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Rico Verhoeven Retains GLORY Heavyweight Championship at GLORY 22

It was a monumental event for Heavyweight kickboxing at GLORY 22 when Rico Verhoeven defended his GLORY Heavyweight Championship against Benjamin Adegbuyi. It was the first real Heavyweight title bout for the new generation of heavyweights, accentuated by Semmy Schilt, Ernesto Hoost and Remy Bonjasky in attendance and presenting the winner with the belt. It was the battle of the knockout artist against the cardio and combination machine and it cemented Verhoeven's spot at the top of the food chain.

Many have been critical of Verhoeven in the past and he was looking to prove that he wouldn't be satisfied squeaking out a win, but instead wanted to dominate. Early on Adegbuyi came at him with everything that he had and most men would have fallen to those blows, but Verhoeven held steady. The Verhoeven that came back at Benny in rounds two and three was an angry one, highly motivated to not just let Adegbuyi tire out. Instead Verhoeven came at Adegbuyi with his fists flying and we had a war on our hands for a while.

Benny began to tire, though, and as the fight moved into the deep waters it was clear that Verhoeven was in the better condition and that his combinations were flowing just as easily as they were in the early rounds. It became a thing of beauty to watch Verhoeven slip strikes and land eloquent combinations against the Romanian slugger. Adegbuyi came back in the fifth round but it simply was too little, too late against the technical brilliance of Rico Verhoeven.

Verhoeven retains but Adegbuyi put on a valiant performance and shows that he belongs in the pantheon of top heavyweights right now.

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GLORY 22 Live Results and Updates

GLORY 22 is upon us now, which means that we will have a new top contender for the GLORY Lightweight Championship and we'll see Rico Verhoeven and Benjamin Adegbuyi lock horns for the GLORY Heavyweight Championship. Follow us here at LiverKick for all of the news and updates throughout the day on the event, including results from the SuperFight Series and GLORY 22 proper.

The SuperFight Series begins at 1:30 Eastern time and GLORY 22 at 4pm Eastern. You can order the SuperFight Series through us.

GLORY 22 SuperFight Series

Shane Oblonsky (R3 - Dec.) Thomas Adamandopolous -- This was a close scrap between these two early on but Oblonsky was able to outshine him in the second and third rounds.

Serhiy Adamchuk (R3 - Dec.) Marat Grigorian -- Damn, this was a very good fight. Adamchuk showed a lot in the first round; crisp combos with his hands and really heavy body kicks that were doing some damage. Round two saw Marat come out very aggressive and do a lot of damage to Adamchuk, but Adamchuk was still moving really well. Round three I saw more for Marat, but Adamchuk showed some flashes of brilliance. The judges gave it to Adamchuk 29-28 across the board, which I'm not sure that I agree with, but it was a great performance from Adamchuk.

Yoann Kongolo (R3 - Dec.) Cedric Doumbe -- Interesting fight where both men were swinging for the fences and knew each other well enough to be able to counter or block. This led to a bit of a stalemate but Kongolo landed some of the cleaner shots so he got the nod.

Mourad Bouzidi (R3 - Dec.) Filip Verlinden -- Verlinden looked a bit off here, not really doing much and spending a lot of time against the ropes. Bouzidi was pretty much handling him throughout most of the bout.

Jamal Ben Saddik (R1 - TKO) Mamoudou Keta -- Respect to Keta, who looked to be limping, but that didn't matter. He was undersized and unprepared and Ben Saddik just ran through him.

GLORY 22

Lightweight Tournament: Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong (R2 - KO) Davit Kiria -- Well damn. Sitthichai was looking stronger with the leg kicks in the first round, both men sort of feeling each other out. The second round started off with Sitthichai looking strong, but Kiria showing that heart that we all love about him with some strong punches. Sitthichai landed a beautiful, crazy knee to the gut and that was it, Kiria was down and out. Wow.

Lightweight Tournament: Josh Jauncey (R3 - TKO) Djime Coulibaly -- While Djime looked game, Jauncey was just too good. It's crazy to watch the evolution of Jauncey here in the GLORY ring like this, but he was piecing together solid combinations and chopping Djime down with leg kicks. Finally in round three Jauncey started to turn up the heat and dropped him what felt like over and over again, but was twice, for sure.

Zack Mwekassa (R1 - KO) Carlos Brooks -- Uhh yeah. Left hook destruction from Mwekassa. Lights out.

Lightweight Tournament Finals: Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong (R3 - Dec.) Josh Jauncey -- Josh Jauncey was incredibly game for a guy on the level that Sitthichai is. Jauncey was hanging right in there with him throughout the first round before a cut was opened up over his right eye. The fight continued on but Sitthichai's body kick became the story of the fight. Solid outing by both men but Sitthichai was just too good tonight.

GLORY Heavyweight Championship: Rico Verhoeven (C) (R5 - Dec.) Benjamin Adegbuyi -- Adegbuyi came out guns a'blazing in the first round, scoring with some big shots on the champion. It looked like Verhoeven was in some trouble early on but he held on and kept his wits about him. After that, though, pretty much one way traffic for Verhoeven. Verhoeven's cardio was simply superior and he was piecing together beautiful combinations until the very end. Adegbuyi had a few big moments late in the fight, but Verhoeven held on for the win.

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Rico Verhoeven Looks to Impress at GLORY 22

At twenty-six he's on top of the world and not looking to step down soon. He didn't arrive there overnight, this achievement is the culmination of twenty years of hard work and dedication, not to mention the fact that it's in his blood. Rico Verhoeven, GLORY's current heavyweight champion is the son, of a black belt in karate, and no stranger to training and hard work. Today he reaps the benefits of those seeds that were sown so early in his life, but if you think that is all there is to Rico, that's where you're wrong. Besides maintaining his heavyweight champion status with GLORY, Rico is a father and a man who aspires to much more.

Currently Rico is set to face the Romanian Benny Adegbuyi at GLORY 22 in Lille, France. During the course of his career, however, he has faced a veritable who's who in kickboxing world among those names Aerts, Zimmerman, Ghita, Saki and Schilt are representative of the high level of competition he's faced. His career and rise to the top has not come without criticism. He has been criticized by people who say that his fights are not exciting and that the level of respect he brings to his opponents has also been lacking. This accusation has been especially prominent in his most recent fights with Daniel Ghita and Errol Zimmerman. Regardless, Rico has chosen to fight this battle in the ring by showing improvement in every aspect of his game and verbally with a maturity of man who truly embraces the term, 'sportsmanship'.

In his last bout at GLORY 19: Virginia, Verhoeven had less of an opportunity to showcase any improvements to his game. In this match, facing Errol Zimmerman a second round TKO stopped the match., the result of Zimmerman tearing his patellar tendon. In the ring, Verhoeven is best known as a highly technical fighter with strong boxing skills and a solid defense. In order to continue his eight fight winning streak in the face off against Adegbuyi, he will need those skills as Adegbuyi is well known for his aggression and heavy hands.

Whatever the outcome, the heavyweight championship at GLORY 22: Lille, promises to bring excitement with a clash of two titans.

If you're wondering about Verhoeven's other aspirations, I'll give you a clue... lights, camera, action, and I don't mean just inside the ring.

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The State of Kickboxing: Glory’s Slow Crawl to Legitimacy

What does it take to get over with fans? It’s the million dollar question that marks the dividing line between a gimmick of the moment and a product that has established its presence in the market—the continuum, in our case, that Glory finds itself inching along in its slow crawl to stability and legitimacy. There’s an expectation that ‘getting over’ amounts to finding a moment that will make its mark in the minds of fans—in the collective consciousness of the sports entertainment universe—and to seizing the opportunity to rocket the brand into orbit. Creating that moment is something that Glory has pursued relentlessly, putting its highlight-making fighters like Joe Schilling and Raymond Daniels on TV with regular frequency. For its trouble, the highlights are adding up, and Glory has amassed a fight library that could now fill dead airtime with countless hours of syndicated content (are you listening, SpikeTV?). There’s a sense that Glory’s efforts are adding up to something, but for many fans in the kickboxing community, talk is cheap and there exists a healthy skepticism about Glory’s future. After a very tumultuous 2014, one could be forgiven for continuing to feel let down by Glory, which is why I think it is important to take a step back and reevaluate Glory’s place in the kickboxing world during these last few months.

At this time, Glory is the only truly legitimate international outlet for high level kickboxing competition. Kunlun may be a rising product in China, but for now, its televised reach doesn’t extend far beyond its domestic borders. K-1 has the top-tier featherweight talent, but again, it’s strictly a Japan-only product. Other organizations have been promoting fights in Europe and China, but so far no other major international players have emerged. We’ve seen some activity in the Middle East with ‘family-friendly’ promotion GFC, but so far GFC hasn’t demonstrated that it will amount to more than yet another show that threw money around for a little while—with no international television distribution and questionable attendance, we can’t confidently speculate about its future.

This is not to say that my outlook on Glory is any rosier, but it so far shows the most promise out of the promotions comprising the kickboxing landscape at this time. That said, some fans, including me, hold Glory responsible for possibly damaging the market for elite kickboxing talent during the promotion’s initial days, more-so than anyone who has come before or since. While for obvious reasons there is no specific information out there, the rumored story is that the talent acquired by Glory after the fall of K-1 was signed to compete under contracts which allegedly paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars per fight. These huge payouts readily attracted K-1’s superstars but also had the effect of greatly inflating their value. Some of these fighters, like Tyrone Spong and Gokhan Saki, may be in a position now where they won’t accept a contract for market value because it would mean not earning the money that they now feel entitled to make. However, it doesn’t make sense for Glory to continue compensating them at such a high rate if they aren’t going to be huge television draws, especially now that Glory has made forays into developing grassroots talent. It puts fighters like Saki and Spong in the position where they must seek out promoters who are willing to meet their new asking price. What that usually amounts to when it comes to the business of kickboxing are more inexperienced promoters who will throw that kind of money around in an effort to quickly establish a presence but who will also more often than not quickly fold after realizing the magnitude of loss associated with having no plan to achieve sustainability. At one point I would have included Glory in that category, but they’ve made sacrifices and changes to their roster and production which I feel reflect a desire to become sustainable. They—specifically Pierre Andurand—could have cut their losses and pulled out a long time ago like so many before him if that’s what they wanted to do. Instead, the Glory of today is a scaled-down organization that is focusing on developing talent at market value and establishing a presence on television.

Some may tout the European market and its potential, but there has never been any indication that operating there is any more sustainable than operating in the United States. Sure, attendance has been traditionally high, but so far no organization has become a breakout success. It’s Showtime is no more, and the other organizations like Enfusion are strictly small-scale. SuperKombat is looking like the only potential exception, and to its credit it has outlasted many competitors while occupying a solid spot on EuroSport. Nevertheless, it has stayed out of the elite-level talent market, opting instead to cultivate local fighters in Eastern Europe.

The real challenge of promoting the sport of kickboxing is not merely limited to putting butts in seats or big fights on TV—it’s in actually recovering money from the whole enterprise. If there is any market where the potential exists to grow kickboxing into a legitimate business, it is in the Americas. This is very much New World vs. Old World: in the New World, kickboxing has the chance to find its own legs and grow as a sports entertainment product on its own merit. In the Old World, kickboxing is an attraction traditionally staged by people with no apparent entrepreneurial aspirations, and we’ve seen—time and time again—the promotion of the week come and go. This doesn’t mean that Europe doesn’t have the potential for an organization to build itself up as a self-sustaining business, but so far the European kickboxing world has been anything but focused on that goal. I feel like the difference here needs to be more widely understood. Kickboxing has never had a more important opportunity than it does now with SpikeTV and Glory. People may (rightfully) criticize some of the talent and matchmaking decisions at Glory 21, for example, but don’t lose sight of the big picture and what Glory is trying to accomplish. It is trying to make money out of a sport that doesn’t make money.

And for it’s trouble, the effort seems to be adding up. Ratings are stable, DVR numbers are up, and Spike has taken enough of an interest in Glory to broadcast its first live overseas event in Glory 22, going down June 5 at 4pm Eastern time. The promotion has attracted the attention of sports entertainment celebrities like Bill Goldberg, who is lending his talents inside and outside of the ring—and especially where it counts: in front of the cameras. Glory is being name dropped by the likes of Dolph Lundgren, and Goldberg’s involvement has even attracted the attention of the TMZ. For all of the false starts and missteps over the last few years, the ball feels like it’s finally beginning to roll, and 2015 may turn out to be a bright year for Glory—if we give it a chance. Because, as it turns out, there is no alternative.

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