Thirteen years removed from their second clash, 42-year-Alistair Overeem returned to the sport of kickboxing and claimed victory in his trilogy bout with old adversary Badr Hari at Glory: Collision 4 in Arnhem, Netherlands.
Open scoring showed that Overeem was trailing on the scorecards heading into the final round before the former K-1 World Grand Prix champion made the breakthrough to drop Hari twice en route to a unanimous decision victory, with scores of 29-26, 28-27, 28-27, 28-27, 28-27.
Overeem came out with a very unorthodox, jerky fighting style that appeared to confuse Hari in the opening exchanges, but the Moroccan soon settled and punished the Dutchman with heavy punches and powerful low kicks. Overeem’s attempts to duck and dive into punching range were only partially successful as Hari largely stayed out of trouble during the first round.
Both men loaded up with heavy kicks early in Round 2, with Hari also ripping Overeem hard to the body with crushing punches to the midsection. Overeem tried to fire back, and there was some controversy later in the round after a big Overeem upper cut appeared to force a rocked Hari to touch down, but the referee did not pause the fight for a count.
It meant that, after a pair of first-round knockouts in their first two outings, the third meeting between Hari and Overeem would go into the third and final round, with Hari ahead on all bar one of the five scorecards. Overeem needed a finish, and he pushed forward looking to land heavy shots, but initially found openings hard to come by. Then, mid-way through the round, the fight exploded into life.
Overeem stepped inside and hurt Hari badly with a right hand, then dropped him with a combination. But, rather than administering the count, the referee wasted several seconds before slowly starting his count, giving Hari priceless additional time to recover. Hari returned to his feet as the referee’s count reached eight, but subsequent timing of the incident showed that he had been down for more than 13 seconds. Overeem continued his attack and sent Hari to the canvas again. Once again, the referee was slow to administer his count, and Hari was on the canvas for 14 seconds.
It meant that, after a wild exchange in the closing seconds, the bout went to the scorecards, where all five judges scored the bout to Overeem, who claimed a remarkable come-from-behind victory to seal the trilogy between the pair.
Van Soest retains title, but crowd sees it differently
Women’s super bantamweight champion Tiffany van Soest successfully retained her title with a unanimous decision victory over French-Moroccan challenger Sarah Moussaddak, but her victory did little to convince the Dutch crowd, who let their displeasure with the judges’ scorecards be known as they showered the ring with boos following the decision.
Moussaddak took the fight to van Soest and at points seemed to outland the defending champion. But the judges preferred the American’s work as the champion retained her title with scores of 48-47, 48-47, 48-47, 48-47, 49-46.
Such was the level of unrest after the scorecards were read, van Soest was barely able to conduct her post-fight interview, where she called for a rematch with her former nemesis and current Bellator contender Denise Kielholtz.
Maslobojev claims vacant title after five-round war
The night also saw a battle for the the vacant light heavyweight title as Sergej Maslobojev squeezed past the relentless Tarik Khbabez to capture the championship via split decision after five wild rounds of action.
In a fight that saw 310 combined strikes landed over the course of a breathless five rounds, Khbabez fought in bursts throughout the matchup, unloading vicious barrages of strikes to the Lithuanian contender, whose work was much more technical and considered, utilising his leg kicks to particular effect early.
It looked like the fight was firmly within Maslobojev’s grasp heading into the third round, but by the fourth, Khbabez had seemingly found his second wind and came storming back once again.
It set up a thrilling final round as Khbabez threw everything he had at Maslobojev in a bid to claim a late stoppage. But the Lithuanian hung tough to keep Khbabez at bay and, after a tense wait as the scores were announced, an emotional Maslobojev celebrated as he was crowned world champion.
Beztati edges split decision to retain his title
In the night’s other notable trilogy battle, Glory lightweight world champion Tyjani Beztati successfully retained his title with victory over Bulgaria’s No. 1 contender Stoyan Koprivlenski.
In a closely-contested battle that split the judges as the action unfolded, Beztati’s cleaner work contrasted with Koprivlenski’s heavier shots through the opening three rounds. Then, in the fourth round, the Bulgarian’s heavy shots appeared to take effect on the champion, who began to slow down a little.
The pair traded back and forth in a high-octane final round to leave the final outcome a complete mystery to those watching as they awaited the scorecards. In the end, it was Beztati who retained his belt via split decision after a hugely entertaining battle.
Punch-perfect ‘Petch’ retains title with ease
Thailand’s defending featherweight champion Petchpanomrung Kiatmoo9 showcased his mastery of the kickboxing art as the former Muay Thai world champion outclassed Mexican challenger Abraham Vidales over five rounds.
In a near-punch-perfect display, the Thai star won all five rounds on the scorecards of four of the five ringside judges, with the other generously awarding one round to the Mexican in a fight that saw Vidales comfortably second best against one of Glory’s very best athletes.
“Petch’s” fast hands, thumping left kicks and smart defence ensured he ran out a comfortable victor as he retained his title with ease.
Rigters outbattles Osaro
The main card opened up with an entertaining heavyweight scrap between No. 3-ranked Levi Rigters and Tariq Osaro.
Osaro started aggressively as he loaded up early and let fly with a barrage of heavy strikes, but Rigters did well to cover up and take most of the Nigerian’s punches on the gloves. While Rigters may have been outstruck in the opening round, he did invest heavily in his leg attack as he hammered Osaro with low kicks throughout the round.
Despite the success of his low kicks in the first round, Rigters switched up his tactics and went head-hunting in Round 2 as he looked to box with Osaro, then connected with a clean head-kick that the Nigerian shook off impressively as he dominated the second stanza to draw level on the scorecards.
It meant the final round would be the clincher, and Osaro looked noticeably gassed as the action got underway. Rigters’ superior conditioning allowed him to outwork “Cookie” for much of the round. Osaro attempted to land a few heavy punches in bunches, but Rigters’ work was more consistent as he edged the final frame to claim the unanimous decision.
Glory Collision 4: Official Results
- Alistair Overeem def. Badr Hari via unanimous decision (29-26, 28-27, 28-27, 28-27, 28-27)
- Tiffany van Soest def. Sarah Moussaddak via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47, 48-48, 49-46) – retains women’s super bantamweight title
- Sergej Maslobojev def. Tarik Khbabez via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 46-49, 48-47, 48-47) – wins vacant light heavyweight title
- Tyjani Beztati def. Stoyan Koprivlenski via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46, 49-46, 48-47) – retains lightweight title
- Petchpanomrung Kiatmoo9 def. Abraham Vidales via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45, 50-45, 50-45) – retains featherweight title
- Levi Rigters def. Tariq Osaro via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Cesar Almeida def. Serkan Özçağlayan via unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-26, 29-26, 29-26)
- Donegi Abena def. Felipe Micheletti via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Sergej Braun def. Michael Boapeah via majority decision (28-28, 28-28, 29-27, 29-27, 30-26)