The Prince becomes The King at GLORY 11
Published on Oct 13, 2013
When Rico ‘The Prince’ Verhoeven was six years old his father, a black belt, took him to a karate dojo for the first time. From then until now, he has trained every single day and lived the disciplined, restricted life of a professional athlete.
Today at GLORY 11 CHICAGO all the hard work and sacrifice paid off as Rico ‘The Prince’ Verhoeven (42-9) beat Gokhan Saki (79-17) and Daniel Ghita (49-10) to become the GLORY Heavyweight Tournament Champion in a fight which aired live on SPIKE TV in the USA and in millions of homes across the world.
“I said I was going to do it and I did it,” said an emotional Verhoeven as he accepted the tournament winner’s belt and the grand prize of $250,000.
“I have been dreaming of this since I was six years old and I always believed it would come true. I told myself every day since I was six years old that I would be a champion and today it came true. I always believed in myself.”
Earlier this year Verhoeven publicly identified Saki and Ghita as the names he would need to beat in order to become recognized as the world’s top heavyweight. As fate would have it, those were the two names he faced in tonight’s tournament.
Verhoeven faced Saki first. They had exchanged comments in the build-up to the event and there was some bad blood between them which resulted in a close, hard-fought clash. Verhoeven used his range advantage well, narrowly avoiding Saki’s killer hooks and landing hard shots of his own in return.
After three rounds the judges had the fight for Verhoeven by a narrow margin. He moved through to the tournament final and a meeting with Daniel Ghita, who had stopped Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva in the first round of their fight and was feeling fresh.
Verhoeven and Ghita are former training partners and are friends outside the ring. But with a quarter of a million dollars on the line, friendship was suspended. The two had the kind of battle usually reserved for movie fights. The action was constant and both sides took heavy damage.
By the final round both of them looked ready to fall down but they were still expending huge energy in trying to score the decisive knockdown victory. Verhoeven dug deep and was able to click up a gear in the final minutes, piling pressure onto the exhausted Ghita.
The final thirty seconds were simply epic. They stood toe to toe and hammered each other mercilessly until the final bell sounded and they received a standing ovation. Verhoeven raised his arms in victory and the crowd responded in agreement. So did the judges, awarding him the unanimous decision win. With Semmy Schilt on hiatus, ‘The Prince’ becomes the king of the heavyweight division.
“I did it for my daughter. She’s nearly three years old so she understands some things which are said to her. I promised her I was going to come back with the title and the prize money,” said Verhoeven afterwards.
“I was thinking about that promise, that’s what kept me going in the final minutes and gave me the power to win the tournament.
“I’m really happy we were able to have such exciting fights for the SPIKE TV debut. I think we showed all the US fight fans what kickboxing is all about. This is our time now. GLORY is here to stay.”
In a reserve match for the heavyweight tournament, designed to supply an alternate in case one of the finalists was too injured to continue, Errol Zimmerman (101-10-1) took his knockout tally to an incredible 42 KO’s from 101 wins by stopping Hesdy Gerges (42-13-1) in the third round.
GLORY 11 CHICAGO’s headline bout was a light-heavyweight grudge rematch between Tyrone ‘King of the Ring’ Spong (90-5) and the Australian champion Nathan ‘Carnage’ Corbett (57-4).
In their first fight four years ago it was Corbett who scored the knockdowns. In tonight’s rematch it was Spong. He sent Corbett to the canvas repeatedly before sealing the deal at 1:10 of the second round by way of a trademark crushing left hook.
“Everything went according to plan. I am very happy with the outcome, it all went exactly as planned. There was a lot of talk about the rematch and settling scores but there was no pressure for me. There is some bad blood but that’s in the past now after this fight,” he said.
“I think I played my part tonight for SPIKE and for the organization and for the sport. More and more I am becoming the face of GLORY and I deliver.
“I put in a lot of hard work to live up to this role as an ambassador for the sport and the organization here in the United States. I will keep working hard and I will continue to deliver.”
Canadian welterweight ‘Bazooka Joe’ Joseph Valtellini (10-1) beat the tough and experienced French standout Karim Ghajji (92-9-1) to book himself a place in the upcoming GLORY 13 Welterweight Championship Tournament. Tonight’s win sees Valtellini rise to #2 in the official world rankings.
“I move to number two in the rankings now and I’ve booked my spot in the welterweight tournament taking place in Tokyo this November,” he said post-fight.
“I can’t wait for that. I am coming for that number one spot that Nieky Holzken is in right now. I am going to be number one. I’ve always said it and now I am going to do it.”
GLORY 11 CHICAGO - Official Results
Tyrone Spong defeats Nathan Corbett via TKO, R2 at 1:10 min.
Joseph Valtellini defeats Karim Ghajji via TKO, R3 at 2:53 min.
Glory Heavyweight Tournament Final
Rico Verhoeven defeats Daniel Ghita via unanimous decision (29-28) (29-28) (29-28
Glory Heavyweight Tournament Semi Final 1
Rico Verhoeven defeats Gokhan Saki via unanimous decision (29-27) (28-28) (29-28)
Glory Heavyweight Tournament Semi Final 2
Daniel Ghita defeats Anderson Silva via KO, R1 at 1:56 min.
Tournament Reserve Fight
Errol Zimmerman defeats Hesdy Gerges via TKO, R3 at 38 sec.