An exciting new talent debuts in the GLORY middleweight division later this month as 'The Baby-Faced Assassin' Yousri Belgaroui (18-1, 9 KO's) joins the ranks to take part in the GLORY 34 DENVER Middleweight Contender Tournament.
Just 24 years old, Belgaroui has marked himself out as a top prospect by way of exciting performances and crushing knockouts. At 6'6 he is tall for the division and particularly dangerous with his knees, which have scored him more than one KO.
Contender tournament winners earn a title shot, so Belgaroui finds himself simultaneously making his debut and being just two wins away from a title shot, albeit he needs both those wins in one night. It's a challenge he is more than willing to accept.
“I'm very excited to fight for this big organization. It's a big opportunity for me and I am fully ready it. I want to win this tournament, get the title shot and get the belt. That's my only focus right now,” he says.
“At first I made the mistake of thinking only about Israel Adesanya, who I fought recently and who I think I beat, I don't agree with the decision. I really want to get him back and I think he will win his semi-final fight so I was really just thinking about him.
“Then I started looking at Alex Pereira, my semi-final opponent, and I realized he is not a small challenge, I cannot overlook him. But I am very confident. I see his style and I have got some ideas for him.”
Pereira (17-3, 10 KO's) is himself a former winner of the Middleweight Contender Tournament. The Brazilian is a professional boxer as well as kickboxer and has some of the best hands – and head movement – in the division. He is no one-trick pony either.
“Yeah I see him using kicks and knees, he's a complete kickboxer. He bases everything around his hands though and that is an area I also train all the time. I came into Mike's Gym with a kind of kicking and kneeing style and Mike is more of a boxing guy so that was good for me, because it meant I was like a rough diamond that he just had to polish. I like Mike's style a lot,” says Belgaroui.
Mike's Gym is of course the Amsterdam institution headed by the veteran coach Mike Passenier, trainer of Badr Hari, Murthel Groenhart and more. The gym is a hive of activity right now. Hari has a fight with Rico Verhoeven in December and Groenhart is facing Nieky Holzken for the welterweight title, also at GLORY 34 DENVER.
“The atmosphere is great fight now. Everyone has got big fights coming up and we like to motivate each other, train with each other, spar hard with each other. We all spar together, yeah. Well, Badr right now is in Morocco but I spar regularly with Murthel,” he says.