The Last Man Standing PPV event started with the first tournament quarter final Artem Levin Vs. Alex Pereira. Let me just say how amazing it was to be able to watch a good kickboxing event in full HD on my TV without any hassle of hooking up my laptop, considering The Fight Network and Spike TV still don't have HD channels where I am. Levin basically had Pereira outclassed, he was doing whatever he liked, slipping and countering the very nervous looking Brazilian. When Pereira actually threw his punches like we've seen him do before he would either land or come very close, but he appeared to be to tentative and Levin's liver punches weren't helping. The Russian used his slick defense, counters and experience to coast to a (30-27 on all scorecards) Unanimous decision and moved onto the semi-finals with very little damage to his body.
The second tournament quarter final featured the always entertaining fan favourite Melvin Manhoef Vs. Filip "The Belgian Bull" Verlinden. As much as everyone I spoke to wanted Manhoef to get back to his violent ways and showcase one of his signature explosive knockouts, realistically we all knew it would not be easy. Manhoef was at a substantial height disadvantage, and Verlinden is a very technical fighter who really doesn't get hit very often. We were all on the edge of our seats because we know what Melvin is capable of, and he was stalking Filip and keeping him on the ropes waiting to pounce the entire fight. In the first round Melvin came in with a big overhand right and Verlinden moved left to avoid it and threw an absolutely beautifully timed head kick which caught Manhoef on the forehead and dropped him. Melvin seemed fine when he stood up, but hes lucky that kick didn't hit his chin, or else that fight would have been over. For the rest of the fight it was more of the same, Melvin stalking Verlinden as the Belgian moved, blocked and just won by having a much higher output and of course the knockdown in the first. One of the judges gave the fight 28-28 and the other two gave it 30-27 to Verlinden. Maybe that one judge was checking his text messages during the fight, because I don't personally see how he could have scored this fight a draw.
Joe Schilling Vs. Simon Marcus was the third quarter final match-up and the most exciting fight of the night. Most Joe Schilling fights have some sort of dramatic event and this time was no different. During the first round I felt Schilling was taking control of the fight but the referee was definitely giving Marcus an advantage by allowing him to clinch for longer than I thought was allowed. Nonetheless, the first round was for Schilling, the second round was more of the same, Schilling's hands are just much better than Simon's and he was putting them to use nicely, but what made this fight so exciting is that I wouldn't consider either man to possess the greatest defense. Simon finally pinned Joe in a corner and threw 4 straight punches as hard as he could and from what I could see his eyes appeared closed considering he is not used to throwing combos like this, the last straight right landed and dropped Schilling causing Marcus to win that round by two points. Schilling recovered well and won the third round the same way as the first and now of course they had to go to an extra round. As the extra round was starting Schilling looked the more fatigued of the two fighters, but about a minute into the round Marcus started dropping his mouth guard. This tactic is often used by a tired fighter to get a break or the mouth guard just doesn't fit well; however, it should be noted that this wasn't happening very often in the first few rounds. It seemed with every drop of the mouth piece Marcus looked more and more tired and Schilling seemed to just be maintaining his energy level. At this point Big John McCarthy had enough of the stalling and he took a point from Simon for dropping his mouth guard too many times. Therefore, Marcus now needed a knockout to win considering the extra round is judged as one single round and this is where Simon gained respect from a lot of people. He just went after Joe as hard as he could, Simon had 40 seconds to get a knockout and he was going to do everything in his power to do it but with only 20 seconds left he tried to repeat what he did to drop Joe in the second round but this time he got caught with a big right hook with his eyes closed and mouth open. The punch sent his mouth piece flying and Marcus crashing to the mat stiff as a board. Joe Schilling moved on to the semi's avenging his 2 previous losses by knockout with 20 seconds left in the extra round and once again in dramatic fashion which had me jumping out of my seat, only thing was this was a war and there is a possibility of two more fights.
Fourth quarter final was American Wayne Barrett Vs. Bogdan Stoica from Romania. Barrett was keeping Stoica guessing with his foot work, boxing, and sometimes even randomly jumping straight into the air. Stoica, known for his flying knees, seemed to look a little more nervous than usual, this was his Glory debut after all. Not much was happening during the first two rounds, Stoica really couldn't get anything off because Barrett's footwork was too good. Early in the third round Stoica went for his signature flying knee but Barrett had already anticipated it and moved back the just the right amount while landing a perfect left hook counter on the chin of the airborne Stoica and crumbling him to the canvas. Barett moved on to the semis by 3rd round knockout and didn't take too much damage apart from a headbutt which gave him a nasty Rahman Vs. Holyfield like bump on his forehead.
While the tournament semi-finalists were resting Glory gave us two world title fights. They started with the welterweight title fight between current champion Marc De Bonte and Canadian "Bazooka" Joe Valtellini, this was a very close second place for fight of the night. Bazooka Joe started off controlling the pace and the ring by moving forward and throwing his usual combinations. De Bonte was covering up well, blocking most strikes and throwing counters which were landing, the first round was close but in my opinion De Bonte got it just for the cleaner strikes landed. Second round was all Bazooka Joe, he was throwing great combos, pushing the champion around and avoiding the few counters De Bonte threw this round. Third round Valtellini kept his momentum going with a beautiful hand combination consisting of both head and body punches which he followed by a quick head kick dropping De bonte flat on his back. De Bonte being the experienced fighter he is stayed down for the full eight count then stood up and amazingly seemed to have recovered to make it to the fourth round. Fourth round was big for the champion, it seemed like this was exactly what De Bonte had been waiting for the entire fight, he landed a perfect jumping switch left knee right on Valtellinis chin, he went down hard. Bazooka Joe doesn't have the experience De Bonte has so he tries to stand right away instead of taking his time and is still very wobbly on his feet while the ref gives him the eight count. De Bonte continued the onslaught and battered Valtellini around the ring for the rest of the round and the fifth and final round aswell, Valtellini stayed on his feet during the last round but he had zero offence as he was just barely surviving the whole round. If Glory judges were allowed give 10-8 rounds without a knockdown the fifth would have been one, but i do not think they are. Overall a very close fight, one knockdown and one dominant round for each fighter it all really depended on how the judges scored round 1 and all three judges saw it the same way 47-46 for the new welterweight champion "Bazooka" Joe Valltelini. Joe definitely has some serious work to do to keep the belt away from the man that knocked him out at Glory 13 in Tokyo, Nieky Holzken.
The Semi-finals of the tournament were much slower paced than the quarter finals, probably due to people being pretty beat up. Levin once again used his defense and slick style to not allow Verlinden to land anything while picking him off and winning a unanimous decision 30-27 on all cards. Joe Schilling met Wayne Barrett for a rematch and both fighters were a lot more cautious than they were in their first encounter. The fight was actually quite uneventful and close Joe Schilling won a split decision judges scores were 28-29 Schilling, 28-29 Barrett, and 30-27 Schilling, the last judge was out to lunch.
The heavyweight world title fight between Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita was far from exciting. It was much like their first encounter but with much less output from both fighters. To be honest I can barely remember anything significant from the fight, all that stuck in my mind was Ghita's Trainer Erik Van Warmerdam telling Daniel between rounds to keep waiting, or telling him that Rico was behind. It was very strange advice, something that I personally have never heard from a corner man. When the fight ended none of us watching could choose a winner, I would have hated to be a judge. Ghita did more visible damage with his body kicks, Rico's body looked all beat up and one of his ribs looked to be protruding, but Rico was busier and had much more output and looked to be controlling the pace for all five rounds. In the end the volume of strikes and ring generalship was more important to the judges and Rico Verhoeven kept his belt by unanimous decision, judges scores were 49-46, 49-46, 48-47.
The tournament final, another rematch for Joe schilling, he had already avenged his losses to Marcus and Barrett and now he had to beat Artem Levin to prove the first time wasn't luck. Schilling had been in two hard fights already and Levin was virtually untouched so this would not be an easy task. First round, once again Levin is controlling the fight by making Schilling miss, countering or smothering. Half way through the round Levin missed a right hook and came around with a perfect spinning back fist and dropped Schilling for a 10-8 round. The rest of the fight was just the Russian knowing he is the fresher fighter, ahead on the scorecards and the one with the superior defense. He won the next two rounds handily once again barely taking any damage and becoming the new Glory middleweight champion and $200,000 richer by unanimous decision, judges scores were 29-26, 29-26, 29-26.
Overall I enjoyed Glory 17 thoroughly, out of fifteen fights there was one lackluster bout. I'm really hoping that Glory continues with the PPVs and the under card on Spike TV so that fight fans can learn to appreciate kickboxing. As long as Glory fans keep supporting them, and Glory keeps putting on events like this I cannot see why it shouldn't become the next big thing in fight sports.
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