GLORY kickboxing heads to Paris, France for its second fight card of the year on Sat. (March 12, 2016) with GLORY 28 at Accor Hotels Arena.
The main event is a heavyweight title fight between current champion, Rico Verhoeven (47-10) and No. 2-ranked contender Mladen Brestovac (49-10-1).
Verhoeven has been pretty much unstoppable lately and has defended his title four straight times, winning nine straight with the promotion to improve his GLORY record to 10-1. His last loss was against Andrey Gerasmichuk at Kunlun Fight 15 in China back in January of 2015, a fight he dropped by decision.
Brestovac had won 12 straight until a technical knockout loss to Benjamin Adegbuyi in the GLORY 24 heavyweight "Contender" tournament last October. "The Scorpion Sting" is 1-1 in GLORY competition and owns a knockout win over Jahfarr Wilnis.
The co-main event is a welterweight bout between Murthel "The Predator" Groenhart (58-19-3) and Cedric Doumbe (55-4-1). Groenhart dropped a split decision against current champion, Nieky Holzken at GLORY 26 this past December and prior to that won the GLORY 25 welterweight "Contender" tournament by defeating Karim Ghajji and Nicola Gallo.
Doumbe dropped a decision to Yoann Kongolo his last time out at GLORY 22.
In addition to those two contests, there will be a four-man lightweight "Contender" tournament. In the semifinals, Sittichai Sitsongpeenong will face former lightweight champion, Davit Kiria, and Marat Grigorian will take on Anatoly Moiseev.
Let's take a closer look at the matchups:
Rico Verhoeven (47-10) vs. Mladen Brestovac (49-10-1) heavyweight title fight
Brestovac has had a great deal of success in his career, but it must be noted that he has only a handful of fights against the best in the world. "The Scorpion Sting" was handled fairly easy by Benjamin Adegbuyi his last time out in the semi-finals of the GLORY 24 "Contender" tournament. Adegbuyi hacked away at his left leg until the Croatian southpaw could no longer continue. Brestovac has decent hands and deceptively fast kicks at times, but he can sometimes be slow to react to kicks to the body and legs. That is not a good sign going up against the champion. Verhoeven is the most technical heavyweight on the planet right now. He will keep Brestovac on the retreat with multi-strike combinations and a bevy of inside and outside low kicks. The champion should batter Brestovac and take him out in fairly short order.
Prediction: Verhoeven by RD 1 TKO
Murthel Groenhart (58-19-3) vs. Cedric Doumbe (55-4-1)
Both fighters come into this bout off decision losses. Groenhart dropped a split-decision heartbreaker to GLORY champion Nieky Holzken at GLORY 26 and Doumbe lost to Yoann Kongolo at GLORY 22. Doumbe certainly has some solid weapons at his disposal with a good kicking game that he varies and mixes up very well with low and high attacks and the occasional cut kick. Groenhart is just on another level. "The Predator" has excellent power and a very accurate Dutch style. He also possesses unorthodox flying knee attacks that have caught many an opponent by surprise. The issue with Groenhart is his stamina the later the fight goes. That is something to pay attention to whenever he fights, but he should win this bout against the Frenchman rather convincingly.
Prediction: Groenhart by unanimous decision
Sittichai Sitsongpeenong (106-29-5) vs. Davit Kiria (23-11)
The last time these two fought, Sittichai finished the former GLORY lightweight champion in the second round with a devastating knee to the body in the semi-finals of the GLORY 22 "Contender" tournament, before cruising to a unanimous decision win over Josh Jauncey to win the tournament. Sittichai lost a controversial decision to Robin van Roosmalen that many felt he clearly won. The former Lumpinee Stadium champion from Thailand is as nasty a fighter as they come. His leg kicks are vicious and and his punches are always well-timed and accurate. You would be hard pressed to find a better striker in this division than Sittichai. Kiria is a former champion and both durable and tough. You can never count him out with his unpredictable kicking attack that stems from his Ashihara karate background. Rematches at times can be completely different from the first encounter, but I don't think that will be the case. Sittichai will prove once again he is the better fighter, although I think Kiria survives and goes the distance.
Prediction: Sitsongpeenong by unanimous decision
Marat Grigorian (41-7-2) vs. Anatoly Moiseev (16-0)
Grigorian likes to hands near the fire most of the time. He will stay in the pocket and look to counter. The Armenian-Belgian fighter has a good left hook, but tends to move in a linear fashion and keep his head on the center line. For that reason he takes a lot of punches in his fights. He is game and tough and has been in some great battles as of late. He lost a decision to Serhiy Adamchuk at GLORY 22 in his last fight with the promotion. Outside of it he won a K-1 tournament in Japan, and most recently lost a majority decision to Sittichai Sitsongpeenong in a closely contested battle. Grigorian is only 24 years old as well, so he will continue to show improvements in each bout. Moiseev steps in for the injured Couliblay Djime and the undefeated Russian is a super talented prospect. He has very fast hand and leg speed and can instantly attack with a round house kick, which he used to finish Max Baumert in his GLORY debut. He makes his opponent pay when they miss, has solid power and accuracy and can often surprise with a spinning hook kick or other similar attacks. Grigorian has the experience here, but I'm going to take the newcomer and his hand speed for the upset.
Prediction: Moiseev by unanimous decision
Tournament Final: Sittichai Sitsongpeenong vs. Anatoly Moiseev
The Russian's luck will run out in the final against the Thai legend, but it will be an entertaining bout nonetheless. Moiseev will answer the call and land his share over three rounds, but In the end, Sittichai's accuracy and leg kicks will be the difference and he will hand the Russian his first career loss.
Prediction: Sitsongpeenong by unanimous decision