When a split-decision win for Cedric Doumbé (67-4-1, 39 KO's) was announced in the GLORY 42 PARIS main event, Nieky Holzken (90-13, 46 KO's) was genuinely amazed. Several days on, he still seems shocked.
“If this is how you win a fight, if this is what the judges reward, then next time I will come to the ring with a coffee and I can sit in the corner and drink that, make some light points, run to the other corner and sit down and finish my coffee!” he says.
“If this is the new kickboxing, if this is the new championship defense, running fifty laps and making some small kicks and punches, that's not the kickboxing that people want to see and it's not the kickboxing for me. I respect Cedric Doumbé as a fighter, but not his style of fighting.
“He says I am old?! I ran a marathon on Saturday night just trying to get close to him. Its good that he moves a lot and he has good head movement, that's for sure, but its all so safe, no bad intentions. That's why they need to change the rules to preserve the sport.
“If a fighter can win like this - make a light hit, run away, make another light hit, run away again - then they need to change the rules. Some people like it but most people don't. I don't think he's a real champion. I mean, he's real because he won the decision but he's not like really a championship fighter with this style.”
Only one of the five judges on Saturday night saw the fight for Holzken, the other four having Doumbé as the winner. Holzken believes that these four did not apply the correct scoring criteria according to GLORY rules.
“Look, I am a man. You can fight and you can win or you can lose but it has to be fair,” he says. “I don't know what the judges were looking at on Saturday night. They have to look at the rules. In the rules meeting [the officials tell us that] whoever goes forward and does damage and makes the most spectacular techniques takes the win. So how is he winning? I was going forward the whole time!
“In the first round I was blocking all his stuff but it was so soft I just decided for the rest of the fight to walk through it and counter. Everything I hit him with, I hit with bad intentions. I hit him with a body shot that hurt him and he made an act like he was laughing it off but I could see it hurt him, you can see that he has to fight himself not to lean over and show the effects of it.
“In his post-fight talk he said that I hit him very good a couple of times. He didn't hit me good once – not once! Just some cheap uppercuts and these fade-away low kicks, he throws these kicks where even as he kicks he is leaning backwards moving out of it, so it doesn't have any power in it.”
“When the final bell sounded I jumped up on the ropes. I knew I won... I put the pressure, made the fight, delivered the most clean techniques and the most spectacular techniques: head kicks, spin kicks, all of that. Maybe he got advantage points for his beautiful dancing on the way to the ring, I don't know.”
In the final round of the fight a Holzken spin-kick sent Doumbé flying and left him hanging half out of the ring. The referee ruled it to be a slip rather than a knockdown, a call which Holzken vehemently disagrees with.
“He goes out of the ring between the ropes and takes like thirty seconds to get back in the ring and back into the fight. Go back to my fight with Raymond Daniels in Las Vegas; he hit me with a spin kick and it landed on my elbow but I went down and the referee gave me a count. But I was straight back up. Doumbé was buying time, losing his mouthpiece, all this,” he says.
“Or you can look at when Kongolo hit me with the back kick in [GLORY 40] Copenhagen, I was straight back up and didn't get a count. Doumbé takes all this time to get back up and doesn't get a count? I don't understand it.”
Holzken says his next move now will be to get back in the gym and prepare for his next opponent, whoever that may be. He wants a top-ranked welterweight and intends the fight to be a springboard to another title shot.
“I will defeat the next opponent and then, with everything I achieved over the years, I think they must give me the title shot after that. I was for many years one of the faces and I helped GLORY,” he muses. “I don't care who the opponent is: Murthel Groenhart, Yoann Kongolo, Karim Benmansour, anyone top three. The title has to come back one day.”
Mention of “top four” brings Holzken onto the subject of the welterweight rankings, where he is currently occupying the #4 slot. The topic lights a fire in him.
“At number two they have Benmansour? He has two wins and two losses in GLORY but he is ranked above Murthel, ranked above me! I don't know what system they use to make these rankings but whatever way you look at it, it does not make sense that you can rank Benmansour at #2. Is he getting extra points for being French, now we have a French champion?” he says.
“I have twelve wins in GLORY and two losses, but I am ranked fourth? Ranked below Murthel, who I beat twice, ranked below Kongolo, who I already beat once? But OK, it doesn't matter. I just beat whoever is put in front of me now and get my title back and then there will be no arguments about who is the best.”