On Saturday, Dec. 21, GLORY Kickboxing closes out 2019 with its biggest event of the year. The promotion touches down in Arnhem, Netherlands, for its 74th show, dubbed Collision 2.
In the night’s main event, heavyweight king Rico Verhoeven puts his belt on the line against bitter rival Badr Hari. The pair met previously in 2016 at Collision in Germany, with Holland’s Verhoeven stopping the Moroccan Hari in the second round due to an arm injury. Since then, Verhoeven has competed five times and made three successful title defenses. The 35-year-old Hari returned to action at GLORY 51, where he defeated Hesdy Gerges by decision.
The GLORY 74 portion of the card features the promotion’s middleweight and interim light heavyweight titleholder, Alex Pereira. The Brazilian squares off with Ertugrul Bayrak.
The SuperFight Series portion of the event puts the spotlight on Dutch heavyweight Jahfarr Wilnis, who takes on Antonio Plazibat.
The action kicks off at 11 a.m. ET with the SuperFight Series on UFC Fight Pass. The GLORY 74 card follows at 1 p.m. ET, also on UFC Fight Pass. The Collision 2 main card begins at 3 p.m. ET, airing on UFC Fight Pass in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, and on pay-per-view for the rest of the world.
The main event between Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari is one of the biggest heavyweight fights in recent memory. What should fans expect? Will it have similarities to the pair’s first meeting in 2016?
Whenever Hari steps into a building, let alone a ring, anything can happen. He didn’t get the reputation as the sport’s “Bad Boy” without reason. That said, Hari is now 35 years old and far removed from the fighter who was once battling many of the sport’s legends under the K-1 banner. This fight will mark just his fourth bout in the last five years, including his previous meeting with Verhoeven in 2016. The Moroccan has the skill and experience to compete with anyone in the heavyweight division, as evidenced by past wins over Semmy Schilt and Peter Aerts, but his inactivity makes it hard to predict what will happen in the ring on Saturday night. Will we see the hard-hitting knockout artist who earned the larger-than-life aura that he once possessed? Or will it be the fighter who struggled against Hesdy Gerges in his last GLORY appearance?
Verhoeven may not have the same names on his resume, but that’s not to say that the 30-year-old Dutchman hasn’t faced elite fighters. He’s been in the ring with the likes of the aforementioned Schilt and Aerts. Due to his youth and the drastically changing trajectory of the heavyweight division, he hasn’t been afforded the same opportunities in terms of level of competition. That’s certainly not something you can criticize Verhoeven for in any way. He has put down every fighter put in front of him since 2015 and hasn’t suffered defeat in the GLORY ring since a 2012 loss to the legendary Schilt. Verhoeven has evolved into one of the sport’s pound-for-pound best, utilizing crisp techniques and combinations to outclass his opposition. That’s not to say that he can’t finish fights. He may not display the same one-punch power as Hari on a regular basis, but his ability to put away his opponents with constant strikes is unmatched in the division.
Fans who buckle down for this fight on Saturday should expect some things to look familiar. Hari will likely be the aggressor early and will seek to hurt Verhoeven with a power strike along the ropes. Verhoeven will do everything in his power to keep the fight at a distance and utilize his superior technique. The first fight was telling in this regard, as Hari tried to make it ugly and found success in the opening frame. However, once Verhoeven settled in and found his range, he was able to damage the arm of Hari and earn the TKO finish in round two. The longer the fight goes, the more it will favor Verhoeven. He has superior cardio. Given the struggles that Hari had with his conditioning against Gerges, don’t be surprised if “The King of Kickboxing” stops Hari a second time.
The main card is filled with potential contenders and high-action fighters like Luis Tavares, Stéphane Susperregui, Mohammed Jaraya, Massaro Glunder, Zakaria Zouggary and Asa Ten Pow. Which of these fighters has the most to gain?
Saturday night will be a great measuring stick for these combatants. Some will sink back into crowded contender pools, while a select few will propel themselves into title contention.
Kicking off the main card, the 24-year-old Dutch fighter Zouggary faces American Ten Pow. Zouggary has had an up-and-down GLORY run thus far. He has defeated Glunder, Bailey Sugden and Abdellah Ezbiri, but he fell short against Aleksei Ulianov and current champion Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao. His knockout of Ezbiri at GLORY 70 exhibited his potential, and now he’s tasked with derailing the momentum of Ten Pow. The American has opened his GLORY career with six straight victories. Zouggary marks a step up in competition and a good litmus test for the American’s future in the featherweight division.
The lightweight division has long been reigned over by dominant champions, so fans should be excited any time GLORY is able to add fresh faces. Jaraya and Glunder have taken different paths to the division, with Morocco’s Jaraya dropping down from welterweight and the Moluccan Glunder coming up from featherweight. Jaraya’s nickname is “The Destroyer,” and it’s easy to see how he earned that moniker by watching him fight. He marches forward and overwhelms his opponents with pressure and power. Glunder, meanwhile, is more athletic and technical. He utilizes his speed and combinations to frustrate opponents. This fight has “Fight of the Night” potential, and the winner will walk away closer to contention.
Tavares and Susperregui are the clear candidates to claim a No. 1 contender’s spot with a win on Saturday. The pair square off in the co-main event. After holding both the heavyweight and light-heavyweight belts under the Enfusion banner, the Dutchman Tavares has won two of his last three since returning to the GLORY ring. After a closely contested decision loss to Felipe Micheletti, Tavares got back in the win column by defeating Michael Duut in October. Susperregui was also in action in October, when he edged Micheletti on the scorecards to put himself in the light-heavyweight title picture. With champion Artem Vakhitov on the shelf and interim champion Alex Pereira defeating Donegi Abena to capture his belt, the winner of this match-up will have a strong argument for a title shot.
While a win for Ten Pow would validate his status as a legitimate contender at featherweight and the Jaraya-Glunder showdown is sure to be an exciting fight, it’s undoubtedly Tavares who has the most to gain. After dominating two divisions in Enfusion, the veteran needs to defeat Susperregui to prove he’s among the light-heavyweight elite.
What’s the can’t-miss fight of this event?
There are a lot of options on a very deep fight card. Middleweight champion Alex Pereira is always a candidate to put someone to sleep. Ukrainian Serhii Adamchuk is a former titleholder and faces a very game Aleksei Ulianov. Even the SuperFight Series has the potential for fireworks, with middleweight Donovan Wisse continuing his ascension through the ranks against César Almeida, as well as American Rebekah Irwin showcasing her skill set against China’s Yi Xu. However, even the most casual kickboxing fan should be able to pinpoint which fight is a sure-fire barnburner. Dutchman Michael Duut will square off with Brazilian Ariel Machado on the GLORY 74 portion of the event, and everyone should have their popcorn ready.
Duut’s recent resume is a bit misleading. Yes, he’s lost four of his last five GLORY appearances, but he’s also faced some of the light-heavyweight division’s elite in Luis Tavares and Donegi Abena. What makes “The Dream Crusher” a must-watch fighter is his go-big-or-go-home approach to fighting. Duut would rather go out on his shield than drop a decision. It’s led to some incredible fights in his career, including two of GLORY’s most memorable affairs. He stopped Mourad Bouzidi with just four seconds left in their contest at GLORY 59, and his back-and-forth war with Danyo Ilunga at the promotion’s first Collision event in Germany is easily one of the best fights to ever occur in the GLORY ring.
As Duut looks to entertain the fans, he’ll have a willing dance partner in the power-punching Machado. The Curitiba native has competed at both middleweight and light heavyweight during his career. He is not afraid to step in the ring with anyone. Machado holds 34 knockouts in his 47 career wins. The Brazilian has bested the aforementioned Ilunga and Pavel Zhuravlev under the GLORY banner and came up short against current light-heavyweight champ Artem Vakhitov. He returns to the promotion for the first time in two years and will look to jump back into the title mix.
For fight fans, the best advice in this match-up is to not blink. Machado has the ability to finish fights with a single strike, and Duut is willing to trade with anyone. Duut has shown the ability to get rocked and recover, which will be critical against someone like Machado. This fight has all the ingredients for a classic and should be high on everyone’s watch list for Saturday.
|Collision 2 (UFC Fight Pass, 3 p.m. ET)|
|HW Championship: Rico Verhoeven vs. Badr Hari||Verhoeven|
|LHW: Luis Tavares vs. Stéphane Susperregui||Tavares|
|LW: Massaro Glunder vs. Mohammed Jaraya||Glunder|
|FW: Zakaria Zouggary vs. Asa Ten Pow||Zouggary|
|GLORY 74 (UFC Fight Pass, 1 p.m. ET)|
|MW Championship: Alex Pereira vs. Ertugrul Bayrak||Pereira|
|FW: Serhii Adamchuk vs. Aleksei Ulianov||Adamchuk|
|LHW: Michael Duut vs. Ariel Machado||Duut|
|LW: Itay Gershon vs. Sanjin Li||Gershon|
|SuperFight Series (UFC Fight Pass, 11 a.m. ET)|
|HW: Jahfarr Wilnis vs. Antonio Plazibat||Wilnis|
|MW: César Almeida vs. Donovan Wisse||Wisse|
|HW: Cihad Kepenek vs. Nordine Mahieddine||Mahieddine|
|MW: Kevin van Heeckeren vs. Ulrik Bokeme||van Heeckeren|
|Women’s Super BW: Yi Xu vs. Rebekah Irwin||Irwin|