I never had any doubts who was favored to win GLORY 8’s 65 kilogram tournament this Saturday in Tokyo, Japan. While the roster of GLORY’s first featherweight tourney was full of some of the best fighters in the world, Yuta Kubo was far and away the man with the most impeccable record. Whether or not he would perform after dropping in weight from 67kg was open to debate, and with the likes of Masaaki Noiri, Liam Harrison, Mosab Amrani, and Abdalleh Ezbiri gunning for him, his stamina and resiliency would be in question.
But boy oh boy, did he deliver.
After facing down Korea’s Chi Bin Lim, Canada’s Gabriel Varga, and the undisputed #1 previous 65 kilo fighter in the world, Masaaki Noiri, Kubo proved yet again why he’s one of Japan’s last hopes to once again be competitive on the world stage.
In his first tournament battle of the night, Kubo took on Chi Bin Lim in a fight that most expected him to win. While Lim hadn’t been a serious name in the sport for some time now, old tigers are still as dangerous as they come. Kubo predictably won in the second with a vicious body ko that he’s become renowned for.
In the second match he went toe-to-toe with Gabriel Varga- a Canadian that had competed in K-1 some months prior, where he defeated former Lumpinee champion Lerdsilla. Varga took down Abdalleh Ezbiri earlier in the night in one of the biggest upsets of the day, but luck was not with him against Kubo. The Japanese fighter kept up a brutal pace, pushing Varga into the corners and unloading big shots. The physically larger out of the two, Yuta imposed his will and won with relative ease.
The final fight of the night saw the two kickboxers everyone hoped would meet standing across from each other: Former K-1 Youth GP Champion and Road to Glory Japan winner Masaaki Noiri, and Yuta Kubo, the best Japanese kickfighter in the world today. The match was no let down either. After suffering a vicious kick to the testicles in the first round, Noiri had a difficult time rallying back to stop Kubo’s onslaught of punches, body shots, and knees. In the third Masaaki came on strong, but Kubo clipped him with a left hook very briefly knocked him to the ground. Noiri popped up quickly, not long before the final bell that sealed the deal. After three rounds it was Kubo’s hand that was raised, as he was crowned the first ever GLORY 65kg champion.
Also on the card, Peter Aerts proved the old man wasn’t done by stopping Jamal Ben Saddick in Round 2 via TKO. In the opening minutes of the fight it looked as though Aerts wouldn’t last until the final bell. Ben Saddick caught the dutch Lumberjack with a massive left hook that sent him reeling to the ground, and although he was able to recover until the end of the first, we didn’t have much hope that there’d be any sort of dramatic miraculous comeback.
If there’s one thing we learned from GLORY 8 Tokyo it’s this: Never, ever, ever count Peter Aerts out of a fight. Early in the second the iconic man from Holland stormed back, catching Saddick on the chin with a straight left that planted him to the ground. Ben Saddick attemped to return the favor, but after a minor scare, was knocked down a second time midway through the round. The crowd was roaring. The Japanese fans were on their feet as the final thirty seconds neared, and Peter Aerts lumbered forward through crosses and hooks from the hip. Saddick looked overwhelmed, backed into a corner, and took a nasty knee to the head, before crumpling to the campus with a dazed and surprised look on his face. Peter Aerts had won.
In the other main draw, Andy Ristie proved the hype was deserved by knockout out Albert Kraus in the second round with a knee to the head, while Jerome Le Banner and Yoshihiro Sato continued their comebacks by winning both their fights via a definitive decision.
You can check out the full results below-
70kg: Hirono Yu def. Danilo Zanolini by majority decision.
85kg semi final: Magnum Sakai def. Toshio Matsumoto by unanimous decision.
85kg semi final: Kengo Shimizu def. Yuki Niimura by unanimous decision.
61kg: Tatsuya Inaishi def. Yuji Takeuchi by split decision.
55kg: Dyki def. Jang Yong Ho by KO in Round 1.
85kg final: Kengo Shimizu def. Magnum Sakai by majority decision.
65kg reserve: Andrej Bruhl def. Yukihiro Komiya by decision.
65kg reserve: Chonlek Super Pro Samui def. Zen Fujita by decision.
65kg quarter final: Mosab Amrani def. Marcus Vinicius by decision.
65kg quarter final: Masaaki Noiri def. Liam Harrison by TKO (Cut) in Round 2.
65kg quarter final: Gabriel Varga def. Abdellah Ezbiri by decision.
65kg quarter final: Yuta Kubo def. Chi Bin Lim by KO (Knee to Body) in Round 2.
70kg: Yoshihiro Sato def. Sung Hyun Lee by decision.
HW: Jerome Le Banner def. Koichi Watanabe by decision.
65kg semi final: Masaaki Noiri def. Mosab Amrani by decision.
65kg semi final: Yuta Kubo def. Gabriel Varga by decision.
70kg: Andy Ristie def. Albert Kraus by KO (Knee) in Round 2.
HW: Peter Aerts def. Jamal Ben Saddik by TKO (3 Knockdowns) in Round 2.
65kg final: Yuta Kubo def. Masaaki Noiri by decision