This Friday, Glory World Series is finally back in business!
It's no secret that the brilliant kickboxing organization was reeling after a disastrous debut on pay-per-view at Glory: Last Man Standing that reportedly only approximately six thousand people bought. The great shame is that, speaking as one of those six thousand people, Last Man Standing was one of the best events I've ever seen.
Why did it fail so hard? Could be something to do with the fact that the lead in event to the pay-per-view was headlined by the aged Mirko Cro Cop, who ground out another snoozer. Could be that the pay-per-view market is dying on its arse. At any rate, Glory survived and won't make that mistake again so we can return to semi-regular events from the greatest kickboxing promotion on the planet.
The entertaining match up between Rico Verhoeven and Errol Zimmerman headlines Glory 19, with a co-main tilt between Joe Schilling and Robert Thomas.
Verhoeven versus Zimmerman is an interesting bout, concluding a trilogy between the men in which they have split one win a piece. In the first bout, back in 2012, Zimmerman starched the young and twitchy Verhoeven in a minute flat. The mistake which cost Verhoeven his consciousness was hanging out in front of Verhoeven with his earmuffs on.
This is a standard tactic of a lot of kickboxing's infighters. Current Glory lightweight champion, Robin van Roosmalen, does a lot of his best work from head to head with his opponent and his gloves up around his head.
The difference with Zimmerman is that he has a very peculiar weapon in his right hook. When we say right hook we normally refer to a body shot or an overhand punch that comes down on a slight angle. The overhand is simply so much better suited to circumventing guards. Except Zimmerman knocks opponents out with a true, parallel to the floor, check-it-with-a-spirit-level right hook. Zimmerman's right hook loops clean around the opponent's left hand and gets in behind. Zimmerman's knockout of Hesdy Gerges is a fantastic example of this punch doing the damage on its own.
When it doesn't knock opponents down immediately, Zimmerman will use it to turn the opponent and keep swinging. Even Zimmerman's blocked blows have the power to throw his opponent in the path of his follow ups.
Another favorite of Zimmerman is the right knee into the right hook, and it works a treat.
Notice how Zimmerman's right knee is thrown violently upwards, as if to strike the jaw from underneath, but often just slides in so that his shin is along the opponent's body. Their lead hand inevitably drops or comes forward, and that perfect right hook swings in with nothing in the way of it.
The great flaw in Zimmerman's game is that when he leads, his head comes way up in the air and he always approaches on the same straight line. Consequently he'll throw a jab, eat a jab, and miss the right hook a lot of the time.
In their second meeting, though, Verhoeven fought a great deal more intelligently. The first round was fairly even, but in the second round Verhoeven began to deny Zimmerman blows. Zimmerman thrives in trades, but struggles in cleaner, measured engagements. Verhoeven used his front thrust kick, one of the most painful to watch in combat sports, to both wind Zimmerman and push him out of range.
When Verhoeven did end up in punching range, he didn't hang about there with his guard up, he got his punches off and immediately tied up.
A push kick into a punching combination to the body and a tie up.
A long jab, a quick bum rush and a step out of range on the realization that it was about to turn.
Verhoeven is also a brilliant power low kicker in close. When his opponent kicks, he'll perform the classic taking out of the standing leg.
And against ferocious close range punchers, Verhoeven will often punt out one of their legs as they are shifting their weight, then move out of range as they recover. He showed this extensively against Gokhan Saki.
Zimmerman and Verhoeven are in very different places—Zimmerman being 4-4 in Glory, where Verhoeven boasts one of the best records in the organization at 7-1 with a single loss to the great, and now retired, Semmy Schilt. However, Zimmerman has proven that Verhoeven needs to fight exceptionally carefully against him. In fact, due to the lapse between Glory events, Verhoeven recently took a tune up fight in China against a seemingly easy opponent, yet came out sluggishly and lost an ugly decision. If Verhoeven doesn't watch his Ps and Qs there is every possibility that he'll get laid out again.
Meanwhile, Joe Schilling returns in the co-main event. Schilling should be a real star for Glory, in spite of his recent loss to Artem Levin, because he is American, has more heart than he knows what to do with, and can turn a fight around in an instant. Schilling's A-game is in the push kicks and his off-balancing of opponents, not really in the knockout power department, but disregarding his ability to put people away would be incredibly dangerous.
Though I would not rate his hands as among the best in his division, and they're probably something of a secondary weapon, Schilling has startled us time and time again when his back is against the wall. From the superman punch which dropped Artem Levin, to a pair of breath-taking, come-from-behind right hands which he walked Simon Marcus and Melvin Manhoef onto.
Rober Thomas' lack of a Wikipedia page and 1-1 record in the Glory organization might lead you to write him off as a gimme fight for Schilling, but don't be so hasty to judge him. His sole loss in Glory came to the aforementioned Artem Levin—the best fighter in the division—and his most recent performance was a masterful marriage of Muay Thai footwork and boxing counters.
As Mike Lemaire came in with a jab, Thomas slipped to the elbow side, delivered a left hook to the body, a left hook to the head and a right high kick over the shoulder as Lemaire backed up. As Lemaire returned to his feet, Thomas put him down with a left hook into a left uppercut followed by a right hand. It was simply beautiful boxing.
Those fights are reason enough to watch, but more than that it is always worth watching these events because there will be some new technique, combination, counter, or tactic—or an old one resurrected from the past—which will have us talking. Especially with Raymond Daniels (he of the side kick into jumping hook kick knockout) on the card. Glory 19, watch it.
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