Rico vs Badr: The epic saga of kickboxing’s biggest rivalry
Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari are the names that every kickboxing fan knows and respects. They are the champions of their sport, the legends of their era, and the rivals of their generation. They have fought twice in the ring, in two of the most anticipated and watched fights in kickboxing history. Both times, they delivered drama, excitement, and controversy. Both times, they left the fans wanting more. This is the story of Rico vs Badr, the epic saga of kickboxing’s biggest rivalry.
The origins of the rivalry
Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari come from different backgrounds, but share a common passion for kickboxing. Verhoeven was born in the Netherlands in 1989, and started training in martial arts at the age of five. He turned pro at 16, and quickly rose through the ranks of the heavyweight division. He became the GLORY heavyweight champion in 2014. He is known for his technical skills, physical strength, and sportsmanship.
Badr Hari was born in Morocco in 1984, and moved to the Netherlands at the age of seven. He started training in kickboxing at 12, and made his pro debut at 18. He became a star in the K-1 circuit, winning multiple titles and tournaments. He is known for his explosive power, speed, and charisma.
The rivalry between Verhoeven and Hari began in 2016, when they agreed to face each other in a mega-fight dubbed as “Collision”. It was a clash of styles, personalities, and fan bases. It was a fight that everyone wanted to see.
The first fight: Collision
The first fight between Verhoeven and Hari took place on December 10, 2016, in Oberhausen, Germany. It was a sold-out event, with over 30,000 fans in attendance and millions watching online. It was billed as the biggest fight in kickboxing history.
The start of the epic fight had to be delayed when Hari’s notoriously passionate and rowdy fans stormed the ring, fought in the audience, and generally created the kind of madhouse atmosphere we so rarely see.
Once the fight started, Hari was shockingly poised, fighting at his best to bloody up Verhoeven and claim round 1. The champ gained more comfort in round 2, employing his technical game to turn the tide. Unfortunately, the back and forth was cut short, as seemingly out of nowhere, Hari turned away in pain, clutching his arm and the fight was waved off with Verhoeven scoring the 50th victory of his kickboxing career.
The fight ended in disappointment for both fighters and fans. Verhoeven was not satisfied with his performance or the outcome. Hari was frustrated by his bad luck and inability to continue. The fans were left wondering what could have been if the fight had gone on longer. The only thing that everyone agreed on was that they wanted a rematch.
The second fight: Collision 2
The rematch between Verhoeven and Hari took place on December 21, 2019, in Arnhem, Netherlands. It was another huge event, with over 31,000 fans in attendance and millions watching online. It was billed as the most anticipated rematch in kickboxing history.
The fight started with a different pace than the first one, as both fighters were more cautious and respectful of each other’s power. Verhoeven tried to take charge from the start with a more fierce style than usual. But Hari surprised him with a right hand to the neck, sending Verhoeven to the floor for the first time in his GLORY career. Verhoeven recovered, but Hari kept on hitting him hard for the first three minutes. Verhoeven fought back in the second, landing some low kicks and combos, and a few uppercuts in close range.
Hari, though, proved that he still had power by landing more rights in the second. And a high kick at the beginning of the third round knocked Verhoeven down again.
But just when Hari seemed to be on the verge of finishing the fight and claiming the heavyweight title, it happened: he injured his left leg while trying a spinning heel kick. The referee counted it as a knockdown, but when he saw Hari’s pain, he stopped the count and ended the fight, giving Verhoeven a TKO win.
The fight also ended in respect for both fighters, who embraced each other after the fight and praised each other’s skills and courage. They also expressed their willingness to fight again, for a third and final time.
The future of the rivalry
Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari have given the kickboxing world two unforgettable fights, but they have not given it a definitive conclusion. Their rivalry is still alive and unresolved, as both fighters have shown their desire to settle the score once and for all. They have also shown their admiration and appreciation for each other, as they have elevated the sport and each other to new heights.