GLORY 2016 Awards Nominations - Fighter of the Year
Published on Dec 30, 2016
As another year of explosive GLORY Kickboxing action comes to a close, fans are once again faced with the difficult task of deciding who the Fighter of the Year was.
With so many fighters giving it their all across seven stacked weight classes, it is never easy to determine a final shortlist. The four fighters below all had an exceptional year in 2016, but which of them shone the brightest for you?
Rico Verhoeven (50-10, 14 KO's) – Heavyweight Champion
The heavyweight phenomenon started the year as champion and ends it as champion, having continued his dominance of the division with three fights and three wins.
At the start of the year he outclassed Croatian southpaw giant Mladen Brestovac in Paris, France. He then headed to the USA for a fight with Anderson 'Braddock' Silva, picking him apart and destroying him with leg kicks at GLORY 33 NEW JERSEY.
Then, in the biggest fight of the year, he met Badr Hari in the main event of GLORY: COLLSION on December 10. The event was preceded by massive hype and a huge amount of global media attention.
The pressure was intense and so was the fight, with no mercy shown from either side. In the end it was Verhoeven who emerged victorious by way of TKO in the second round, Hari having sustained a ruptured right forearm muscle while blocking an attack.
Adding Hari to his win record is huge for Verhoeven and further cements his legacy. That said, he has already said he would prefer to beat Hari in more decisive fashion and wants a rematch next year. Hari also wants a rematch and says he will stop Verhoeven next time, setting the stage for a second huge encounter between these two in 2017.
Sittichai (113-30-5, 30 KO's) - Lightweight Champion
Sittichai Sitsongpeenong came close to capturing the lightweight title at the end of 2015 but found himself on the wrong side of the judges' decision. So, at the start of this year, he made a second run at the belt by entering the Lightweight Contender Tournament at GLORY 28 PARIS.
There he beat former champion Davit Kiria for a second time before meeting Marat Grigorian in the final. He won a unanimous decision to secure a second title shot for himself (that fight is also a Fight of the Year nominee).
In the summer Sittichai got his second shot at the title and Robin van Roosmalen as they headlined GLORY 31 AMSTERDAM. It was another close fight but this time it was Sittichai who came out on the winning side of the judges' decision. He captured the belt and took it back to Thailand.
His first defence came earlier this month. Marat Grigorian bounced back from his GLORY 28 loss to Sittichai with a 'Knockout of the Year' win at GLORY 30 LOS ANGELES and thus remained in the top contender spot behind Sittichai. They rematched at GLORY 36/COLLISION and Sittichai shut him out over five rounds to retain the belt and go 4-0 in GLORY this year.
Cedric Doumbé (65-4-1, 39 KO's) – Welterweight Champion
Former welterweight champion Nieky Holzken held the record for longest win streak in GLORY when he stepped in the ring to face Doumbé at GLORY: COLLISION. If he won the bout he would have extended that by one to make for a thirteen-fight unbeaten run.
Bookmakers certainly felt that Holzken was likely to win, with Doumbé coming in as the underdog by a large margin. But Doumbé wasn't paying attention. Throughout the months leading up to the fight he talked confidently of how he would beat Holzken. All his posts on Twitter carried the hashtag #TheEndofNieky.
Doumbé earned the title shot by beating Murthel Groenhart earlier in the year, a fight he was also not predicted to win. Between beating Groenhart in March and Holzken in December, Doumbé won an astonishing eight fights outside of GLORY.
It was an incredible year for Doumbé, made all the more remarkable by the fact that he says he considers television acting to be his main focus in life, with fighting a sideline.
Tiffany van Soest (17-2-1, 5 KO's ) – Women's Super-Bantamweight Champion
GLORY welcomed its first female fighters in 2016 and marked the event with a 16-fighter Super-Bantamweight Grand Prix which would play out across the year and eventually produce an inaugural women's champion.
Van Soest debuted at GLORY 30 LOS ANGELES and won her quarter-final bout to proceed to the next stage at GLORY 36 GERMANY in December. There she won her semi-final bout to proceed to the final, taking place that same night on the four-fight 'GLORY: COLLISION' pay-per-view card.
In the final she met Amel Dehby, at that point undefeated with a 29-0 professional record. Van Soest put on a career-best performance to out-score her French opponent and earn the unanimous decision which would capture the Women's Super-Bantamweight Championship belt for her.