The two rematched in the headline slot of the GLORY COLLISION PRELIMS card on Saturday night, two years on from their GLORY 11 CHICAGO meeting. That first encounter ended in the first round when Duut suffered an arm injury; the rematch would be quite different.
Both got in there with a point to prove, Ilunga looking to arrest a recent losing skid and Duut looking for revenge and a chance to take another run in GLORY. The result was the kind of fight which, if you saw it in a movie, you would think looked unrealistic.
They went toe-to-toe early in the fight and stayed there for most it, slugging it out. First blood went to Duut as he snaked an overhand right through Ilunga's guard during an exchange.
Ilunga dropped to his knees. A huge roar went up from the large contingent of Duut supporters in the crowd but Ilunga beat the count and came back into the fight. Unbelievably, he then turned the tables, landing a massive blow of his own which staggered Duut and put in him risk of being knocked down himself.
Ilunga couldn't land the shot he needed and Duut was able to clear his head. They moved to the next round and continue where they had left off, a constant war of exchanges in which every move came from the offense section of the playbook. Defense was not so much an afterthought as scorned altogether as the two set about trying to separate each other from consciousness.
The third and final round was where things got really crazy. They came out of their corners and almost immediately Ilunga scored the knockdown he needed. Duut beat the count but looked wobbly as the fight restarted. Ilunga set about him and Duut ate another right hand which knocked him down for a second time. And for a second time he beat the count.
A stoppage win for Ilunga looked to be a mere formality now but Duut had him timed. As Ilunga went to work Duut landed a bomb on him to knock him down, making for two knockdowns each in the fight, three of the total four coming in just one round.
It was an incredible fight, full of drama and excitement. Neither could get the finish they wanted but that was down to them both being just so tough. After three rounds it went to the judges. Who would have the edge? If it was scored a draw, it would go to an extra round, and everybody watching the fight wanted to see that.
Sometimes, wishes do come true. The judges scored the fight a draw after three rounds which meant it went to an extra fourth round. Both were tired but dug deep and went in search of the knockout to seal the win.
Huge blows were traded back and forth before Duut heard the ten-second clapper being sounded next to the ring. Right then, in the dying seconds of the fight, he landed a right hand which dropped Ilunga for the third time, won him the round and won him the fight. It also surely sealed the deal on a Fight of the Year nomination if not guaranteed victory.
Michael Duut def. Danyo Ilunga, Unanimous Decision (Extra Round), R4