Ky Hollenbeck took this fight with one-time K-1 MAX tournament winner Albert ‘The Hurricane’ Kraus on just two week’s notice when UK-based Muay Thai champion Jordan Watson was forced to pull out because of a visa issue.
It was Hollenbeck’s his first GLORY appearance since tearing his ACL in a fight with Giorgio Petrosyan at GLORY 3 in November, but the lightweight had been a main sparring partner for Joe Schilling’s middleweight tournament camp and was in good shape when he got the call up.
From the opening round he gave Kraus he problems with clinch knees and a kicking game which had him sitting outside Kraus’ punching range and picking him off. Kraus’ tendency to rely on his hands only played into Hollenbeck’s plans. Kraus’ corner was screaming at him furiously, “Kickboxer! Kickboxer!”
Frustration was etched on their faces as much as Kraus’ in the breaks between rounds. Kraus was being shouted at furiously by his team but he hardly seemed to hear. Mentally he looked to be elsewhere; physically he was right in front of Hollenbeck and taking everything the American threw at him.
Things did get more even in the third round as the clash turned into a streetfight, Kraus looking for the knockout and Hollenbeck tiring enough to allow Kraus to get in range and stay there. There was heavy punching from both as the seconds ticked away.
Kraus couldn’t find the big KO blow he needed and Hollenbeck gave as good as he got. He called this his big comeback fight and he was right - 30-27 on each card. The result boosts US kickboxing, joining as it does Joe Schilling’s huge win in the middleweight tournament.
“He is one of the best fighters I have ever faced and if I had more time to prepare I would have been able to show a lot more. I was feeling the effects of only having had two weeks notice, my lungs were burning a little,” says Hollenbeck.
“Ring rust was a factor, it was my first fight since November, so to win a fight like that against a top fighter like Albert is more than I could have wished for.
“To do it in Los Angeles was awesome. To be able to come back and get the win and fighting in my home country in front of all my friends was just awesome. I am really happy.”
Kraus was the complete opposite. Utterly shell-shocked, he had no way to explain what had happened. “That was the worst performance of my career,” he said. “I have literally no idea what to say about that fight. Its like someone else was in there, not me. I cannot even begin to explain it.”
Aleksandr Stetcurenko vs. Karapet Karapetyan
These two fought in Stetcurenko’s native Russia last year. It ended in a decision which went against Karapetyan, one he bitterly disagreed with. There’s no love lost between them and that was clear in this rematch, which went at a frightening pace.
Karapetyan is one of the fittest and most technically solid fighters in kickboxing, with a varied attacking game and an excellent guard. Stetcurenko is a championship-level fighter as well, more flamboyant than Karapetyan but still technically sound. He was slightly overwhelmed by the pace though, winning the first round but then suffering in the second and third as he slowed down and Karapetyan kept going.
The style Karapetyan employs is textbook Dutch-style kickboxing. He throws multiple hand combinations to the head and body then finishes on a leg kick. He does it with power and he does it over and over, wearing opponents away. Karapetyan wants the GLORY Welterweight Championship and on tonight’s showing he is on track to get it.
“I’m really happy I got the win over Stetcurenko. I feel like I got justice for the result in our first fight,” says Karapetyan. “Now I am focused on getting the number one ranking spot at welterweight, and winning the tournament when it comes around.”
Jahfarr Wilnis vs. Brice Guidon
Guidon’s tough run the GLORY World Series continued when he ran into the hard-hitting Dutch prospect Wilnis. Guidon came into the fight on the back of a losing streak which had seen him knocked out by Semmy Schilt and Daniel Ghita.
Guidon looked the technically superior of the two fighters in the first round, working combinations high and low in the signature style of the Meijiro Gym in Amsterdam. He racked up points while Wilnis covered up, but Guidon’s tendency to leave his hands low was his undoing.
Wilnis sprang out with a hook and staggered Guidon in round one. He did the same in round two and dropped him hard. Guidon beat the count but looked like a man living on borrowed time, staggering round the ring while Wilnis went after him.
Wild shots from Wilnis came one after another; the first few missed or struck glancing blows but then a big right hand found its mark clean on Guidon’ jaw and knocked him out for the count.
“Yeah he won the first round I think. I went back to my corner and they said Jahfarr, what the hell are you doing? Wake up!” said winner Wilnis afterwards. “So then I got going, I did my thing and yeah - it worked! I’m really happy with that, it was a big knockout for the fans.”
Andy ‘The Machine’ Ristie vs. Niclas Larsen
Larsen, a world Muay Thai champion based in Copenhagen, Denmark, took this fight on one week’s notice after Swedish southpaw Sanny Dahlbeck pulled out. Ristie put the pressure on him right away, reasoning that Larsen’s very short camp would mean he wouldn’t be in condition to match the pace.
He was right; the first round was a high-speed scrap, Ristie throwing lots of his trademark long-range bombs from awkward angles. Lots of forward pressure and lots of body shots made life hard for Larsen, though the tough Dane gave Ristie some things to think about as well.
Getting hit with groin shots in rounds two and three didn’t help Larsen either; Ristie was lucky not to be docked a point for the second.
When the action restarted with one minute left in the third round, they went to war. Ristie tried a flying knee then Larsen knocked him down with a spin kick. The action got so heated that the referee had to separate them on the final bell and both fighters had to be shown where their corners were.
The decision went Ristie’s way by way of a 30-27 decision but Larsen acquitted himself very well. He will get another chance to show his skills in GLORY, hopefully with a full training camp behind him.
Randy ‘Boom Boom’ Blake vs. Brian Collette
The fight between karate stylist Blake and Muay Thai fighter Collette started slowly, both respecting each other’s power and feeling out their range. Defense was tight initially but Collette started to have success with a knee to the body, and that became his route to victory.
Collette would make Blake cover up under punches then would take advantage of the open midsection by firing knees into it. Over the course of the fight this sapped Blake’s strength and energy. He started to breathe heavily and lower his hands, leaving openings for Colletee’s punches.
There were big blows landed by both over the course of the final two rounds; both got their chins tested. Collette dominated the third until the last minute when a flurry from Blake looked like it might cause a finish. Collette held on and regained control of the fight, taking the win on all three judges’ cards.
Johann Fauveau vs. Hinata
Hinata is known for having a fast and heavy left leg from his southpaw stance. It didn’t take him long to get the limb into action in the first fight of the main card. Fauveau is also a southpaw and Hinata wasted no time landing on his lead leg. Fauveau had the better boxing initially but Hinata’s relentless hammering of his leg soon put him in defense mode.
Most kickboxers defend a leg-kick by raising their shinbone to meet the attacker’s kick as a painful deterrent. The problem is that having to stand on one leg repeatedly will completely shut down your attacking game. Fauveau had that problem; he also found that Hinata was not deterred by going shin-on-shin anyway.
By round three Fauveau was in agony and Hinata went after the leg ruthlessly. As Fauveau staggered backwards in obvious pain, Hinata threw caution to the wind and let loose with five consecutive kicks.
Fauveau doubled over and went down just as his corner threw in the towel. Hinata could not have looked better. ‘The Rising Sun’ shone brightly in his GLORY debut, winning by KO at 0:48 of round three.