Security staff had to get involved in separating Rico Verhoeven and Jamal Ben Saddik at Tuesday’s GLORY: REDEMPTION press conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The tension between the two giants almost exploded into violence after challenger Jamal spat at his rival.
The pair collide with the world title on the line in Rotterdam, Holland, on December 9 in literally the biggest kickboxing fight of the year.
Saddik (32-5, 26 KO’s) holds a 2011 stoppage win over Verhoeven (52-10-1, 15 KO’s) and has seldom let the fact go unmentioned. Earlier this year he manoevered himself into a title shot position and said: “I am coming not only for Rico but for everything he has - his team, his family. I’m going to take everything he has.”
GLORY heavyweight champion Verhoeven, who sports a 15-1 record in the organization, had not addressed those comments until a reporter raised them at today’s press conference, at which point he revealed that he had taken them very personally.
“As many people already know, it's been a hectic period in my life… I had a fight in China [last month and] just before that I became a father again. After returning from China, my father passed away. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster,” he said.
“But despite all that I'm highly motivated. I'm really looking forward to this fight. This guy felt the need to say he was coming after my team and after my family. So that really motivated me even more. And that's going to come out December 9th.
“I'm professional athlete and I'm not lowering myself to his level with that kind of remarks. It's still a sport and we're keeping it clean. But December 9th, I'm going to make him pay for that.”
Ben Saddik - who at 6’9” and 260lbs is the biggest fighter on the GLORY roster - responded by promising Verhoeven that he would stage a repeat of their 2011 encounter. With 84% of Ben Saddik’s wins coming inside the distance, that is no empty threat.
When the two faced off for photographers at the end of the press conference, the genuine animosity between them was evident. Words were exchanged and tensions escalated, particularly once Ben Saddik spat at Verhoeven and swore vehemently at him.
The situation turned physical. GLORY’s head matchmaker Cor Hemmers intervened between the two but their sheer size meant that more people had to get involved. In the end it took a combination of both fighters’ teams and several security staff to prevent the pair from fighting there and then.
Instead, they will have to wait another three weeks to settle their issues, with Verhoeven’s heavyweight title on the line.
GLORY: REDEMPTION takes place Saturday, December 9 at the Ahoy Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands and airs live via UFC.tv
Verhoeven and Ben Saddik headline a four-fight pay-per-view card which also features a rematch between the two protagonists of the 2016 ‘Fight of the Year’, as voted for by GLORY fans, and the return of Nick Diaz sparring partner Xavier Vigney as he faces veteran Brazilian heavyweight Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva.