Our very own Dave Noseworthy gives his take on why Pro Wrestling’s influence on MMA has never been more prevalent than it is right now.
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GLORY: Redemption – Breakdown and Predictions
Glory returns to pay-per-view today with a stacked card, featuring some of their greatest fighters. Among them are reigning champions Rico Verhoeven and Alex Pereira, as well as the return of former title holder Nieky Holzken.
In the main event, Rico puts his heavyweight title on the line against the very dangerous Jamal Ben Saddik, who defeated him 6 years ago. Rico comes into the fight riding an impressive 14-fight Glory winning streak.
The co-main event features a rematch of the 2016 Fight of the Year between light heavyweight veterans Michael ‘The Dreamcrusher’ Duut and Danyo ‘Dibuba’ Ilunga. The card is a must-see for kickboxing fans, as well as those who just love a good scrap. And with that out of the way, here’s a breakdown of some of the more interesting fight’s on Saturday’s super-card. Enjoy.
Nieky Holzken vs Alim Nabiyev
Nabiyev came into Glory with a decent amount of steam behind him, but following his bout against short-notice opponent Jimmy Veinot, I honestly don’t see it. Nieky’s reign as champion was one of the best, and despite two close losses to the equally talented Cédric Doumbé, he’s still one of the best welterweights in the world today. With wins over Raymond Daniels, Joseph Valtellini, and current champion Murthel Groenhart, it’s hard to imagine Nieky having much of a problem with Nabiyev.
Expect plenty of pressure from Holzken early on. Coming off two straight losses Nieky will want to make a statement, and prove that he’s still the man to beat at 170. The liver shot will do it. Holzken will just be too much for Alim. Nabiyev has potential and could be a contender in the future, but right now Holzken is on a whole ‘nother level. Nieky is back, and he wants that title.
Prediction: Nieky Holzken by 1st Round TKO
Alex Pereira vs Yousri Belgaroui
Pereira’s win back at Glory 46 came as a shock to me. Simon Marcus has proven himself to be one of the best fighters in the division, and while Pereira is a solid kickboxer in his own right, I fully expected Marcus to win that one pretty easy. I was wrong. Pereira was the better man, and is now the Glory middleweight champion. But don’t expect it to last. Yousri completely shut Pereira down in there last meeting at Glory 40. And based on his last performance, a first round TKO over former champ Jason Wilnis, he’s only getting better.
Pereira’s path to victory is pretty simple, strike hard and strike early. The deep waters are not a place where Alex thrives. His cardio has been questionable in the past and his vaunted knockout power diminishes as the fight goes on. If Pereira can’t put Yousri on the back foot early it’s hard to see him taking this one.
The last fight was a fairly decisive win for Belgaroui. Alex was unable to score on Yousri and was picked apart after gassing out late into the fight. Pereira is a talented striker with some serious power, but Belgaroui’s well-rounded game and superior cardio should be enough to win him the championship.
Prediction: Yousri Belgaroui by Unanimous Decision
Michael Duut vs Danyo Ilunga
Last year these two stole the show, putting on one of the greatest fights of the year, maybe of all-time. But can they do it again? It’s hard to say. Consistency is not a strong suit for either of these men. Following his thriller with Ilunga, Duut went on to lose his next Glory contest by disqualification due to excessive clinching, then later won a contender tournament in less than a minute (48 seconds to be exact).
Duut’s incredible power and brawler style make him a dangerous fight for just about anyone in the light heavyweight division, but his lack of defence make him an easy target. Unfortunately, Ilunga hasn’t hit a bullsye in quite some time.
Danyo comes into this fight on a whopping 7 fight losing streak, and hasn’t won a fight in Glory since 2014. On the bright side, all 7 losses have come by decision so his chin has held up. Plus Duut isn’t the most durable guy in the world, so it’s possible that Ilunga could knock him out. But I don’t see that happening. Duut is just too powerful and Ilunga isn’t the same fighter he used to be. Hopefully the fight is as great as the last one was, but don’t expect it to go to a 4th round this time. Ilunga’s on a slippery slope, and Duut’s about to cause an avalanche.
Prediciton: Michael Duut by 3rd Round KO
Rico Verhoeven vs Jamal Ben Saddik
Despite being the main event this was one of the easier fights to pick. Rico has looked unstoppable lately, and as much as people hate to give him credit for anything, he really is the best heavyweight in the world right now. That doesn’t mean a whole lot considering how weak the division is at the moment, but Rico is champion for a reason.
The rest of the heavyweights just aren’t on his level. ‘Big Ben’ included. Jamal’s last fight against Guto Inocente was a total snoozefest, and if not for his rivalry with Rico he probably wouldn’t even be in the title picture. Badr Hari better get his act together cause Rico’s running out of opponents.
The only advantage I see Jamal having is his power. Rico is faster, more precise, and his striking is more diverse. Again, this is a heavyweight contest so anything can happen, but Jamal hasn’t KO’d a world-class opponent since he fought ‘Braddock’ 2 years ago. Since then, Rico has knocked-out Benjamin Adegbuyi, ‘Braddock’, Bigfoot Silva, and broke Badr’s arm earning him a TKO victory. Rico’s the better fighter, simple as that. And no amount of chest hair is going to change that.
Prediction: Rico Verhoeven by 5th Round KO
All images used in this article are accredited to GLORY Kickboxing
Cub Swanson Could End up like Jacaré Souza
With a professional career 13 years long, Cub Swanson has fought nearly anyone and everyone put in front of him, and through wins and losses, he grew as a fighter and has been keeping his place in the top 5 for quite some time.
While he has won his last 4 fights, rather than fighting the top 10 fighters, Swanson lately has been playing the role of a gatekeeper, fighting anyone who calls him out, the likes of Doo Ho Choi and Artem Lobov.
Late situations haven’t made Swanson so happy, however, as a title shot that he feels is very deserved hasn’t come to him so easily. And now he knows that he has to go through at least one more fighter in order to be matched up against the Hawaiian champion, the last fighter to defeat Swanson, and even with this win there is no guarantee that Swanson is next in line.
Here’s why this weekend is such a risk for Swanson:
Ortega has the ability to finish the fight from anywhere. And I mean literally anywhere, whether it’s on his feet, from the top, or from his back. We’ve seen in the Renato Moicano fight how high-level Ortega’s submission game is. And Swanson’s last 3 losses all came via submission; 3 different submissions.
So then you might think Swanson has a gigantic advantage on the feet. Well, not exactly. Ortega’s striking has been improving every single fight, and from the 3 round war that he had against Thiago Tavares to his most recent fight against Moicano, we saw an evolution in the striking game of Ortega, becoming more fluid and crisp.
Swanson brings a very unorthodox and creative style, and it has worked out against rather one-dimensional fighters in his recent fights, but with creativity comes lots of openings for his opponents, and Ortega is most definitely skilled enough to capitalize on it. It would be hard to tell who has the striking edge until the fight begins, but Swanson won’t be able to just run right through Ortega on the feet.
But of course, being a long time veteran in the sport, Swanson has advantages of his own. Experience is huge. Swanson has gone into the 5th round three times in his career, with two of them going the distance. This will be Ortega’s first time in the UFC going to the 5th round should the fight go that long, and while his cardio looks phenomenal every fight in later rounds, fighting for 10 more minutes than usual can be a big factor in the fight.
Should Swanson lose this weekend, it reminds me of a very similar case, one Jacaré Souza’s.
Souza was a top contender in the middleweight division for years, and is still considered to be. But with his recent loss to the now undisputed middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, he was pushed back a few steps. Many argue that Souza should have received a title shot a long time ago, most likely right after Bisping took the title from Luke Rockhold, and I couldn’t agree more.
Vença com ousadia, perca com classe. Quem não se arrisca a um fracasso, nunca chega a vitória. Sem mimimi. Parabéns, Whittaker! E o meu muito obrigado pela torcida e carinho de quem esteve, está e sempre estará ao meu lado. Em breve estarei de volta, e ainda mais forte! #TimeJacare 🐊 . Win with audacity, lose with class. Who doesn't take risks never gets the victory. No excuses. Congratulations, @robwhittakermma! And my thank you to everyone for the support of those of always were and always will be by my side. I'll come back soon, and stronger! #TeamJacare 🐊 . #BeMoreHuman @reebok @reebokbrasil @refmanguinhosoficial @usinadecampeoes @ufc @ufc_brasil
Other than his rather controversial loss to his Yoel Romero back at UFC 194, Souza has won every fight since 2012 before running into Robert Whittaker. Instead his opportunity was stalled while Michael Bisping fought then number 13 ranked contender Dan Henderson, and Souza was forced to continue to fight against others in order to keep himself active.
Here Cub Swanson faces a very similar case. Even if he manages to pull off a win over a legitimate contender in Ortega, nothing is guaranteed for him at this point, especially with Frankie Edgar still eager to get back in there to get what was supposed to be his fight at UFC 218 before he got injured. But a loss will be devastating for Cub, and will likely push him outside of top 5, and at the age of 34, he is not in a position where he can comfortably afford that.
On the other hand, Ortega has everything to gain. At only age of 26, Ortega is still adding onto his game, and as he said, he doesn’t fear losing since there is much to gain for him from losing for the first time as a professional at his age. Better to lose early than later when his game is already fully developed.
Will Ortega take out Swanson and rise as a new threat to the champion Max Holloway? UFC Fight Night 123 goes down this Saturday in Save Mart Center, Fresno, California
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