GLORY kickboxing makes its return to the United States TONIGHT (Fri., Aug. 7, 2015) with GLORY 23: "Holzken vs. Daniels" inside "The Joint" at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Spike TV main event will be a battle for the vacant Welterweight title between Nieky Holzken and Raymond Daniels, a rematch from the GLORY 19 tournament final that saw "The Natural" finish Daniels in the third round via technical knockout. "Real Deal" won his next match up over Justin Baseman at GLORY 21 by spinning-back kick in the first round.
In the co-main event, GLORY 21 Heavyweight "qualifier" tournament winner, Xavier Vigney, will take on United Kingdom slugger, Daniel Sam. Sam is coming in off a win against Brian Douwes in SUPERKOMBAT, but he has only won one of his four fights in GLORY, suffering a knockout loss to Benjamin Adegubuyi in his last appearance for the promotion at GLORY 16. Vigney, meanwhile, has been on a roll, and after winning the GLORY 21 tournament, he is now 8-1 overall and undefeated (4-0) in GLORY competition.
In the night's Middleweight "qualifier" tournament, four men will compete for the right to enter a "contender" tournament later on this year. In the semifinals, Dustin Jacoby will battle Ariel Sepulveda and in the opposing bracket, Casey Greene will face Quinton O'Brien.
I am not going to sugarcoat things for you folks -- this tournament is not filled with the top names of the division and there are fighters with losing records that are participating in it. That being said, anything can happen in a tournament, and in one like this, it's a great opportunity for lesser-known American fighters to make a big splash in the division. Jacoby proved that by winning a "Road to GLORY" tournament to earn his initial fight contract with GLORY back in 2013.
Let's take a closer look at the match ups:
Nieky Holzken (86-11, 8-0 GLORY) vs. Raymond Daniels (27-2, 4-2 GLORY)
Barring a Hail Mary kick from Daniels catches Holzken off guard and finds its mark, this fight should be a repeat of their first encounter at GLORY 19. Holzken is one of the very best in the world and is a master technician with excellent boxing skills and a keen awareness of distance and timing. He is simply too good and too smart for Daniels. The Dutch kickboxer is not going to allow Daniels the necessary room to operate his high-flying arsenal, and he is going to cut him off and punish his body over and over in the corners. Daniels proved his toughness at GLORY 19 and made it into the third round before getting knocked down for the fourth time, which ended the fight, but he doesn't have what it takes to defeat Holzken and won't last that long this time around.
Prediction: Holzken via knockout in the first round.
Xavier Vigney (8-1, 4-0 GLORY) vs. Daniel Sam (25-10, 1-3 GLORY)
Vigney has looked pretty good so far, but has yet to face solid competition. He will get his first big test against Sam, who is an eight-year veteran with a more well-rounded skill set than any of his previous opponents. To me, Vigney's defense is a bit concerning. He keeps his head on the center line and hands low at times. He has plenty of power in his punches, but doesn't put a lot of combinations together, and can leave himself open to counters, as evidenced in his GLORY 21 fight against Chi Lewis-Parry.
Sam is more technical and refined, has good power and a solid jab. He can deliver knees from the clinch, possesses much quicker leg kicks and also has better defense. At times he can be susceptible to body punches when he holds his guard high to protect his head, but I don't see Vigney attacking him in that fashion. Vigney could certainly push forward and land a couple of clean shots and end Sam's night, but I don't see that happening. I expect Sam to utilize his experience and ring smarts over the course of three rounds against the the No. 4-ranked American.
Prediction: Sam via unanimous decision
Middleweight semifinal: Dustin Jacoby (4-6, 1-6 GLORY) vs. Ariel Sepulveda (4-2, 0-0 GLORY)
Jacoby may not have a great record, but he has only been competing in kickboxing for a little more than two years and is usually at a disadvantage in the experience department. What he does have going for him is plenty of tournament experience to go along with his toughness. He has competed in three tournaments so far: "Road to GLORY," GLORY 9 and GLORY 14. He has a solid offensive attack with good power and is at his best when using his height and size to his advantage. But, he is sometimes lacking in defense and can get tagged with counters like in his knockout loss to Alex Pereira at GLORY 14. That being said, Jacoby isn't facing Pereia, Danyo Illunga or Mourad Bouzidi here, he's facing Sepulveda, who is nowhere near the level he is used to competing against in GLORY. Admittedly, I have not seen much footage on Sepulveda other than some of his mixed martial arts (MMA) fights, but nothing stood out to me to favor him over Jacoby, who has faced much stiffer competition and shouldn't have much trouble advancing to the final.
Prediction: Jacoby via second-round technical knockout
Middleweight semifinal: Casey Greene (2-4, 1-1 GLORY) vs. Quinton O'Brien (2-0, 0-0 GLORY)
Greene is coming off a decision loss to Mike Lemaire at GLORY 21, where the No. 10-ranked veteran tagged him up in the first two rounds. But, Greene showed some toughness and resiliency and finished out the fight strongly, taking the final round on the scorecards. There is not any current footage available on O'Brien other than one of his earlier amateur fights. For what it's worth, he did go the distance with Wayne Barrett in Friday Night Fights, which was Barrett's last amateur fight before turning professional. I will side with Greene here.
Prediction: Greene via unanimous decision
Tournament Final: I think it will end up being Jacoby's evening at GLORY 23. Greene will be a game opponent and can definitely keep it interesting, but going the distance in the semifinals certainly won't be doing him any favors. All the losses Jacoby has suffered against superior and more experienced competition will pay dividends at GLORY 23 and provide him with a big advantage over the other fighters in this tournament. He will snap his five-fight losing streak and win it.
Prediction: Jacoby via unanimous decision
MMAMania will deliver LIVE fight coverage of GLORY 23's "Superfight Series" that begins online at 9 p.m. ET this evening, as well as live coverage of the televised Spike TV main card, which begins at 11 p.m. ET, RIGHT HERE.
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