Karim Ghajji

Bellator Kickboxing Florence – Preview: Petrosyan vs. Watson and Kevin Ross gets his wish

Headlining the Bellator Kickboxing Florence card at Bellator 168 is Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Jordan Watson, in what will be an interesting clash of styles at the Mandela Forum on December 10. Watson is renown for being big, powerful and some might say, ‘Mr Right Kick’. As well as having previous with southpaws, most notably: Sanny Dhalbeck and Ben Hodge  from which, he’s certainly learnt and improved himself as a fighter. In his last fight with Hodge at Yokkao 20, Watson was flirting with switching stances from orthodox to southpaw and vice-versa but there’s more to simply switch hitting to bamboozling Petrosyan.

However, “The Doctor” has been there and seen it all including, winning a couple of K-1 Max trophies in the mix too. The last person to really put it on him was a certain Andy Ristie at GLORY 12, resulting in the biggest upset of the decade – Petrosyan being left KO’d on the canvas. Not to mention his GLORY 3 bout with two weight champion, Robin van Roosmalen. Although that decision went Petrosyan’s way, it strongly hinted at something – when his opponents are not only relentless with giving him a fight but most significantly, are of much higher calibre than your typical pressure fighter, they can cause the Italian kickboxing maestro all sorts of problems.

Nevertheless, Watson’s mindset and attitude will be key factors on Saturday which, he opened up about after Yokkao 20, regarding his past approach to his career. If his mind, body and soul are focused on the task at hand on Saturday then anything is possible. Especially as no one, not even Petrosyan, is unbreakable in the ring. However, the obvious favourite is the two time K-1 Max champion, whose kickboxing experience outweighs that of Watson’s.

Alessio Arudini is a very competent Thai boxer who, will be greeting Kevin Ross in the ring come Saturday. He’s also a very good kicker with a variety of kicks in his arsenal: whether he maybe attacking both the inside and outside of the lead leg, or, even pulling off more fancy stuff like, spinning back kicks and even ‘question mark kicks’ from his right leg.

In the buildup, Ross was complimentary of the Italian but don’t expect the switch from both of their favoured rule set to dampen how exciting this fight could turn out to be. “The Soul Assassin” is more than experienced enough to handle someone as threatening as Arudini and if anything, the level of competition he’s facing this time round, in Bellator Kickboxing, will be exactly what he’s been looking for to elevate his own performance too.

“He’s just a more, I’d say, traditional, solid Thai boxer. I’m looking forward to a more technical fight.”

Luca Novello is most probably out of his depth against the vastly experienced Karim Ghajji who, was formerly Bellator Kickboxing’s inaugural welterweight champion, defeating Mustafa Haida at Bellator 152 by split decision. However, whether or not Novello has developed some serious ringcraft since being overwhelmed by Antoine Pinto (at Thai Fight, November 2014) is the ultimate question and one that will be answered when he faces Ghajji. However, “Gadjetboy” mustn’t underestimate Novello who, turns 23 the day before their clash; he’ll be more determined than ever to get a win over someone of Ghajji’s profile, especially infront of his home corwd.

Denise Kieholtz gets her rematch with Gloria Peritore after what some had reported as controversial decision loss to the Italian at Bellator Dynamite 2. However, Peritore never stays still and will continuously keep moving away and around the ring until she decides to close range, exchange with a few quick strikes and then move out and away again. If anything, Peritore is always on the balls of her feet which, allows her to throw those nice head kicks and teeps to face, a lot easier compared to being a plodder; and the word, ‘plodder’ could be sum up the majority of the latter’s movement in their last fight.

Denise Kieholtz vs Gloria Peritore

Denise Kieholtz vs. Gloria Peritore – Image: Bellator / Oktagon

Previously, Kielholtz failed to keep constant pressure and spent more time waiting in the centre of the ring and just following her opponent; not cutting off the ring; and not keeping at close range and cutting angles to then blast Peritore all over the place with her Dutch kickboxing venom. Unless she fights more like her man, Hesdy Gerges, history could very well repeat itself in Florence between these two.

Joe Schilling has had a shocking run of three straight defeats after a decision win over Mike Lemaire to start the year at GLORY 27. However, Schilling’s brand image is too big an investment for Bellator to possibly risk by matching him up against a more talented fighter than Victorio Lermano at this moment in time. No disrespect but Lermano does not have the skill set nor power to compete with someone as technically violent as Schilling. So, don’t be surprised by anything other than a return to winning ways for “Stich ‘em up” to end the year but then again, the majority of people expected Schilling to take care of Hisaki Kato in their rematch under kickboxing rules.

Glory 11 – Results, Reactions, and Pics!

It was an epic night for Muay Thai and Kickboxing fans worldwide and especially in America. GLORY, the cream of the crop when it comes to Kickboxing aired on American TV, nationwide for the first time in history. And the fighters, no doubt aware that they were on national television, did not fail to deliver. Out of the 17 fights on the card, 6 aired on television. And all 6 that did air were absolutely jaw dropping in their excitment. Probably one of the biggest stories of the night were that 24 year old Dutchman Rico Verhoeven stunned the world by defeating fan favorties Gokhan Saki and Daniel Ghita en route to the Glory Heavyweight Tournament Championship and a $250,000 grand prize. When discussing his win, Rico Verhoeven had this to say:

“I said I was going to do it and I did it. I have been dreaming of this since I was six years old and I always believed it would come true. I told myself every day since I was six years old that I would be a champion and today it came true. I always believed in myself. I did it for my daughter. She’s nearly three years old so she understands some things which are said to her. I promised her I was going to come back with the title and the prize money. I was thinking about that promise; that’s what kept me going in the final minutes and gave me the power to win the tournament. I’m really happy we were able to have such exciting fights for the SPIKE TV debut. I think we showed all the US fight fans what kickboxing is all about. This is our time now. GLORY is here to stay.”

In the other big news of the night Tyrone Spong defeated Nathan Corbett, got his revenge over the Australian, and further demonstrated that he deserves his nickname of “King of the Ring”.

“Everything went according to plan. I am very happy with the outcome; it all went exactly as planned. There was a lot of talk about the rematch and settling scores but there was no pressure for me. There is some bad blood but that’s in the past now after this fight. I think I played my part tonight for SPIKE and for the organization and for the sport. More and more I am becoming the face of GLORY and I deliver. I put in a lot of hard work to live up to this role as an ambassador for the sport and the organization here in the United States. I will keep working hard and I will continue to deliver.”

And Joseph Valtellini put on a masterful performance against Kharim Ghajji en route to Glory’s #2 spot and no doubt a shot at the Glory Welterweight title currently held by Nieky “The Natural” Holzken.

“Ghajii was really tough. He’s had over 100 fights and you could feel that in his quality and the way he responded to things. I hit him with some really hard shots, some big head kicks and I was like damn, how are you still standing up? It was one of the toughest fights of my career without a doubt. I move to number two in the rankings now and I’ve booked my spot in the welterweight tournament taking place in Tokyo this November. I can’t wait for that. I am coming for that number one spot that Nieky Holzken is in right now. I am going to be number one. I’ve always said it and now I am going to do it.”

It was definitely a historic night for Kickboxing in America, and if the turnout shown at Chicago’s Sears Centre Arena is any indication of the following GLORY can muster, than there is no doubt that next month’s event in New York and any subsequent events, will only continue to showcase that Kickboxing in America and especially GLORY, is the evolution of combat sports. Muay Thai and Kickboxing are here to stay!

GLORY 11 FULL RESULTS:

Glory 4-Man Heavyweight Tournament Semi-Final
Rico Verhoeven def. Gokhan Saki by Majority Decision
Daniel Ghita def. Anderson Silva by KO in Rd. 1

Glory 4-Man Heavyweight Tournament Final
Rico Verhoeven def. Daniel Ghita by Unanimous Decision

Glory 4-Man Heavyweight Tournament Reserve Bout
Errol Zimmerman def. Hesdy Gerges by TKO in Rd. 3

Super Fights
Tyrone Spong def. Nathan Corbett by KO in Rd. 2
Joseph Valtellini def. Karim Ghajji by TKO in Rd. 3

Under Card
Sergei Kharitonov def. Daniel Sam by Unanimous Decision
Danyo Ilunga def. Michael Duut by TKO in Rd. 1
Saulo Cavalair def. Filip Verlinden by Unanimous Decision
Steve Moxon def. Reece McAllister by KO in Rd. 3
Gabriel Varga def. Jose Palacios by Unanimous Decision
Troy Sheridan def. Michael Mananquil by Unanimous Decision
Maurice Greene def. Yang Rae Yoo by Unanimous Decision
Aaron Swenson def. Billy Rose by KO in Rd. 2
Kyle Weickhardt def. Quartus Stitt by Unanimous Decision
Ian Alexander def. Austin Lewis by Split Decision
Axel Mendez def. Jordan Weiland by Unanimous Decision