The fifth edition of Glory's cross-over event Rivals, in which fighters of "rival" promotions face off, took place on the 28th of February in Tulum, Mexico. This time six fighters chosen by Glory were pitted against six fighters coming out for Mexican promotion War of Nations (WON), mostly known for their Muay Thai fights. This was a great opportunity for the Mexican culture to be put on display, which was expressed with some traditional dancing involving elaborate costumes and even fire during the opening ceremony.
The venue had a good atmosphere during the night, even though the crowd size wasn't very large. There was a lot of experience on display, while there was also room for rising talent to prove themselves on a big stage. The fighters of WON mostly came from Latin America, representing Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, while substitute Magnussen hailed from Sweden.
de Kom vs COSNARD
Glory/Enfusion: Tessa de Kom - Netherlands (22yrs) · 1.63m / 5'4" · 52kg / 115lbs · 14-1-1 (0 KO)
WON: Giuliana Cosnard - Argentina (28yrs) · 1.64m / 5'5" · 54kg / 119lbs · 47-2-1 (10 KO)
First up were superbantamweights De Kom and Cosnard. The latter made a very energetic and actually very happy entrance, draped in the flag of her home country. De Kom, normally coming out for Enfusion and replacing Sarah Moussadak, was the very opposite, rather quiet and seemingly intensely focused. This was De Kom's second fight during a Glory event, having won from Manazo Kobayashi in Japan back in December during Glory Rivals 4. On the other hand, Cosnard's fight record shows she's compared to De Kom the more experienced fighter, winning 47 times and having lost only twice, while being a bit of a knockout artist (10 KO).
In the first round the Muay Thai background of Cosnard was immediately apparent, with her applying high pressure, plenty of knees, lowkicks and a lot of clinching. De Kom was dishing out good combinations with her fists followed by a lowkick, typical for the Dutch style. Still, De Kom seemed to have yet to find the pace.
Round 2: Seeing the first round seemed to have gone for Cosnard who had twice as many strikes landed, De Kom had to work hard to change things around. Her pace was definitely higher in the second round. Cosnard had the luxery of waiting it out and focusing on countering, which at times went down quite effectively. De Kom was caught in a clunch and/or thrown to the ground numerous times. All in all, the difference in experience between her and Cosnard was unfortunately very apparent.
Round 3: Now De Kom really had to show all she's got. Cosnard was controlling the fight and aimed for disrupting De Kom's flow, with side stepping, clinching, switching stance, etc. De Kom was pushing until the end and actually brought Cosnard into trouble with some hard hitting punches and kicks. To win the fight it wasn't enough, but De Kom redeemed herself and recovered her fighting spirit in the end.
Jury verdict: win for Cosnard (unanimous decision)
Gazani vs Andersson
Glory: Bruno Gazani - Brazil (37yrs) · 1.76m / 5'9" · 70kg / 154lbs · 67-7-1 (33 KO)
WON: Magnus Andersson - Sweden (28yrs) · 1.84m / 6'0" · 70kg / 154lbs · 46-14-1 (14 KO)
Now it's time for a lightweight fight, between two very experienced fighters. Gazani is the more experienced of the two, but at a bit of a disadvantage compared to his much more youthful opponent Magnussen. On the other hand, Magnussen had very little time to prepare as he's was being called in to replace Nick Chasteen at very short notice: only 12 hours.
Round 1: Both fighters are not shying away from the fight, staying close and exchanging hard punches and kicks without much dodging nor evading. Already quite a few techniques were connecting on both sides, which were almost literally taken to the chin without a problem. Gazani and Andersson were giving the audience their money's worth.
Round 2: The second round started surprisingly at an even higher pace, while the live statistics showed Gazani and Andersson had more or less the same amount of strikes landed. Midway the round however, Gazani seemed to lose gas, swinging his arms around a bit uncontrolled, allowing Andersson to push forward. Gazani wasn't giving up however and kept throwing out techniques, showing his experience with some clever level changes.
The third and last round the action was still on, with Gazani and Andersson often standing still and just exchanging strikes. Andersson, the substitute fighter, kept coming full force even though he was visibly very tired. Fortunately for him, Gazani seemed to be in an even worse state, moving very slow around the time of the last half a minute.
Jury verdict: win for Magnus Andersson (split decision)
Wosik vs Rios
Glory: Denis Wosik - Germany (26yrs) · 1.73m / 5'8" · 65kg / 143lbs · 37-8-1 (9 KO)
WON: Marcos Rios - Argentina (23yrs) · 1.67m / 5'5" · 65kg / 143lbs · 69-3-7 (41 KO)
In the featherweight class Marcos Rios was matched against Wosik. Rios's record with a 2/3 win-knockout ratio shows he's an aggressive fighter, so the audience could expect fireworks.
Round 1: Rios started the match in a very explosive fashion while showing great control. Wosik in contrast was much more technical and more in a waiting stance. Tactically, the German seemed to have a better game plan, starting to nullify Rios' many high kicks and dishing out effective and long combinations.
Round 2: Once again Rios was trying high powered kicks to the head which Wosik was dodging easily, while keeping the pressure on Rios. By the end of the round Wosik was getting tired however, losing a lot of power even though he kept moving forward. Rios was attacking continuously, but Wosik was at least able to block the most dangerous strikes. Still, his chest around his liver was showing visible signs of damage with large bruises.
In the final round, the two fighters were points wise on equal footing. Looking at strikes landed in the first two rounds, each fighter won a round. So the game was on now. Unfortunately Rios was the victim of a technique below the belt. He recovered admirably and pressured Wosik with violent knees and his signature left kicks to the body. At the same Wosik wasn't going anywhere, blocking and dodging while keep scoring his points.
Jury verdict: win for Rios (split decision)
Galaz vs Altamiro
Glory: Ivan Galaz - Chile (37yrs) · 1.85m / 6'0" · 84.6kg / 187lbs · 60-10-1 (15 KO)
WON: Renan Altamiro - Brazil (36yrs) · 1.83m / 6'0" · 84kg / 185lbs · 61-11-0 (46 KO)
Now it's time for middle weights Ivan Galaz and Altamiro. Both fighters are on paper very evenly matched, with similar stats in all areas and quite a bit of experience. The main difference is that Altamiro's win-knockout ratio is much much higher. Galaz is the more technical fighter.
In the first round as expected Galaz was waiting out Altamiro, focusing on countering the heavy hitting strikes from the Brazilian. Galaz eventually started to attack more himself, showing he can combine a good defense with impactful combinations and hooks. Still, Altamiro had the highest amount of strikes landed at the end of the round.
Galaz woke up in the second round and was pushing forward right from the start. This forced Altamiro on the defensive for once, while he was looking tired from the high output he generated in the first round. This yielded good results for Galaz, who scored the first knockdown of the evening over Altamiro with a straight punch. This lead the Brazilian to fight a lot more intensely to try and even out the score. The round ended with some new problems for Altamiro as Galaz's punches connected and he even tried without avail a spectacular jump high kick in an attempt to secure the knockout.
In the last round it was up to Galaz to finish the job. Altamiro seemed exhausted, dropped his hands but was still dangerous. Galaz wasn't taking full advantage of the situation however. It wasn't needed as well to secure his path to victory however, considering he scored a knockdown and won at least one round on points as well.
Jury verdict: win for Galaz (unanimous decision)
JONAS JULIO vs JAVIER APARICIO
Glory: Jonas Julio - Brazil (28yrs) · 1.90m / 6'2" · 77kg / 170lbs · 21-3-0 (8 KO)
WON: Javier Aparicio - Argentina (30yrs) · 1.94m / 6'4" · 77kg / 170lbs · 36-2-2 (20 KO)
Next up were the tall and skinny welterweights Julio and Aparacio, from Brazil and Argentina respectively. The rivalry between the two largest nations in South America is often source for high spirited competition so the expectations for this fight were high.
Julio started aggressively though much too quickly he fell back and allowed Aparicio to overpower him. The Argentinian scored a knockout over the Brazilian with a left hook during a fast combination within a minute and a half in the first round. Ultimately, it was fair to say Julio neglected his defense, dropped his hands, and Aparicio made him pay the prize for it swiftly.
Jury verdict: win for Aparicio by knockout
ABRAHAM VIDALES vs TOMÁS AGUIRRE
Glory: Abraham Vidales - Mexico (28yrs) · 1.82m / 5'11" · 65k.2g / 144lbs · 15-2-0 (12 KO)
WON: Tomás Aguirre - Argentina (24yrs) · 1.67m / 5'5" · 77kg / 143lbs · 27-3-2 (22 KO)
Vidales, number 3 in the Glory rankings in the featherweight division, headlined tonight's event alongside Tomás Aguirre. For the Mexican Vidales it was a home match, while Aguirre came from Argentina. Vidales definitely had the star power this night, exuding the aura of a potential future world champion. His presence seemed to be the reason for Glory to organize this edition of Rivals in Mexico. At the same time, Aguirre is a formidable opponent, with twice as much experience and winning 22 out of 27 matches by knockout. Still, both fighters had a similar win-knockout percentage of 80 percentage.
Vidales dominated the first round while maintaining a sensible and cautious approach, gradually upping the pressure with a lot of kicks to the body which did a lot of damage to Aguirre's left arm. His passiveness seemed a ruse however, because his counters and hooks were becoming increasingly effective and made a lot of impact. Vidales may have been the favorite, but he really had to be careful not to get knocked out in the first round.
In the second round Aguirre was no longer waiting and pushed forward with focused intent. Vidales wasn't really impressed though and kept doling out hard-hitting kicks that Aguirre's may have been blocking but still had a big effect. It was clear Aguirre was really looking for the perfect time to make a deadly counter, which still may pay off as he did caught Vidales by surprise ocassionally. On the other hand, Vidales is leading by points and damage inflicted.
Aguirre really now had to give it all he had in the third and final round. Even though Vidales was once again dominant, Aguirre proved to be a clever opponent that caught Vidales' head with a few hooks. In the last minute both fights seemed exhausted, which didn't stop Vidales from making a spectacular cartwheel kick in the spirit of legendary Muay Thai fighter Saenchai. Right after though, Vidales once again was hit in the head by a hook from Aguirre. Until the very end of the match, the two distinctively different styles of Vidales and Aguirre gave both fighters reason to hope for victory. In Aguirre's case, it was mostly for the fact he had a huge chance at a knockout until the end, even though Vidales dominated the entire match.
Jury verdict: win for Vidales (unanimous decision)