Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

Brain scans, blood tests, health checks ... can ‘Bigfoot’ Silva survive Verhoeven test?

Former UFC star undergoes a battery of tests to make sure he’s fit to take on the best pound-for-pound kick-boxer in the world today in Guangzhou

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 9:17pm

Deemed “inexplicable”, “crazy” and “dangerous” in the lead-up, combat sports fans will finally witness the outcome of former UFC star Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva’s kick-boxing debut against current Glory heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven in Guangzhou Gymnasium on Saturday night.

The pair will headline Glory 46 Superfight Series – a stand-alone show preceding the Glory 46 Guangzhou China tournament – in what is the organisation’s first-ever show in China.

“It’s going to be very controversial, but it’s going to be exciting,” Glory co-founder Scott Rudmann told the Post.

Verhoeven (51-10) has held the Glory title for three years, winning thirteen fights on the trot. To say 28-year-old Dutchman is the heavy favourite would be an understatement, but similar to McGregor v Mayweather, no one truly knows until they step in the ring.

“Everybody thinks it’s a bad match-up. I keep hearing ‘[Silva] is going to get his arse kicked by Verhoeven’ – and maybe he will – but Bigfoot definitely has a chance,” Rudmann said.

“He’s a super heavyweight and has been kick-boxing and practising karate since he was a teenager – his stand-up skills are great. He’s older, probably a touch slower than Rico, and is coming off of a bad losing streak, but he’s incredibly strong and determined.”

Bad streak indeed. The 38-year-old Bigfoot (0-0 in kick-boxing) is coming off of five straight losses and is on a 1-8 run in MMA. Following a second-round knockout loss to Roy “Big Country” Nelson last year, Silva was released by the UFC and signs pointed towards retirement.

Much of the MMA and kick-boxing community raised their eyebrows after the Brazilian icon signed with Glory in August this year. He has been thrown straight into the deep end in a non-title fight against a man considered to be one of the top pound-for-pound kick-boxers today.

“A lot of fans were worried on the blogs and forums because they think Glory is risking Bigfoot’s health. They are worried he’s going to injure himself or die,” said Rudmann.

“We actually put him through extra medical checks before we allowed him to participate; brain scans, blood tests, health checks from his doctor and ours. He passed everything with no problem.

“It’s his choice to fight. He’s a professional combat athlete and he’s fought the toughest guys in the world.”

This is true. Silva knocked out Alistair Overeem and took Mark Hunt to five rounds in the UFC in 2013, both of whom are former K1 (kick-boxing platform) champions and distinguished kick-boxers in their own right. He has also defeated legendary fighter Fedor Emelianenko in the past.

“If anybody thinks he can’t knock Rico Verhoeven out, they should think again because it’s possible.”

Glory 46 Superfight Series airs live tomorrow on UFC Fight Pass – free to view worldwide – and is also available on top Chinese networks such as Tencent and Sina Sports.

Both series will include a myriad of Chinese kick-boxing talents, most notably Zhou Wei (22-6), who faces American Andre Walker (1-1) in the Superfight Series co-headliner.

Glory 46 Guangzhou China will include a four-man tournament and a Middleweight world title bout between Canada’s Simon Marcus (47-3-2) and Brazil’s Alex Pereira (24-6).