As GLORY continues to increase the popularity of kickboxing in the United States, the promotion will need a number of stars to showcase. One of those stars is “Bazooka” Joe Valtellini.

The Canadian put on a spectacular performance in his last appearance for the promotion at GLORY 13. Valtellini started the night off with a head-kick knockout of Raymond Daniels to earn a spot in the finals of the GLORY welterweight tournament championship.

Valtellini (James Law/GLORY)

Valtellini (James Law/GLORY)

It was there that Valtellini would find a defining moment in his career against Nieky Holzken. The two men engaged in a technical war of attrition, trading shot for shot. In the end, Valtellini succumbed to Holzken’s attack, but not before gaining some new fans along the way.

“I was close to being No. 1,” he told The MMA Corner. “I was so close to accomplishing my dream and being world champ. I know the fight will happen again and I will meet him in the near future. I beat Raymond Daniels and had a nice highlight-reel knockout. The tournament format is harder. If it was a single fight, I think things would be a lot different.”

Valtellini will likely use that method of thinking as he heads into GLORY’s Last Man Standing event this Saturday night. He’ll be facing Marc de Bonte for the promotion’s welterweight championship.

“Marc is younger and more experienced than me, and this will be his 100th fight,” Valtellini said. “But his style works well with me, and after watching his last fight, I wasn’t impressed.”

De Bonte took Karapet Karapetyan to a five-round decision at GLORY 16 to win the GLORY welterweight strap. De Bonte was able to take a split decision, and now he will look to add Valtellini’s name as victim No. 100. Still, Valtellini isn’t placing too much merit on de Bonte’s experience.

“He is very experienced, but I don’t know who he’s fought in those 100 fights,” Valtellini explained. “I know that I have fought the best of the best. I would rather fight quality than quantity, as I feel it makes me a better fighter and garners me more respect to always be fighting top opponents.”

When Valtellini and de Bonte clash at Last Man Standing, it will be an interesting mix of styles on display. De Bonte has been practicing Muay Thai since an early age, whereas Valtellini began his martial arts career with taekwondo. Muay Thai has proven to be the more “useful” martial art when it comes to major combat sports, but “Bazooka” Joe doesn’t forget about his roots.

“I feel my experience with both taekwondo and Muay Thai has allowed me to discover different angles and different skills than if I had just specialized in one sport,” he said.

Valtellini (L) lands a kick (James Law/GLORY)

Valtellini (L) lands a kick (James Law/GLORY)

If Valtellini can capture the GLORY title, he will have achieved his dream of being champion. He’ll also have a group of adoring fans to showcase the belt to upon his return. Valtellini works as a physical education teacher when he’s not working on landing some leather.

“I use it as a chance to show them that combat sports are not about anger and fighting. They are about testing yourself in a ring against other great athletes,” he revealed. “I use it to teach my kids that through discipline and hard work they can accomplish their goals and the positive path in life is the one that reaps the most rewards.

“Working with my kids every day gives me that fire to motivate the next generation and be that positive role model that a lot of them need in their lives. It always keeps me grounded and shows me what’s really important. The title itself is just a piece of metal, but it presents the opportunity to leave a mark on the next generation, which is what I want and the true indicator of a great legacy.”

Valtellini and his #TeamBazooka supporters figure to be glued to their television sets this Saturday as the hard-hitting kickboxer looks to complete a dream while encouraging others from within the GLORY ring.

Valtellini would like to thank his training partners at Ultimate Martial Arts in Toronto and Costa Kladianos of Tempus Performance. Follow “Bazooka” Joe on Twitter: @BazookaJoeV