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.
Selecting the Combat Press “Fighter of the Year” for kickboxing is one of the most difficult tasks we encounter. Every year there are at least a dozen deserving fighters vying for the award and 2017 was certainly no different. The obvious candidates were the fighters currently populating the pound-for-pound top 10: Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong, Murthel Groenhart and Superbon Banchamek. Then came the veterans who had flawless years to cement themselves in the top 10 of their respective weight classes: Qiu Jianliang, Chingiz Allazov and Vlad Tuinov. Finally, there were the upstarts that made a ton of noise during the last 12 months: Wei Rui, Endy Semeleer and Abdellah Ezbiri.
But none of those fighters did enough to claim the award for 2017.
That honor falls on France’s Anissa Meksen. Although diehard kickboxing fans have long been aware of the 29-year-old’s skills, this past year was her opportunity to display her fighting prowess to a larger audience. Meksen was a perfect 8-0 in 2017, including three victories inside the GLORY ring. Among her wins were former Bellator Kickboxing title challenger Gloria Peritore and ISKA title challenger Chiara Vincis.
However, her biggest win came in her final fight of the calendar year. Meksen challenged Tiffany van Soest for the GLORY super bantamweight title at GLORY 48 and put on a vintage performance. Meksen’s speed and fluid combinations were the story of the fight, as she was always a split-second ahead of van Soest over the five-round affair. The title victory further cemented Meksen as the No. 1-ranked women’s kickboxer on the planet, but it also introduced her to a wider pool of kickboxing fans.
It will be hard to top Meksen’s 2017, but if there’s a fighter who can carry the torch for both kickboxing and women in combat sports into the New Year, it’s her.
Other finalists: Chingiz Allazov, Wei Rui, Vlad Tuinov, Qiu Jianliang, Endy Semeleer, Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong, Abdellah Ezbiri, Yoshiki Takei, Murthel Groenhart, Superbon Banchamek and Yang Zhuo
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2017 Kickboxing Award winners.