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.
Robin van Roosmalen looked like a train with no brakes Friday night.
GLORY Kickboxing updated their cover photo.
GLORY Kickboxing shared Bleacher Report's post.
GLORY Kickboxing added 104 new photos to the album: GLORY 37 Los Angeles - Weigh Ins.
We're just hours away from a massive night of #Kickboxing in downtown #LosAngeles - get warmed up for #GLORY37 with episode 6 of the GLORY Kickboxing podcast.
TONIGHT is fight night in #LosAngeles! Watch as all of the #GLORY37 fighters get geared up for the big show at The Novo DTLA with "Inside GLORY 37, episode 3."
Two of the most exciting American fighters on the GLORY roster go toe-to-toe tonight at #GLORY37 on the SuperFight Series - hear what they had to say ahead of the show.
Watch this fight on UFC Fight Pass tonight at 10:30pm ET / 7:30pm PT: http://bit.ly/GLORY37SuperFightSeriesonUFCFightPass
GLORY Kickboxing added 50 new photos to the album: GLORY 37 Los Angeles — with GIGA CHIKADZE and Victor Leo Pinto - ลีโอ ปินโต at The Novo DTLA.
Jason "Psycho" Wilnis shocked the world and took the middleweight belt at GLORY 33, and TONIGHT at #GLORY37 Los Angeles he's ready to defend that belt. Who's on team Wilnis?
Watch on ESPN3 at http://bit.ly/GLORY37onESPN3
Watch internationally on EverSport at http://bit.ly/LiveStreamGLORY
Israel Adesanya is staring down the barrel of the biggest opportunity of his life, with the middleweight world championship belt at the other end of five rounds. Who's on team Adesanya tonight at #GLORY37 Los Angeles? http://bit.ly/GLORY37onESPN3
This is "Inside #GLORY37, episode 2," giving you another behind the scenes look at the GLORY Kickboxing fighters getting ready for fight night. Which matchup is your must watch fight of the night?
The #GLORY37 weighs ins took place this afternoon in downtown #LosAngeles, and most fighters made weight. Unfortunately, Robin van Roosmalen missed weight and was forced to vacate the title. If Matt "Matics" Embree wins, he will become champion. If Robin wins, he will be the #1 contender in the featherweight division.
Join the GLORY women's super bantamweight champ Tiffany TimeBomb Van Soest for a night of #KICKBOXING tomorrow night at #GLORY37 Los Angeles, buy your tickets at www.bit.ly/GLORY37tix
GLORY Kickboxing was live.
Get your questions ready for Canadian featherweight phenom Matt "Matics" Embree and join us at 9pm ET / 6pm PT for an exclusive live streamed Q&A with the title challenger ahead of #GLORY37 this Friday night.
Go behind the scenes during fight week with the #GLORY37 athletes ahead of Friday night’s show at The Novo DTLA - this is “Inside GLORY 37, episode 1"
TODAY, make sure you're tuned into the Joe Rogan Experience to catch our very own Joseph "Bazooka Joe" Valtellini talking all things #Kickboxing and #GLORY37 ahead of this Friday's fights! Get your tickets to the show at The Novo DTLA from www.bit.ly/GLORY37tix
It's officially #GLORY37 FIGHT WEEK! Preview the action happening this Friday night in #LosAngeles with "The GLORY Kickboxing Podcast, ep. 5," and subsribe to the podcast on iTunes at https://itun.es/us/_GPahb.c
Can't make it to the arena live this Friday? We have you covered. The #GLORY37 SuperFight Series begins at 10:30pm ET / 7:30pm PT on #UFCFightPass, followed by GLORY 37 Los Angeles at 1am ET / 10pm PT on ESPN3!
GLORY Kickboxing shared The University of MMA's video.
It's hard to believe #GLORYCollision was already a month ago - but we're back in action with TWO world titles on the line at #GLORY37 Los Angeles, next Friday at The Novo DTLA: www.bit.ly/GLORY37tix
GLORY Kickboxing shared Engage's video.
Go inside the ring with featherweight title challenger Matt "Matics" Embree and Joseph "Bazooka Joe" Valtellini, and get a look at Embree's brilliant strategic mind leading into #GLORY37 next Friday, January 20th, at The Novo DTLA. Buy tickets at www.bit.ly/GLORY37tix