Glory Heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven is coming off one of his best years as a combat sports athlete, amassing a 3-0 record and putting on one of the best fights of the year with Jamal Ben Saddik. Although Rico has been focusing on his kickboxing career for the last five plus years, he’s also had professional boxing and mixed martial arts bouts. He’s trained boxing with Tyson Fury and mixed martial arts with Francis Ngannou, so his experience in the combat sports scene extends far beyond the Glory ring.
In 2021, Jake Paul shook up the world of combat sports, and Rico is a fan of what he’s doing. “I love what he’s doing. He’s doing an amazing job and he’s just being an upset in the whole combat sports in the way he’s approaching it. It’s more entertainment, and it’s always been entertainment but now it’s even more entertaining because he’s not a boxer from his origin, but he really committed to training and put everything into boxing and you see him perform. So I take my hat off to him for that because he has the balls to step into the ring, commit to what he’s doing, and in the end he’s winning. Hard work is paying off.”
One of the most common criticisms of Jake’s career so far are the quality of his opponents. Ben Askren had an incredible wrestling pedigree but never developed high level striking skills. Tyron Woodley was a UFC champion who did showcase quality striking in the octagon, but came into the fight with Jake off of four straight losses in the UFC.
“They say he’s not fighting the best of the best. He’s coming up. He’s getting used to how it is to be in the ring. He’s just fought like three or four times, I believe. So what could we expect from a guy that had four fights?” Verhoeven said.
“So, I think he’s doing pretty well. He’s slowly stepping it up and making it more difficult for himself. So ya, I just love what I’m seeing. And of course there’s a lot of trash talk and it’s part of the game. That’s why it’s called entertainment. Because for me, I don’t believe he’s a bad person. He talks a lot of shit but that’s part of the game, that’s how you provoke people and get people emotional.”
In addition to having fights with high profile combat sports athletes, Jake is shaking up the sport in another way by calling out fighter pay, or lack thereof. His internet beef with UFC President Dana White has prompted discussion and debate among fighters and promoters. Fighters are not only being more vocal about their pay, but many are also starting to express interest in boxing, largely in part to the potential huge pay days.
Rico had some words of advice for those fighters who are simply pursuing boxing for better pay.
“I think the best advice I would give is it would really need to be your passion and your ambition to be the very best at what you’re doing. And if it’s not, it’s going to be really tough,” he explained.
“If money is the motivation, it’s the wrong motivation and you’ll never get there. I’ve been champion for eight years already, so 2022 is going to be my ninth year as a champion. People ask how do you stay motivated and I said I just want to improve every time. Every day I want to learn. Not just as a fighter but as a human being, as a person. I want to grow and I want to be better than I was yesterday.
“I think that’s the best way to transition. Never transition money motivated. Of course that’s somewhere in the back of your mind but if that’s your main goal to chase the money then you’re not going to get it. Being the best comes with a price tag. So as soon as you start becoming the best at what you’re doing, your payment goes up because you’re the best and they have to pay for quality.”
The full interview can be seen above.