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.
The youngest male fighter on the GLORY roster fights in one of the sport's most stacked weight classes but that just adds an extra layer of challenge for the ambitious Tyjani Beztati. #GLORY39
Heavyweight contender Ben Saddik Jamal faces Guto Inocente at #GLORY39 Brussels on Saturday night and is looking to end the Brazilian's undefeated run in GLORY and take a step closer to his title shot.
Yoann Kongolo is an angry man. Cedric Doumbé has been talking him down ahead of their #GLORY39 Brussels fight on Saturday, March 25 and Kongolo, winner of their previous two encounters, is looking to "punish" and "destroy" him when they meet in the ring.
'Chopper' Chi Lewis-Parry faces Hesdy Gerges this Saturday at #GLORY39 Brussels. It's the biggest fight of his career but he says he is feeling no pressure at all and that all the pressure is on Gerges.
Hesdy Gerges and Chi Lewis-Parry have a heavyweight encounter lined up on the #GLORY39 SuperFight Series on Saturday night and it's a very important fight for both of their careers.
Doumced defends his welterweight title for the first time on Saturday night in what will be their third encounter. Kongolo won the first two by decision but Doumbé says this one will go very differently.
JUST ANNOUNCED‼️ The fight card for #GLORY40 Copenhagen has been finalized! ⬇️ DETAILS ⬇️
Coach Mike Passenier discusses his relationship with one of his prodigies, Badr Hari.
GLORY Kickboxing added 3 new photos.
Marat Grigorian finds late changes of opponent "frustrating"
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#GLORY39 Brussels features title fights in both the welterweight and lightweight divisions, a featherweight contender tournament, two heavyweight clashes, and much more.
We introduce the four fighters who will battle it out at #GLORY39 Brussels for a future opportunity at the GLORY featherweight title.
We saved 'The Best' for last. Doumced is prepared to show the world it was no mistake he captured the welterweight title. He makes his first defense in the main event at #GLORY39 Brussels.
Yoann Kongolo defeated Cedric Doumbé in his GLORY debut back at GLORY 22. Now, almost two years later they will face-off once again for the welterweight title at #GLORY39 Brussels on March 25th.
GLORY Kickboxing with Miss Alyssa Arce.
Nicknamed 'The Goliath' because of his towering frame, Ben Saddik Jamal rides a four fight win streak into his bout against Guto Inocente at #GLORY39 Brussels on March 25th!
GLORY Kickboxing added 4 new photos.
Cedric Doumbé details the changes in his daily life and his training after capturing the GLORY welterweight title, and he discusses his upcoming bout with Yoann Kongolo at #GLORY39 Brussels.
Guto Inocente debuted in GLORY with a spectacular highlight reel KO at GLORY 27 in February 2016. Since then, he has amassed a perfect 4-0 record and will put it on the line against #4 ranked Jamal Ben Saddik at #GLORY39 Brussels.
The latest episode of the GLORY Kickboxing podcast is out now!
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