GLORY Redemption
Photo: James Law/GLORY Sports International

Rico Verhoeven overcame a rough first round in the main event of the GLORY Redemption pay-per-view on Saturday, before dragging Jamal Ben Saddik into deep waters, and drowning him in the fifth round.

Verhoeven (53-10), 28, defeated Ben Saddik (32-6) via TKO inside Ahoy Rotterdam, after scoring a pair of knockdowns in the final round. The official time of the stoppage came at 1:10 of round five.

“I had something to settle with this guy and I settled it,” Verhoeven told Whitney Miller after the bout.

“The King of Kickboxing” was in all sorts of trouble in the opening round as Ben Saddik, the No.3-ranked GLORY heavyweight, began landing heavy punches, which forced the champion to cover up and retreat.

“I got hit a few times, but that’s the fighting game,” Verhoeven said.  “I made a few mistakes. I have to do go back to the drawing board and make it better.”

The champion showed why he’s won 15 straight fights in GLORY and has now defended his title six consecutive times. He settled down after the rocky start, regained his composure, and began to land punches and find his rhythm.

Ben Saddik started to lose rounds and fall behind on the scorecards but remained dangerous going into the final round.

Everything changed in the fifth as Verhoeven was determined to get the finish. The champion connected on a left high kick, which rocked “The Goliath,” and he put his foot on the gas, landing several big punches to score the first knockdown of the fight. Ben Saddik didn’t drop to the canvas, but referee Paul Nicholls stepped in to administer a count, which was indeed necessary.

As soon as the action resumed, Verhoeven swarmed in with a barrage of punches until Ben Saddik fell to the canvas and Nicholls waved the fight off for good.

It was a terrific performance by the Dutch champion and the first time in a very long time that he was legitimately tested. Verhoeven weathered the storm like great champions do, and closed the show, much to the delight of the raucous Rotterdam crowd. Verhoeven’s victory avenged a previous TKO loss to Ben Saddik, which took place back in 2011 in the It’s Showtime promotion. He improves his GLORY record to 16-1 with the knockout victory. Meanwhile, Ben Saddik’s record with the promotion drops to 7-5 in defeat.

Earlier in the evening at GLORY Redemption, GLORY made the announcement that Badr Hari signed a multi-fight contract with the promotion and will headline GLORY 51 on March 3. As Whitney Miller was wrapping her interview with Verhoeven, he hijacked the microphone to address the crowd.

“Do you want to see Rico vs. Badr?” he asked, which got a huge pop from the crowd.

He added: “In my opinion, you guys want to see it right? Alright, so here’s what we are going to go, we are going to send a message to Badr. Badr, get your gloves on, and get your ass back to the gym because I’m waiting for you.”

The two heavyweights met for the first time at GLORY Collision, the promotion’s PPV event in December of 2016, with Verhoeven winning by TKO in the second round due to Hari suffering an arm injury.

It’s likely that GLORY will give Hari a different opponent in his first fight back in order to let the rivalry build up once again.

It wasn’t quite as exciting as their rematch back at GLORY 36, but Danyo Ilunga (58-12) and Michael Duut (40-9) put on an entertaining trilogy bout in the light heavyweight co-main event of GLORY Redemption.

Ilunga, who survived and got himself out of trouble after getting rocked twice in the second round, dropped Duut in round three after connecting on a perfectly-timed overhand right. Duut could not beat the count, giving Ilunga the TKO finish. The official time of the stoppage came at 2:26 of the third round. The win snaps a seven-fight losing streak for Ilunga.

Bailey Sugden (11-1) defeated the No.10-ranked Chinglong Zhang (41-6) by unanimous decision in the second of the two featherweight matchups at GLORY Redemption. Three judges scored the bout 29-28, with the remaining two judges scoring it 30-27, all in favor of the UK native, who is now 2-0 in GLORY.

In the opening bout of the GLORY Redemption PPV, No.2-ranked featherweight contender Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao (158-36-2) finished off Zakaria Zouggary (29-4-1) in emphatic fashion.

The Thai veteran led on the scorecards after two rounds but was docked a point by referee Paul Nicholls for excessive clinching. The point deduction became irrelevant just moments later when Kiatomookao landed a vicious left high kick, sending Zouggary crashing to the canvas and rendering him unconscious. The official time o the stoppage came at 2:05 of round three.