Now that 2017 is in the books, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best that the sport of kickboxing had to offer. Over the next few weeks, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the ring to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
The title of “Promotion of the Year” is based on a number of factors. Certainly, a promotion has to put on great fights in the ring, but it’s important to consider what else an organization has done for the sport during the past year.
The K-1 Group continued to revitalize the sport in Japan with some of the year’s most action-packed events and some of the best knockouts. China remained a hotbed for events with Kunlun Fight, Glory of Heroes and Wu Lin Feng jostling for the attention of fans in the world’s most populated country. Enfusion’s unique league format gave fans a reason to follow the promotion event after event to see which fighter would come out on top.
All in all, 2017 was a strong year for kickboxing. But no promotion had a bigger and more impactful year than GLORY.
The promotion’s 13 events culminated with its third-ever pay-per-view card in December, dubbed Redemption. The schedule included five events in North America, seven in Europe, and most importantly, the promotion held its first card in China in October. With China having such a large appetite for kickboxing, breaking into the already crowded market was a major win for GLORY. The promotion has already stated its intentions to expand into Brazil in the future, and with broadcast deals in place with ESPN and UFC Fight Pass, its global reach is currently unmatched.
In addition to visiting new locales, GLORY also scored “wins” by holding onto big names like Rico Verhoeven and Robin van Roosmalen, as well as inking the sport’s bad boy, Badr Hari, to an exclusive contract.
Then there was the action in the ring. The promotion is home to six of the top 10 male pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, as well as the world’s top women’s kickboxer, Annisa Meksen. Championship belts changed hands four times during the year, including twice in the middleweight division. Verhoeven earned knockout wins over Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Jamal Ben Saddik, van Roosmalen had a “Fight of the Year” candidate with Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao, Murthel Groenhart took over as welterweight champion, Meksen dethroned Tiffany van Soest, and reigning champions Artem Vakhitov and Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong continued their dominance.
It was a big year for the sport’s top promotion, but undoubtedly, every other organization on the planet is gunning for them in 2018. That should only mean great things for kickboxing fans in the coming year.
Other finalists: K-1 Group, Kunlun Fight, Glory of Heroes, Wu Lin Feng, Enfusion
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2017 Kickboxing Award winners.