Revenge was sweet Ariel Machado in the final of the GLORY 38 Light-Heavyweight Contender Tournament. He met France's Zinedine Hameur-Lain, the man who stopped him in the final of the GLORY 32 VIRGINIA Light-Heavyweight Contender Tournament last year.
In that first meeting, Hameur-Lain had scored a quick stoppage of Warren Thompson and arrived in the final feeling fresh. Machado in contrast had endured a war with Pavel Zhuravlev and was banged up when he came out for his second fight of the evening.
By coincidence, things played out very similarly for this, their second meeting. Machado had a hard fight with Danyo Ilunga and went the distance, whereas Hameur-Lain managed to stop Brian Collette in the second round, so Hameur-Lain was once again the fresher fighter.
But this rematch would play out differently to the first fight. This time it was Machado who would take control and find the finish, pressuring Hameur-Lain with punches to the head and then dropping him with a body shot towards the end of the first round.
Hameur-Lain hit the deck in agony and failed to beat the referee's count, resulting in a TKO win for Machado. The Brazilian will now go forward to face light-Heavyweight champion Artem Vakhitov for the title later this year.
Machado suffered a cut on the top of his head during the first round of his semi-final fight with Danyo Ilunga. The left side of his face became a mask of blood but it didn't interfere with his vision and did not affect the fight. In fact afterwards the fight turned largely in his favor, Machado finding his mark frequently and putting Ilunga on wobbly legs more than once.
Wild toe-to-toe exchanges occurred frequently during the fight, generally favoring Machado but occasionally going Ilunga's way. During one such exchange in the third, Ilunga went down. He claimed it was a slip but the referee gave him a count. Ilunga beat the count with little difficulty but it was still a knockdown score against him and meant he had to fight desperately.
He went after Machado furiously but the fight was in it's final seconds. For the first time in the fight, Ilunga dominated cleanly. But it was too little, too late. All three judges saw the fight for Machado and sent him through to the final.
Hameur-Lain booked his spot in the finals by stopping Brian Collette in the second round of their semi-final fight. Collette, the tournament reserve, found himself called up on the day of the event when the slot's original incumbent Zack Mwekassa was removed for undisclosed medical reasons.
It was always going to be a tall order stepping in such short notice against a fighter who already has one Contender Tournament win under his belt. Hameur-Lain is a finisher, as he proved again here. Collette gave a good account of himself but suffered two knockdowns.
One came by liver-kick, the second came by way of Hameur-Lain's thunderous right cross. It spun Collette in a circle and left him face down on the canvas just moments before the second round was due to end.
Ariel Machado (45-8-0) def. Zinedine Hameur-Lain (57-15-0), KO, R1, 2:43
Ariel Machado (44-8-0) def. Danyo Ilunga (57-12-0), Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Zinedine Hameur-Lain (57-14-0) def. Brian Collette (23-5-0), KO, R2 2:46
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