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Photo: (James Law/GLORY Sports International)

LOS ANGELES–It sure looked like the GLORY Middleweight belt was going home to New Zealand after the GLORY 37 main event concluded on Friday night, but Jason Wilnis (30-7) would end up retaining his title.

Wilnis earned a very controversial unanimous decision victory over Israel Adesanya (66-4) inside The Novo. Two of the judges scored it 48-47, while the third scored the contest 49-46, all for the reigning champion. The crowd let their disproval be heard loud and clear as Tim Hughes read off the score cards.

Adesanya turned in a masterful performance and really looked to be a step ahead of the champion over the course of the 15-minute contest. Wilnis was moving forward throughout and did land some solid low kicks, but Adesanya looked to be the fighter landing with more accuracy and volume. However, the judges did not see it that way.

“First I thought it was a draw, but then I heard unanimous decision,” Wilnis told MMA Plus after the bout. “I was making the fight and moving forward and that’s what GLORY counts. I had hard shots and I was putting pressure on him. I was up on him and then he would step back every time. I was making the fight and landing hard low kicks.”

Next up for Wilnis will likely be a rematch with Simon Marcus, who told MMA Plus earlier in the evening that he was in discussions with GLORY management to fight the winner of the GLORY 37 main event.

In the co-main event, Guto Inocente (33-7) dropped D’Angelo Marshall (14-2) with a big right hand in the second, but it wasn’t enough to win the bout after three rounds. The Curaçaoan rallied in the third round and the judges scored it a majority draw, sending the bout into an extra round.

Two of the judges scored the contest 28-28, while the third scored the bout 29-28 for Inocente. In the overtime round, Inocente earned a 10-9 across the board to win the bout by unanimous decision.

Yoann Kongolo (64-8) won the Welterweight Contender Tournament by knocking out Karim Benmansour (48-6-2) in the final, after winning a unanimous decision over Konstantin Khuzin (7-3) in the semi-finals.

Kongolo, who is currently ranked No. 5 in the Welterweight division, came after Benmansour aggressively from the opening bell and his pressure proved to be too much for the Frenchman to handle. Toward the end of the second round, Kongolo dropped Benmansour with a huge hook to the body, but the Frenchman would survive the round. At the tail end of the third, Kongolo dropped Benmansour with a right hook to end the bout for good.

The official time of the stoppage came at 2:57 of round three.

Kongolo defeated Khuzin in the semi-finals by decisive fashion, winning the bout by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the contest 30-27. The Swedish vet landed big punches the body of Khuzin consistently throughout the three-round contest, which took their toll on the Russian.

Benmansour squeaked past GLORY newcomer Alan Scheinson (48-4) in the semi-final round by split decision. Benmansour earned scores of 29-28 and 30-27, while the third judge scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Scheinson. The Argentinian looked to have the edge in the first two rounds, but Benmansour began to rally late and found enough openings to sway the judges in his favor.

For complete GLORY 37 results, click here.