The Forum in Los Angeles, California played host to a highly anticipated eight-man international combat tournament on Saturday night as Glory International brought hardcore kickboxing a slate of non-stop middleweight action from some of the worlds most talented athletes.
Promptly following the Glory 17 pay-per-view card, an eight-man tournament called “Last Man Standing” kicked off with fights in the most stacked division under the Glory name. The crowd was already buzzing from phenomenal action that included fights with Mirko Cro Cop and Jarrell Miller and a Featherweight Contender tournament that saw Gabriel Varga plowing through the brackets to earn a contender title.
“Last Man Standing” was primed to end the night with a bang. In a grueling tournament that required the winner to fight three times over the span of 2 hours, it was anyone’s guess as to who was the favorite. With local fighter Joe Schilling having the crowd in his corner, rising star Wayne Barrett attempting to catapult his career and international brawler Melvin Manhoef bringing his talents to the states, the fans were in for an exhilarating night of combat sports.
Round One – 4 Fights
The tournament started with highly ranked Russian fighter Artem Levin taking on tough Brazilian puncher Alex Pereira. The predictions for this fight varied among media sources and in the end the smooth boxing and accurate striking from Levin proved to be the difference as Pereira was being picked apart from the opening bell. Levin, who moves with such ease and makes fighting look simple, peppered the Brazilian throughout the fight winning every round on my scorecard. It was clear from the start that Levin was the favorite in this tournament.
In the second bout of the night fans were treated to an up-close and personal look at international legend Melvin Manhoef from the Netherlands. Manhoef, a stout, compact fighter with legs the size of redwoods sprinted to the ring to the fans cheers. His opponent, dark horse fighter, Filip Verlinden appeared calm going into the fight and maintained a sense of composure throughout the battle. Even with Manhoef applying the pressure, Verlinden was able to use his significant reach and keep Manhoef at bay for most of the fight. At the end of round 1, Manhoef unleashed a looping overhand right that put his head in a bad position for a counter right kick from Verlinden. The kick landed precisely and Manhoef found himself on the mat. Despite the knockdown, Manhoef fought hard and made some progress in the third round, but unfortunately it was too late as Verlinden walked away with the victory and advanced to the semifinals.
The third fight of the night had the crowd on their feet from the opening bell and did not disappoint as local fighter Joe Schilling squared off against Simon Marcus. Both fighters put their hearts on the line and an evenly scored fight sent the bout into a sudden death round. In the sudden death round both fighters gave it their all until a point deduction for Marcus created a situation where he could not win unless he scored a knockout. Schilling, who was now in control of the fight and only had to survive to advance, waited patiently for his opening.
And then it happened. Marcus came forward strong at the end of the sudden round and left himself open to a quick check right hook from Schilling that landed square on Simon’s chin. The punch landed perfectly and sent Marcus to the mat in an instance. In a round that saw Marcus lose his mouthpiece three separate times, it was became the storybook ending to see Schilling land a perfect punch that forced the mouthpiece out of Marcus’s mouth one last time. Joe Schilling moved on to the next round of fights.
The fourth and final fight of the opening bracket pitted American rising star Wayne Barrett against Romanian highlight reel, Bogdan Stoica in what promised to be an entertaining fight. Both fighters have contrasting styles as Barrett relies on a consistent boxing attack versus Stoica who is known worldwide for his desire to thrill with flying knees and wild kicks.
The fight had some good moments from both fighters in the first two rounds; however, it was apparent that neither fighter was landing with effective power. The fight picked up slightly in round two as Barrett controlled the ring and Stoica was unable to land his signature kicks. A brutal head-butt in the middle part of the round opened up a nice gash on Stoica’s forehead.
In the final round, Stoica, who was fairly quiet all night, took an opportunity to throw his signature flying knee as Barrett was backing up against the ropes. It would’ve been a photobook ending for Stoica, however, Barrett threw a perfectly timed left hook that landed cleanly on Stoica’s chin sending him to the mat in a brutal fashion. The instant replay had the crowd on their feet and Barrett moved on to the next round.
Round Two – 2 Fights
The semifinal round of the Last Man Standing tournament showcased tournament favorite Artem Levin against Filip Verlinden and American fighters Wayne Barrett against local product Joe Schilling.
In the first fight of round two, Artem Levin continued to show the world why he is a true #1 contender in his division and quite possibly the smoothest fighter in Glory. Filip Verlinden came out strong in the early part of round one, but he was facing a tall order from the opening bell as Levin floated around the ring landing hard punches to Verlinden’s face and body. Levin, who is known for his superior boxing, utilized every opportunity to touch Verlinden with punches and used a balanced attack to land the harder shots when Verlinden gave him the opportunity. The judges all scored the bout for Artem Levin, who was on his way to the Championship bout.
While Levin tried to rest before the championship bout, American stars Wayne Barrett and Joe Schilling looked to give the crowd an exciting fight to end the night. Both Barrett and Shilling were coming off big knockout wins in the previous round, so this fight promised to be a good one.
The fight started slow as both fighters seemed to be cautious and very tired from their previous bouts. Schilling fought four tough rounds only 45 minutes earlier and Barrett was in the final fight of the first round. The idea of ‘Last Man Standing’ was shining through as both warriors needed to use the first round to get their feet under them. In the second round, the momentum turned as both men stood in the pocket and traded big punches for nearly 30 seconds straight. The crowd was revitalized and the remainder of the fight had some nice exchanges before the final bell.
In what was the closest fight of the tournament, the judges gave hometown fight Joe Schilling the split decision victory.
LAST MAN STANDING CHAMPIONSHP BOUT
The final fight of an extraordinary fight card that brought some of the world’s top kickboxing talent to Los Angeles pitted Russian sensation Artem Levin against Los Angeles fighter Joe Schilling. The crowd was clearly behind Schilling as he entered the ring for the final time. Schilling, who just fought seven tough rounds looked like he was in pain as he entered the ring, however, his will to win this tournament was shining through in the chiseled face he was sporting as both fighters stared each other down. I learned a lot of things from this evening, but the one thing that will stand out to me the most is that Joe Schilling is a bad bad man.
Artem Levin is a character. I have to say that he was enjoyable to watch both inside and outside of the ring. His entrance into the ring in all of his fights included some disco-type dancing by the Russian and from where I was sitting he appeared to have won over a large amount of fans. It didn’t hurt that he was dominating his opponents either.
The fight started in Schilling’s favor as he was able to close the gap on Levin and land a flurry of nice body punches that seemed to affect Levin. It was only a matter of time before Levin made his presence known as he landed a sharp spinning back-fist that sent Schilling to the mat.
Schilling was able to survive round one, but it was clear that he may have been dealing with the effects of the spinning back-fist and Levin’s balanced punching attack as he was hesitant to throw punches throughout the second round.
The third round was very slow as both fighters looked to be on their last leg. Levin continued to land short punches and clearly controlled the round. Going into the final round it was clear that Joe Schilling would have to dig deep and score a miraculous knockout if he wanted to win the fight.
The fourth and final round had decent action as Schilling was forced to apply the pressure and look for a window to knock Levin out in order to win the tournament. Levin, who didn’t appear hurt the entire evening, only had to survive at this point. An unexpected point deduction against Levin gave Schilling new life; however, it was too late.
Artem Levin, the highly ranked Russian fighter, was able to use his natural fighting ability to make his path to tournament champion look easy.
Artem Levin is Glory’s “Last Man Standing.”