm taking it."

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