GLORY Collision 4 is set to kick off tonight at 6:30 CET at the Gelredome in Arnhem, the Netherlands, headlined by the heavyweight trilogy fight between Alistair Overeem and Badr Hari and title defender Tiffany van Soest and contender Sarah Moussadak. Levi Rigters is also making his first return to the ring since his previous bout against the now suspended Jamal Ben Saddik got called off last March. Tyjani Beztati on his part is going for his second title defence.
Whilst the event will first and foremost be a celebration of the sport and will undoubtedly also be a joy for fans to watch, Warrior Code has wanted to ask the question whether the card, and this is particularly relevant for the heavyweight division, actually makes sense. What is exactly on the line tonight?
When we spoke to Antonio Plazibat earlier this year, it was put to him whether he was scared that GLORY might prioritise whoever wins the fight between Overeem and Hari to challenge Rico Verhoeven next. There was no question in his mind that he would be the first in line to fight the reigning champion once he returns from his side project Hit it, which is set to take place in Rotterdam at the end of this month. Fast forward 2-3 months later, Plazibat and Ben Saddik, the man who lost the last title challenge to Rico last year in October, have both been suspended on the grounds that they refuse to fight each other if there is no title on the line.
It is obviously at GLORY’s discretion to decide whether they suspend a fighter if he or she refuses to fight. After all that is their job and it’s what they are paid for. But is their demand unreasonable?
Antonio Plazibat fought last May and has been the number one rank for nearly a year. Ben Saddik was supposed to fight twice since his last fight with Rico - one got cancelled and he beat Adegbuyi last month. You cannot accuse the two men of inactivity and or an unwillingness to fight. Verhoeven, on the other hand, has not fought since last year and has been given a free pass by GLORY to take part in this other event against Hesdy Gerges, a fighter who he beat not that long ago. As a result, Verhoeven will most likely not be making any title defence for GLORY until somewhere in 2023.
It’s fine that a man who has been the champion for so long enjoys certain privileges and whilst it was obvious that the serious injury Verhoeven incurred to his eye last year would have him sidelined for some time, we believe GLORY is trying to buy itself time by forcing Plazibat and Ben Saddik to fight each other in the interim and having Overeem and Hari as the main headline event at their next event.
We are not discrediting the entertaining value of these fights and while the various title defences that are at stake tonight are very important, but one can guess what the elephant in the room is here.
Do the heavy-weight fights that GLORY is scheduling (or trying to do so, albeit unsuccessful), make sense from a competition-integrity point of view?
Does it make sense that the two probably main title contenders have been suspended, the reigning champion is fighting Gerges again in a brand new tournament, and that a fight between two fighters who have either not fought a kickboxing match in a very long time and the other who is coming into this fight with 4 out of 4 losses (yes, we fully acknowledge the entertainment value) are headlining what is probably the last main kickboxing event of the year?
So without wanting to discredit the title defence fights that are on later today, what is exactly on the line tonight at GLORY Collision 4 beyond entertainment for the fans and revenue for GLORY? Our answer to that question is: probably not that much.
GLORY COLLISION 4 starts today with preliminary fights at 18:30 CET. See GLORY's website for information on how to watch the event.