When Harut Grigorian and Murthel Groenhart stepped in the ring together for the second time last June in Paris, nobody could have predicted what happened. In one of the most controversial moments in GLORY history, Grigorian was knocked out cold by Groenhart, prompting chaotic scenes.
It all started at the beginning of round two when Groenhart landed a knee on Grigorian’s head and opened a cut. Without the referee’s interference, Grigorian turned his back on “The Predator” to walk to his corner for medical attention. Instead, he received a vicious right hook from the rear from Groenhart, who grabbed an opportunity to win the fight with a single blow.
Two months later, Grigorian is ready to get step back into the ring. With a goal to erase his last loss and get back on track to the title, he’ll compete in the four-man contender tournament on GLORY 44 in Chicago. But most of all, he wants to prove to himself and others that the Groenhart loss didn’t affect him.
“Losses are part of the game, but I don’t really see my last fight as a loss,” Grigorian tells MMA Plus about his last appearance. “Of course, it’s also my own fault I got knocked out like that. I should have given a sign that I had a cut or continued the fight, but it was all in the heat of the moment and it went very fast.
“After he landed that knee, I immediately felt blood dripping from the cut above my eye. I never was hurt or raddled because if that was the case, you’d see it. At that moment I just thought to myself ‘sh*t, I have a cut. I need to go to my corner to receive medical attention,’ and assumed the ref would have seen it.”
But that wasn’t the case. As referee Paul Nicholls kept the fight going and gave Groenhart the opening to take the victory in the process, chaos ensued in the ring when two spectators from the crowd, acquaintances of Grigorian, jumped the barricades to storm into the ring and attack the celebrating Dutchman.
Grigorian doesn’t have much to say about the attack on Groenhart. In his mind, it was very much like the final seconds of his fight: in the heat of the moment.
“They said it was instinctive what they did and they are sorry for what they’ve done,” Grigorian says about the situation. “It happened very fast and of course they didn’t come to Paris to jump into the ring and attack someone. They didn’t know what was and wasn’t allowed in GLORY. They saw someone being knocked out from behind.“
Grigorian didn’t keep track of what happened to the two men afterwards, one of which is reportedly an MMA fighter.
To this day, the 28-year-old Belgian still has the scar above his eye to prove what happened ten weeks ago. Eventually, it will heal, but for now it’s the only mark he has left of that infamous night: “It happened and everybody saw it. But I look at it in a different way. It was a very close fight until the end and although it was legal what he [Groenhart] did, hitting somebody from behind like that is not really a K.O. win.”
Grigorian has no ill feelings towards Groenhart, unlike a lot of his fans. Although kickboxing greats like Ernesto Hoost and Thom Harinck said they would have done the same thing as Groenhart, “The Predator” told TMZ he received a lot of comments and even death threats through social media after the fight.
“I can be mad at him, but it was also my own mistake,” Grigorian said. “He won and there’s no shame in losing to him. He’s one of the best and I hope he’ll have a good fight for the belt against Cédric Doumbé.
“I can’t deny that I wouldn’t have done the same, but it’s hard to say at that moment. A lot of people say they wouldn’t have done it, but you never know. There was a title shot on the line and we were full of nerves and wanted to win.”
On Groenhart, Grigorian added: “Someday we’ll fight again. He agreed to it afterwards, so I’ll get another chance. I’m not in a hurry to get it, but it could happen very soon. We’ll see.”
Two weeks later, Grigorian returned to his normal routine. Back to driving 120 kilometers a day, five times a week from his hometown Antwerp to Breda and back to train at Hemmers Gym under Nick Hemmers.
“After two weeks, I couldn’t sit still anymore. It was just a setback, the knockout didn’t really do much,” Grigorian said. “I’m feeling great. I really wanted to get back out there and show it didn’t hurt me.”
That is also the reason the Belgian with Armenian roots is glad he can make a quick return to the ring as well: “I want to be the best and it would be great to win the tournament. I’ve fought in a lot of tournaments before, so my body is used to it. For now, I’m just focused on the first fight with Karim Benmansour, who’s probably the hardest opponent for me to beat out of the other three. If I beat him, I expect to win the tournament.”
Grigorian expects two wins in Chicago will bring him within hand’s reach of a title shot. He thinks the tournament winner gets a number one contender match against the winner of Nieky Holzken vs. Yoann Kongolo on GLORY 45: Amsterdam, which will go down on September 30.
But winning fights and title shots are not Grigorian’s main goals. He’d rather win over the people’s hearts and be known as an exciting fighter: “I don’t want to score points and have boring fights. I want to show people that it’s all or nothing when I fight. It’s not all about winning.
“For me, it’s about giving the people what they came for. There are guys who win a lot of fights, but nobody watches them because their fights are boring. On the other hand, there are guys who don’t win everything, but people wanna see them fight and go for knockouts. The last time I got knocked, but it’s gonna be great to be the one knocking people out in Chicago.”