As 2016 draws to a close we look back at what was a huge year for GLORY Kickboxing, with continued global expansion, audience growth and the creation of key partnerships. Underlying it all is the thing which makes GLORY Kickboxing the most exciting sport in the world: great fights.
As usual it was hard to produce a shortlist for the year's best fights, given that there were so many wars over the past twelve months. The four below really stood out – which was your Fight of the Year 2016?
Jason Wilnis vs. Filip Verlinden, GLORY 28 PARIS (SUPERFIGHT SERIES)
Wilnis and Verlinden are two of the middleweight division's leading exponents of the classic Dutch style and when they clashed in Paris the clash was explosive. They met in the middle of the ring and stayed nose to nose for much of the bout as they traded constant combinations back and forth.
Wilnis emerged with a decision win after a close, hard-fought fight and went on to capture the middleweight championship later in the year with a stoppage of Canada's Simon Marcus at GLORY 33 NEW JERSEY.
Nieky Holzken vs. Yoann Kongolo, GLORY 29 COPENHAGEN
Nieky Holzken and Yoann Kongolo are both professional boxers as well as kickboxers and both of them have trained regularly at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas. But in kickboxing terms Kongolo is newer and less accomplished than Holzken, which meant that a lot of people did not rate his chances of success highly in this fight.
He very nearly made them eat their words. Kongolo brought the fight to Holzken from the outset and required the champion to bring his best over five thrilling rounds. The advantage flowed back and forth and Kongolo actually won the early portion of the fight. Holzken surged back in the later rounds to take control and secure victory, but it was a close-run thing and Kongolo earned a lot of new fans.
Michael Duut vs. Danyo Ilunga, GLORY COLLISION: PRELIMS
These two first met way back at GLORY 11 CHICAGO. Their first fight ended with Dutt suffering an arm injury in the first round, which meant there was unfinished business between them. They would settle it at GLORY COLLISION in spectacular fashion.
Massive blows were exchanged early and that set the tone for a fight which went on to encompass a total of five knockdowns. Four of them came in the first three rounds – they scored two a piece – before the judges ordered an extra round, the winner of which would be the winner of the fight.
Three more insane minutes of action followed. It looked to be going to the judges again before Duut found space for an overhand right just ten seconds before the end of the round, knocking Ilunga down and securing the win.
Sittichai vs. Marat Grigorian GLORY 28 PARIS, LIGHTWEIGHT CONTENDER TOURNAMENT FINAL
There was a lot on the line in this fight. Both competitors had faced Robin van Roosmalen in the past and felt they had been robbed of a win by the judges, so they were anxious to win the tournament and secure themselves another meeting with the then-lightweight champion.
Both fighters had first of all come through semi-final bouts earlier in the evening, but that was not evident in their performances during the finale. Grigorian brought his trademark forward pressure and relentless output and Sittichai, usually rather cool, gradually responded in kind, resulting in a high-paced technical fight.
Grigorian gave it his all but Sittichai was always just a step ahead of him and that earned him the victory and the title shot, which he went on to win at GLORY 31 AMSTERDAM.
GLORY Kickboxing added 78 new photos to the album: GLORY 38 Chicago Selects — with Richard Maximus Abraham and Antoine Pinto - อองตวน ปินโต.
GLORY Kickboxing added 38 new photos.
Romanian heavyweight Benny Benjamin Adegbuyi is the #1 contender in the heavyweight ranks and he's made sacrifices to get there. He faces Anderson 'Braddock' Silva in the main event of the GLORY 38 CHICAGO Superfight Series card.
Go behind-the-scenes of #GLORY38 Chicago fight week. In the final part of the series, we follow the fighters around during the official and ceremonial weigh-ins.
Artem Vakhitov will defend the light-heavyweight championship against Saulo Cavalari in the main event of GLORY 38 CHICAGO, they are 1-1 against each other and this will be the rubber-match.
BREAKING‼️ Brian "The Lion" Collette replaces Zack Mwekassa in the light heavyweight contender tournament and will now face Zinedine Hameur-Lain in the opening round!
Richard 'Maximus' Abraham heads into GLORY 38 CHICAGO this Friday looking to extend his GLORY win streak to 5-0 and put his name in the title shot mix. He faces Thailand-based French standout Antoine Pinto in the co-main event.
Master of Ceremonies Tim Hughes was center stage today to orchestrate the GLORY 38 CHICAGO weigh-ins ahead of Friday's event at the Sears Center.
Light-Heavyweight champion Artem Vakhitov defends his belt in the main event in a rubber match with Saulo Cavalari. The card also features Zack Mwekassa, Benjamin Adegbuyi, Thongchai, Catalin Morosanu, Murthel Groenhart and more.
Zack The black Warrior Mwekassa goes into this Friday's GLORY 38 CHICAGO four-man Light-Heavyweight Contender Tournament with some "tricks up [my] sleeve" and an issue to settle with Zinedine Hameur-Lain.
Murthel Groenhart and Thongchai Sitsongpeenong will square off in a welterweight battle this Friday at GLORY 38 CHICAGO on the SUPERFIGHT SERIES card. They are both confident of victory but only one will get his hand raised at the end.
Maurice "The Pirate " Greene faces Catalin Morosanu at GLORY 38 CHICAGO on Friday and has the perfect gameplan in place, courtesy of his son Jack, aged 6.
Murthel Groenhart vs. Thongchai Sitsongpeenong. This fight is going to be 🔥🔥.
Romanian heavyweight Catalin Morosanu will debut for GLORY this Friday at GLORY 38 CHICAGO. He's in the USA but the arena will feel like home - Chicago has a large Romanian population and they will be out in force to support him against Maurice "The Pirate " Greene.
CONTEST TIME! Enter your best caption for light heavyweight challenger Saulo Cavalari, then LIKE and SHARE this photo - winners will receive 2 FREE TICKETS! Check back tomorrow at 11am CST for a winner...
Tickets to #GLORY38 Chicago at http://bit.ly/GLORY38tix
Get your questions ready! We will be hosting an AMA with Joseph "Bazooka Joe" Valtellini and Todd Grisham on r/ MMA tonight at 6pm ET / 3pm PT!
Go behind-the-scenes of #GLORY38 Chicago fight week. In this episode, the fighters spend their free time away from fighting and participate in local community service and wrap up media appearances.