Daniel Ghita

Rico Verhoeven: ‘I’m on a different level of fighting’ and thinking five steps ahead

Rico Verhoeven collides with arch rival, Badr Hari in Oberhausen, Germany on December 10 in what is undoubtedly the one super fight that has single handily reignited worldwide interest in kickboxing since the “Golden era” of the sport. Verhoeven has reigned as the undisputed GLORY champion since 2014 when he defeated Daniel Ghita via unanimous decision at GLORY 17: Los Angeles.

However, the heavyweight division has been going through a transition period during Verhoeven’s dominance so far and Hari who, is widely acknowledged as the greatest heavyweight kickboxer of his generation, had been semi-dormant due to his well reported issues away from the sport.

Speaking last night about his technical kickboxing ability and the run of form he’s been on, Verhoeven gave a good insight into his overall approach to the sport and his mindset which, quite clearly sets him apart, from any other champion before him.

“I’m on a different level of fighting, I’m using all the tools in the box.”

“Sometimes some tools you can’t use for all the jobs. So, there’s no point in using the tools then. Of course you’re looking at a fight and a certain fighter and how he moves and what he does and stuff like that but in the end it just has to show in the fight. In the fight you feel the distance and you feel the things that could work and that might work and you just try them.”

There is a stereotype that exist about the ‘Dutch style’ of kickboxing especially when it comes to kickboxers who don’t possess the kind of skill set that the likes of Verhoeven (and his former foe, Ghita) have displayed in years gone by.

What is that stereotype? Two fighters standing toe-to-toe, throwing basic combinations starting with a few powerful punches and finishing with a low kick; not too much head movement, or, ring craft either; basically, just a war of attrition and not technically advanced.

“In every fight I go into, my opponent is like a book and I want to read that book in like a minute or a minute and a half, in a round max. After that I want to know everything that’s coming.”

Rico Verhoeven

Rico Verhoeven teeps Daniel Ghita – Image: GLORY Sports Intl

“You can see the way things are coming by, the way that someone moves and that’s just a totally a different approach of going towards fight than a lot of people do. They only think about ‘he’s going to throw this and I’m going to throw that back’ but I’m thinking about step five.”

Listening to Verhoeven explain his championship mindset in more detail was even more fascinating, seriously. Due to his politeness and overall conduct, Rico has become a role model for world kickboxing, something that Badr Hari is the complete opposite of in the eyes of most fans. Why? His bad boy image, getting into fights at past press conferences and not forgetting all the reported street violence over the years too which, was probably worse than Mike Tyson in his heyday (and that’s saying something!).

However, Badr’s antics in the buildup to GLORY Collision have not gone down too well with Verhoeven. Hari had mockingly predicted at the Collision press conference that Rico would get knocked out in one round when they collide in Oberhausen:

“He talks so much sh-t. He just talks a lot and I just laugh at it. I hope you trained that hard as you ran your mouth because that’s crazy.”

Glory 11 – Results, Reactions, and Pics!

It was an epic night for Muay Thai and Kickboxing fans worldwide and especially in America. GLORY, the cream of the crop when it comes to Kickboxing aired on American TV, nationwide for the first time in history. And the fighters, no doubt aware that they were on national television, did not fail to deliver. Out of the 17 fights on the card, 6 aired on television. And all 6 that did air were absolutely jaw dropping in their excitment. Probably one of the biggest stories of the night were that 24 year old Dutchman Rico Verhoeven stunned the world by defeating fan favorties Gokhan Saki and Daniel Ghita en route to the Glory Heavyweight Tournament Championship and a $250,000 grand prize. When discussing his win, Rico Verhoeven had this to say:

“I said I was going to do it and I did it. I have been dreaming of this since I was six years old and I always believed it would come true. I told myself every day since I was six years old that I would be a champion and today it came true. I always believed in myself. I did it for my daughter. She’s nearly three years old so she understands some things which are said to her. I promised her I was going to come back with the title and the prize money. I was thinking about that promise; that’s what kept me going in the final minutes and gave me the power to win the tournament. I’m really happy we were able to have such exciting fights for the SPIKE TV debut. I think we showed all the US fight fans what kickboxing is all about. This is our time now. GLORY is here to stay.”

In the other big news of the night Tyrone Spong defeated Nathan Corbett, got his revenge over the Australian, and further demonstrated that he deserves his nickname of “King of the Ring”.

“Everything went according to plan. I am very happy with the outcome; it all went exactly as planned. There was a lot of talk about the rematch and settling scores but there was no pressure for me. There is some bad blood but that’s in the past now after this fight. I think I played my part tonight for SPIKE and for the organization and for the sport. More and more I am becoming the face of GLORY and I deliver. I put in a lot of hard work to live up to this role as an ambassador for the sport and the organization here in the United States. I will keep working hard and I will continue to deliver.”

And Joseph Valtellini put on a masterful performance against Kharim Ghajji en route to Glory’s #2 spot and no doubt a shot at the Glory Welterweight title currently held by Nieky “The Natural” Holzken.

“Ghajii was really tough. He’s had over 100 fights and you could feel that in his quality and the way he responded to things. I hit him with some really hard shots, some big head kicks and I was like damn, how are you still standing up? It was one of the toughest fights of my career without a doubt. I move to number two in the rankings now and I’ve booked my spot in the welterweight tournament taking place in Tokyo this November. I can’t wait for that. I am coming for that number one spot that Nieky Holzken is in right now. I am going to be number one. I’ve always said it and now I am going to do it.”

It was definitely a historic night for Kickboxing in America, and if the turnout shown at Chicago’s Sears Centre Arena is any indication of the following GLORY can muster, than there is no doubt that next month’s event in New York and any subsequent events, will only continue to showcase that Kickboxing in America and especially GLORY, is the evolution of combat sports. Muay Thai and Kickboxing are here to stay!

GLORY 11 FULL RESULTS:

Glory 4-Man Heavyweight Tournament Semi-Final
Rico Verhoeven def. Gokhan Saki by Majority Decision
Daniel Ghita def. Anderson Silva by KO in Rd. 1

Glory 4-Man Heavyweight Tournament Final
Rico Verhoeven def. Daniel Ghita by Unanimous Decision

Glory 4-Man Heavyweight Tournament Reserve Bout
Errol Zimmerman def. Hesdy Gerges by TKO in Rd. 3

Super Fights
Tyrone Spong def. Nathan Corbett by KO in Rd. 2
Joseph Valtellini def. Karim Ghajji by TKO in Rd. 3

Under Card
Sergei Kharitonov def. Daniel Sam by Unanimous Decision
Danyo Ilunga def. Michael Duut by TKO in Rd. 1
Saulo Cavalair def. Filip Verlinden by Unanimous Decision
Steve Moxon def. Reece McAllister by KO in Rd. 3
Gabriel Varga def. Jose Palacios by Unanimous Decision
Troy Sheridan def. Michael Mananquil by Unanimous Decision
Maurice Greene def. Yang Rae Yoo by Unanimous Decision
Aaron Swenson def. Billy Rose by KO in Rd. 2
Kyle Weickhardt def. Quartus Stitt by Unanimous Decision
Ian Alexander def. Austin Lewis by Split Decision
Axel Mendez def. Jordan Weiland by Unanimous Decision