December's fight between Michael Duut and Danyo Ilunga has been declared the 2016 GLORY Fight of the Year following an international fan vote.
Fans around the world voted the contest into the #1 spot by a landslide, casting their votes via the official GLORY Facebook and Twitter pages.
Duut and Ilunga were the final fight of the GLORY 36 SUPERFIGHT SERIES card which took place in Oberhausen, Germany on Saturday, December 10 and formed the lead-in to the four-fight GLORY: COLLISION card headlined by Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari.
The fight was scheduled for three rounds. Duut scored a knockdown in the first round by way of an overhand right. He had Ilunga in trouble but the could not find the finishing blow. Ilunga then rallied and turned the tables on Duut.
Frenetic minutes of non-stop toe-to-toe action followed. It was the kind of fight which would look unrealistic if you saw it in a movie, yet it was happening in real life in front of a live audience of thousands.
And it got even crazier. In the final round, Ilunga still needed a knockdown to even the scoring. Suddenly, he got it. Duut went down, beat the count and got back up, but was in all kinds of trouble. Ilunga swarmed him and scored a second knockdown.
At that point, victory was almost a certainty for Ilunga. But when he went looking for the third knockdown, which would end the fight under the 'three knockdowns in one round' rule, the tables turned again – Duut knocked Ilunga down to even the scoring.
The arena erupted. A fight which nearly ended in the first round instead went the distance, but in unbelievably thrilling fashion. And it was to get even better. Under GLORY rules, a draw after three rounds means the fighters go to an extra round. When the judges declared the fight a draw, the arena crowd roared in approval.
With everything still to play for in the final sudden-death round both fighters drew on their deepest reserves of willpower and energy. The tide of favor ebbed back and forth until fortune finally smiled strongest on Duut. A series of punches gradually eroded Ilunga's guard and let a final felling blow in to do its work.
Ilunga went down and Duut went up, up onto the ring ropes in one corner, arms aloft as celebrated the hardest-fought victory of his career and heard thirteen thousand voices celebrate it with him. When Ilunga regained his feet the crowd cheered him too, and applauded all the louder when the two men embraced.
It was their second meeting in the ring. The first took place at GLORY 11 CHICAGO and ended in the first round when Duut suffered a torn ligament in his right arm. Their second encounter was perhaps the most thrilling the GLORY ring has ever hosted. Now they are 1-1 against each other, the question naturally arises: when will they have a third fight to settle their series?