Saturday June 21, Bloody Elbow presents fight coverage of the Glory Last Man Standing PPV. Last Man Standing airs live on PPV, Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. ET, and is preceded by Glory 17 Los Angeles live on Spike at 8:00 p.m. ET. We will have live fight night coverage and discussion right here. Here, we break down the Glory Last Man Standing card in our fight by fight preview.
#1 DANIEL GHITA (50-10 Overall; 6-3 Glory) vs. #2 RICO VERHOEVEN (43-9 Overall; 6-1 Glory) - Heavyweight World Title
This rematch will crown the first ever Glory Heavyweight champion, and so it is only fitting that it is contested between the sport's #1 and #2 ranked Heavyweights. What is a bit questionable about those rankings is who sits in which spot - Verhoeven is the #2 ranked underdog here despite the fact that when these two men last met, at Glory 11 in Chicago on Glory's Spike TV debut, it was Verhoeven who ended the night with his hand raised. His positioning at #2 here is a source of some contention for the 25 year old "Prince of Kickboxing" and Saturday night, he will look to prove that he should be #1.
Verhoeven is one of the great Cinderella stories of 2013. Though he's only 25, Verhoeven has been around the sport for a decade, fighting for K-1 and It's Showtime as far back as 2008. For years he had mixed success, showing a lot of potential for such a young fighter, but never quite achieving that potential. That all changed in 2013. In that one year, Verhoeven went 5-0 - and not just any 5-0. Take a look at these names of opponents: Jhonata Diniz, Errol Zimmerman, Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita, Peter Aerts. That's an incredible year. It all culminated on October 12 when in Chicago Verhoeven entered the 4 man Heavyweight tournament as an afterthought - a formality to dispense of before the inevitable Saki vs. Ghita II final. Instead, Verhoeven spoiled the party not once, but twice, defeating Gokhan Saki and Daniel Ghita, the world's top two Heavyweights, in a single night. That accomplishment earned him Fighter of the Year honors in my book, and now, he's ready to repeat that moment.
Ghita has been at the top of the Heavyweight ladder since his breakout year in 2009. Through K-1, It's Showtime, and now Glory, Ghita has consistently shown that he is among the sport's elite Heavyweights. He was on a very impressive 10 fight win streak before falling to Semmy Schilt in the Glory 4 finals, but his 2013 was a bit rough as he went 3-2 with losses to Saki and Verhoeven. Since that night in Chicago, he has come back strong with a huge KO win over Errol Zimmerman in Tokyo. Though Ghita has consistently been one of the best, he's never crossed that hurdle to become THE best. Twice he has tried to defeat Schilt and fallen, twice he has tried to defeat Saki and fallen. Now both of these men are gone from Heavyweight, but it's Rico Verhoeven who has once again blocked Ghita's path to the top. Saturday night, he'll try to finally overcome that obstacle, win the big fight, and show that he is the undisputed #1.
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Stylistically, these are two very different fighters. For Ghita, the name of the game is power. He's long been praised for his brutal leg kicks - arguably the best in the world today - but in recent years he's become just as deadly with his hands. When Ghita ends a fight, he ends a fight violently. Three of his last four wins have been KO's in under a minute, and he's only won a fight by decision once in the past 4 years. Ghita is a fighter with so many weapons that can hurt you, but the three to really watch out for are the leg kick, liver kick, and left hook. If Ghita lands those shots clean, he KO's any fighter in the world.
Verhoeven on the other hand is more of a technical points fighter. The reverse of Ghita in terms of fight stopping ability, you have to go all the way back to 2011 for a Verhoeven stoppage win, and that came against a ridiculously outmatched opponent. Verhoeven is not a fighter who is going to bull his way to a win - instead, he will use his superb Dutch technique to control the pace of the fight and outland his opponents. A tall fighter, he does an excellent job using the front kick to keep opponents at bay, but he can also fight inside with no trouble. Though not as tall, Verhoeven is a bit like the great Semmy Schilt - he uses his height well, and though his attack is relatively basic and un-flashy, he does everything right and uses his game flawlessly to his advantage.
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Given Ghita's major edge in power, it's very tempting to write this off as a Ghita KO win. But Glory 11 showed us that you should absolutely not underestimate Rico Verhoeven. As the fight goes on, he'll have the edge in cardio, an edge that will become only more pronounced in a five round title fight. The fact that Ghita has won so many fights via stoppage speaks volumes about his fight ending power, but it also speaks to his struggles to keep up the pace throughout a fight. Part of the way Verhoeven overwhelmed him in Chicago was by outworking him as the fight progressed. The chances of a Verhoeven KO win are small here (in recent years, only Saki and Schilt have ever stopped the extremely durable Ghita), though if Ghita can't keep up over a five round fight, he could find himself in real trouble as the fight progresses. Ghita will try to end the fight early, but Verhoeven should be able to slow the pace in the early stages to survive the early storm, then control things more and more definitively as the fight progresses, ultimately becoming not just the Prince of Kickboxing, but the King.
Prediction: Rico Verhoeven by decision