On June 21st live on PPV Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven will square off for a second time within the GLORY ring, this time for the GLORY Heavyweight Championship. The last time that they met they were vying for the GLORY 11 Heavyweight Tournament crown, this time it is for a tangible Championship, one that will be worn and defended with pride. At GLORY 11 the promotion made their Spike TV debut with Daniel Ghita vs. Rico Verhoeven as the explosive main event, possibly one of the best Heavyweight fights in GLORY’s brief history thus far.
Of course it is not without controversy. Gokhan Saki has decried the referee in his opening round bout against Verhoeven for counting a controversial down against him, which mentally “broke” him and led to Verhoeven picking up the victory. Regardless of that, Verhoeven earned his spot in the Finals against Daniel Ghita, but even then everyone assumed that Ghita would coast to victory.
He didn’t. In fact, Verhoeven vs. Ghita was so closely-contested that when you look at the stats for the fight, they have Ghita winning by a small margin. Daniel Ghita was quick to point this out on social media recently as both men traded barbs digitally before their fight next month. Do the numbers tell the story? I’m not quite sure. After another viewing of Rico vs. Ghita I I had scored the bout the same way that I did the first time; Daniel Ghita won the first round and Rico Verhoeven won the last two rounds. Round two was up for debate, sure, but round three was very clearly Rico, especially with how he ended it.
GLORY 11 was, in a way, a historic event and was seen by more fans in the United States than GLORY has ever had watching before. What they walked away with was an understanding and respect for both Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven as the top Heavyweights in the world. Many longtime fans would be quick to point out fighters like Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki and Tyrone Spong could and might break into GLORY’s Heavyweight scene and make a huge impact, but GLORY made their Spike TV debut and two stars were born.
Verhoeven and Ghita is the first real rivalry to be built up by GLORY since their Spike TV debut, making this rematch the first in GLORY’s post-Spike TV history and their biggest fight to date. It doesn’t hurt that both men are well-spoken, educated and easy to get along with, important traits for combat sports stars in the United States. I was impressed with how Rico Verhoeven handled the press at GLORY 16, with Verhoeven not only more comfortable in the ring but also comfortable out of the ring as well.
GLORY is taking a chance by promoting Verhoeven vs. Ghita as the headliner on their first PPV event, but in a way it is symbolic. Both of these men helped to christen the new era for GLORY and will be an integral part of GLORY’s next big step to prominence. The best part about it is that both men are tremendous talents and that this fight not only appeals to those newer fans that GLORY has recently won over, but to fans who have been following the sport of Kickboxing for years now.