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.
Tyjani Beztati says his win was "exactly what I expected" at #GLORY39 Brussels and now he looks forward to "climbing the ladder step by step"
GLORY breezed by Brussels on Saturday, March 25th with an exciting card featuring two world title fights, the emergence of contenders in both the heavyweight & featherweight divisions, and a statement victory by young prospect Tyjani Beztati.
GLORY matchmaker Cor Hemmers reflects on the events of #GLORY39 Brussels and looks at what we might see in the aftermath, including the welterweight and heavyweight title picture and Petchpanomrung vs. Robin van Roosmalen
Petchpanomrung secures title shot with featherweight contender tournament win! ⬇️ DETAILS ⬇️
Sittichai Sitsongpeenong Official stops Salvador to remain lightweight king. ⬇️ DETAILS ⬇️
Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao won the GLORY 39 Featherweight Contender Tournament and will go forward to face Robin van Roosmalen for the vacant title later this year. Sitthichai knows a thing or two about fighting Roosmalen so he offered some advice...
Marat Grigorian aiming for fourth fight with Sittichai Sitsongpeenong Official
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Welterweight champion Cedric Doumbé (Doumced) retained his title at GLORY 39 Brussels with an incredible performance against Yoann Kongolo. Here he discusses his performance, his mind games with opponents, Harut Grigrorian as a possible contender and comparisons with Conor McGregor.
China's Meng victorious in landmark debut! ⬇️ DETAILS ⬇️
GLORY Kickboxing with Sittichai Sitsongpeenong Official and 3 others.
Tyjani Beztati outclasses opponent in SuperFight Series opener.
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GLORY Kickboxing updated their cover photo.
GLORY Kickboxing added 47 new photos to the album: GLORY 39 Brussels Selects — with Marat Grigorian and 2 others.
In 10 minutes, Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao kicks off the #GLORY39 main card on ESPN3 4pm ET / 1pm PT: http://bit.ly/G39onESPN3
Tyjani Beztati about to get #GLORY39 Brussels started over on UFC Fight Pass in 2 minutes!
Chi Lewis-Parry and Doumced go toe-to-toe in the inaugraul GLORY games. Each fighter spent countless hours preparing for what may be the most important battle of their careers.
GLORY Kickboxing with Grigorian Harut.
Marat Grigorian has a late change of opponent for his #GLORY39 Brussels appointment. He doesn't know much about Anton Petrov of Bulgaria, but he does know what he wants him to do: come forward and meet him in the middle of the ring.
Guto Inocente brings his spin-kicking style to #GLORY39 Brussels on Saturday March 25 for a fight with Jamal Ben Saddik, the tallest fighter on the GLORY roster.
Go behind the scenes at the official #GLORY39 Brussels weigh-ins as things get heated between welterweight champion Doumced and his rival Yoann Kongolo.
Doumced and Yoann Kongolo do not like each other at all and on Saturday night they will throw down in the main event of #GLORY39 Brussels with Doumbe's welterweight title on the line.
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.