Matt 'Matics' Embree went from unknown to featherweight contender in the space of a single event. The Toronto, Canada fighter blasted his way to victory in the Featherweight Contender Tournament, scoring back-to-back stoppages and seizing the tournament trophy and accompanying title shot.
In the final he faced Giga Chikadze, fighting out of KINGS MMA in California but originally from the Republic of Georgia. A black belt in Kyokoshin Karate, Chikadze has an arsenal of unorthodox and deadly kicks. Embree's background is Muay Thai and he leans towards using his hands more than his legs.
Those hands won him the fight. Chikadze, already tired from his semi-final bout, struggled to match Embree's pace and explosiveness, which seemed hardly affected by his own semi-final bout. There was a telling moment backstage before they walked out for the final: Chikadze was slumped in a chair, resting. Embree was yards away, on his feet and pacing back and forth, full of nervous energy.
That energy ended up being channelled into his hands. Embree scored a knockdown in the middle of the first round by way of a right cross and in the second round he scored another knockdown by way of an overhand right. Chikadze had been slow to get up from the first knockdown; he was up quicker from the second, but was clearly in no condition to continue.
At that point the referee waved the fight off, almost exactly halfway through the second round. Embree became the Featherweight Contender and announced his presence to the rest of the GLORY featherweight division in style.
Featherweight champion Gabriel Varga – also Canadian – is booked to face former lightweight champion Robin van Roosmalen at GLORY 34 DENVER on October 21. Embree will be watching that one with interest, as he will most likely be facing the winner in his next GLORY outing.
In the first of the evening's semi-finals, an Eastern European derby (of sorts) took place between Giga Chikadze of Georgia and former champion Serhiy Adamchuk of the Ukraine. It was a fight which took in several themes over the course of three rounds, from technical to scrappy to flashy and back again.
Most of the flash came from Chikadze, who has a karate background and a wide arsenal of unusual kicks. Many of them didn't come close to landing but his output was constant so he maintained a good scoring rate. Adamchuk largely stuck to his usual game of constant mobility and hard counters.
It was a close fight and the decision could have gone either way, which was reflected in the judges' scores. Two had it for Chikadze and one for Adamchuk, all judges having it 29-28 and making it a split-decision for Chikadze.
Embree's route to the final was more definitive. He faced the vastly more experienced veteran Chibin Lim of South Korea. In pre-fight interviews Embree had made the observation that Lim's loss to Mosab Amrani at GLORY 26 by way of body shots indicated, to him, that Lim had some weakness in the body.
He followed his hunch and went after Lim with brutal body shots repeatedly. They didn't end the fight but they did take a toll. The finish came about with head shots. Both went for a left hook at the same time and Embree's landed first, dropping Lim for an eight count.
On the restart Embree rushed in and got straight back to work, piling the pressure on. A flurry of blows ended with a right hand which dropped Lim again right on the bell which ended the round.
Ordinarily he would have been allowed to continue into the third round had he beaten the count, but GLORY tournament rules require that a fight be waved off if a fighter suffers two knockdowns in one round during anything except the tournament final fight. The referee had no choice but to wave the fight off and Embree scored a TKO finish for his GLORY debut.