Happy Thanksgiving, my fellow Maniacs.
Since it is a day for being thankful, I'm going to give thanks for being able to cover the great sport of kickboxing this past year. GLORY has experienced some amazing moments, dramatic tournaments, fantastic fights, and killer knockouts this past year.
Here are my top-five GLORY moments of 2014
5. Tyrone Spong vs. Gokhan Saki/GLORY 15 Istanbul/April 12, 2014
Unfortunately, this fight ended at the 1:37 mark of the opening round with Spong suffering a horrific leg break due to Saki checking one of his low kicks, so we will never know how it would've turned out (see the pic here). But the moment was defined by sportsmanship in its truest and most organic form. Spong went down and Saki immediately realized the gravity of the situation and instead of walking to the far side of the ring, he went over and embraced his fallen opponent until medical assistance came into the ring. One of the most honorable acts of kindness amidst a gruesome injury I have ever witnessed. Saki won the GLORY light heavyweight championship, and also won a lot of respect and admiration for his concern and care of the injured Spong.
4. Joe Valtellini vs. Marc de Bonte/GLORY "Last Man Standing"/June 21, 2014
The GLORY welterweight belt was up for grabs at The Forum in Inglewood, California, and these two did not disappoint. "Bazooka Joe" would land a high kick right on the button that floored de Bonte in the third round, and somehow the Belgian would survive. Not only that, de Bonte would return the favor in the fourth round by dropping Valtellini with a well-placed knee. Valtellini started to run out of steam in the last two rounds of the seesaw battle, but once again displayed his hear and determination. He did more than enough in the first three rounds to earn the unanimous decision victory to win the GLORY welterweight title.
3. Joe Schilling vs. Simon Marcus/GLORY "Last Man Standing"/June 21, 2014
This match up in the first round of the eight-man tournament was the third fight between Schilling and Marcus. The two had fought twice before in the Lion Fight promotion, with Marcus winning at Lion Fight 5 by technical knockout and Lion Fight 6 by majority decision. Schilling would come out fast and furious and take the opening frame. Marcus, took the second round by landing a big right hand and scoring the knockdown in the second. Schilling would outperform Marcus in the third round and force a fourth round to decide who would advance to the semifinals. With less than 20 seconds left and Marcus needing a knockout to win due to being deducted a point for purposely spitting out his mouth piece to avoid trouble, Schilling landed a right hook that knocked Marcus out, giving the previously undefeated fighter his first career loss in 40 career fights.
2. Davit Kiria vs. Andy Ristie/GLORY 14 Zagreb/March 8, 2014
If this fight was three rounds, we would've been robbed of seeing one of the greatest come-from-behind upsets in the sport's history. Ristie was taking it to Kiria pretty good over the first three rounds, but when the fight got into the championship rounds, everything changed. Kiria stormed back in the fifth round and caught Ristie with a big punch that sent him to the canvas. Once the action restarted, the Georgian swarmed in and poured in on again, never allowing Ristie to recover, knocking him down two more times for the technical knockout victory to win the first-ever GLORY lightweight title.
1. Raymond Daniels vs. Francois Ambang/GLORY 16/May 3, 2014
While this fight is nowhere near as competitive as the other four on this list, it gets number one because of its unbelievable ending. GLORY color commentator Duke Roufus called it the "knockout of the century" and if you saw it, you'd be hard pressed to dispute that statement. All who were sitting ringside in Broomfield, Colorado, myself included, and the entire crowd at the 1STBANK Center were staring with unhinged jaws after Daniels hit a two-touch spinning back kick to end Ambang's evening (video). Daniels had floored the Cameroonian with a right hand in the first big exchange of the opening round, which set the stage for the highlight-reel KO. Ambang hadn't fully recovered from the knockdown when "The Real Deal" went airborne -- or into the Matrix because it was that nuts -- with a kick that is only seen in Tekken, Street Fighter, or a old-school Shaw Bros. kung fu movie, landing his right foot on Ambang's chest before landing his left foot on his face for the incredible knockout.
These are my top five. Anything you want to add to this list?