by John O’Regan (courtesy of GLORY Kickboxing)
One of the most coveted awards by every fighter is the ‘FIGHTER OF THE YEAR’ award.
For the second year running, that honor goes to world heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven.
‘The King of Kickboxing’ spearheaded GLORY’s entry into the Chinese market in October when he headlined GLORY 46 GUANGZHOU with a stoppage win over MMA veteran Antonio Silva.
In December he was in the Netherlands to headline the final event of the year, GLORY 49 ROTTERDAM, in a heavyweight title showdown with bitter rival Jamal Ben Saddik.
The fight was an instant classic. Ben Saddik came out of his corner at full steam and gave Verhoeven such hell that a first-round finish in Ben Saddik’s favor suddenly looked a distinct possibility.
Every fan in the arena was on their feet for every minute of the fight as Verhoeven first weathered the storm and then clawed his way back before taking control of the fight and building towards a crescendo finish in the final minute of the final round.
The fight could not have had more drama had it been scripted by Hollywood writers and it was a truly heroic performance from Verhoeven, who continues writing his name large into the sport’s history books.
Also nominated for Fighter of the Year 2017:
Anissa Meksen, for joining GLORY early in 2017, winning three fights and ending the year as champion after defeating defending champion Tiffany van Soest
Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao, for going 4-1 in 2017 and ending the year with a stunning knockout win over Zakaria Zougarry
Murthel Groenhart, whose dogged determination paid off at last when he won the world welterweight championship at GLORY 44