The night produced a storyline to rival the iconic Rocky movie as last-minute replacement and huge underdog Dustin Jacoby knocked out three opponents to stake his claim to the $20,000 grand prize and a spot on a future full-scale GLORY card.
â€˜Road to Gloryâ€™ events are designed to find the fighters who will be the stars of tomorrow in the GLORY kickboxing premier league. Jacoby couldnâ€™t have stated his case any more emphatically - not only did he stop all three of his opponents, one of them was tournament favorite Randy â€™Boom Boomâ€™ Blake.
Jacoby is a UFC veteran with an 8-3 record in the MMA world. He stepped in on less than 48 hours notice to replace WBC-ranked boxer Manuel Quezada. Nobody had any idea about Jacobyâ€™s kickboxing skills and his late appearance, plus the fact he was drawn against tournament favorite Blake in the quarter-finals, meant that nobody was giving him much of a chance.
They were wrong.
The tournament opened with a match between Roy Boughton and Daniel Brison. The first round was almost all Brison as Boughton looked slow to start, lading only a few leg kicks and taking some heavy punches from Brison in return.
But in the second round the leg kicks started to take their toll and Boughton was able to score a knockdown with one. That triggered an onslaught from Boughton as he pressed for the finish but Brison came back hard and the round turned into a war. Brison showed signs of wear at the end while Boughton looked fresh.
The final frame had Boughton surging ahead as fatigue took its toll on Brison, who fell down twice under the pressure. Nonetheless he showed serious grit and a solid chin as he weathered the storm but the judges decision was only going to go one way. Two had it 29-27 for Boughton while the other had it 30-26 his way, giving him the final round by a 10-8 margin.
The second quarter-final bout saw tournament Randy â€˜Boon Boomâ€™ Blake face late-replacement and supposed sacrificial lamb Dustin Jacoby. This was actually his first full professional kickboxing fight but throughout his MMA career he had preferred the striking game and showed signs of quality there.
Blake, the hometown fighter, meandered to the ring at a leisurely pace, as he soaked up the crowdâ€™s adulation. Jacobyâ€™s uneventful entrance was marked by a smattering of polite applause - a stark contrast to the ovations he would receive at the end of the evening.
The first frame was fairly even. Blake, who recently fought the legendary Mirko â€˜CroCopâ€™ Filipovic to a decision, worked leg kicks and it seemed an effective strategy. Jacoby flicked out jabs and measured his distance then, satisfied he had found holes in Blakeâ€™s defense, started to let long straight shots go with left hooks behind them. Blake fired back though and there was little to divide them at the end of the first.
Jacoby had a swelling under his right eye at the start of the second frame and his lead leg was also starting to go purple from Blakeâ€™s leg kicks. He did well to stick to his gameplan of bridging the distance with straight shots before getting in close where he could work his hooks and be inside Blakeâ€™s leg-kick range.
Still though, the fight seemed to be going Blakeâ€™s way as they entered the third. His combination work, timing and distance had him in the driving seat but Jacoby would not stop pressing forwards and seemed to know that he needed a stoppage to get the win. His blows came in huge fierce flurries and suddenly one of them found a home - Blake staggered and fell, and the referee waved the bout off at 1:43 of the round three to give Jacoby the win by TKO.
Quarter-final bout three was between two Muay Thai stylists, Kyle Martin and Myron Dennis. Both showed the kind of crafty maneuvering and tricky combination work that the native art of Thailand is famous for. An irreverent upkick from Dennis drew applause in round one as it cracked into Martinâ€™s jaw, while a power-shot to the body got Martin his applause in round two.
Round three had Martin looking tired though - the fight was being fought at a tremendous pace - and he was looking at the clock occasionally as his corner spurred him on. Dennis edged into the lead, working uppercuts into his combinations and evading Martinâ€™s increasingly sluggish counters. The fight ended with a split-decision in favor of Martin, two judges giving him the first two rounds for scores of 29-28 while the other judge had Dennis winning two rounds, also at 29-28.
The last quarter-final bout had the other tournament favorite, knockout machine Brian Collette. With a 17-0 professional record and 14 knockouts to his name, his power was evident immediately as he rocked Jeremy Freitag with a punch-kick combination. Collette mauled Freitag for most of the round and fourteen seconds into the second he launched a full-power head kick which landed flush on Freitagâ€™s neck and knocked him out. Freitag had to be removed from the ring by paramedics as Collette added another KO win to his resume.
And so it was Boughton and Jacoby who formed the first semi-final match of the evening. Boughton made a hesitant start but did let his dangerous right hand go on occasion. Jacoby was more insistent, working his jab and mixing his combinations behind them.
One such combination ended in a knee to the head which put Boughton down. Shortly afterwards, a left hook to the body put Boughton down again. Under the tournamentâ€™s two-knockdown rule, the fight was waved off at 2:47 of the first round and Jacoby was through to the final.
Collette and Martin formed the second semi-final pairing. Martin started the fight with a high-kick effort but overbalanced. Collette took his cue though and went looking for his own trademark head kick as a response. Using the jab to establish distance he felt where Martinâ€™s head was going to be then threw a savage high kick that put Martin down for his first ten-count.
On the restart, Collette went to work on the body and put some heavy knees into Martinâ€™s ribs. This was too much for the Muay Thai man and he went down for a second time, ending the fight at 1:29 of round one under the two-knockdown rule. Martin was visibly disappointed but Colletteâ€™s physical power is simply awesome and it is clear to see he hits very, very hard indeed.
With two stoppages apiece, it was clear the finalists werenâ€™t going to go the distance with each other. But every person in the crowd was expecting Collette to score another finish, given his background and his form on the evening. But Jacoby had other ideas.
Collette seemed a little slower than he had earlier in the evening and that allowed Jacoby to time his pawing jab and throw a heavy counter-right over the top of it. Having established his authority in this way, Jacoby then started setting up body-shots for himself and these reaped rewards, forcing Collette backwards and sapping his strength.
Ten seconds before the end, a forward surge from Jacoby had Collette pinned in the corner, an unthinkable image when Jacobyâ€™s late entrance to the tournament was first announced. The ten-second warning was a like a red rag to a bull and Jacoby gave it everything he had, one massive combination. Collette at first seemed to weather it but then suddenly lurched forward, staggered like a drunken man and fell face down, knocked out in the final second of the first round.
An ecstatic Jacoby was mobbed by his corner team and as the dust settled, GLORY executives made their way into the ring to present him with his winnerâ€™s check and a one-year contract with the worldâ€™s top stand-up fighting league. Emotional, he thanked his fiancÃ©e for four years of support and said he was still struggling to believe that the opportunity and the tournament win had all come together in less than two days.
Meanwhile the Road to Glory USA continues for other hopefuls around the world. The next installment takes place on February 9 with a middleweight tournament at the Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles, California. Among the participants is Eddie Walker, who recently stopped both Joe Schilling and Kevin Ross to mark himself out as one of the top prospects of the US scene.
ROAD TO GLORY USA 1: Results
Roy Boughton def. Daniel Brison via unanimous decision - 30-26, 29-27, 29-27
Dustin Jacoby def. Randy Blake via TKO - Round 3 (1:43)
Kyle Martin def. Myron Dennis via unanimous decision - 28-29, 29-28, 29-28
Brian Collette def. Jeremy Freitag via KO - Round 2 (:14)
Dustin Jacoby def. Roy Boughton via TKO - Round 1 (2:47)
Brian Collette def. Kyle Martin via TKO - Round 1 (1:29)
Dustin Jacoby def. Brian Collette via KO - Round 1 (3:00)
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