With much mutual respect, Rico Verhoeven and Alistair Overeem met for the first time on Tuesday evening leading up to their title fight next month.
Rarely will a press conference between two kickboxers have been more friendly.
When the two heavyweights pose for a while after the staredown, Overeem puts his arm over Verhoeven's shoulder.
Brotherly side by side, the two heavyweights look into the cameras.
With that friendly pose, the press conference in Utrecht had a fitting end on Tuesday.
In the preceding hour, the two kickboxers exchanged compliments.
"Rico is the best kickboxer I've ever fought," said former K1 champion Overeem.
The 41-year-old Amersfoorter has been active in martial arts for more than twenty years and competed against, among others, Peter Aerts, Badr Hari, Remy Bonjasky and Gökhan Saki.
"Rico wears Dutch kickboxing. Without him, the sport would look very different today. I have a lot of respect for that."
“He is a real role model for this sport,” Overeem continued.
"Rico is very professional, but also technically and tactically he is the best. Over the years he has grown a lot, I think he has gotten better every fight."
Striking friendly staredown between Verhoeven and Overeem
Verhoeven calls Overeem a living legend
Verhoeven also had nothing but praise for his upcoming opponent, who became the last K1 champion in 2010.
"Alistair has left his mark on martial arts in general."
"He did things that no one else has done: he went from MMA to kickboxing, where he became a champion. And then he returned to MMA again where he did great in the UFC."
"Alistair has been in the UFC for over a decade, which is very impressive considering the high level of the fighters there. I have a lot of respect for that because we all know how the UFC treats its fighters: when you lose a few times then they'll kick you out."
Verhoeven thinks he will keep his title: 'Overeem is like an older car'
Overeem: 'Verhoeven is not quite my type'
After the praise back and forth it seemed as if the two kickboxers are good friends.
But that is not the case.
In 2012, the two briefly trained together in Miami.
"I really can't say anything negative about him," said Overeem.
"He had good energy and we were able to spar well, even though he wasn't quite my type."
When asked what exactly he meant by that last comment, Overeem didn't want to go into too much detail.
"A lot of people are not my type. Do I have to explain why every time, right? I have a lot of respect for his career."
Verhoeven is looking forward to the fight on October 23 in the GelreDome. "Alistair has always provided exciting fights. He is a living legend, I am honored to be in the ring with him."Keywords: