Rico Verhoeven travels to China next week to headline GLORY 46 in the southern city of Guangzhou, where he will face UFC and Strikeforce veteran Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva in the main event.
For Silva, whose MMA record includes wins over the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem, it will be a first venture into professional kickboxing. Opponents don’t come much harder than Verhoeven, the undisputed king of the heavyweight division.
It’s a non-title match, booked as a marquee match-up for this first venture into the Chinese market. Understandably, Verhoeven is the heavy favorite. He himself says he expects to dispatch Silva in two rounds or less. At the same time, he is aware of the risks of complacency.
“In the heavyweight division everyone is dangerous. He has put down some big guys so he is definitely someone to look out for,” says Verhoeven - and he has close experience of how dangerous Silva can be.
“Here’s a fun fact - I helped Alistair to prepare for their fight in 2013. The funny thing was, after I was done with my part in the training camp, Alistair was like,’Give me some feedback, what should I look out for?’ - and everything I told him to look out for, he got hit with! The high kick, the punch, everything.”
That fight was four years ago, and there’s no denying that Silva has struggled to find that same form recently. But his sheer size and power means he is still capable of ending a fight at any given moment.
“Everybody in the heavyweight division is dangerous, no matter what level they are at. It drives me crazy when people say a fight result is guaranteed,” he says.
“Like with the Mayweather/McGregor fight, everyone saying ‘Oh Mayweather wins easily’ - it’s a fight, there’s nothing easy about it! Anything can happen at any time. You gotta keep your eyes open all the time.
“I’m always motivated, I never get too comfortable. I made the mistake of getting too comfortable in my last fight, against Ismael Lazaar, and that made it like a sparring session, I got hit a few times. That’s why I wasn’t happy with my performance. Against Silva, nothing like that. Full focus all the time and I think I take him out in - maximum - two rounds.”
GLORY 46 CHINA takes place in Guangzhou, China on Saturday, October 14 at the Guangzhou Gymnasium.
Verhoeven and Silva headline the SUPERFIGHT SERIES section of the card, which airs live worldwide on UFC Fight Pass.