GLORY is going all out in an attempt to utilize its star, Rico Verhoeven. It’s a dangerous gamble that is either going to pay off or turn out very awful results.
As Grand Moff Tarkin once told Darth Vader, “I’m taking an awful risk. This had better work.” The same could be said of GLORY and Verhoeven. Recently, the promotion announced the much-rumored fight between Verhoeven and kickboxing bad boy Badr Hari. The two are scheduled to square off at GLORY’s final card of 2016. It figures to be quite the spectacle in the world of kickboxing.
However, there could be a major wrench thrown into those plans courtesy of Anderson “Braddock” Silva. Verhoeven is scheduled to defend his GLORY heavyweight strap against the Brazilian at GLORY 33, which takes place on Sept. 9. While the Brazilian has struggled to overcome the hump into the level of elite kickboxers, he’s far from a pushover. Twenty-six of his victories have come by knockout, including a first-round stoppage in his last bout. Although Verhoeven has looked unstoppable during his reign at the top of the division, it’s certainly no sure thing that he makes it past Silva.
The Hari fight is scheduled as a non-title affair, but it will certainly lose quite a bit of luster if Verhoeven is defeated at GLORY 33. The fight may be built around the spectacle of Hari making his return against arguably the best heavyweight kickboxer in the world, but it’ll be hard for GLORY to present Verhoeven as the perfect fighter if he loses to Silva. The company was able to skate by when Verhoeven lost overseas in 2015, but it won’t have the same luxury if he loses under the spotlights of the GLORY ring.
Verhoeven has been vocal about looking into an MMA career, so perhaps this is GLORY getting the last bit of drawing power it can from Verhoeven. If that’s the case, then it’s definitely a smart move to maximize the return on its investment. The organization would be getting a final title defense and perhaps the biggest fight in GLORY history. If it goes according to plan, both Verhoeven and GLORY will have nothing left to accomplish by continuing their relationship. Verhoeven might choose to continue defending his belt, but he’s already taken out nearly every top heavyweight on the GLORY roster.
Verhoeven’s future is inevitably outside the realm of kickboxing. This looks to be his last hurrah in the ring. GLORY just better hope he makes it past Silva.