Unfortunately for kickboxing diehards, there was no epic finish to the hotly anticipated Rico Verhoeven-Errol Zimmerman trilogy at Glory 19 on Friday night.
The heavyweights earned the main event on a stacked fight card after splitting their first two bouts. Medical staff called off the bout in the second round after Zimmerman suffered a right knee injury on a spinning back kick, with Verhoeven earning the victory and retaining his heavyweight championship belt in front of a packed Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia.
Verhoeven regretted the way the fight ended, per Spike Sports:
Fans can at least take some solace in Verhoeven's post-match comments, as he promised the audience this wasn't the end of the epic rivalry, per Glory World Series:
On the undercard, Nieky Holzken won the welterweight contender tournament, defeating Raymond Daniels and Aleksandr Stetcurenko on his way to earning a match against titleholder Joe Valtellini, per Glory World Series:
Joe Schilling handily defeated Robert Thomas in a middleweight clash, and Air Force's Cedric Smith won the exhibition military bout with a win over Navy's James Hurley.
Here's a look at the results from each match followed by a recap of the action, starting with the main event.
|Glory 19: Winners and Results|
|Welterweight||Raymond Daniels||Jonatan Oliveira||KO (Round 2)|
|Welterweight||Nieky Holzken||Aleksandr Stetcurenko||UD 29-28, 29-28, 29-28|
|Exhibition||Cedric Smith (Air Force)||James Hurley (Navy)||TKO (Round 2)|
|Middleweight||Joe Schilling||Robert Thomas||UD 30-26, 30-26, 30-26|
|Welterweight Final||Nieky Holzken||Raymond Daniels||TKO (Round 3)|
|Heavyweight||Rico Verhoeven||Errol Zimmerman||Medical Stoppage (Round 2)|
|Spike TV event broadcast|
Rico Verhoeven vs. Errol Zimmerman
The rubber match in this trilogy started off with all the brutality one would expect from these two well-matched rivals. Both fighters came out firing with the punches, but Zimmerman got the raw end of the deal early as he ate leather from a hard Verhoeven straight punch and fell to the mat.
Zimmerman fought back hard, and Sherdog's Mike Fridley commented on the violence at hand:
Verhoeven ramped up the intensity on a reeling Zimmerman, but he would have benefited from some slicker technique. Zimmerman hit the mat twice more in the first on brutal exchanges, but neither was scored an official knockdown as the two brawlers' legs got tangled in both instances.
Verhoeven was the aggressor again in the second, using his push kick to open up space and following up with quick two- and three-punch combos.
Unfortunately, Zimmerman would crumple to a heap on the match after an awkward step on a spinning back kick. Glory World Series provided an update:
The medical staff called off the bout, much to the disappointment of the crowd at hand. It was a truly anticlimactic end to the bout, but Verhoeven provided fans with a touching send-off. He showed his class as a champion by helping the injured Zimmerman to his feet.
Welterweight Semifinal: Raymond Daniels vs. Jonatan Oliveira
Scheduled for three three-minute rounds, Raymond Daniels and Jonatan Oliveira started off the match at a frantic speed, with neither fighter appearing willing to go the full nine minutes. Daniels won this bout in electrifying fashion with a second-round KO on a jumping spin kick to the body.
Daniels had the better start and never let up, firing off an array of side and back kicks to keep his opponent at bay. Oliveira seemed more inclined to use his hands, but he struggled to get in more than couple of one-two combos in the first round.
Daniels' kicks conjured some epic comparisons from the ringside announcers, via Spike TV:
The biggest highlight of the first round came from Daniels, naturally. An expertly placed spinning heel kick rocked Oliveira's skull, sending the fighter crashing to the canvas.
The second round saw more powerful kicking from Daniels, as he avoided trading blows with a game Oliveira. He dropped Oliveira to his knees 30 seconds into the round with a gut-busting back kick.
Daniels finished off the match with a spinning back kick to the gut, dropping Oliveira to the mat for the third time in the match.
Welterweight Semifinal: Nieky Holzken vs. Aleksandr Stetcurenko
No. 1-ranked welterweight Nicky Holzken skated through to the finals by unanimous decision over Aleksandr Stetcurenko, with all three judges scoring this entertaining bout 29-28 in the Dutch fighter's favor.
In stark contrast to the first semifinal bout, Holzken and Stetcurenko put the boxing back in kickboxing. Holzken, like a lion stalking his prey, cut down the distance on Stetcurenko early, forcing him to trade punches. Holzken's array of hooks and jabs proved too much for his Russian opposition early on, with the latter forced into back kicks and jumping knees to keep his opponent at bay.
The second round was as evenly contested as it was technical. Stetcurenko did a much better job of maintaining distance in this round, mixing in jabs and low, outside kicks.
Holzken was the more accurate puncher in the second and did plenty of damage to Stetcurenko's mug, but he wasn't able to come away with a clear advantage in the round. Stetcurenko broke through late in the second with a fantastic uppercut, but Holzken recovered well with some solid blows to the body and low kicks.
The majority of the final round was spent on the ropes, with both fighters remaining active. Stetcurenko's punching improved as the bout moved along, but Holzken did a better job of working the chin and utilizing quick-strike combos, with both his hands and legs.
The match finished with a flourish in the center of the ring. Both fighters opened up the hands and traded blows aggressively, with Holzken even throwing in a flying knee for good measure. Fridley noted it was a tough bout to call:
Holzken's accuracy and technical acumen were enough to get him through to the final, but Stetcurenko has nothing to be ashamed of after this bout.
Cedric Smith (Air Force) vs. James Hurley (Navy)
In a special military exhibition match that was scheduled for two rounds, the Air Force's Cedric Smith dominated Navy fighter James Hurley, earning a second-round TKO victory.
Smith was much more aggressive from the start, working Hurley with his hands before opening up with kicks to the body. Smith opened up a cut on Hurley's right eye midway through the first round when the two fighters smacked heads.
The match official called for a medical consultation, and the ringside physician allowed the fight to continue. Smith would end the first round with a flurry of punches to Hurley's skull, attacking the obvious weakness.
There was little in this bout for Hurley, who couldn't match Smith's speed, power or kicking ability. Smith landed a pair of solid high kicks in the second and took his stumbling opponent to task with a nice right hook to the head. Fridley noted the brutality of Smith's takedown:
With 56 seconds left in the bout, the referee had seen enough and called the fight in Smith's favor. The muay thai-trained Smith earned a nice championship belt from Glory 19 and a round of cheers from the crowd on hand.
Joe Schilling vs. Robert Thomas
In the night's lone middleweight bout, the fearsome Joe Schilling dominated an overmatched Robert Thomas in three rounds, winning via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26).
Schilling got off to a roaring start, firing punches at Thomas' skull and backing his opponent into the ropes on several occasions. Thomas could hardly get a punch in, instead opting for a couple of knees that did little to dissuade Schilling's feverish offense.
Thomas fared slightly better in the second round, but he was still hardly able to mount an offense. His initial kicks rarely broke through Schilling's defenses, and the latter, more experienced fighter was always quick to counter with an array of punches to the head.
The two kickboxers tangled up quite often in the second, with Schilling perhaps tiring at a quick rate—mainly due to his ridiculous striking advantage.
SB Nation's Bloody Elbow provided a look at Stitch 'Em Up absolutely dominating Thomas:
There was little Thomas could do against Schilling in the third. He had no clear strategy for opening up his older opponent and paid a dear price for his lack of offense. With just under a minute left in the bout, Schilling rocked Thomas with a wrecking-ball straight right to the head, drawing a great chorus of cheers from the crowd.
Thomas survived to see the end of the fight, but it was a foregone conclusion at that point. Schilling had won the bout in a fashion any brawler would be proud of.
Welterweight Final: Raymond Daniels vs. Nieky Holzken
Nieky Holzken dominated Raymond Daniels in the welterweight final, earning the win in the third round via a four-knockdown TKO.
With both fighters taking vastly different approaches to victory in the semifinals, this matchup came down to who could best dictate the flow, style and pace of the bout.
Holzken did exactly what he need to early on and scored the first major blow of the bout. He walked Daniels into the ropes and notched a quick knockdown with a vicious left hook to the liver.
Daniels hardly had room to maneuver in the first, as Holzken kept him pinned in the corners as much as possible. He landed several blows to the head early on and visibly frustrated Daniels, who dropped his hands and called out Holzken mid-fight. This did little to throw off the Dutch master, as he kept up his strategy with aplomb.
The hyperathletic Daniels was finally able to land a few punches of his own late in the round and partially land a spinning back kick, but it wasn't enough to change the momentum.
Holzken would bring the fight right back to the corners in the second, scoring two more knockdowns in the round. The first came via a stinging flurry of punches; the second was a jumping knee to the body that was perhaps amplified by the earlier punishment Holzken dished out to the torso.
Daniels, clearly angling for a knockout win, fought back bravely in the third. He knocked down The Natural with a trademark jumping back kick, proving the fight was far from over.
However, the comeback attempt would be short-lived, as Holzken notched a fourth knockdown and a final bell with a brutal barrage of punches in the corner, proving without a shadow of a doubt he is the man to take on Valtellini.