GLORY kickboxing is returning stateside on Friday night (May 13, 2016) to Ontario, Calif. for GLORY 30.
The five-fight main card takes place at Citizens Business Bank Arena and will air live on ESPN3 starting at 12 p.m. ET / 9:30 p.m. PT. The main event features a middleweight title fight between current champion, Simon "Bad Bwoy" Marcus (43-2-2) and No.3-ranked contender, Dustin "Hanyak" Jacoby (9-6).
Marcus defeated Artem Levin at GLORY 27 in February to win the middleweight title in a bout that ended in controversy when Levin walked out of the ring in the third round and conceded defeat after being docked a point for holding on two separate occasions during the fight. The two had fought to a draw at GLORY 21 in May of 2015.
Meanwhile, Jacoby has been on an absolute tear winning two different tournaments and his last five fights by knockout. In his last bout, Jacoby knocked out Wayne Barrett in the GLORY 27 "Contender" tournament final to secure his shot at the middleweight crown.
In the night's co-main event, Marat Griogrian (45-9-2) takes on Coulibaly Djime (51-13-4) in a lightweight affair. Grigorian lost in the GLORY 28 lightweight "Contender" tournament final to Sittichai Sitsongpeenong after besting Anatoly Moiseev in the opening round. Djime lost by technical knockout to Josh Jauncey in the opening round of the GLORY 22 lightweight "Contender" tournament last June.
In addition to those two matchups, the GLORY 30 one-night, four-man "Qualifier" tournament takes place in the welterweight division. In the semi-finals, Francois Ambang (14-5) takes on Daniel Morales (0-1) and Casey Greene (5-5) will face Richard Abraham (8-3).
Let's take a closer look at the matchups:
Simon Marcus (43-2-2) vs. Dustin Jacoby (9-6)
There is always something to be said about momentum and Jacoby certainly has that with five straight knockout victories. But I think that run comes to a screeching halt against the champion. Jacoby possesses the power to end anyone's evening rather shortly, and has improved tremendously over the last two years. He's earned this title shot despite what anyone says to the contrary. In the end I think Marcus will be too tough a match for him on Friday. The champion knows how to whether the storm, and can match the aggressive nature of Jacoby and will prove to be a level above the challenger over five rounds in the clinch when it gets there and on the outside. Now, Jacoby can catch Marcus and put him down at any point without question. There is always that chance, but I just don't think that happens at GLORY 30.
Prediction: Simon Marcus by unanimous decision
Marat Grigorian (45-9-2) vs. Coulibaly Djime (51-13-4)
These two were supposed to face off in the GLORY 28 semi-finals, but Djime had to withdraw due to injury and Grigorian defeated Anatoly Moiseev before succumbing to Sittichai in the tournament final. This is Grigorian's fight to lose. The Armenian-Belgian fighter has been inconsistent in GLORY competition going 2-3-1. He dropped another decision to Sittichai in Kunlun and prior to that won a K-1 tournament in Japan. At 24, his ceiling is still very high and he's already faced elite competition. Djime may have an impressive record, but the Frenchman looked like he didn't belong in the ring with Josh Jauncey at GLORY 22, getting dispatched in the third round by TKO.
Djime had no answer for Jauncey's low kicks or knees and got knocked down several times. Grigorian is not as fluid and creative with combinations as Jauncey, but he loves to stay in the pocket and counter and has a solid left hook. That will be enough to hand Djime his second straight loss in GLORY, which likely be another TKO.
Prediction: Grigorain via TKO RD 2
Tournament semi-final: Francois Ambang (14-5) vs. Daniel Morales (0-1)
Ambang has won or lost by knockout in all five of his GLORY fights, never winning two in a row. He has strong low leg kicks and solid power in his punches. Morales, who made his kickboxing debut vs. Casey Greene at GLORY 27, comes from a professional boxing background and also has several MMA bouts under his belt. The Mexican fighter has excellent footwork and good head movement, which frustrated Greene when they fought. Morales will avoid the heavy punches of Ambang and make him work for three rounds, while out landing him on the outside.
Prediction: Morales by unanimous decision
Tournament semi-final: Casey Greene vs. Richard Abraham
Greene, who once fought in the middleweight division, has won both of his fights since dropping down to welterweight. Both of the wins have come over the other bracket of the GLORY 30 tournament. Greene knocked out Ambang at GLORY 24 and earned a decision victory against Morales at GLORY 27. Greene welcomes a good party inside the pocket, which Abraham will certainly abide to and he also has good power. Abraham assaulted Pawel Jedrzejczyk with a blitzkrieg of punches over the course of three rounds in his GLORY debut, but the tombstone engraver couldn't put him away. He will bring the fight to Greene, but will end up getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Prediction: Greene by KO in RD 2
Tournament final: Morales vs. Greene
Greene is the tournament favorite for sure, but he struggled with Morales when they first met and more than a few experts were baffled at the unanimous 29-28 decision victory he received from the judges. I'm going with the upset here. Morales were frustrate Greene once again with his movement and outland him on the outside. Greene will be the aggressor and could easily sway the judges once again, but I think Morales wins in a squeaker.
Prediction: Morales by split decision