Matchmaker’s Notes: GLORY 24 DENVER

Matchmaker’s Notes: GLORY 24 DENVER

Wednesday, Jul 12 2017

GLORY 24 DENVER is our second visit to ‘The Mile-High City’ and once again we are bringing a stacked card to Colorado’s capital. The event is taking place at the Magness Arena on Friday, October 9 and airs in the US on Spike TV.

In the main event we have Joe ‘Stitch Em Up’ Schilling (19-6, 11 KO’s) of Los Angeles, California against Jason ‘Psycho’ Wilnis (25-5-1, 7 KO’s) of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Schilling has fought the best of the best and has proved that he belongs at the top end of this division. He is 100% a contender, but I think recently there has been a little problem with him deciding to branch out into MMA as well as kickboxing; I think it has led to spreading himself too thin and losing some focus.

I have seen this many times over the years when I was a trainer. Guys like Stefan Leko, a top-ranked kickboxer who dabbled in MMA but found that it was a completely different animal. What happened with Leko was that he was basically paid $100,000 per minute, the most highly-paid kickboxer ever to cross over into MMA, because he lost by submission in just over 60 seconds.

After losing he was embarrassed and even though he had a three-fight deal and the Japanese paid him a fortune to fight under MMA rules he said he didn’t want to do any more because the loss was so bad for his image.

This is what I fear for Schilling. He can KO anyone, under any rules, but I think that MMA and kickboxing are very different sports and that if you aren’t fully trained in both, crossing over can be a mistake. A guy like Mirko CroCop is a rarity, and also CroCop did a huge amount of intense work on changing his game when he switched to MMA, he didn’t move back and forth between the disciplines. Your stance and balance and tactics are totally different.

So now I hope we can see Joe Schilling refocused on kickboxing and looking to challenge for the title. Here he has a top European opponent. We saw what he did with Wayne Barrett, although Barrett was not ready to fight someone of Wilnis’s level at that time I think.

The main problem Wilnis has is that he is not consistent. He has good days and bad days. On the good days he is very dangerous and he is very difficult to beat. He is strong, explosive, aggressive, a fighter who pushes the opponent backwards. But we have seen Joe Schilling in fights like that, he enjoys it.

Wilnis can go into the top two of the rankings if he wins and I think Schilling wants to prove that the top position belongs to him. So this is going to be an interesting fight and there should be some heavy firepower.

The last Heavyweight Contender Tournament was in Denver but it is a coincidence that this one is also taking place there. The winner will face Rico Verhoeven, the World Heavyweight Champion. He last fought in June so he is due another title defense.

In the tournament we have Benjamin Adegbuyi (20-3, 14 KO’s) of Romania, who Verhoeven won a decision over at GLORY 22 FRANCE. He is a rising star and even though he lost to Verhoeven in France there is no shame in that and it has not finished him as a contender, far from it.

Ben Edwards (36-10-3, 32 KO’s) is a big puncher and he has lately been working on his professional boxing career in Australia. He is a forward-pressure heavyweight with good boxing skills and a no-nonsense fighting style. He has had some good fights for us in the past and I am glad that he is able to take part in this tournament.

Jahfar Wilnis (27-5-1, 7 KO’s) I think is a good heavyweight who hasn’t yet shown us everything he is capable of, in GLORY at least. I think he is a little bit underestimated. Recently he has had some very good wins, he beat Hesdy Gerges in a fight in China, so it seems he is hitting his potential and he has shown that he is ready to challenge at the top of the division.

Wilnis lost to Mladen Brestovac (49-9-1, 32 KO’s) by knockout at GLORY 14 ZAGREB so there is the possibility of a rematch in the tournament final of Wilnis gets past Ben Edwards and Brestovac gets past Benjamin Adegbuyi, but of course neither of those things are guaranteed.

Adegbuyi just fought for the world title in June. Even though he didn’t win I think he showed a lot, he was aggressive and skilled. He tried to force the fight in the early rounds but of course Rico Verhoeven is a cardio machine and he was able to handle that and keep the pace high even as Adegbuyi tired.

Now he has the chance to earn another title shot if he can win this tournament. Brestovac is dangerous, as we saw with his head kick knockout of Jahfar Wilnis in Zagreb. I think you have to consider Adegbuyi the favorite but Brestovac has such power that really the fight is wide open. Another advantage for Adegbuyi is the fact that he already has a decision win over Brestovac from 2012.

Wilnis and Adegbuyi are the two favorites to meet in the final. Even though Adegbuyi has just fought Verhoeven, it doesn’t mean a second fight would look the same. There is a lot to learn the first time you fight someone and the second fight often looks very different. And if Wilnis wins the tournament then he brings a different challenge for Verhoeven. They actually train together sometimes so probably they know each other’s style very well.

In the co-headline fight we have Wayne Barrett (5-3, 4 KO’s) against Dustin Jacoby (6-6, 5 KO’s).

Wayne Barrett has very good boxing skills and plenty of knockout power, but in the last fight he didn’t look impressive. I think maybe he was under a lot of pressure and that meant he fought too carefully. It didn’t make for a very interesting fight for the fans. He knew that; we talked about it afterwards.

Listening to him talk recently, it seems something of his old confidence has returned and he has said he is coming to fight. Barrett had to face some top-ranked international fighters very early in his GLORY career. Here he faces Dustin Jacoby, who has also had a similar experience, so this fight is well-matched in terms of their level.

Jacoby has faced some of the best guys in the world already and so has Barrett. They have learned lessons from this. They both have knockout power and they both need to win so this makes it a very important fight for their careers. I think they will really be coming to fight.