GLORY Light Heavyweight Grand Prix: Donegi Abena Dominates and Sweeps Tournament With Triple Knockouts

Jun 10, 2024
Donegi Abena with a big left hook. Photo: GLORY Kickboxing
Donegi Abena shocked the world yesterday, earning three straight stoppages in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.

In front of a packed crowd at the Rotterdam Ahoy in the Netherlands, the eight tournament fighters delivered one of the best kickboxing events of the year, with huge upsets, highlight performances, and controversy. A huge shockwave shook the division as Donegi Abena revived his career in a single night by earning three huge stoppage wins over Ștefan Lătescu, Tarik Khbabez, and Bahram Rajabzadeh.



Pascal Touré utilized heavy thigh kicks to wear down Tarik Khbabez, clinched up in the pocket, for which the French fighter was deducted a point. Whilst the Moroccan champion won the fight, his lead leg was mangled, significantly reducing his chance of contending for the tournament title. The slight underdog Donegi Abena used calf kicks over three rounds to beat Ștefan Lătescu, as the Golden Boy seemingly gave up limping away while pointing to his jaw after eating a head kick from Abena after being stunned by a flurry of leg kicks, indicating an injury. Sergej Maslobojev made quick work of fellow veteran Bogdan Stoica, winning by TKO with a scissor knee that seemed to have broken Stoica's forearm 30 seconds into the fight. Bahram Rajabzadeh knocked down tournament dark horse Ibrahim El Bouni with a right hook, then ended the fight seconds later with a jumping knee in the first round.

THE SEMI-FINALS: An Affair of Rematches and Controversy

As the Light Heavyweight champion's left leg had been severely compromised in his first fight, Tarik Khbabez entered his rematch against Donegi Abena in the southpaw stance. Abena took full advantage of his opponent's hurt leg and punished the Moroccan champion with rear leg kicks to earn a second-round leg kick TKO. Abena avenged a close loss from three months ago when he lost his Light Heavyweight title. Still fresh, he was ready to upset the tournament favorite.

On the other side of the bracket, Bahram Rajabzadeh looked to avenge a loss that he suffered five years ago against Sergej Maslobojev. The fight was close in the first round with the Azeri narrowly winning it with his pressure. The replays showed a few headbutts but they were not called. Just seconds into the second round, an accidental headclash during a frantic exchange left a huge gash below the lip of Maslobojev for which the ring doctor was called in to check. Several minutes of confusion ensued as the Lithuanian took off his gloves before any decision had been made. 

The fight was announced as a second-round TKO for Rajabzadeh amidst the controversy. After the fight finished, it was revealed by Robbie Timmers on commentary that despite the doctor clearing him to fight, Maslobojev had forfeited the match as he did not want the cut to open even more through the fight. Bahram Rajabzadeh successfully avenged a bitter loss and expectedly moved on to the finals of the tournament.


THE FINAL: A Shock to the Division

Both men were looking for their shot at the beginning of the fight, but in a shock to the spectators, Abena caught Rajabzadeh on a flying knee with a clean counter left hook. The Azeri seemed lost afterward, and in this state, he was no match for his opponent as he was given a standing count just a minute later, and then a third count near the end of the round, which ended the fight. Astonishingly, Abena had pulled off a tournament run that no one expected from him with his first real stoppage wins since 2017. As the fight ended, former Surinamese kickboxing star Melvin Manhoef was seen cheering for his countryman.



Donegi Abena def. Bahram Rajabzadeh - TKO at 2:43 of R1

Ionuț Iancu def. Murat Aygün - KO at 1:43 of R2

Ramy Deghir def. Brice Kombou - Split Decision

Bahram Rajabzadeh def. Sergej Maslobojev - TKO at 0:20 of R2

Donegi Abena def. Tarik Khbabez - TKO at 0:30 of R2

Bahram Rajabzadeh def. Ibrahim El Bouni - TKO at 2:02 of R1

Sergej Maslobojev def. Bogdan Stoica - TKO at 1:05 of R1

Donegi Abena def. Ștefan Lătescu - TKO at 0:59 of R3

Tarik Khbabez def. Pascal Touré - Unanimous Decision

Soufian Abdelkhalek def. Ilyass Chakir - Unanimous Decision

Cem Caceres def. Mohamed Amine - TKO at 1:32 of R2