ROSEMONT, Ill.–The last time Murthel Groenhart (67-22-3) fought Harut Grigorian, he won by knockout at GLORY 42 amidst controversy and all broke loose inside Accorhotels Arena in Paris, France.
Groenhart, 31, landed a huge right hand after Grigorian inexplicably turned his back to him, knocking him out cold. As “The Predator” climbed the ropes to celebrate, he was attacked by two angry fans, who jumped a barricade and climbed into the ring to get to him.
“It’s not nice for nobody to go through that,” Groenhart told MMA Plus, recalling last year’s event. “But it’s history. Now i’m looking forward. I’m champion. He can get his rematch and we will see afterwards.”
The rematch goes down later today, headlining GLORY 50 inside the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. The KO from GLORY 42 made the Top 50 GLORY Moments list at No. 39.
After GLORY 42, then GLORY CEO Jon J. Franklin told MMA Plus the promotion would take the appropriate course of action, and GLORY also released a statement on the matter saying they would pursue prosecution. Ultimately, the two assailants avoided any legal charges but were banned from attending any GLORY events in the future.
“They definitely cannot come into GLORY [events] anymore,” Groenhart said.
Yes, the knockout was within the rules, and fighters are always warned to protect themselves at all times, but there were many people who took umbrage with how it went down and Groenhart’s sportsmanship immediately came into question.
The GLORY welterweight champion said his fan base didn’t have any issues with it.
“My fans are cool with what happened,” said Groenhart, who defeated Cedric Doumbe at GLORY 44 to win the title. “They didn’t hear no bell. They didn’t hear no referee say stop. So, they are cool. Only people that don’t understand it, they give me all the bad words. It’s OK. I understand if you are family or friend of Harut, it’s normal. It’s hard to see a fighter or friend go down like that.”
What if it were him that was on the receiving end of that controversial KO? How would he have reacted?
“The thing is it could never happen to me because I would never turn my back on my opponent, never ever in my life,” Groenhart said with certainty. “Rule No.1: never turn your back on your opponent.” (more on GLORY rules and procedure in regards to GLORY 42 here)
Would he do it again if given the chance?
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “He told me in a second he would do the same.”
The two hugged in the ring after the dust settled at GLORY 42, following all of the craziness. The champion said he and Grigorian have spoken and relations between the two of them are OK, but he can only be friendly to a certain point before he gets dialed in for a fight.
“We’ve spoken,” he said. “It’s OK, but the moment I have to fight somebody I change. This is business. I change because if I talk sweet with the guy and nice with the guy, then it’s a little strange because we have to fight against each other. I can’t do that.”
Groenhart said “Nothing much” has changed since he became the champion, but he’s certainly proud that after losing two title fights, the third one proved to be the charm, as he earned the GLORY welterweight strap after defeating Doumbe by split decision.
“People doubted me,” he said. “They all doubted me and I told everybody ‘I may have lost two times, but I’m never going to give up.’ He [Cedric Doumbe] told me in the ring, ‘this is it.’ I said, ‘hell no. I’m never going to give up. Never in my life.'”
At GLORY 50 on Saturday, Groenhart will be defending his title for the first time. There is a distinct possibility that Grigorian will be aggressive in an attempt at getting revenge for his loss at GLORY 42.
The champ says if that happens, Grigorian will get slept once again.
“If he will do that, he will go down again. I know how he fights. I know his game plan. He can’t change things. If he will come aggressively at me, let’s go, let’s do it.”