Through the Lens: Rico's Girl

Fightland Blog

By Ryan Loco (words and photos)

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to document the training, travels, and lives of some of the best fighters in the world. They are generous with their time, and I repay them by putting all my effort into my photos of them. As Andre Kertesz once said, "Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph."

With this photoblog, I hope to provide a glimpse into the lives of MMA fighters--backstage, behind the scenes, and beyond. I want to take you places not everyone gets to go.

Rico's Girl

Sometimes what gets lost amid the bright lights, television cameras, and cheering crowds is that fighters are just people.

As I sat ringside at Glory 11 during Rico Verhoeven's fight against Daniel Ghita for the heavyweight tournament title in Chicago on October 12, I saw a woman in the front row going through every possible emotion seemingly all at once. As she watched from the sidelines, she yelled, she cheered, she shadowboxed. Tears of sadness would come, followed by tears of joy. It was Rico's girlfriend, and to her, the man in the ring wasn’t the sixth-best heavyweight kickboxer in the world or the freakish young athlete with legs the size of tree trunks. He was just Rico. 

After Rico won the tournament, I followed them backstage. Rico sat for a minute and reflected on his victory, the oversized check and giant belt he held ballooned symbols of all his hard work coming together.

He and his girlfriend shared a kiss and Rico smiled at me. "Behind every strong man is an even stronger woman," he said.  

Check out these earlier installments of Through the Lens:

The Re-Re-Education of Tyrone Spong

The Return of Alistair Overeem

Junior Blackzilians