GLORY kickboxing returns to the United States tomorrow night (Fri., May 8, 2015) with a Spike TV-televised fight card at Valley View Casino Center San Diego, Calif., that begins at 11 p.m. ET.
In the main event, GLORY Middleweight champion Artem Levin will defend his title against Simon Marcus. It's a rematch from their initial encounter at Lion Fight 9 in 2013, where Marcus won by unanimous decision.
Levin last fought at GLORY: "Last Man Standing," defeating Filip Verlinden, Alex Pereira and Joe Schilling to win the promotion's inaugural Middleweight title. Marcus won the GLORY 20 contender tournament in Dubai, defeating Wayne Barrett and Jason Wilnis to earn his shot at Levin.
The co-main is a Welterweight contest between Raymond Daniels and Justin Baesman. Daniels lost in the GLORY 19 tournament final to Nieky Holzken, after besting Jonatan Oliveria in the semifinal round by technical knockout. This will be Basesman's first foray into kickboxing, as he has been fighting in mixed martial arts (MMA) for several years.
The Heavyweight tournament has two budding stars of the division and two relative unknown participants. Xavier Vigney is coming off a big knockout victory over Everett Sims at GLORY 19 and will be matched against Maurice Jackson. In the opposite bracket, Chi Lewis-Parry -- who dispatched of Yong-Soo Park at GLORY 20 in 20 seconds -- will take on Dennis Demoreo, who is a late replacement for Evertt Sims.
Lastly, GLORY will have an armed forces battle in association with the Veterans Operation Wellness campaign. Devin Goodale from the U.S. Navy will take on Kyle Stewart of the U.S. Marine Corp. in a Welterweight exhibition bout.
Let's take a closer look at the match ups:
Artem Levin (50-4-1, 6-1 GLORY) vs. Simon Marcus (42-2-1, 2-1 GLORY)
While the No.2-ranked Marcus should not be overlooked, especially after winning the GLORY 20 tournament in Dubai, I just don't see how he defeats Levin. The champion has been on the shelf for a while, but I don't see it being a factor. Levin's striking accuracy and movement will be on full display, while Marcus will looking to bring the fight to him and get inside on him and rough him up. I think Marcus has a chance to make it interesting, and he showed vast improvements at GLORY 20, but Levin won't let him fight his fight long enough to take the title.
Prediction: "The Lion" knocks him down once, but doesn't finish him. Marcus will have some moments, but I see Levin winning a 30-27 unanimous decision.
Raymond Daniels (26-2, 3-2 GLORY) vs. Justin Baesman (0-0, 0-0 GLORY)
Daniels returns after a disappointing GLORY 19 tournament loss to Nieky Holzken, where he was badly outclassed. However, he did fight hard and showed a lot of toughness in that fight, and looked great in the semi-final victory over Jonatan Oliveira. Justin Baesman has been a regional MMA journey man for most of his career and didn't fare well in either Bellator or WSOF, posting a 1-3-1 record. "Real Deal" against "Raw Deal," and for Baseman, he will be handed his nickname on a silver platter.
Prediction: Baesman will be out of his element here. This has Daniels by TKO written all over it. I'd say half way through the first round too. I'm guessing it will be of the spinning back kick variety.
Tournament Semi-final: Xavier Vigney (6-1, 2-0 GLORY) vs. Maurice Jackson (31-0, 0-0 GLORY)
Vigney's last two wins came by way of stoppage and he has looked impressive in both. Jackson, however, is 2-1 with three no contests. His record says he is 31-0, but I've not been able to locate any of his kickboxing fights online. Jackson is a big heavyweight at 6' 9" and 275 pounds, but there wasn't much that I saw from the one MMA fight I did see that was overly impressive. Vigney is a big too, 6" 8" and 255 pounds and the more skilled of the two. I'll side with Vigney here.
Prediction: Vigney by second round TKO
Tournament Semi-final: Chi Lewis-Parry (5-0, 1-0 GLORY) vs. Demereo Dennis (9-4, 0-0 GLORY)
Parry is another up and comer in the heavyweight division like Vigney. The former pro-basketball player is also a physical specimen at 6' 9" tall and weighing over 250 pounds. Parry has tremendous power, but his opponent was severely overmatched at GLORY 20 and he disposed of him in the first exchange of the fight, knocking Yong-Soo Park out in 25 seconds. Dennis lost a hard-fought split decision to Pat Barry back in January in the Legacy promotion. He is tough and a solid fighter, but I feel he will not be able to handle the power and athleticism of Lewis-Parry.
Prediction: Lewis-Parry by KO in the first round
Tournament Final: If I am correct than the tournament final will be the No.14-ranked Vigney against the No.15-ranked Lewis-Parry for the right to enter a future "contender" tournament in the division. This fight could be a highly entertaining one with both fighters possessing impressive power. I favor Vigney, based on the level of competition he has faced thus far. It's not Lewis-Parry's fault that his quick defeat of Park at GLORY 20 left us with questions about his overall game. I think there will be some fireworks here and I also think Lewis-Parry will prove he is for real.
Prediction: I think Lewis-Parry is up for the challenge, but In the end I see Vigney winning by decision.
Devin Goodale vs. Kyle Stewart:
The military bout is anyone's guess really. I would expect a sloppy but fun back and forth between the two.
Prediction: I'll take a lucky guess and say Goodale by KO in the second round.