Rico Verhoeven vs. Badr Hari

GLORY Heavyweight Grand Prix Preview and Predictions

The GLORY Heavyweight Grand Prix will see eight top-ranked fighters throw down in a single-night tournament. Like the K-1 tournaments from the golden era of kickboxing, GLORY is bringing it back. Each of these eight men had to earn their place in this tournament, and the winner will walk away with a $500,000 prize.

Levi Rigters vs. Uku Jurjendal

The first quarterfinal bout of the evening will see Levi Rigters take on Uku Jurjendal. The towering Rigters is an image of Dutch-style kickboxing. “The Judge” Rigters combines punches into low kicks. And the leg kicks pack serious power from the 28-year-old. In his most recent bout, he defeated his opponent by first-round TKO due to leg kicks. Rigters has an identical kicking form to all-time great Ernesto Hoost.

Estonia’s Jurjendal is a heavy-handed slugger. With one punch he can end the fight. In 2023, he stopped the multi-time Enfusion heavyweight champion with a first-round knockout. And to qualify for this tournament he stopped Badr Hari by way of a second-round TKO, after a series of knockdowns.


Prediction: Rigters has not shown great punching defense, and Jurjendal has not shown great leg-kick defense. Rigters will likely take the first round and look dominant doing so, but run out of steam and meet a big overhand right.

“Cookie” Tariq Osaro vs. Bahram Rajabzadeh

Kevin Tariq “Cookie” Osaro was a breakout star in 2023. The Nigerian-Dutch striker won a one-night tournament in GLORY, all by way of knockout. Next, he battered heavyweight standout Antonio Plazibat to take the win by way of a TKO finish. Now, he will look to capture the heavyweight Grand Prix title.

Osaro is a brawler who looks to close the distance and counter with head movement. He is always on the front foot and trying to be aggressive. Additionally, he will have a major size advantage over Bahram Rajabzadeh.

Azerbaijan’s Rajabzadeh is a fighter who is looking to a battle. He is constantly rushing in and trying to swarm his opponents with punches. Then, he’ll follow it up with a clinch and try to land knees. He fights like a Vale-Tudo-era Wanderlei Silva. Plus, he has tons of power, and he knocked out Luis Tavares despite the head kick being blocked.

Prediction: Rajabzadeh, while undersized, makes up for it with brash aggression. If Cookie is looking to close the distance, Rajabzadeh will happily meet him toe-to-toe. Ultimately, I think the swarming punches of Rajabzadeh will find a home and earn him a win.

Benjamin Adegbuyi vs. Nabil Khachab

Benjamin Adegbuyi is a kickboxing veteran who faced nearly everyone in a generation at heavyweight. The towering fighter was a replacement for Nordine Mahieddine who was forced to withdraw from the tournament.

The Romanian Adegbuyi is a power puncher. He is looking to land heavy punches and push his opponent against the ropes. He has won the majority of his fights by way of knockout. He is set to meet the youngest participant in the Grand Prix; The Moroccan-Dutch Nabil Khachab.

Khachab, 23, is a volume striker. The heavyweight rushes forward and throws strikes in combination. He is looking to land multi-punch combos and then slam his powerful leg kick. His best combo is a jab-low kick which has caught many fighters. Most impressive is his cardio. This man does not slow down.

Prediction: The best days of Adegbuyi are sadly behind him. Since 2021, he is winless and has been knocked out in three bouts. Meanwhile, Khachab is still developing his cardio and power. He is a formidable style matchup for anyone in this tournament. Khachab is very likely to win the quarterfinal bout.

Rico Verhoeven vs. Sofian Laidouni

The Dutch-born Rico Verhoeven is the heavyweight king and has defended his throne in more than 10 bouts. The 34-year-old Verhoeven has a willpower that cannot be stopped. He often gets hit early but refuses to quit. He has defeated everyone over a generation of kickboxing. Additionally, he has a solid jab and an arsenal of leg kicks to control the bout.

France’s Sofian Laidouni is a tricky southpaw puncher. He circles to the outside, throwing feinting punches, to try and land his thunderous left cross. The French-born athlete is a smart puncher who exploits open-side dynamics in combat sports and is the highest-ranked fighter, outside of Rico, in this tournament.

Prediction: Verhoeven should be able to control the bout with his powerful kicking game and be able to corner his opponent.

GLORY Heavyweight Grand Prix

The winner of this tournament will need to fight in three bouts on the same night, booked for Mar. 9, 2024, from the GelreDome in Arnhem, Netherlands.

The night will also see the lightweight title be contested, as Tyjani Beztati will look to defend his throne against Germany’s Enriko Kehl. Plus, Donegi Abena will put his light heavyweight title on the line against Tarik Khbabez.

With two division titles, and a single-night elimination heavyweight kickboxing tournament, the Mar. 9 card is sure to be action-packed.

FightsWheaton’s Pick
Donegi Abena vs. Tarik KhbabezAbena
Ilias Hammouche vs. Ivan GalazHammouche
Tyjani Beztati vs. Enriko KehlBeztati
Rico Verhoeven vs. Sofian LaidouniVerhoeven
Benjamin Adegbuyi vs. Nabil KhachabKhachab
Tariq Osaro vs. Bahram RajabzadehRajabzadeh
Levi Rigters vs. Uku JurjendalJurjendal
Cihad Kepenek vs. Michał BławdziewiczKepenek