New talent is the lifeblood of every sports league and GLORY Kickboxing is no different. Year after year, new prospects fight their way onto the GLORY radar and get their call-up to the world's premier kickboxing league.
In GLORY there are no easy fights and it is sink or swim; some of the newcomers will triumph, others fall short. Here are the top four debutants of 2016 – who made the biggest impact on you?
Tyjani Beztati (11-1, 4 KO's) – Lightweight (154lbs/70kgs)
Beztati set a record when he debuted at GLORY: COLLISION. At just 19 years old he is the youngest fighter ever to be signed by GLORY and, by default, the youngest fighter ever to win a GLORY fight.
He nearly stopped the older and more experienced Andrej Bruhl in the first round but had to content himself with a unanimous decision. The future looks bright for Beztati and with his training partners including the likes of GLORY middleweight champion Jason 'Psycho' Wilnis, there will surely be more big wins to come.
Thongchai (135-32, 46 KO's) Welterweight (170lbs/77kgs)
Fighting out of Sitsongpeenong, the same gym which houses GLORY lightweight champion Sittichai, the welterweight Thongchai brought serious pedigree to the ring with him.
But there are few similarities between him and Sittichai beyond their team affiliation – where Sittichai prefers technique to win the day Thongchai, in the words of his coach, “really likes to hurt his opponent, he gets nasty in there”.
Those words were proven true in Thongchai's debut at GLORY 34 DENVER when he brutalized and stopped Los Angeles' Casey Greene in a scary showcase of his abilities. In his post-fight interview he said he wanted to mix it up with some top names right away, mentioning Nieky Holzken by name. Stay tuned for his 2017 run.
Matt Embree (39-7, 18 KO's) – Featherweight (143lbs/65kgs)
Matt 'Matics' Embree is the latest top talent to come out of Toronto, Canada, a city which has also produced the likes of former welterweight champion 'Bazooka' Joe Valtellini and former middleweight champion Simon Marcus.
This year Embree debuted for GLORY by winning a Featherweight Contender Tournament and booking himself a title shot. He stopped both of his opponents - Chibin Lim and Giga Chikadze - in a display which showcased his heavy hands and explosive power.
At GLORY 37 LOS ANGELES on January 20th he will face Robin van Roosmalen for the world featherweight championship. From newcomer to champion in just three fights would be an amazing achievement. Can he do it? Watch live and find out.
Tiffany van Soest (17-2-1, 5 KO's) - Super-Bantamweight (120lbs/54.5kgs)
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.