The career trajectory of Rico Verhoeven has been nothing but up, but for many years there were detractors who saw the young Dutch fighter as a mere shadow of the past Dutch champions that ruled the sport for years. Names like Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts and Ramon Dekkers all stood out as all-time greats that created such a huge legacy for a champion like Rico to live up to. Verhoeven has not always been the most confident fighter, which has led to a lot of narrow decision victories and a lot of criticism from both past opponents and fans alike.
There was never any point in denying Verhoeven's talent, though. Verhoeven got into the game at a young age and turned a lot of heads quickly. Rico is tall, muscular, quick and skilled. Knocking out opponents never seemed to be something in Rico's repertoire, though. He'd win most of his fights, but he was never doing so in a fashion that felt dominating or exciting. The thing is, he was always evolving and growing as a fighter and tonight at GLORY 26 we saw the culmination of the years of hard work against Benjamin Adegbuyi.
Adegbuyi was able to control the early rounds in their first meeting before Rico's technical skills and Adegbuyi's fatigue were too much for him to handle. This was the Verhoeven that we all had grown to know and love. Without a doubt Rico was a great fighter, but many wanted to see more from him, that wanted to see those flashes of brilliance turn into tangible, epic moments that would go down in history.
That is exactly what they got when Rico's right hand landed flush on Adegbuyi's jaw and flattened him to the mat. This was the full realization of Rico Verhoeven, this was the man that was going to help bring the heavyweight division in kickboxing into the next generation with style. What a knockout.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, is available now via Kindle and Paperback.
Dave (a) LiverKick dot com | @dvewlshWebsite: www.dvewlsh.com