A highly competitive main event ended just as it was getting started at GLORY 23 last night (Fri., Aug. 7, 2015).
Nieky Holzken defeated Raymond Daniels via technical knockout inside "The Joint" at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, after referee "Big" John McCarthy was forced to stop the bout in the third round because of a cut on Daniels' left eyelid, the result of a well-placed knee by Holzken.
Holzken waited a long time to fight for the Welterweight title and had to sit out for almost one year after suffering a shoulder injury in a car accident. And ever since he won the GLORY 13: "Japan" tournament in Dec. 2013, he's always felt like he was the true GLORY welterweight champion.
"It feels like two years ago in Tokyo," Holzken told Stephen Quadros after the fight's conclusion. "I never lost the feeling. Only they take away my belt. Now, I have my belt back and I think I earned it. I win a 'contender' tournament [GLORY19]. Two heavy fights, Stetsurenko, Daniels and now I"m here. I hope Joseph Valtellini recovers very fast so we can meet again."
"Bazooka" Joe had to vacate the belt because of complications from post-concussion syndrome. He was a guest commentator on the GLORY 23 Spike TV broadcast.
It was an unfortunate ending for Daniels, who looked outstanding in the opening two rounds of the five-round title fight. "Real Deal'" landed solid combinations on Holzken and his hands were looking sharp. He also avoided getting trapped in the corners, which he didn't do in their first encounter at GLORY 19 earlier this year.
But, in the third round, he was unable to fend off a Holzken attack that saw "The Natural" land a right hand and follow that up with a knee, which opened up the cut on Daniels eyelid. Holzken was able to corner him again soon after, and by this time Daniels eye was a bloody mess. Holzken landed two more hard punches and then -- in a sign of sportsmanship -- saw the severity of the cut and backed off of Daniels to let McCarthy take a better look.
"Big" John immediately waved off the title fight at 1:36 of the third. round.
"I felt really good," said a dejected Daniels, who falls to 27-3. "I felt like I had control of the fight. He's a strong guy so I knew he would keep coming. I caught myself in the corner, where I didn't want to be and caught a clean knee above my eye. Blood started leaking out of my eye. It was hard to see so 'Big' John McCarthy made a ... That's his decision to make a stop and all I can do is respect that."
In the co-main event of the evening, Xavier Vigney improves to 8-1 after he defeated Daniel Sam via split decision. It was a very odd decision by the judges . That's because Vigney controlled the action over the course of three rounds and won the majority of the exchanges, as Sam seemed too content on using shell defense and being overly patient to wait for counter openings.
Vigney has now won five straight fights in GLORY. Sam falls to 25-11 overall and is now 1-4 in GLORY.
Dustin Jacoby (6-6) snapped his five-fight losing streak, knocking out Casey Greene and Ariel Sepulveda to win the night's Middleweight "qualifier" tournament and earn a shot in a "contender" tournament later on this year.
In the tournament final, Jacoby knocked down Greene at the very end of the first round. And In the second, he would close the show. Jacoby hurt Greene again and swarmed in for the kill, finishing Greene off with a barrage of strikes in the corner until referee Mark Smith saw enough and waved off the contest at 1:19 mark. Greene falls to 3-5.
Jacoby dominated Sepulveda in the semifinal round. After connecting with a big right hand, Sepulveda was on rubber legs and Jacoby went in for the kill with several big punches. After Sepulveda caromed off the ropes, Jacoby landed a killshot of a right hand that dropped Sepulveda for good. The official stoppage came at 2:59 of the first round.
In the opposing bracket, Greene defeated Quinton O'Brien by unanimous decision to advance to the tournament final. O'Brien drops to 2-1.
For the GLORY 23: "Holzken vs. Daniels 2" live stream, including play-by-play results, click here.