Posted on September 30 2013


American middleweight Joe ‘Stitch ‘Em Up’ Schilling had a thrilling fight with Artem ‘The Lion’ Levin in the tournament final. The initial three-round duration resulted in a majority draw from the judges to the fight went to an extra round which had the assembled fans on their edge of their seats.

“I can’t even put into words what I feel right now,” said an emotional Schilling after receiving both the belt and the $150,000 grand prize. “This isn’t just a victory for me, its also a victory for American kickboxing.

“I have always wanted to show that we can compete on the world stage with the best fighters out there and I think tonight has proved this. Its huge for the sport in the USA. And the prize money is going to be life-changing for me and my family.”

The tournament final was a fascinating affair which pitted the ice coolness of Levin’s incredible confidence against the fire and passion of Schilling’s attacking style. Initially the Russian had the advantage but that all changed in the second round when he was knocked down for the first time since 2009.

Schilling dropped him with a right hand/knee combination and Levin went down hard. It looked like he wouldn’t beat the count but he was able to stagger to his feet and continue the fight. The crowd was electrified by the incident and sensed a finish to be close but Levin was able to alternately duck out and cling on while he recovered his senses.

When he did, he was able to take control of the exchanges again. He is a master of timing and distance, excellent to an extent which is hard to put into words. Levin evades things by millimeters and fires back hard while the opponent is off balance. Schilling had plenty of trouble with him.

The knockdown meant the initial three rounds resulted in a draw on two judges’ cards and the fight went to a fourth round, a sudden-death affair which would see the round winner be declared the winner of the fight as a whole. Everything was on the line in three action-packed minutes.

Tension was high; when Schilling scored a second knockdown the arena exploded. Only a clean knockout could win the fight for Levin now. As the seconds ticked away it became clear he wasn’t going to find his mark. The bell sounding the end of the fight also marked the commencement of Schilling’s time as GLORY Middleweight Champion.

In the semi-final stages, Levin had put on a master class performance against the young Dutch prospect Jason ‘Tyson’ Wilnis. Like many before him, Wilnis found that trying to hit Levin is like trying to punch smoke. He simply isn’t there.

Wilnis endured three rounds of absolutely soul-destroying frustration as Levin variously went backwards, forwards and sideways, hovered out of range, came in to clinch, threw punches, threw knees, threw nothing, did Muhammad Ali shuffles, put his hands behind his back - the list of things Wilnis had to contend with was endless. 

Levin is brutally punishing too; the things he does throw are really hard. He’s especially fond of solid knees to the head and body. Wilnis did his best and made valiant efforts but he was a mess of blood by the end of the fight. He’s only 21 so he will bounce back. This will probably remain the steepest learning curve of his career.

Schilling’s semi-final fight with Kengo Shimizu was a lively one, though the traffic was all one way. He tried to take Shimizu out from the first few exchanges of their fight and he kept trying it until the final bell.

Shimizu probably felt much the same as Wilnis felt against Levin in the preceding fight, though the nature of what he endured was much different. Schilling has a very nice and highly technical style but he is very aggressive with it.

Only in the final round did Shimizu land anything decent and that was largely the result of Schilling leaving himself open in his eagerness to try and finish the fight. One solid right hand near the end was his best punch of the fight. That amounted to his consolation prize as he lost a one-sided decision to set up the Levin/Schilling finale everybody came here to see.

In the tournament reserve match, which provided someone to step in to the tournament final should one of the finalists be too injured to continue, plucky New York man Robby Plotkin fell victim to Wayne Barrett, also from the Big Apple.

From the off it was clear he was struggling with Barrett’s longer range. Barrett established his distance and got to work, scoring a knockdown in the first round and then another, harder knockdown in the second. 

That knockdown ended the bout under the GLORY tournament ‘two knockdown’ rule. Barrett never did get called up to the tournament but he can take solace in the fact that he has added another KO win to his record.


Robin van Roosmalen vs. Shemsi Beqiri


Robin Van Roosmalen underlined his status as the lightweight division’s top contender with a dominating performance against Shemsi Beqiri in the main event of GLORY 10 LOS ANGELES.

His fighting weight is 70 kilograms (155lbs) but, pound for pound, Van Roosmalen is one of the hardest-hitting fighters in any combat sport. His stocky build translates into a lot of punching power and he throws everything in combination. Only Beqiri’s toughness and experience kept him from being finished.

“It was a good performance I think. There were a few things I did which I’m not happy with but overall it was good and I got a good win. I would like to have knocked him out, but Shemsi is very tricky,” Van Roosmalen said afterwards.

“Now I go into the lightweight tournament at GLORY 12 NEW YORK later this year and I’m going to win it. I hope I get a rematch with Giorgio Petrosyan along the way. I still don’t feel like I lost our first fight and next time we meet I am going for the knockout, for sure.”

Beqiri’s agility and head movement kept him out of serious trouble but there were several occasions where he was close to taking what could have been fight-ending blows. A place in the lightweight tournament now eludes him though he remains ranked in the lightweight top ten.


Davit Kiria vs. Murthel Groenhart


The GLORY 10 co-headline fight saw two more lightweight contenders throw down with a tournament place on the line. Kiria is a black belt in Ashihara Karate, possibly the toughest style of karate in the world, while Groenhart comes from Mike’s Gym, an Amsterdam team with an infamously aggressive approach.

Even by his own standards Kiria was extremely aggressive against Groenhart. The gameplan was clearly to get close to Groenhart and stay there whilst working constantly with hand combinations and hard kicks. Kiria’s team reckoned that Groenhart’s conditioning would not be up to the required standard.

Groenhart is very dangerous and has a lot of range when he chooses to use it. But he is very partial towards getting into close-range wars and that gives shorter opponents an advantage. Groenhart could easily employ a jabbing style and stay out of harm’s way so he should be given some credit for his strong desire to engage at close quarters.

Kiria now advances to the lightweight tournament in December, which will also include Giorgio Petrosyan and Robin Van Roosmalen.


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