If you follow kickboxing you know the one fight that everyone has been asking about; GLORY Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven vs. Badr Hari. Badr Hari may not be a regular in the realm of high-level kickboxing right now, but he's the lone holdover of a generation of heavyweights that defined the sport from the heyday of K-1.
Hari, never a K-1 World Grand Prix Champion -- in part thanks to his volatile temper leading to a DQ loss in 2008 -- was seen as the heir apparent to the heavyweight throne, only for FEG's K-1 to go bankrupt and the international kickboxing scene changed forever. Since then, GLORY has emerged as the world leader in the sport, albeit in a scaled-back form compared to the opulence of FEG's K-1.
Since then both Hari and Verhoeven have had very different paths. Hari chased paydays from rich sheikhs and warlords where he could find them while Verhoeven competed with the best of the best, transitioning from being a tall, awkward kid to an unstoppable force in heavyweight kickboxing. Outside of the ring Hari has been plagued with legal issues thanks to his temper and for a while it looked like he would never, truly, find a way back to fighting the best.
Hari has remained a public figure, his every indiscretion stealing international headlines all while being accentuated by a fairly rabid social media following. For Verhoeven, this became the fight to make, the fight that made sense. All of the old heroes had retired; Semmy Schilt, Peter Aerts, Jerome Le Banner, Ernesto Hoost and Remy Bonjasky.
With wins over Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita, Errol Zimmerman and Benjamin Adegbuyi it was all starting to feel a bit "academic" for Verhoeven. He is the best and all of the challengers that are lining up are talented individuals, but what can they bring to the table?
An issue that arises with a dominant champion is that it's difficult for other stars to flourish. Adegbuyi, in any other generation, would be a huge star, but now he's been defeated twice by Verhoeven, as have Daniel Ghita and Errol Zimmerman, making it lonely at the top for Rico, who has only suffered one errant loss in China to Anderei Gerasimchuk while Rico's wife was in labor and his mind was elsewhere.
Speculation has run wild for the past few months, smaller promoters have tossed their hat into the ring with very public, very unrealistic offers to host the fight, but there was always going to be one promotion where it would go down; GLORY. GLORY has worked with Verhoeven and Hari's team and now it's official. According to a report from Gareth Davies, the fight is happening in December in Germany.
As for the stakes? Simply pride.
Hari is not under a longer contract to GLORY, thus no title will be on the line.