Tiffany Van Soest (15-2-1, 5 KO’s) has held a plethora of titles in the course of her career. She won both the Lion Fight Women’s featherweight title and super-bantamweight title before moving to Glory earlier this year and has also held the WBC Muay Thai Women’s International Super Bantamweight Championship since 2012.
Earlier this year she signed to Glory and Invicta FC to compete in kickboxing and MMA respectively. Her Glory debut saw her dominate her Dutch opponent in the quarter-finals stage of the Women’ Super-Bantamweight Grand Prix and book herself a spot in the semi-finals.
The quarter-final stage played out over several events. The winners are meeting this weekend in a four-woman tournament to decide which of them will be Glory’s first female champion.
“Being the first women’s champion would solidify my destiny. I started karate when I was eight. Kickboxing, striking, Muay Thai… I just love punching and kicking things. Winning this title would be extremely fulfilling and would be all my hard work since eight years old coming to fruition,” she says.
Van Soest was speaking with Bloody Elbow shortly before boarding a flight from Bali, Indonesia to Oberhausen, Germany, where this weekend’s Glory: Collision event is taking place. She is originally from Los Angeles, California but for the last year has been building a life in Bali, having fallen in love with Indonesia on a visit last year.
“My preparation for this weekend’s fights have gone really well; I had a solid camp here in Bali with my team at Bali MMA,” she says.
Van Soest faces Jessica ‘Thumper’ Gladstone of Canada in the semi-finals. Gladstone came in to her quarter-final fight on a week’s notice to face Daniela Graf. Despite her experienced German opponent being the next favorite to win the tournament (after Van Soest), Gladstone was able to outbox and outwork her to take a unanimous decision.
Gladstone (6-6, 2 KO’s) is far from a household name and herself says that she treats fighting as “a fun second job” (her primary job is as a sports masseuse). Despite this, she has been in there with some very good opponents. Back in 2009 she took a then-unknown Joanna Jedrzejczyk the distance in a Muay Thai fight in Bangkok, although she lost a decision.
“I am expecting this to be a tough test. My opponent in the semi finals is very solid, very strong,” says Van Soest. “The girls in the other bracket are very good as well. Stylistically they are all a bit different. I have prepared a gameplan for three different scenarios and I am expecting to come out on top.”
The other semi-final bracket has France’s undefeated Amel Dehby (28-0, 11 KO’s) taking on Isis Verbeek of the Netherlands, who at 21 years old is one of the youngest fighters on Glory’s roster. Verbeek (9-3, 5 KO’s) has heart and talent but was lucky to get her quarter-final decision and has little chance of toppling Dehby, who seems to be being overlooked due to her low media profile.
The women’s tournament semi-finals and final are just a few of a number of huge fights taking place on this weekend’s Glory: Collision card. There’s a lightweight title fight between champion Sittichai Sitsongpeenong and Marat Grigorian, and a welterweight title defense from Nieky Holzken, who faces Cedric Doumbé of France in what is quickly turning into a bad-blood rivalry.
But the real centerpiece of this Saturday’s card is the headline fight. The event takes its name from this bout, which will be a collision between current heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven and former K-1 heavyweight champion Badr Hari, one of the best fighters ever to compete in the sport.
Verhoeven and Hari have been circling each other for some time – Hari claiming to be the real top heavyweight on the planet and Verhoeven inviting him to prove it. Hari’s determination to hold onto free agent status was thought to make the fight impossible but Glory executives managed to put a deal together to make it happen. It is no exaggeration to say that the fight is one of the most anticipated in kickboxing history.
Van Soest is certainly looking forward to it and enjoys the sense of occasion that it brings to Saturday’s card. When asked to pick a winner she turns thoughtful, weighing up some factors in her mind before offering an opinion.
“I am going to have to go with Rico. I think he is just the new breed and a bit more technical. Badr has been out of competition for a while and Rico been really active,” she says.
“I’m not taking anything away from Badr, he is a legend and already cemented his legacy, but Rico’s time is now and I think it will be his night. But Badr is Badr – if he comes to fight, he definitely can win.”
How to watch:
Glory: Collision takes place this Saturday, December 10 in Oberhausen, Germany at the Konig Pilsener Arena, which also hosted UFC 122 in 2010. The event has sold out, with 13,000 fans expected to be inside the arena for a very stacked three-part card to end the year.
Opening the festivities will be the five-fight Glory 36 Germany card, headlined by Sittichai and Grigorian and also featuring a four-man lightweight tournament. That card airs in the US live on ESPN 3.
When that portion is concluded the action moves to UFC Fight Pass for the Glory 36 Superfight Series (which UFC Fight Pass is billing as the Glory Collision prelims). The two women’s semi-final bouts are on that card along with some appearances from new prospects and established veterans, including former #1 light-heavyweight Danyo Ilunga.
Once that card concludes, things switch to pay-per-view (via InDemand and UFC.tv) for the Glory: Collision card itself. Two title fights are on this card: the final of the women’s tournament for the inaugural Super-Bantamweight title and then Holzken’s welterweight title defense against Doumbé.
A heavyweight banger between #2-ranked Ismael ‘Mr Pain’ Londt and Jamal ‘The Goliath’ Ben Saddik follows. Then, the main event: twelve months of back-and-forth between Rico Verhoeven and Badr Hari will be settled in the ring in front of a full house.
The UFC is partnering with Glory for the $29.95 pay-per-view card, the first time the organization has ever done so, and that should give it plenty of reach beyond the worldwide kickboxing fraternity, all of whom will be glued to their screens. If you haven’t delved into kickboxing before this event is a great one to start with and you can get all the build-up, analysis and aftermath right here on Bloody Elbow.
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