The 2017 Holiday season is upon us and what a blockbuster year it has been for GLORY Kickboxing.
Each year we’ve gone from strength to strength, but I think 2017 will long be considered a special year by our great GLORY fans and by everyone in the company.
We reached a million fans on Facebook and about a billion fans via television and social media globally. GLORY also made its first foray into mainland China, in conjunction with our partners Yao Capital, which was a milestone event for the company.
First and foremost, I'd like to thank our athletes. Without each of them creating these unforgettable moments, this year would not have been the success that it was. I truly feel our roster includes the best fighters in the world, inside and outside of the ring.
Additionally, without the support of our partners around the globe, our great GLORY team, our valued media members, our sponsors and most importantly you, our fans, none of this would be possible.
GLORY Kickboxing is all about delivering fast-paced, knock-out action and 2017 was certainly a vintage year for fights ending in spectacular fashion. It’s going to be difficult to whittle down a shortlist for the ‘Knockout of the Year’ in the year-end awards.
The final fight of the year was also the biggest fight of the year and ended with one of the biggest finishes in GLORY history.
Heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven met bitter rival Jamal Ben Saddik at GLORY REDEMPTION and came back from the brink of disaster in the first round to score a fifth-round knockout which will be part of the sport’s highlight reels for many years to come.
REDEMPTION also featured Petchpanomrung stopping Zakaria Zougarry to remind the featherweight division he’s a top contender, Danyo Ilunga stopping Michael Duut to win their trilogy series and Chris Baya maneuvering himself into the top lightweight contender spot with a thrilling first-round knockout.
All that from just one event!
Nine days earlier, Kevin Vannonstrand put in his own contender for ‘Knockout of the Year’ when he stopped Anvar Boynazarov. Go back one more event and it was Boynazarov making his entry by stopping Fabio Pinca - who has never been stopped before - at an action-filled GLORY 47 LYON.
The whole year was marked by incredible action like that and I’m glad I don’t have to pick an overall winner. There are just too many to choose from!
Fight sports are an ongoing story of new contenders emerging, champions rising and falling. Some divisions are very tightly matched at the upper end as we head into 2018 and there will be some key battles in the New Year.
In the case of the middleweight division, we saw established star Simon Marcus losing the belt to Alex Pereira, who then defended against Yousri Belgaroui and avenged a loss in the process. But at the upper end of this tightly-contested division, any contender can beat any other on his day.
In New York, Anissa Meksen of France claimed the super-bantamweight belt after a back-and-forth battle with California’s Tiffany Van Soest, the division's first and only champion to that point. They will surely meet again next year. UFC veteran Chris Camozzi impressed in his debut at that same event.
Welterweight champion Murthel Groenhart won the belt from Cedric Doumbe at GLORY 44 CHICAGO and now heads a very competitive division. He, Doumbe and Nieky Holzken have been a trifecta at the top of the weight class and they have now been joined by Harut Grigorian and Alim Nabiyev. That will be one keenly contested belt in 2018.
Speaking of Chicago, ‘The Windy City’ has taken GLORY to it’s heart and we’re proud to be returning there for the first event of 2018 which is also GLORY's 50th numbered event. We are just now looking at our Top 50 GLORY moments to celebrate this milestone. (If you have some, send them our way!)
We love Chicago and we’re bringing a stacked card with two title fights there on February 16. Welterweight champion Murthel Groenhart is in the headline slot against Harut Grigorian.
If you were one of the hundreds of millions who saw what happened between them in Paris earlier this year then you’ll know what a highly charged rematch this will be. Anticipate fireworks.
Other big news to end the year with was the announcement at GLORY REDEMPTION that we’ve signed a new multi-fight deal with Badr Hari. He will return to the ring at the sure-to-sell-out Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands on March 3 and we are excited to have him back.
It’s been a big year for GLORY Kickboxing and 2018 promises to be even bigger. As we enter the holiday period I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.
See you in 2018. It’s time for GLORY!
Jon J Franklin
CEO, GLORY Kickboxing