Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight and former K-1 champion, Alistair Overeem, made some waves on Thursday (Aug. 6, 2015) after making some disparaging remarks about the current state of the GLORY heavyweight division.
The K-1 2010 World Grand Prix champion told Ground and Pound TV, "The problem is, there is no heavyweight division. It's only Rico [Verhoeven] because everybody else quit or is retired or injured. That's why for me, there is no challenge in kickboxing at all."
Verhoeven, 26, gave MMAmania.com his take on "Reem's" comments and agreed with the No. 9-ranked UFC heavyweight, to a certain degree.
"I don't really feel that he is attacking me," Verhoeven said. "I don't feel like any hate or anything. He did try to knock the GLORY heavyweight division down, saying 'there is nobody.' I defeated everybody. I defeated Peter Aerts, [Gokhan] Saki, [Daniel] Ghita -- they are all top fighters. Even when he was fighting K-1, Ghita, Saki, and Peter were all in there and I beat them all. I feel like I am the true champion and I think... the only thing he is kind of right about, is there is no really new guys coming up -- like really quick -- like a few years ago. A few years ago, we had like eight or nine or maybe 10 heavyweights that were really good and now we have four or five. So, I think that is the difference."
However, even thought he thinks there is a shortage of great talent at the top, in his eyes, the future looks bright for the up and comers.
"For the rest, there are still young and hungry guys," he said. "I think the sport is evolving as well. If you check the level of the guys of six-seven years ago, and you check the level now of the heavyweights, I think it's higher. That is my vision on the sport, because the sport keeps evolving. If you go further in time, this sport just keeps getting better and better. The younger guys are getting better and better. If you check from like 20 years ago 'til now, most heavyweight champions were between 30 and 35 and I took that level down 10 years. I was 24 years old when I became champion for the first time."
So, hypothetically, if Overeem was to enter into the GLORY heavyweight division, how does the champion think he would do?
"I think he would do good," said Verhoeven, who believes he will most likely fight again in December. "His standing level is okay, but guys like Ghita he would have his hands full and maybe get his ass whooped. Of course, against me, the level is just different. Way different. And maybe a guy like Jamal [Ben Saddik], Alistair has more technique, but Jamal has the power. Everybody has to watch out for that. You have to really have to have a good game plan and defense for that."
Verhoeven (46-10-1) is simply on another level as far as his competition in the division. The Dutch native has won eight straight fights in GLORY competition and dominated Benny Adegbuyi over five rounds to defend his title at GLORY 22 in France back in June. Anderson "Braddock" Silva faces Jamal Ben Saddik on the Superfight Series portion of GLORY 23 on Friday night (Aug. 7, 2015) and the winner of that fight could be a potential future opponent for the champion, but according to him, no one has really stood out.
"For Benny -- like I already said in many interviews -- it was just too early for him," he said. "He's only been doing kickboxing for like six years and he doesn't have the experience yet. Anderson Silva, he's okay. He's a good fighter, but he's not... Championship worthy is not the right words to say, but he's not on that level. He's been around for a few years, but I don't think he has the level to be the champion. I mean zero disrespect, because I love his style of fighting, but his body is just not built for real heavyweight. He's like 100 kilos. 102, 103. If you get a guy at 115 or 120 kilos, it's just a big difference."
And that is what is going to be the winning factor for Saddik in tonight's fight, according to "The Prince."
"I think he is going to overpower Silva," the champ predicted. "It's just a big difference. Even now, he's heavier than ever. He was like 133 kilos. It's crazy that's like 280 almost." Verhoeven was then informed Saddik, in fact, weighed in at 295 pounds yesterday. "295? He's almost 300 pounds, that's crazy.The difference is too crazy, man. He's just going to overpower him. When Jamal hits Anderson, he's not going to know what's happening to him. He is going to go 'oh what's this?' I think he is going to be too much for him.
"Like I said, in the heavyweight game, you have a lot of guys that aren't very good, but are strong and wild and they are taking a chance," he continued. "With taking that chance they try to bull the other guy in the fight and try to get the knockout. When you are strong and they punch hard, it's easy to get the knockout. It doesn't mean that you are a good fighter. It just means you have a strong punch."
There is one more heavyweight clash on the docket tonight. The co-main on the Spike TV main card has Xavier Vigney taking on United Kingdom veteran Daniel Sam. It's the first step up in competition for Vigney (8-1) and Verhoeven thinks the Californian fighter will pass it.
"I think it's going to be Vigney," Verhoeven said. "I think he is going to win it. He's in a good flow right now. And I think Daniel Sam is not the best fighter. Sometimes I say stuff and I don't mean it bad, but it is what it is. He's been in fights where he's been hit and just dropped down. I was like, 'you want to fight or are you just quitting right now?' You know? Xavier is really on a winning streak and what I like about his style is he can take a punch and he's not afraid to take a punch to give one back. It's maybe not the smartest always, but it's fun to watch. I definitely think he is going to win. When he hits Sam, he's going to go backwards and he's going to finish him."
Verhoeven said he's still training hard while waiting for a new opponent to be scheduled and mentioned enjoying some vacation time with his family. He does have a hunch at who is next opponent might be, even though nothing has been set in stone.
"The feeling that I'm getting right now is that they are trying to push Jamal," he said. "That is the feeling I"m getting now. It's the same with him. I think he should fight for like two or three more fights, before even getting the right for a title fight. He's been out for a while and he's fought no-level guys."
Saddik (25-5) returned to action at GLORY 22 after serving a year-long suspension for attacking Hedsy Gerges on the ground and getting disqualified at Qabala Fight Series in June of 2014. He crushed Mamoudou Keta in a mismatch after Keta took the fight on less than a day's notice.
Verhoeven noticed a tweet from GLORY recently, one that compared Saddik to a kickboxing legend, and that's what got him thinking the promotion may be trying to pump "Goliath" up, so they can eventually match the two of them up. Not to mention, it got under his skin.
"I was pissed off," he explained. "Maybe that's not the right words. GLORY put on Twitter, 'Is Jamal the new Semmy Schilt?' I was like 'how in the hell can you say something like that. That is completely disrespectful to your old champion.' I was the first guy to comment on that post. I said 'Semmy is in every possible way a better fighter, a better person, and a better representative of our sport and Jamal could've wished he is half the man that Semmy is.'
"That was my comment. How can you say something like that about your former champion. Jamal, in a kickboxing match, took down Hedsey and just kept punching him like some wild animal. How can you compare him with one of the most respected champions in combat sports there i?. That's why I got the feeling that they are trying to push him now."
Silva is ranked No. 5 and Saddik is No.12. It's safe to say it's an imperative match up for the future of both heavyweights, if they want a crack at Verhoeven.
For the GLORY 23: "Holzken vs. Daniels 2" live stream, including play-by-play results, click here.