'Fight of the Year’ is one of the more prestigious categories in the eyes of every fighter.
Professional combatants want to win first and foremost, but they also have a strong desire to please and entertain the fans. ‘Fight of the Year’ is an award which usually speaks to both of those goals.
Intense wars are a hallmark of GLORY Kickboxing and 2017 was no different, as fighters in every weight-class went all-out in search of victory. But which one was the ‘Fight of the Year 2017’?
Rico Verhoeven vs. Jamal ben Saddik, GLORY REDEMPTION, December 2017
This was the biggest fight of the year by many measures: two of the biggest fighters on the roster met up in the final fight of 2017 for a bad-blood rematch for the world heavyweight title in front of a sold-out arena.
A lot of hype preceded the fight - and it turned out to have been more than justified. The two staged a war for the ages, with so many twists, turns and changes of fortune that the crowd itself was exhausted by the end.
Verhoeven survived a hellacious first round knockdown and gritted his way through adversity to take control from the middle of the bout and then end the fight in the fifth round with animalistic ferocity, making the fight an instant classic.
Harut Grigorian vs Karim Benmansour, GLORY 44 CHICAGO Welterweight Contender Tournament Final, August
At GLORY 42 PARIS, Grigorian unwantedly found himself in the midst of one of kickboxing’s biggest-ever controversies, having been felled by Murthel Groenhart by way of a legal but hugely controversial blow, the aftermath of which went worldwide viral immediately.
The emphatic nature of the knockout, plus the high-profile nature of its aftermath, led many to conclude that Grigorian would probably take the rest of the year off. He didn’t - he came back at GLORY 44 CHICAGO, in a tournament no less, to put himself right back in the title race.
He gave Antoine Pinto a hard time in the semi-finals and then met Karim Benmansour in the final. Both fighters had gone the distance in their semi-final bouts and already wore the marks of battle. But they put everything they had into their contest and made a grueling bloody war of it, before Grigorian emerged with his hand raised and his name back on the contender list.
Chenglong Zhang vs Masaya Kubo, GLORY 46 GUANGZHOU Featherweight Qualification Tournament Final, October
Japan’s Kubo debuted in the semi-finals and made an instant impression with a stunning head-kick knockout win over Chenchen Li, who had been one of the favorites to win the tournament. He then met Zhang in the final.
Zhang had gone the distance in his own semi-final bout but showed no signs of fatigue. He and Kubo went into a frantic fast-paced whirlwind of battle. Advantage passed back and forth before Zhang’s relentless forward pressure began to wear Kubo down, leading to a unanimous decision win for the Chinese fighter.
Zakaria Zougarry vs Yetkin Ozkul, GLORY 41 HOLLAND, July
Another featherweight fight which stood out in 2017 was a GLORY 41 HOLLAND clash which saw Zakaria Zougarry and Yetkin Ozkul making their respective debuts.
The veteran Ozkul has in the past represented Turkey in Olympic boxing, while the young Zougarry has already earned a reputation for showmanship and flamboyant technique.
What followed was one of the most entertaining bouts in GLORY Kickboxing history. Constant toe-to-toe exchanges, spin kicks, flying kicks, flying knees, long combinations answered with even longer combinations - you name it, this fight had it all.