Rico Verhoeven was born in Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands. He began learning martial arts at age five starting with Kyokushin, he was trained by his father, a Karate black belt. After transitioning into kickboxing, Verhoeven began training at the age of seven and started competing against adults when he was only 16 years old, due to his large size.
Although he was expected to fight in the 2012 K-1 World Grand Prix, Verhoeven was left out of the tournament. He then signed with rival promotion Glory in October 2012.
He was drawn against Russian mixed martial artist Sergei Kharitonov at the opening round of the sixteen-man 2012 Glory Heavyweight Grand Slam held at Glory 4: Tokyo - 2012 Heavyweight Grand Slam in Saitama, Japan on 31 December 2012. As he was leading the judges' scorecards after the first two, two-minute rounds, he advanced to the quarter-finals where he lost out to the eventual tournament winner Semmy Schilt by the same margin.
He defeated Jhonata Diniz via unanimous decision at Glory 7: Milan in Milan, Italy on 20 April 2013.
He rematched Errol Zimmerman at Glory 9: New York - 2013 95kg Slam in New York City on 22 June 2013. Despite being deducted a point for rabbit punching in round one, he outworked and outstruck Zimmerman for three rounds and won by unanimous decision.
Wins over Ghiță and Aerts
He caused a major upset to win the Glory 11: Chicago - Heavyweight World Championship Tournament in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, United States in October 2013. After taking a majority decision over Gökhan Saki in the semi-finals, and scoring a controversial knockdown in round one, he beat Daniel Ghiță by unanimous decision in the final.
Rico further established himself by defeating kickboxing legend Peter Aerts by split decision in the tightly-contested main event of Glory 13: Tokyo - Welterweight World Championship Tournament in Tokyo, Japan on 21 December 2013.
Verhoeven was scheduled to make his professional boxing debut against Nikolaj Falin at Mix Fight Gala XV in Darmstadt, Germany on 26 April 2014 but his opponent was changed to János Finfera for undisclosed reasons. Verhoeven defeated the Hungarian by second round knockout.
He rematched and defeated Daniel Ghiță via unanimous decision in a bout for the vacant Glory Heavyweight (+95 kg/209 lb) Championship at Glory 17: Los Angeles in Inglewood, California, US on June 21, 2014.
Verhoeven completed a trilogy of fights against Errol Zimmerman when he faced him on 6 February 2015, in the main event at Glory 19: Virginia. The anticipated bout ended in anticlimactic fashion as Zimmerman sustained a knee injury in the second round, allowing Verhoeven to retain his Heavyweight title.
Superfight with Badr Hari
The 10 December 2016 bout against former world champion Badr Hari at GLORY Collision in Oberhausen, Germany, was considered a watershed moment for Verhoeven's career with Hari being a very entertaining, albeit controversial fighter, who has been a dominant force in the kickboxing community, who was also taller (1.98 to 1.96 cm) and had a reach advantage over Verhoeven. Competing for the first time in over a year, Hari promised he would knock out Verhoeven in the first round. Intending to keep his promise, Hari came out aggressively in the first round, opening a cut on Verhoeven’s nose early in the fight, but was forced to fight on the back foot and failed to penetrate Verhoeven's defense. The GLORY heavyweight champion returned more aggressive in the second round, and what appeared to be a knee hit in the clinch, ended up injuring Hari’s arm after which he couldn't continue the fight and Verhoeven scored the 50th victory of his kickboxing career with a TKO.
Rematch against Ben Saddik
After dispatching Ismael Lazaar and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva with relative ease, Verhoeven fought Jamal Ben Saddik in defense of Glory heavyweight title 9 December 2017. In a fight that has been called the biggest fight in kickboxing history due to the size of the contestants, with Jamal being 6' 9", 280 lbs and Rico himself at 6' 5", 260 lbs. Jamal defeated a young Rico in their first meeting in 2011, but since then has had a record of 11 wins to 6 losses, while Rico climbed the P4P rankings and established himself as a kickboxing world champion. Rico beat Jamal by fifth round TKO.
Rematch against Badr Hari
On 21 December 2019 Verhoeven met Hari again in the Gelredome stadium in the Netherlands. After a very close fight Hari injured his leg and had to give up on the fight, meaning Verhoeven remained champion.
Mixed martial arts career
Verhoeven made his MMA pro debut at RXF 20 in Sibiu, Romania on 19 October 2015 defeating Viktor Bogutzki by TKO in the 1st round due to punches. Prior to his MMA debut he trained in San Jose, California at the American Kickboxing Academy, where he trained with fighters like Daniel Cormier and Jon Fitch.
Verhoeven is tall and very athletic for a fighter his size. Besides his physical gifts, he's an intelligent fighter. He has a wide arsenal of attacks, most notably his powerful low kicks, and a tight defense. He also worked closely with former heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, whom he credits with turning his jab into the highly effective weapon it is now.