Rico Verhoeven Ends Trilogy with Jamal Ben Saddik, Defends Title at Glory ‘Collision 3’
Rico Verhoeven reminded everyone why he is nicknamed the "King of Kickboxing.”
The headliner featured a heavyweight clash between defending champion Rico Verhoeven (59-10) and former two-time rival Jamal Ben Saddik (35-8). The challenger was supposed to be combat sports legend Alistair Overeem, but an injury forced "The Demolition Man" out of the fight. Verhoeven moved around his opponent for most of the time in the opening round, studying his reactions, before Ben Saddik almost knocked him down right before the end of the stanza. Ben Saddik pushed on the accelerator early in Round 2, dropping Verheoven and opening a cut under his right eye.
Verhoeven fought through adversity and made some adjustments after the second stanza as his eye kept swelling. In Round 3, the Dutchman retaliated with several knees, showcased better footwork than his opponent, and landed crisper shots. Ben Saddik took heavy punishment and looked as if he was almost out on the feet, paying the toll for his previous foray in terms of stamina. Momentum being on Verhoeven's side and with Ben Saddik out of energy, Verhoeven landed heavy punches until his opponent nearly went over the ropes. The referee counted out Ben Saddik, placing the stoppage at the official time at 54 seconds into Round 4. In addition to defending his championship, Verhoeven ended the trilogy with Ben Saddik on his terms.
In the co-main event, Ultimate Fighting Championship alum and kickboxing vet Gokhan Saki (101-14) made his kickboxing return six years after his latest fight as he locked horns with "The Ultimate Fighter Season 10" graduate James McSweeney (46-5) in the heavyweight division. The Englishman started strong and appeared to knock down Saki early in the fight with a head kick. However, the referee didn't deem the shot an official knockdown. The Turkish then attempted to chop down McSweeney's legs and busted his nose with his legendary combinations. Saki kept targeting McSweeney's legs in Round 2 until his opponent collapsed on the canvas and never got back up for the counting. The referee stopped the contest after 2 minutes, 13 seconds in Round 2, rewarding "The Rebel" with a TKO victory.
During the event, the promotion announced onetime Glory 170-pound kingpin Joseph "Bazooka Joe" Valtellini as the first inductee in its Hall of Fame.
Elsewhere, no. 1 ranked welterweight Mohamed Mezouari "Hamicha" (42-2) knocked down Samo Dbili (10-5) three times in the opening frame thanks to vicious punches to the liver, forcing the end of the contest at 2:27 mark in Round 1 due to the maximum times of knockdowns allowed by Glory rules in one round. Prior to that, One Championship vet Sergej Maslobojev (33-5) did enough to outpoint Surinamese-Dutch fighter Donegi Abena (15-8) on the scorecards thanks to a split decision at light heavyweight; Antonio Plazibat (20-4) scored an impressive upset after knocking out kickboxing vet Benjamin Adegbuyi (35-7) with an anvil-heavy series of punches 24 seconds into Round 2.
The main card opened with a TKO landed by “The Dream Crusher” Michael Duut (44-13-1) at the expense of John King (14-7-1), stopping his opponent with a knee at the 1:07 mark of the second frame.
The featured fight on the preliminary card saw former World Muaythai Council titleholder Alim Nabiev (52-8) upending Troy Jones (14-3) via unanimous decision after a hard-fought contest at welterweight. Prior, two-time Tatneft Cup winner Aleksei Ulianov (30-7-1) avenged a previous defeat at the hands of former Glory divisional kingpin Serhii Adamchuk (40-13) after edging his opponent via split decision in their featherweight battle; Serkan Ozcaglayan (41-6) scored an impressive promotional debut after smashing no. 4 ranked Matt Baker (24-8) 0:58 seconds into their middleweight affair.
In the first fight on the event, 27-year-old Stoyan Koprivlenski (14-5) outstruck Bruno Gazani (67-7-1) at lightweight en route to a unanimous decision where all judges scored 30-27 in favor of “The Sniper.”