On Saturday a GLORY card stacked with four title fights plus the trilogy fight between crossover star Alistair Overeem and kickboxing legend Badr Hari went down in the Netherlands, a home country of both men, although Hari also represents Morocco. It came thirteen whole years after the second installment of the series, which took place in K-1, which saw Hari get his revenge by knocking out Overeem in round one, the exact same way Alistair beat Hari one year previously. In this third fight no titles were on the line, but it was still a massive fight due to both men’s lasting popularity and impact on the sport. That popularity was boosted even further by over two decades of Overeem fighting big fights and becoming a fan-favorite in the UFC and PRIDE, so his presence brought a whole host of MMA fans over to watch this kickboxing event. Given that the last two fights ended in under a round, it was likely the third bout between the giant heavyweights would follow suit. The question was simply who would be the victor.
Overeem came out swinging from the bell with a flurry of hooks that mostly hit Badr’s guard. Hari responded to the next attack from Alistair with a right hook that landed clean and stumbled Reem backwards. After over a decade away from kickboxing Overeem seemed awkward in the ring. Next, a big combination sent an off balance Overeem backwards around the minute mark. Alistair followed that up by swinging forward wildly with his head down. So far, Overeem had not thrown a single kick or knee, only punches. Hari’s jab was on point, spearing through Alistair’s guard. Eventually Overeem threw two knees in the clinch, his first attacks of the fight from his legs. As Overeem tried to charge forward into close range, Hari continually tried to catch and counter him rushing in, but after three minutes the round ended, marking the first time a fight in the series between the two had gone this far. It was clear that Badr had won the round and the scorecards confirmed it under GLORY’s open scoring rules.
Leg kicks from the Moroccan began to take Overeem’s weight out from under him. After thirty seconds a kick from Overeem struck Hari’s cup, causing a stop in the action. But Badr only took a few seconds before getting down to work. A big body shot and a low kick hurt Overeem next but he kept going. As the fight went on Overeem seemed to find some level of increased comfort, although he was losing clearly. A big uppercut on a clinch separation saw Hari almost touch the canvas with thirty seconds left in the round. Although seriously hurt he managed to stay up on wobbly legs and clinch up to recover. When the scores were revealed, one judge gave Reem the round but the other four had Hari winning both the first two rounds.
A big right hand landed in the opening minute for Overeem and he was generally doing much better. Hari responded with a brilliant body shot but Alistair followed up with another big right hand that hurt Hari, then a body knee, and then back to the right hand. As Badr stumbled backwards a flurry caught and dropped him. Hari got up before the referee counted to ten but Overeem had him on the ropes. Another flurry saw Badr Hari turn away and kneel down from the blows he was receiving. He was having trouble getting up but beat the count once again. With forty seconds left Reem stormed forward, looking to finish his rival. Badr had somehow found his legs and, incredibly, began to swing back with power, determined to go out on his shield or even potentially win. Both men were hurt and tired but they spent the last thirty seconds trading big shots in electric fashion.
Because of the two knockdowns the scorecards had one 29-26 score and four 28-27s, giving Alistair the victory. Alistair declared himself the GLORY kickboxing champion in somewhat tongue in cheek fashion, citing the absence of champion Rico Verhoeven. He gave all credit to Badr Hari, acknowledged his ring rust, and then greeted Verhoeven when Rico suddenly stormed into the ring to confront him. Alistair laughed when Rico got right up in his face to challenge his claims of champ-hood. Despite Rico’s angry demeanor and words, Alistair once again declared himself champion before saying, laughter in his voice and eyes, “Bye!”
Badr Hari then took the mic and talked to the fans in Dutch who had come to see him fight. Afterwards, he translated in English that he was really thinking about retiring. The entire stadium clapped for the legend and he embraced both of his former opponents, Verhoeven and Overeem as they also clapped for him. It was a heartfelt moment as the three warriors stood in the center of the ring, talking to each other and embracing. Alistair even put his arms around Rico, who had moments earlier been in his face, yelling at him. It was a brilliant scene to commemorate the all-time great career of Badr Hari, if this was indeed his retirement,