On Saturday night, in GLORY’s return to Istanbul, Turkey for its fifteenth installment, the promotion looked set on crowning a Light Heavyweight champion on the final bout of the SPIKE TV-broadcast line-up.
And as predicted by many, kickboxing greats Gokhan Saki and Tyrone Spong ended up facing each other in the tournament final.
Unfortunately though, another stellar event in GLORY’s books was this time marred by a horrific leg injury suffered by Spong, which was bizarrely reminiscent to that of Anderson Silva’s leg break at UFC 168 late last year.
Although Spong remained calm and composed in the aftermath, he was forced to concede to defeat as a huge crowd quickly gathered in the ring to offer support and help.
Saki was hence crowned the inaugural GLORY Light Heavyweight champ, and was given a $200,000 prize money.
“It was a shame what happened. It would have been nicer for the fight to go on longer and I would have preferred to have finished it with a knockout or something,” Saki said. “You never want a fight to end like that. At the same time, it did mean that the fight was finished, so I don’t feel like I got lucky or anything. Tyrone kicked and I blocked it perfectly and you saw the result. This can happen with leg-kicks and correct blocking.”
Saki booked his ticket in the finals by defeating Nathan Corbet via TKO earlier in the night, while Spong scooped a close decision triumph over Saulo Cavalari.
The Turk further explained what an honor it was for him to compete in front of his own countrymen and that he was ready for all and future challenges that will be planted for him hereon in.
“To walk out into a full arena of my countrymen with the flag wrapped around me and everybody going crazy… I cannot describe it,” Saki continued. “There are no words to describe such a feeling. It is like the biggest high that you ever felt. It is unbelievable, a highlight of your whole life.”
“Now I am champion and I will fight anybody who GLORY puts in front of me. For me, it makes no difference. I am number one now and I will defend that against anybody who wants to try and take it from me.”
In another featured match-up of the evening, Robin van Roosmalen got back in the win column following a knockout defeat suffered at the hands of Andy Ristie in his last outing. van Roosmalen had to work for it though, as his opponent, Marat Grigorian, gave him a good run for his money. van Roosmalen was always the favorite heading into the Lightweight match-up and indeed, lived up to expectations in the end with a fairly close, but effective display for a decision victory.
“I think the result was OK. It was a close fight and I am happy with my performance; that’s the important thing,” van Roosmalen said. “I had identified speed as an area I wanted to work on and I am happy with my speed in this fight.”
“Am I still in the (contender’s) mix? Well, I have been top three in the division the whole time, so even coming off losses, I think I am still one of the top contenders. I never thought otherwise of myself. So we will see what happens now, but if they want to offer me a title fight [against Davit Kiria], I am ready for that.”
Check out full results and pictures from GLORY 15 below, courtesy of the folks at GLORY Sports International:
- Gokhan Saki def. Tyrone Spong via KO (Leg Injury) at 1:37 of Round 1 (GLORY Light Heavyweight Tournament Final match-up/For GLORY Light Heavyweight Championship title)
- Robin Van Roosmalen def. Marat Grigorian via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Danyo Ilunga def. Andrei Stoica via KO (Strikes) at 2:33 of Round 1
- Gokhan Saki def. Nathan Corbet via TKO (Strikes) at 2:35 of Round 1 (GLORY Light Heavyweight Tournament semi-final match-up)
- Tyrone Spong def. Saulo Cavalari via Unanimous Decision > 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 (GLORY Light Heavyweight Tournament semi-final match-up)
PRELIMS/SUPER FIGHT SERIES
- Hedsy Gerges def. Jhnota Diniz via TKO in Round 2
- Mourad Bouzidi def. Randy Blake via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-25)
- Filip Verlinden def. Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jonatan Oliveira def. Atakan Arslan via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Niclas Larsen def. Steve Moxon via TKO (Strikes) at 1:33 of Round 2
- Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai def. Raz Sarkisjan via Split Decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)