MATCHMAKER'S NOTES: GLORY 38 CHICAGO

MATCHMAKER'S NOTES: GLORY 38 CHICAGO

Wednesday, Jul 12 2017

GLORY 38 CHICAGO is almost upon us. It's a very good card, with a very interesting light-Heavyweight world title fight as the main event and a very strong Light-Heavyweight Contender Tournament taking place before it.

The co-Headline fight features Richard Abraham on home soil to defend his undefeated GLORY record against newcomer Antoine Pinto, very experienced on the Muay Thai circuit in Thailand and now coming to GLORY to test his skills under our rules.

Let's take a look at the matchmaking.

First of all, the tournament. This is one of the strongest line-ups a GLORY Contender Tournament has had. Former interim champion Zack 'The Black Warrior' Mwekassa faces Zinedine 'Good Boy' Hameur-Lain in one semi-final and Brazil's Ariel Machado faces Danyo 'Dibuba' Ilunga in the other.

Mwekassa faced Hameur-Lain at GLORY 29 COPENHAGEN and won a decision over three rounds. He seemed comfortable throughout that fight, Hameur-Lain was a little defensive, but also it is worth noting that Hameur-Lain is one of the few opponents in GLORY who did not seem troubled by Mwekassa's power.

Ever since that loss Hameur-Lain has wanted a rematch with Mwekassa; he says it haunted him night and day for months afterwards, he literally lost sleep over it, so this semi-final match is a dream come true for him. He's determined to make the most of it and although Mwekassa is the favorite, the result is wide open.

Hameur-Lain won a Light-Heavyweight Contender tournament once before, at GLORY 32 VIRGINIA, scoring back-to-back stoppages along the way. In the final of that one he stopped Ariel Machado, who had beaten Pavel Zhuravlev in the semi-final. Machado wants revenge against Hameur-Lain and by coincidence Zhuravlev stopped Hameur-Lain at GLORY 35 NICE, so there's some interesting fight math there.

In this tournament semi-final Machado faces Ilunga, formerly the #1 in the division but now riding a losing streak which has dropped him down the rankings. Ilunga had an amazing war with Michael Duut at GLORY 36 GERMANY in December and was unlucky not to win. He remains dangerous despite recent results and his hunger is stronger than ever.

Every fight in this tournament is going to be hard-fought. None of these fighters are going to take a backwards step. Every one of them has got strong personal motivations going into this. It's not just another fight, for most of them it's personal in some way, and that should be visible in the fights.

Into the co-Headline fight now. Richard 'Maximus' Abraham is on home soil in Chicago to face Antoine Pinto, a French national who has lived in Thailand since the age of 11 and has over 100 fights under Muay Thai rules to his name.

Abraham is undefeated in GLORY and is looking to extend his win streak to 5-0, while Pinto is looking to show that the name he has made in Muay Thai will translate to fighting under our rules, where there is more reliance on boxing, pace and power.

It's a classic style vs. style match-up. Pinto has been brought up in Thailand and trained in Muay Thai for more than half of his life. Abraham does have a background in Muay Thai but always had a more Westernized style which made for an easy transition to kickboxing for him.

Since signing with GLORY last year, Pinto has been training with a boxing coach to further develop his hand skills in preparation for this bout, so both fighters have an insight into each other's styles. Abraham is still the heavier puncher but he has to watch out for the kicks from Pinto, as the French fighter is a very dangerous kicker, he has power and timing.

Finally, the world title fight. Cavalari won a very close decision over Vakhitov at GLORY 20 DUBAI back when both of them were still climbing the rankings. Cavalari went on to capture the title and then made his first defense of it in a rematch with Vakhitov, at GLORY 28 PARIS. This time it was Vakhitov who won the day. It was a very impressive performance and he dominated the fight.

Now they are meeting for the third time, so the winner will be 'best of three' and also the light-Heavyweight champion. Based on his latest performances, Vakhitov is the clear favorite. He is a very complete fighter, dangerous at all ranges. He has a large range of techniques and his reflexes and timing are excellent, he's a very intelligent fighter.

Cavalari has serious power, as we saw in his stoppage of Mourad Bouzidi, but his skills are not as polished as Vakhitov's. He fights more on heart, he's more raw than Vakhitov. If he can pressure and overwhelm him then Vakhitov will have some problems, but the Russian is a very cool character and it's unlikely that Cavalari can make him melt in the heat. But we will see.

Cor Hemmers
GLORY Head of Talent Operations

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