This weekend marks GLORY’s first event of the year, GLORY 14 Zagreb, after a bit of an extended break after GLORY 13 Tokyo in December. This event promises to bring the fireworks to the table with a Middleweight Contender Tournament featuring four of the world’s most promising Middleweight Kickboxers. In the co-main event of the evening we’ll see GLORY crown a Lightweight Champion between Lightweight Tournament Champion Andy Ristie and Davit Kiria. The main event is a homage to the glory days of kickboxing as three-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion Remy Bonjasky squares off against the 2012 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. GLORY’s Middleweight division is set to be one of the big focuses this weekend with the GLORY Middleweight Contender Tournament. The first fight pits former UFC fighter Dustin Jacoby (4-3-0) against a tough challenge by the way of Brazil’s Alex Pereira (27-4-0). For Jacoby he’ll be dropping down to Middleweight for the first time after having mixed results within GLORY’s Light Heavyweight division, but Alex Pereira will be standing in his way. Pereira is the more experienced fighter when it comes to straight Kickboxing matches, competing against some of Brazil’s top prospects, but you cannot underestimate Jacoby’s experience under the bright lights of a major promotion. On the other side of the GLORY Middleweight Contender Tournament sits two fighters who have both competed at the highest levels in Kickboxing against some of the toughest men on the planet. In fact, Sahak Parparyan (48-10-5) and Jason Wilnis (21-3-1) have met before, with Parparyan walking away with the decision victory over Wilnis. It’s impossible to ignore Parparyan’s credentials and record, as Parparyan was the It’s Showtime 85kg Champion, but often found himself fighting up in weight against any and all challenges. Sahak Parparyan at Middleweight is not something to take lightly, that’s for sure. Wilnis is only 22 years old, though, with him being just a little over 21 when he met. Since their last meeting Wilnis has definitely grown up quite a bit, making for a solid challenge for Parparyan. The fight that has had the hardcore Kickboxing fans talking leading up to GLORY 14 would be without a doubt Andy Ristie (44-3-1) vs. Davit Kiria (21-9-0) for the vacant GLORY Lightweight Championship. Andy Ristie made waves last year when he knocked out both Giorgio Petrosyan and Robin van Roosmalen in one night, making him the undisputed king of one of the most competitive weight classes in all of Kickboxing. Kiria provides an interesting matchup for Ristie, stylistically, as he fights a dynamic defensive style, rooted in Ashihara Karate, training with Sem Schilt and Dave Jonkers. At this point it is difficult to bet against Andy Ristie, but Davit Kiria has some incredibly impressive victories under his belt, showing that anything is possible. The main event is a Heavyweight showdown between two legends, as Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (22-7-0) will take on Remy Bonjasky (98-12-0) in a rematch 12 years in the making. They met in K-1 while Mirko was on the way out, looking to make a career and name for himself in Mixed Martial Arts, while Bonjasky remained in K-1 where he went on to win the K-1 World Grand Prix a total of three times, securing his status as a legend. Mirko made his return to Kickboxing in 2012, taking the 2012 K-1 World Grand Prix title in March of 2013. A lot has changed since their first meeting, with both men slowing down considerably in the past few years. For Remy Bonjasky this will serve as his retirement bout, as his brief comeback from a previous retirement has proven to be a bit difficult with the numerous issues he’s had with his vision, a result of detaching his retina multiple times. Cro Cop’s explosive style that made him a legend doesn’t seem to be there anymore, with his head kicks still feared, but no longer seem to be a tool that he can rely on that often, favoring more of a clinch-fighting style than in previous years. Bonjasky is definitely the more technical of the two fighters at this point, but Mirko’s power and Bonjasky’s lack of peripheral vision can be a huge factor in the outcome of this fight.
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