By it's very nature – all stand-up, no clinching and no grappling - GLORY Kickboxing continually produces fights which turn out to be non-stop wars. Even so, some fights still stand out more than others for their intensity, and Friday's GLORY 33 Superfight Series headliner between middleweight champion Simon 'Bad Bwoy' Marcus (44-2-2, 24 KO's) and challenger Jason 'Psycho' Wilnis (28-6-1, 7 KO's) looks likely to be one of them.
Marcus, from Toronto, Canada and of Jamaican heritage, was the world's most accomplished Muay Thai middleweight before crossing over into GLORY Kickboxing in 2014, seeking to replicate that success in a second sport. It didn't take him long to get to grips with the new rules – no clinching or throws allowed – and get on a winning run which saw him take the title from Artem 'The Lion' Levin earlier in 2016.
Wilnis hails from the Dutch city of Utrecht, about an hour outside Amsterdam. He and his heavyweight older brother Jahfarr – also a GLORY fighter – grew up on a large housing project and channelled their energies into sports as a way of keeping themselves focused and on the right path. Both played soccer at a high level early on, but once they discovered kickboxing, interest in all other sports fell by the wayside.
Wilnis earned the nickname 'Psycho' for his relentless aggression; he batters opponents non-stop until they break, mentally or physically, using the classic Dutch-style kickboxing method of heavy hand combinations and constant, brutal low kicks.
Marcus, being of a Muay Thai background, tends to pick his shots more, but has crunching knockout power: 57 percent of his wins have been inside the distance versus Wilnis' 27 percent.
They fought once before, in the final of the GLORY 20 DUBAI Middleweight Contender Tournament. Wilnis had a tough fight with Alex Pereira, a former tournament winner, in the semi-finals, while Marcus had a much easier time with Wayne Barrett. In the tournament final, Marcus had more gas in the tank and controlled much of the fight on the way to a unanimous decision.
Ever since, Wilnis has been gunning for a rematch under normal conditions. “I want to see how we match up in just a straight fight, not at the end of a tournament, because he had an easy fight in the Dubai semi-finals, Wayne Barrett didn't do anything, and I had a war,” he explains.
“Now he's the champion, and he even got the belt easy – Levin got disqualified for walking out of the ring when he got frustrated. It's like Marcus got the belt for free. It makes me mad. I want to show this guy that I am a better fighter than him and he's going to feel that in New Jersey, really. I'm going to teach him a lesson, hurt him.”
When Wilnis' words are put to Marcus, the Toronto man snorts in derision. Not only does he disagree he got the belt “for free”, he also wants to set Wilnis straight about their respective routes through the Dubai tournament.
“All his talk about the semi-finals of that tournament is just loser-talk, losers always have excuses. Let me tell you something: go back and watch the fight and watch my right leg. I can't use it, because I injured my right foot badly on Barrett and then tore a muscle in my thigh as well. So I was fighting without one of my best weapons against Wilnis in that fight. This time, I am 100% and I am going to properly bust him up, so let's see what his excuses are afterwards,” he says.
“Then he wants to talk about how I got the belt from Levin. Listen, I broke Levin, I made him quit. Real fighters, real champions, they don't walk out of the ring when they are frustrated or losing a fight. They fight to the end. I'm excited for this chance to shut him up. We ran into each other backstage at a show recently and I told him we have a score to settle.
“Based on our last fight, I rate this guy a B-level fighter. I am the champion because I am the best in the world, for real. I'm going in there to put on a dominating performance and end the fight with a knockout. This guy doesn't deserve five rounds of ring-time with the champ. This knockout will be a present for the fans and for myself.”
GLORY 33 NEW JERSEY takes place at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, New Jersey.
The Superfight Series card airs live and exclusively worldwide this Friday on UFC FIGHT PASS. In addition to the headline middleweight title fight, the card also sees British heavyweight Chi Lewis-Parry (7-1, 3 KO's) face undefeated American counterpart Anthony 'The Joker' McDonald (7-0, 6 KO's).