Kickboxing stars go for GLORY!

Pictures from The Main Event and 8 Man Tournament Final

After the first Road To GLORY in March was hailed as the best event of its kind ever seen in the UK, topping it was never going to be easy.

But at Grantham Meres Leisure Centre on Saturday 7 October, the accolades came in thick and fast from fighters, coaches and fans alike, leaving no doubt in promoter Dean Sugden’s mind that Road To Glory 2 had taken things to another level.

The talent-stacked evening featured a full professional fight card which saw 22 top kickboxers from across the country battling it out in the ring. With contracts to fight for GLORY, the world’s leading kickboxing promotion, at stake for both finalists in the 8 Man Tournament and local favourite Bailey ‘BadBoy’ Sugden topping the bill in a Featherweight Super Fight, the capacity crowd came prepared for an action-packed show and they were not disappointed.

Setting the standard from the outset, Ben Woolliss and Joe Himsworth opened the show, both landing huge blows and demonstrating great technique in a match up which ended in a victory for Ben.

Three more undercard fights followed, resulting in wins for Ciaran Whitehouse, Dean Pattinson and Fraser Weightman. Then it was time for the 8 Man Tournament Quarter Finals, in which the four seeded fighters Marcel Adeyemi, Sam Omomogbe, Giannis Skordilis and Alex Bublea were pushed all the way by their non-seeded opponents Irtaza Haider, John Cairns, Joe Johnson and Kyle Todd.

All four non-seeded fighters performed well, showing great heart, good technique and endurance but, as expected on paper, the four seeded men came out on top and returned to the changing rooms to nurse their injuries and keep warm until the Semi Finals.

Two Super Fights of the highest quality were up next, with ICO World Champion Karl Johnston pitted against Dawid Blaszke in the first. Dawid was very quick off the mark, landing a big overhand right which put his opponent into all sorts of trouble. Attempting to prevent himself going down, Karl was met with a barrage of punches and knees as Dawid stuck to his game plan of starting fast, landing some big kicks and punches to force Karl down for a second time. When more punches and knees took him down again, the fight was stopped in the first round and the win went to Dawid.

The second Super Fight saw Adam Hadfield up against Reece Rowell. Although Reece had a massive weight advantage in this one and came in as hot favourite as a current ISKA World Champion, Adam was unlucky not to get the win due to an unfortunate knockdown being recorded against him in the opening round.

Despite being on the back foot, Adam came back strongly and was landing the cleaner and more effective shots. In the third round, he piled on the pressure, pushing and pressing his opponent who was lucky to see the final bell, after which the fight was declared a draw.

The 8 Man Tournament resumed next, with two epic Semi Finals. Both were cut short in the second round when Marcel Adeyemi was beaten by a very elusive and skilled Sam Omomogbe and Giannis Skordilis came out victorious as Alex Bublea picked up a shin injury and was unable to continue.

Then it was time for the Main Event, featuring GLORY Fighter and local favourite, Bailey ‘BadBoy’ Sugden. In true Suggy’s Gym style, a world class opponent had been sourced for Bailey who went head to head with Jorge Rodriguez Davila. Fighting out of Spain’s C D Noi Thai Gym and Hemmers Gym in Holland, Jorge had an identical record to Bailey and also campaigned at heavier weight.

Bailey got off to the fastest of starts, unbalancing his opponent with the first exchange. Jorge came back at Bailey but the Suggy’s Gym fighter’s superior movement and shot selection gave him the nod on the first round.

Round two was much closer with Jorge pushing and gambling as he traded heavy blows with Bailey. The two fighters were wobbled by some incredible shots, proving not only that they were both highly skilled but had incredible chins.

Going into the third round, the decision looked to be in the balance and the crowd went wild as both fighters stood toe to toe to trade shots. With about a minute to go before the final bell, it was nip and tuck with Bailey making Jorge miss, a shoot-out by both fighters in the last 30 seconds and Bailey landing the more telling shots in the final exchange.

As the fans stood to applaud both fighters, Bailey celebrated his homecoming and another victory added to his professional record, with two judges scoring the fight 30-28 in his favour and the third giving it 28-29 to Jorge to give the Newark 19-year old the win by majority decision.

Bringing the evening to a close, the Final of the 8 Man Tournament was another nip and tuck match up in which the scores did not reflect just how close every round was. Although Giannis took the win with a unanimous decision and was declared the 8 Man Lightweight Champion of Road To GLORY 2, Sam took him to the wire in a very close fight. Both men showed all the skills required to fight on the GLORY stage and will now be given the chance to do so as each one was awarded a two-fight deal with the world’s foremost kickboxing promotion.

Speaking after the event, Dean Sugden said: “Despite the fact that we have been promoting shows for nearly 20 years, being tasked with putting on one of this magnitude was never going to be easy. But it’s a massive privilege to represent GLORY as the sole promoter of Road to GLORY in the UK and, in doing so, to be able to give the very best fighters from all over the country this platform to showcase their skills and more importantly the chance to compete on GLORY.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how Giannis and Sam get on and I predict good things for them both. As for Bailey, his international career got off to a great start with his victory on GLORY 43 at Madison Square Garden so the pressure was on him for this homecoming fight. But even though he’s still only 19, he doesn’t just handle pressure, he seems to revel in it, both in and out of the ring. The future is looking extremely bright for him and we have great news coming up which we’ll be announcing very soon.”

Bailey added: “We’ve all been brought up on real fights at Suggy’s Gym which is why we don’t fall over when we’re put to the test, unlike many others who are just fed guaranteed wins. It’s the same for me as it is for my brothers Chad and Regis – we’re all still young but in every fight our dad finds opponents who will test us.

“And that’s exactly what happened tonight. Like me, Jorge is a world class fighter and although he isn’t on GLORY yet he should be. Fighting him, I was up against a real opponent who put me to the test and I came through it. Now I’m ready for whatever GLORY throws at me next.”

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