The centerpiece of GLORY 9 NEW YORK was an eight-man light-heavyweight tournament with a $200,000 grand prize. Tyrone ‘King of the Ring’ Spong emerged victorious after the tournament played out over seven thrilling fights which featured knockdowns, stoppages and controversy.
GLORY 9 also hosted several superfights in between the tournament matches as some of the GLORY roster’s top talent did battle in fights with ranking and title-contention implications. Most anticipated was the heavyweight meeting between Daniel Ghita and Brice Guidon. Last year, Ghita was considered the crown-prince in waiting and was second-favorite to win the Heavyweight Grand Slam on New Year’s Eve.
But in the final he was KO’d by that tournament’s favorite Semmy Schilt. In his next outing, against Gokhan Saki at GLORY 6, he was stopped again and suddenly people were saying Ghita might be done. So there was tremendous pressure on him going into this fight with Guidon, who was also coming off a loss to Schilt.
Ghita proved everyone wrong. Pressuring Guidon heavily from the off, he backed the Frenchman into a corner and set to work. The much-vaunted left kick to the body hurt Guidon and made him shell up, whereupon Ghita dropped a series of right hands on him followed by a superb short left hook to the jaw which knocked Guidon out instantly. It was the perfect answer to his critics.
Ghita said afterwards that he looks forward to another meeting with Saki, in which he hopes to redress the balance between them, and he also said he has a lot to achieve over the remaining six months of 2013. Ghita still wants that GLORY Heavyweight Championship belt.
“[The quick win] was a surprise for me, I respect Guidon as one of the best fighters in the world. It was a big chance for me to come back because I lost in my last fight,” says Ghita. “I have six or seven months left [this year] to come back strong. I am sure I am going to meet with Gokhan Saki again but this time I will be much more prepared.”
The evening’s other heavyweight superfight pitted Rico Verhoeven against Errol Zimmerman in a rematch of their January 2012 meeting. That fight ended in the first minute when Zimmerman dropped a heavy bomb on Verhoeven’s jaw. This one went the distance, but could have ended at any moment had one clean shot landed.
The first round was a tense affair, the memory of the first fight no doubt at the front of Verhoeven’s mind. Zimmerman was like a man biding his time and waiting for the opportunity to land his trademark one-shot finish. That didn’t happen, but once they did start trading they never stopped.
Verhoeven found himself being deducted a point for pushing Zimmerman to the floor and punching him in the back of the head while he did so. This was probably due to enthusiasm on Verhoeven’s part; he is not usually a rule-breaker.
Zimmerman’s power is his main strength, his conditioning usually his main weakness. He had worked very hard for this fight and it showed but Verhoeven is younger and a very disciplined athlete.
His plan was to keep the pace very high with a lot of movement mixed in, hoping to tire the older Zimmerman and slow him down. It worked; round three saw Zimmerman forced onto the defensive as the fresh Verhoeven maintained his workrate and scored clean hits.
It wasn’t all Verhoeven’s way – Zimmerman landed some hard counters – but by the end of the round it was clear who the winner was, even with the deducted point, and Verhoeven raised his arms as soon as the final bell sounded.
“You can see it in my face, I’m really happy. In round one I made a mistake in the heat of the fight and I‘m sorry to Errol about that, it was againt the rules. Everything else went as planned, I kept my distance and kept moving, he got tired, the rest you saw,” Verhoeven said afterwards.
“What was the difference with this fight and the first one? I think it was mental. Last year I fought [GLORY heavyweight champion] Semmy Schilt – who can hurt you worse than that guy?”
‘Bazooka Joe’ Valtellini continues to impress with every outing and is fast becoming Canada’s most exciting and complete kickboxing product. He combines aggression and toughness with a serious fighting intelligence, making him a very dangerous package indeed.
Francois Ambang is also a top talent but today Valtellini was levels above him, utilizing superb leg-kick setups to leave Ambang’s lead leg wide open for a hammering. Valtellini throws everything with bad intentions.
Every kick he landed on Ambang’s leg was super-hard and, to add insult to injury, when Ambang tried the same Valtellini threw up a shin-block and damaged Ambang’s own leg.
The fight went at the high pace welterweights are famous for and there was lots of back and forth but by the end of the second round Ambang’s leg was in a bad way. Just over a minute into the third Valtellini had added enough blows to render the leg useless; Ambang couldn’t even stand on it.
Valtellini takes his second TKO win in GLORY to go 2-0 in the organization, remain undefeated and move further up the ladder of fan favorites.
North American fans should also take note of the middleweight fight between Wayne Barrett and Mike Lemaire which ended by way of KO in the second round. Barrett – a former Golden Gloves boxer – put on a superb performance, stopping the very tough Lemaire (a Road to Glory tournament winner) in the second round.
The first knockdown came when Barrett snapped Lemaire’s head down onto a vicious knee strike. The second and final knockdown came with a left hook moments later. Lemaire staggered drunkenly and Barrett felled him with an almost gentle right hand touch to seal the deal and take the KO win.
English heavyweight Daniel ‘The Warrior’ Sam made a brave effort to take on a bigger name and try to move up the food chain but Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva proved too much for him. Silva is a former sparring partner of Peter Aerts and recently fought Remy Bonjasky.
Neither Sam’s size nor skillset intimidated him and he won each round clearly on his way to a unanimous decision win.
GLORY 9: NEW YORK: FULL RESULTS:
Light-Heavyweight Slam Tournament
Tyrone Spong def. Danyo Ilunga via KO at 0:16 of Round 1.
Tyrone Spong def. Filip Verlinden via Dec. (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Danyo Ilunga def. Dustin Jacoby via Dec. (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Tyrone Spong def. Michael Duut via KO at 0:31 of Round 1.
Filip Verlinden def. Steve McKinnon via Majority Dec. (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Dustin Jacoby def. Brian Collette via Majority Dec. (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Danyo Ilunga def. Mourad Bouzidi via Dec. (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Rico Verhoeven (253.1lbs) vs. Errol Zimmerman (251lbs)
Verhoeven def. Zimmerman via Majority Dec. (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
Daniel Ghita (246lbs) vs. Brice Guidon (234.1lbs)
Ghita def. Guidon via KO at 0:49 of Round 1.
Joseph Valtellini (171.2lbs) vs. Francois Ambang (169.2lbs)
Valtellini def. Ambang via TKO at 1:04 of Round 3
Anderson “Braddock” Silva (251lbs) vs. Daniel Sam (272.6lbs)
Silva def. Sam via Dec. (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Wayne Barrett (186.1lbs) vs. Mike Lemaire (186.2lbs)
Barrett def. Lemaire via KO at 1:12 of Round 2.
Tournament Reserve Matches:
Koichi (207.4lbs) vs Randy Blake (209.1lbs)
Blake def. Koichi via Dec. (29-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Luis Tavares (206.6lbs) vs. Artem Vakhitov (204.1lbs)
Vakhitov def. Tavares via KO at 1:06 of Round 1.
Andrea Deangelo (128lbs) vs. Laura Byrnds (128lbs)
Andrea Deangelo def. Laura Byrnds via Dec. (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Andrew Ball (180lbs) vs. James Smith Jr. (180lbs)
Andrew Ball def. James Smith Jr. via KO at 1:34 of Round 3
Chris Mauceri (145lbs) vs. Niko Tsigaras (147.6lbs)
Chris Mauceri def. Niko Tsigaras via Dec. (30-27, 29-28, 30-28)
Nick Pace (141.1lbs) vs. Levan Makashvili (142.6lbs)
Nick Pace def. Levan Makashvili via Split Dec. (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Casey Greene (185lbs) vs. Robby Plotkin (184.1lbs)
Robby Plotkin def. Casey Greene via KO at 1:16 of Round 1
Brett Hlavacek (170.2lbs) vs. Paul Malfort (168.2lbs)
Brett Hlavacek def. Paul Malfort via Dec. (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
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