Matchmaker's Notes: Superfight Series 41 Headline Fights
Published on May 17, 2017
This Saturday, May 20 we are in the city of Den Bosch for GLORY 41 HOLLAND. Den Bosch is about an hour to the south of Amsterdam and the surrounding area is home to both Rico Verhoeven and Robin van Roosmalen, both of whom are fighting on this event.
This event is unusual in that we are reversing the running order, so the SUPERFIGHT SERIES card takes place after the GLORY 41 numbered card. We're doing that because Rico and Van Roosmalen are on the Superfight Series card and airing their fights later in the evening aids more of our worldwide fanbase who are watching via our partners at UFC Fight Pass.
It's no secret that Verhoeven has struggled to find challengers lately; he's dominating the division and we also have a lot of guys injured right now. He was supposed to face Jamal Ben Saddik on this card but Ben Saddik went on vacation after his win at GLORY 39 and managed to fall off his motorbike and injure himself, so he had to pull out.
We had to find a new challenger for Rico for this card but it wasn't easy. Benjamin Adegbuyi was not available and we saw them fight twice now already so it wasn't that interesting of a prospect anyway. Jahfar Wilnis has a lung embolism, he's not well, Hesdy Gerges is on a losing streak, Ismael Londt has a terrible shoulder injury, really bad, he is out until the end of the year.
Another fighter we reached out to was Andre Gerasimchuk, the most recent fighter to beat Rico, but he is at light-heavyweight right now. Then the name of Ismael Lazaar came up. He is the heavyweight champion of ENFUSION, which is the top domestic league in the Netherlands. The second he got offered the fight he said yes. Instantly, no hesitation.
Lazaar really wants to test himself against Rico, because Rico is indisputably the best heavyweight in the world right now. A win for Lazaar would be huge for his career and his reputation. He also comes from the same area that this event is taking place in, as does Rico, so there is something of a local derby of heavyweight champions here.
It's a superfight not a title fight, although it is over five rounds. There is no title on the line but of course there is a lot of stake for both fighters, so it's a very important fight. And Lazaar has a really dangerous level of power in his hands, he's very deceptive. Like Rico said in the pre-fight press conference, to look at him he doesn't look athletic at all, but he is really explosive and dynamic.
For sure he is not an opponent that Rico can afford to take lightly. Lazaar is a fighter who can end a contest in an instant. Look at his highlight reel – when he knocks people out, they are really knocked out. He is dangerous in every second of every round and Rico has to maintain full focus throughout: if he lets his concentration lapse for a moment, that's when Lazaar can seize the day.
Another championship-level fighter on this card is Robin van Roosmalen. He is facing Petchpanomrung and this fight is for the vacant featherweight title, Petchpanomrung having won the four-man Featherweight Contender Tournament at GLORY 39 BRUSSELS.
A lot of my personal history involves Thailand, where my student and son Ramon Dekkers made his legend, so for me it is always a pleasure to see top-level Thai fighters come to GLORY. Petchpanomrung is a rising star in the division and has a superb left kick, but may struggle with the size difference here.
Roosmalen is big for this weight and powerful, whereas Petchpanomrung might really be better suited to a weight class lower. In his favor is his great timing and his outstanding left kick, which has scored him three wins from three fights in GLORY. On the other hand, Roosmalen has experience facing southpaw Thai fighters – Sitthichai is a bigger, stronger version of Petchpanomrung.
Roosmalen is very high level, he has looked great at this weight. Realistically I would expect him to take his belt back in this fight. He lost it in January when he missed weight against Matt Embree. It would be special for him to win it back in Den Bosch, his home city.
GLORY 41 SUPERFIGHT SERIES starts at 9.30pm Netherlands time, 3.30pm New York time, 7.30pm UK time and airs live worldwide on UFC Fight Pass.