Programming Note – GLORY 4 Tokyo: Heavyweight Grand Slam will be broadcast live at 6 a.m. ET on Fight Network.
Los Angeles, California – Stephen Quadros is not called ‘The Fight Professor’ for nothing. A veteran of the commentary booth, Quadros has called the action at over 100 big events in the last fifteen years. His resume includes a stint as the color commentator for legendary Japanese promotion PRIDE FC, where he paired up with Bas Rutten to talk viewers through huge events at the iconic Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan.
On December 31, Quadros will once again find himself back in that arena and back in the commentary booth. He will be calling the action for GLORY 4 TOKYO – HEAVYWEIGHT GRAND SLAM, the biggest kickboxing tournament that has ever been staged. Its innovative format will see the finalists fight four times in one night, making it the toughest tournament in all of combat sports.
The line-up includes legends of stand-up fighting such as Semmy Schilt, Peter Aerts and Remy Bonjasky. The ‘Savage Samurai’ Daniel Ghita, famed for his low kicks, will be there and so too will the explosive Gokhan Saki. Also in the mix are the rising stars of the sport such as Filip Verlinden, Rico Verhoeven and Jamal Ben Saddik.
Earlier this month a draw was held in Tokyo to determine the eight opening matches of the tournament. It threw up some interesting pairings, including one between Aerts and his friend and training partner of many years, Mourad Bouzidi. There will be legends made and myths shattered as the tournament plays out. Quadros, himself a former kickboxer and instructor, has cast an experienced eye over the first eight matches and he likes what he sees…
“Regarding Semmy Schilt and the fight with Brice Guidon, this is a rematch and while I expect a much more competitive fight than the first one, it’s hard to pick against Schilt. I think he’s the best stand-up fighter in the world, from my point of view, but he is going to get tested,” he says.
“Who is the most likely to take Schilt out if they cross paths in the tournament? It has to be Peter Aerts. For some reason Aerts has Schilt’s number, he has beaten him three times, and so even though he is the oldest man in the tournament he is the Kryptonite for Schilt.”
“Saki is the smallest but probably the fastest of the tournament. His opening round fight with Raomoru is going to be a quick one I think. Saki is too fast and Raomoru is open in too many ways. Saki hits very hard with the left hook and the spinning back kick, and he’s been learning some new tricks lately after moving to Mike’s Gym in Amsterdam a few months ago.
“I think Saki has to capitalize on his speed in each fight of the tournament. Against Ghita, Schilt and other bigger fighters he can’t sit on the outside and play tit-for-tat, he has to get in and get on them, put them on the back foot and get to work.”
“Everyone is really excited about the inclusion of Daniel Ghita in the tournament and the possibility of his meeting Schilt in the final. First though Ghita has to beat Fabiano Cyclone and I think he will, although Cyclone – who is half-Japanese – is definitely going to bring it.
“Daniel Ghita is the X-Factor in this tournament. He is new to the GLORY lineup and has done great things in other competitions lately. Everyone is really excited about him, he’s number three in the world rankings and a lot of people are predicting big things for him in this tournament.”
“I think that’s the most competitive fight in the opening round. I think Verlinden has the speed to really spoil it for Remy. In Brussels we saw Remy had a struggle with Anderson Braddock, they went to the overtime round.
“Anderson is very tough – he went the distance with Badr Hari this year – but Bonjasky’s issue is that he isn’t the fastest fighter in the tournament any more. He used to be, but now guys like Verlinden have that edge on him with speed and reflexes. There’s a possibility that Verlinden could pull off a big upset here.”
“Aerts is matched with Bouzidi, a cruel twist of fate as Bouzidi especially idolizes Peter. I asked Peter about it during the Tokyo Draw press conference and he said he knows Bouzidi well and trains with him regularly. But Peter is an old soldier and so for him I don’t think mentality will be an issue, whereas it might be for Bouzidi.
“Peter is a medium to larger heavyweight and Mourad is a smaller heavyweight, so if they stand right in front of each other it’s going to be a bad night for him. The way to approach it would be to be evasive and move around a lot but that’s not Bouzidi’s style. He likes to get stuck in.
“The interesting thing here is that they know each other so well, they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses in detail. So that’s a factor which could have a considerable impact on either fighter. I do think Aerts takes it though – unless Bouzidi knows something we don’t.
“Respect can only go so far but once the fight starts the respect card has to be thrown out, completely put out of your mind. The idea is to win, to dominate, to make an impression on the judges and to maybe get a bonus for a knockout or a standout performance.
“Aerts does need to be respected, he is a living legend with 135 fights, most of them wins, but Bouzidi has to put that out of his mind and try to take him out.”
“Zimmerman has got his work cut out for him against Jamal Ben Saddik. That’s a big guy right there and he is getting better and better. If you watch his fights from a year ago he was a little rough around the edges but you can see the clear progression with each fight.
“If you watch his last fight, it was actually a loss, but he looked very good technically. The key for Errol would be to do what Jafar Wilnis did in Brussels – move around. You don’t want to stand in front of a guy that big.”
“Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva faces Croatian heavyweight Igor Jurkovic. The Croatian has a style that doesn’t look too pretty, it’s kind of a brawling style. He likes to swing hard and heavy, so if Anderson tries to play too technical a game with Jurkovic he might be setting himself up to get caught with something. Anderson doesn’t mind getting into a war though, so this one should finish quickly.”
“I think there is a lot of potential for upsets in the opening round. Rico Verhoeven facing Sergei Kharitonov in the opening round, that’s going to be a test. Verhoeven is young but he can really take it to Kharitonov. Sometimes when you divide between two sports like MMA and kickboxing, as Kharitonov does, you can get mixed results. So I think there might be an upset here.”
Quadros’ picks to win the tournament:
“The way the draw breaks down, for me Schilt is the favorite to win the tournament. Daniel Ghita is the x-factor, he is new to the GLORY lineup and has done great things in other competitions lately. Everyone is really excited about him, he’s number three in the world rankings and a lot of people are predicting big things for him in this tournament.
“You can never really rule out someone like Aerts or Remy Bonjasky because they’ve done it before but for me Schilt and Ghita are the two favorites.”
For more information, visit www.gloryworldseries.com.
The GLORY World Series (www.gloryworldseries.com) is the world’s premier kickboxing, or stand-up fighting league, staging events across the globe and offering up to $1,000,000 in prize money to the winners of 16-man ‘Grand Prix’ tournaments, which are open to only the best fighters in each weight class. The fight series also includes 8-man tournaments and events with traditional, single bouts.
With television deals spanning every continent, plus a groundbreaking online video streaming system and the world’s largest online martial arts library, GLORY is one of the world’s most widely-broadcast sporting organizations.
Owned and operated by Glory Sports International (GSI), the organization has offices in Holland, the UK, Tokyo, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Its personnel includes a diverse mix of award-winning hedge-fund and private equity investors, principals from pioneering sports marketing agency Total Sport Asia and senior executives from several leading sports franchises, including WWE, FIFA, Golden Glory, Champions League and It’s Showtime.