In front of a raucous crowd in Amsterdam for Glory 26, the fighters put on an amazing show on Friday evening. All of the fights were entertaining, but the card didn't go over without controversy.
In the main event, Glory welterweight champion Nieky "The Natural" Holzken retained his title with a split-decision victory over Murthel "The Predator" Groenhart (48-47, 49-46, 46-49). It was the first defense for the 31-year-old from Beek en Donk, Netherlands, who enjoyed the bulk of the fans' support throughout the fight.
Groenhart is Dutch-Surinamese, so there was added incentive for both fighters to perform well in front of their countrymen.
Quite honestly, it was an odd decision as Groenhart looked to outwork Holzken through the first four rounds. Per the ESPN 3 broadcast, Groenhart landed more shots, but it appeared Holzken's kicks may have had a bigger impact.
Glory and Showtime Boxing announcer Mauro Ranallo agreed:
Former Glory welterweight champion Joseph Valtellini wasn't as understanding. He wondered aloud on Twitter about fan's perception of the sport after what he believed to be an incorrect decision:
It didn't appear as though Holzken had an answer for Groenhart's cardio and consistent attack. The champion looked to be waiting on the challenger to slow down, but he never did. The 29-year-old Groenhart repeatedly landed a hard left hook to the body and kept his legs busy with kicks to the thigh.
Sensing some desperation in the air, Holzken picked up the pace in the fifth round. He landed a hard kick to the inside of Groenhart's left knee. The shot buckled the challenger's leg. It was easily the champion's biggest shot of the fight, and it should have given him the round.
However, it could be argued that the fifth was the only round Holzken deserved to win in the fight. In any case, the official decision says that he retained the title. It was his second decision victory over Groenhart.
With the closeness of the latest match, Ranallo thinks a third bout may be in order:
After the dust settles, the 29-year-old Groenhart may want to pursue that opportunity, but for now, this one has to sting a little.
That was just one fight from a spectacular night of kickboxing. As Rob Tatum of Combat Press implies, even fans who didn't like the decision in the main event shouldn't let it spoil the rest of the card from Amsterdam:
Here's the results of the televised bouts:
|Mosab Amrani vs. Chi-bin Lim||Featherweight tournament||Amrani by first-round TKO|
|Shane Oblonsky vs. Maykol Yurk||Featherweight tournament||Yurk by second-round TKO|
|Lim vs. Oblonsky||Tourney Final||Amrani by first-round KO|
|(c) Rico Verhoeven vs. Benjamin Adegbuyi||Heavyweight Championship||Verhoeven by first-round KO|
|(c) Nieky Holzken vs. Murthel Groenhart||Welterweight Championship||Holzken by decision (49-46, 48-47, 46-49|
Verhoeven Taps into His Power
Though he's not normally known as a finisher, Glory heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven showed off his newfound boxing prowess on Friday.
In another rematch, Verhoeven destroyed Benjamin Adegbuyi in the first round with a titanic right hand that made the referee count completely unnecessary. Glory on Instagram has the entire sequence:
The 26-year-old Verhoeven has been sparring with newly crowned heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury, per Michael Stets of MMAMania.com. The workouts seem to be working as Verhoeven landed bigger punches in the first 60 seconds of his fight than Fury did in 12 rounds of "action" against Wladimir Klitschko on Nov. 28.
Verhoeven could be on the cusp of superstardom. He made his successful MMA debut on October 19 with a KO win over Viktor Bogutzki at RXF 20. MMA Fighting and Fox Sports' Ariel Helwani would love to see Verhoeven continue down that path:
Per Ranallo, Verhoeven is open to any challenger in his next fight:
If he wants to truly take his earning potential to the next level, a move to the UFC or even into boxing might be a smart transition. As of now, he's the baddest man in Glory.
Amrani is the Real Deal
If Glory 26 was anyone's first time seeing 28-year-old, Dutch-Moroccan Mosab "The Jaguar" Amrani in action, that person had to have come away impressed. Amrani blew through two opponents en route to a definitive Glory featherweight tournament victory.
He earned a shot at champion Serhiy Adamchuk sometime in 2016.
In his first fight of the night, Amrani made quick work of Chi-bin Lim. Ruthless combination punching left the 36-year-old South Korean writhing in pain and stopped inside the first round. Tatum described the sequence that led to the end, and Caposa has the video to support the commentary:
Attempting to match Amrani's impressive performance, Maykol Yurk crushed Shane Oblonsky in the second round of the other semifinal match to earn his shot at Amrani. Caposa also has the vicious kick and knee combination that stopped Oblonsky:
It appeared as though we might have a competitive tournament final. Not so much.
Amrani's speed and precise striking quickly proved to be too much for Yurk. This liver shot in the first round, captured by Glory on Twitter, spelled the end for Yurk.
Amrani needed less than two rounds of work to prove himself worthy of a title shot. Adamchuk better be in the gym right now, because the Jaguar won't be easy to tame.
After a night of drama and spectacular knockouts, we can only hope the next few Glory cards can live up to what this one delivered.
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