GLORY 41 Predictions: Verhoeven Looks to Tune-Up Lazaar

Rico Verhoeven at Last Man Standing
Photo Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

The eyes of the kickboxing world will be on Brabanthallen Exhibition Centre in Den Bosch, Netherlands, this Saturday (May 20) for GLORY 41: Holland. 

It should be an evening full of devastating strikes with heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven returning to the ring (in a non-title fight) to face former Enfusion heavyweight champion Ismael Lazaar. Verhoeven, the number one heavyweight in the world, is riding a 12-fight win streak while Lazaar is making his GLORY debut.

The stacked card also features a fight for the vacant GLORY featherweight title between Robin van Roosmalen and Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao which should be full of fireworks. Van Roosmalen wants his title back after losing it on the scales at GLORY 37. He will have to fight off a variety of attacks from the always exciting Petchpanomrung who won the featherweight contender tournament back at GLORY 39.

Both those fights, and the entire SuperFight Series, will be on UFC Fight Pass.

The preceding undercard is highlighted by a heavyweight tournament, the winner of which will get a shot at Verhoeven’s belt. Also, top-five welterweight Murthel Groenhart meets Argentina’s Alan Scheinson, GLORY veteran Hesdy Gerges takes on returning heavyweight Tomáš Hron (a last-minute substitution for an injured Chi Lewis Parry), and top-five light heavyweight Mourad Bouzidi fights former top-ten kickboxer Michael Duut.

GLORY 41 HOLLAND (May 20, 2017)

Undercard: ESPN3, 1:00 p.m. ET

  • Heavyweight tournament final: matchup TBA
  • Hesdy Gerges vs. Chi Lewis-Parry Tomáš Hron
  • Chenglong Zhang vs. Wilson Sanches Mendes
  • Heavyweight tournament semifinal: D’Angelo Marshall vs. Mohamed Abdallah
  • Heavyweight tournament semifinal: Anderson Silva vs. Giannis Stoforidis

Superfight Series: UFC Fight Pass, 3:30 p.m. ET

  • Rico Verhoeven vs. Ismael Lazaar (non-title fight)
  • Robin van Roosmalen vs. Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao (featherweight title fight)
  • Murthel Groenhart vs. Alan Scheinson
  • Michael Duut vs. Mourad Bouzidi
  • Tyjani Beztati vs. Youssef Assouik
  • Zakaria Zouggary vs. Yetkin Ozkul

It looks to be a great night of fights but let’s focus on the two big bouts and pick some winners.


GLORY 41 PREDICTIONS

Rico Verhoeven (13-1) vs. Ismael Lazaar (30-2-2)

This is such an odd matchup. GLORY had to find a way to get their cash cow heavyweight champ into the ring. So what does a promotion do when its champ needs a fight but there are no worthy challengers? You search the globe for a popular but unproven commodity like Ismael Lazaar, who is making his GLORY debut.

Lazaar has been absolutely dominant during his rise through the smaller European shows, knocking out half of his opponents. But the old saying, “welcome to the big leagues, kid” definitely applies here. He won’t be eased into the heavyweight division like so many before him. Instead, GLORY is saying, “here ya go, here’s the best we have, have fun.”

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great signing by GLORY, but they are essentially throwing the lamb to the wolves, and not even offering him a just reward if he escapes their clutches.

Lazaar is like the Roy Nelson of K1, not just in look, but in how he fights. He’s hugely popular throughout Europe and Morocco because of his style, which turns fights into grinding, dirty affairs. He will definitely bring fan interest to this fight, but let’s call it what it is: a Verhoeven tune-up while GLORY waits for the outcome of the heavyweight tournament and the return of Jamal Ben Saddik.

Verhoeven is on another level and should be able to walk through his pudgy opponent. The champ can play defensive and let Lazaar punch himself out early while waiting to land big counter shots. Verhoeven has the size and speed advantage, and far better footwork; this should be a master class in kickboxing for Lazaar. Although his solid chin will likely take him the distance.

Prediction: Rico Verhoeven (via decision)

Featherweight Title: Robin van Roosmalen (37-7) vs. Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao (156-35-2)

At the age of 27, Dutch-style kickboxer Robin van Roosmalen has accomplished a lot in his young career. He is a two-time GLORY lightweight champion and former GLORY featherweight champion, a title he lost due to not making weight at GLORY 37.

Now the former champ has a chance to reclaim his vacant title against Muay Thai specialist Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao, who earned his title shot through the GLORY 39 featherweight tournament.

Petchpanomrung employs a diverse, high-output attack, leaning heavily on his left kick. His defense suffers for it and he often leaves himself open to body punches and counter punches to the head. His style is exciting to watch, but doesn’t matchup well with van Roosmalen. The Dutchman utilizes a steady boxing game along with patience and good foot movement; that should allow him to get inside, land some punches, and test the Muay Thai champion’s chin.

Petchpanomrung will need to execute a similar strategy as Sitthichai did when he beat van Roosmalen back at GLORY 31 via split decision. Van Roosmalen’s high guard will be tested by heavy kicks and constant aggression, but I don’t think Petchpanomrung is at Sitthichai’s level yet. The longer this fight goes, the more van Roosmalen’s ring mastery and experience will take over.

Prediction: Robin van Roosmalen