HOFFMAN ESTATES- Glory, the premier kickboxing promotion in the world, came to Chicago on Friday for the first time in three years. The night full of hard-hitting, jaw-dropping fights at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates ended with one of the oddest moments in kickboxing history.
Glory Middleweight champion Artem Levin (50-5-2) dropped his belt to contender Simon Marcus (43-2-2) amid controversy. This fight, which headlined the card, was the third fight in the rivalry between the two Muay Thai specialists. Levin and Marcus fought to a controversial draw the last time they met at Glory 21. This time managed to be even more of a head-scratching affair.
Levin was criticized after their last fight for clinching too often, which is legal for only five seconds while throwing knees in Glory. A fighter is only allowed to throw punches, kicks, and knees with no grappling in kickboxing. Levin interpreted the rules differently in this fight and continuously grabbed Marcus throughout the contest. The referee decided to deduct a point from Levin during the second round after yet another lengthy clinch. Levin lost focus after the point was deducted and caught a nasty right hook from Marcus. The referee took yet another point away from Levin near the end of the third round, and that’s when the Middleweight champion had seen enough and forfeited the fight.
The Sears Centre Arena crowd stood in awe as Marcus was crowned the new champion.
“I’m on top of the world baby,” Marcus said after the fight while wearing his new belt. “I feel great. The fight was great. I worked for this. I’m here. I’m representing everybody with a dream. Everybody who believes in themselves. For y’all booing, you don’t know what it’s like to fight up here, so just chill out. I worked hard for this. I beat the man. He ran out the ring. The fight wasn’t over. I won fair and square. Give me my props.”
Glory 27 was kicked off with the Superfight Series which aired live on UFC Fight Pass. Richard Abraham (8-3), who fights out of Itasca, Ill., pleased the hometown crowd with a dominating win over Pawel Jedrzejczyk (19-7-1) in the Welterweight division. Abraham utilized an overhand right to control the fight in front of his family and friends in attendance.
The highlight of the night came in a Heavyweight bout between Guto Inocente (29-7) and Demoreo Dennis (9-6). Inocente connected on a picturesque spinning back kick that knocked Dennis out cold in the first round. Dennis had to be carried out on a stretcher in a scary moment after the fight.
Joe Schilling (21-6), the No. 1 Middleweight contender in the world, headlined the Superfight Series card with an impressive victory over Mike Lemaire (14-3), who accepted the fight on only 12 days notice. Schilling was the more active fighter as he fought his was to a unanimous decision victory.
The Glory 27 main card, which was aired live on ESPN3 and can be watched Sunday on ESPN 2, began with a four-man tournament in the Middleweight division. The finals of the tournament featured a rematch between Dustin Jacoby (9-6) and Wayne Barrett (6-5) from Glory 24. Barrett suffered an apparent collarbone injury during the fight, crowning Jacoby as the Middleweight tournament champion.
The co-main event of the evening was a Featherweight contest between Giga Chikadze (34-4) and Kevin Van Nostrand (11-1) in what was ultimately the fight of the night. The fight was fast-paced and featured a heavy dose of spinning back kicks, axe kicks, looping punches, and other wild combinations. Chikadze left with the unanimous decision victory and said after the fight that he has his eyes set on the Featherweight championship.
The atmosphere in Sears Centre Arena was palpable before the title fight between Levin and Marcus. The pro-Canadian crowd near ringside made their support known for the Toronto-born Marcus. The ring announcer promised that this fight between the rivals would have a decisive finish. That turned out to be far from the truth.
The first round featured a lot of clinching and grabbing by both fighters. The dislike between the two was obvious, but neither fighter was ready to engage. The second round was more of the same. Marcus tried to get his striking going, but Levin continued to clinch and keep him at bay. The referee had finally seen enough and deducted Levin for excessive clinching in both the second and third rounds. Levin almost forfeited the fight near the end of the second round and after his second deduction in the third round he refused to continue the fight. The Glory Middleweight champion forfeited his belt in shocking fashion. Simon Marcus left as the new Glory Middleweight champion.
“There’s no bad blood with Levin,” Marcus said after the fight. “I’m the real champion. I came and I proved it tonight”.