GLORY 9 takes place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City this Saturday, June 22nd. Among the night’s major attractions will be an 8-man light heavyweight (209 lb./95 kg.) tournament, featuring much of the world’s top talent at that weight. The tournament field includes longtime divisional standouts, champions of all varieties, and a couple of American kickboxers with the chance to prove themselves on the international stage. Here is just a bit more information about each of the fighters in the field.
Tyrone Spong leads the pack in both name recognition and prior accomplishments. Spong is a former champion at light heavyweight, having won the It’s Showtime 95MAX title against a pre-Freddie Mercury mustache version of Zabit Samedov in 2008. Fans will be more familiar with his recent time as a heavyweight, capped off by knockout victories over Peter Aerts and Remy Bonjasky. The second part of Spong’s ongoing The King of the Ring video series was just released.
Michael Duut is the youngest competitor in the 8-man field. He is coming off of two late-notice wins under the Glory banner, defeating Dustin Jacoby via technical knockout and Steve McKinnon via decision. Despite those two wins, Duut has perhaps the most formidable task of anyone in the quarterfinal round of Saturday’s tournament, where he meets Tyrone Spong.
Steve McKinnon may be 0-1 in Glory, but he enters with one of the more impressive resumes in the tournament field. The Australian light heavyweight gained some notoriety for his second bout against Nathan Corbett this past September, a bout which McKinnon lost via decision. McKinnon holds victories over Paul Slowinski, Ashwin Balrak, Stephane Susperregui, and Frank Munoz.
Filip Verlinden enters Saturday’s tournament ranked second among light heavyweights in Glory’s internal rankings. Like others in the tournament field, the Belgian has spent some time at heavyweight. He competed in Glory’s heavyweight Grand Slam last year, dropping a decision to Remy Bonjasky in the opening round. Verlinden has competed for It’s Showtime, defeated Martin Jahn and Chris Knowles in the Muaythai Premier League, and was victorious at the IFMA World Championships in 2010.
Danyo Ilunga won the It’s Showtime 95MAX title in early 2011, after it was vacated by Tyrone Spong. Ilunga successfully defended the title three times before the promotion was assumed under the Glory banner. Ilunga’s final title defense came against tournament competitor Filip Verlinden, in a bout that Ilunga won via split decision. The Congolese-German fighter has since defeated Ali Cenik and Stephane Susperregui in two Glory bouts.
Mourad Bouzidi will meet up with Danyo Ilunga in the quarterfinals of Saturday’s tournament. Bouzidi is 2-2 in Glory fights since last October. This will be Bouzidi’s second Glory tournament, as he competed in the promotion’s heavyweight Grand Slam late last year. He left Rustemi Kreshnik with one of the nastier broken noses you’ll ever see in a bout that occurred a little less than a year ago. Bouzidi has experienced some hot and cold stretches throughout his career, including a five fight streak of losses that immediately followed back-to-back victories over Anderson “Braddock” Silva.
Dustin Jacoby competed in the UFC twice between 2011 and 2012. Jacoby began his kickboxing run in February of this year, winning the 8-man, Road to Glory USA light heavyweight tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jacoby scored three knockout wins in that one-night competition, defeating tournament favorite Randy Blake, fellow MMA veteran Roy Boughton, and his upcoming opponent Brian Collette. He has competed once since, losing to fellow tournament competitor Michael Duut at Glory 5 in London.
Brian Collette was something of an American kickboxing prospect heading into February’s Road to Glory tournament in Tulsa. The Virginian made it to the finals with his undefeated record intact, on the back of knockout wins over Jeremy Freitag and Kyle Martin. Then he lost to surprise tournament winner, Dustin Jacoby. A WKA amateur champion, Collette has competed in New York City before, fighting for Take On Productions at Madison Square Garden. He’ll be looking to get one back against Jacoby in the opening round of Saturday’s tournament.