Brazilian heavyweight upstart Jhonata Diniz (7-2) has been given the opportunity of a lifetime after being brought in to the GLORY 4 Tokyo – Heavyweight Grand Slam event as a replacement for an injured Fabiano ‘Cyclone’ Aoki, and will take on superstar Daniel Ghita (44-7-0, 34 KO’s) in the opening round of the one-night, 16-man elimination tournament at Saitama Super Arena on New Year’s Eve.
The switch was confirmed by Glory Sports International yesterday following Cyclone’s withdrawal from the event due to a torn ligament sustained in his left knee during a recent sparring practice with fellow Japanese heavyweight Koichi. Cyclone did not want to withdraw from the tournament, but doctors told him it would not be feasible for him to attempt to fight with such an injury.
“Naturally we are disappointed to see Fabiano Cyclone withdraw from this tournament. He has a crowd-pleasing style and we were looking forward to seeing him perform in front of his home fans. Such injuries are sometimes a side-effect of the hard training these fighters go through and we wish him a speedy recovery,” says Glory Sports International CEO Marcus Luer.
“His replacement is Jhonata Diniz, a young fighter from the famous fighting Brazilian city of Curitiba. He exemplifies that city’s infamously aggressive martial arts style and, from what we saw of his organization debut at GLORY 2 Brussels earlier this year, I think it’s safe to say that the crowd will definitely be entertained by what he brings to the ring.
“He’s facing Ghita first, and Ghita is second-favorite to win the tournament. It’s a tall order, but Diniz didn’t hesitate to accept; he says is very much looking forward to the challenge.”
Interestingly, Cyclone is half-Brazilian, with one of his parents coming from the same Brazilian city – Belem – that is home to the former UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who is also half-Japanese, half-Brazilian. So it is fitting that it is a Brazilian that has replaced him, albeit one from a different city.
Curitiba is well known in the martial arts world as being the home of the famed Chute Boxe team which dominated PRIDE FC and produced legendary names such as Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua.
Diniz came up through the Thai Boxe team, Chute Boxe’s main rival for dominance on the regional Muay Thai and kickboxing circuit. Curitiba teams seem to have developed a super-aggressive, almost reckless fighting style, either independently or as a response to each other continuously upping the ante. Diniz’s past fights confirm this, displaying at times almost a complete disregard for his own safety as he looks to finish his opponents.
He recently moved to the Netherlands to pursue his training and has been taken under the wing of the accomplished Cor Hemmers and his son Nicky Hemmers. According to the elder Hemmers, “Diniz is going to become a serious force to be reckoned with over the next few years and this tournament will be the start of that journey.”
Two other matches have also been confirmed for the GLORY event on New Year’s Eve. A 187 pound/85 kilogram match between Toshio Matsumoto (37-9-6,1NC, 30 KO’s) and Jason ‘Tyson’ Wilnis (18-2-1) forms one of the evening’s Superfights and sees the more experienced Matsumoto taking on a 22-year old who is nicknamed ‘Tyson’ for a reason. Wilnis – younger brother of fellow professional Jaffar – has been knocking all comers out on his way to the big show and will be looking to shine in Japan.
The second match sees 21-year old Mutsuki ‘Double Dragon’ Ebata putting his impressive 16-1-1 record on the line against Korean opponent Sang-Jae Kim at 117 pounds/53 kilograms.
‘GSI presents DREAM 18 and GLORY 4 Tokyo – New Year’s Eve Special’ is a double-header mega-event which will provide a dynamite ending to the 2012 fighting calendar. The first half consists of the DREAM 18 mixed martial arts event while the latter half is the biggest stand-up fighting event in history. ‘GLORY 4 Tokyo – Heavyweight Grand Slam’ features 16 heavyweight strikers in a one-night elimination tournament to determine which of them is the best.
Among those participating in the heavyweight tournament are world No. 1 ranked Semmy Schilt (39-6, 18 KO’s), Remy Bonjasky (77-14, 40 KO’s), Peter Aerts (104-30-1, 78 KO’s), Gokhan Saki (77-15, 53 KO’s), Daniel Ghita (44-7, 34 KO’s), Errol Zimmerman (76-16-1, 41 KO’s), Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva (32-8-1, 22 KO’s) and Sergei Kharitonov (22-7, 12 KO’s).
The winner of the tournament will take home a Grand Prize of $400,000, and a total of $600,000 in prize money will be awarded to tournament participants.