Photo: GLORY Sports International

GLORY begins the new year with a trilogy fight in the “Windy City”.

GLORY welterweight champion Murthel Groenhart will defend his belt in GLORY’s premier event of 2018 in the UIC Pavillion, located on the University of Illinois campus in Chicago and he will face a familiar foe in Harut Grigorian in the headlining bout of GLORY 50 on Feb. 16th.

GLORY announced the trilogy fight during Friday night’s GLORY 48 in New York.

Groenhart defends the title for the first time after capturing the belt at GLORY 44 in August, when he bested Cedric Doumbé by split-decision. The career defining win meant that “The Predator” recorded his fourth win in a row and his first GLORY title after two previous failed attempts both against former champ Nieky Holzken.

On that same night Groenhart captured the belt, Harut Grigorian won the contenders tournament with the Armenian-Belgian beating both Karim Benmansour and Antoine Pinto by unanimous decision to receive his first Ramon Dekkers Trophy.

Grigorian fought for the first time since losing his second encounter with Groenhart on GLORY 42 last June in one of the most controversial moments in GLORY history.

After “The Predator” opened a cut on Grigorian’s head with a flying knee in the beginning of the second round, Grigorian turned his back to the Dutchman and got viciously knocked with a right hook from Groenhart.

Following the finish, two men, acquaintances of Grigorian, attacked Groenhart in the ring. “The Predator” walked away uninjured after the two men were apprehended.

“I believe it was a legal shot, in the heat of the game, the heat of the fight, the referee didn’t came in,” Groenhart said, speaking to MMA Plus afterwards.

“I gave him the knee, I saw that Harut had turned, and I chased him with the hook and he fell down and then I saw the referee came in. If the referee don’t came in, protect yourself at all time and he didn’t protect yourself at all time, he turned around and I came with the hook.”

Grigorian told MMA Plus in the lead-up to GLORY 44 he knew he would meet “The Predator” for the third time: “Someday we’ll fight again. He agreed to it afterward, so I’ll get another chance. I’m not in a hurry to get it, but it could happen very soon.”

The encounter in Paris was a rematch five years in the making. Groenhart and Grigorian fought each other for the first time in 2012 as lightweights as part of the K-1 World MAX Championship Tournament. Groenhart won by TKO in the third round in a remarkable comeback after Grigorian won the first two rounds.

Groenhart went on to win the tournament, which makes him and Semmy Schilt the only fighters in history to captures title belts in both GLORY and K-1.

Additional bouts for GLORY 50 Chicago and GLORY 50 SuperFight Series will be announced shortly, per GLORY press release.