Spoiler: Referee draws criticism following Varga vs. Adamchuk

Published on Nov 6, 2015

Gabriel Varga and Serhiy Adamchuk were originally set to face off the recent ‘Dynamite’ card GLORY staged in conjunction with Bellator, but Varga was forced to pull out of the September booking with a back injury.

Rescheduled for the next available slot, it headlined Milan’s Superfight Series card, due to the numbered card bouts already having been booked. Set for five rounds, it matched two technical fighters yet on paper had the possibility of fireworks breaking out.

Varga has a karate and Muay Thai background. He has proven to be both a clever technician and a fighter who will happily discard the points game in favor of a war should the opponent oblige him, as we saw in his fights with Shane Oblonsky and Mosab Amrani.

Adamchuk found himself in the title fight after having debuted on 24 hours notice at GLORY 22 FRANCE and beaten lightweight contender Marat Grigorian. It was felt that Adamchuk had done enough in stepping up and taking the upset win that he could be given a title shot in the featherweight division.

So, Varga’s first title defense (he won the vacant belt at GLORY 20) and Adamchuk’s second GLORY fight. A hugely important fight for both men’s careers, the stage was set for an interesting encounter.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite play out like that. Adamchuk and Varga are both counter-fighters and like to react to their opponents over-exposing themselves or being made to miss. Varga does a lot of misdirection and so his output was more proactive but Adamchuk, shorter and stockier, is incredibly evasive and is basically a master of the side-step.

Adamchuk had some success with hard knees to the body early in the fight while Varga was picking his kicks from distance. But the fight gradually descended into exchanges which would end almost immediately with the fighters tying up in the clinch, Adamchuk largely being the instigator.

During one such clinch they clashed heads; Varga went back to his corner at the end of the second round with a large and profusely bleeding gash above his left eye. That added pressure to the situation for him as the ring doctor had already stopped two fights previously in the evening when similar cuts were sustained.

His forward pressure became more frantic but that only increased Adamchuk’s employment of the tie-up to shut him down and prompt the restart from the referee. This happened so many times that the fans became restless, directing their ire not so much at Adamchuk as at the referee for his constant - but ineffective - intervention.

Had a point been deducted for excessive clinching early in the fight, things may have played out differently. GLORY rules require ‘active clinching’ which means the fighter has to use it as part of an attack, rather than shutting down an opponent’s offense with it. But that was not happening in this fight.

As the seconds ticked away, significant damage was nowhere to be found. Varga wore some red marks from Adamchuk’s early knees and had the cut above his eye, but that was about it. A classic fight it was not.

Much interest awaited the judges’ decision. Adamchuk had dominated Varga in terms of physically shutting him down via the clinch, but that isn’t high in the scoring criteria. In terms of clean strikes landed, it seemed difficult to choose between them.

Whatever their reasoning was, the judges were all on the same page when the decision came in. Each of them had Adamchuk winning three rounds and Varga winning two, making Adamchuk the new featherweight champion. A point deduction would have had a huge impact - the score would have been a draw and Varga would have retained the title. As it is, the frustrated Canadian returns to the contender ranks and Ukraine crowns its first GLORY champion.

Serhiy Adamchuk def. Gabriel Varga, Unanimous Decision, (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)

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