Photo credit: Glory Sports Int'l

Murthel Groenhart will face Thongchai Sitsongpeenong at GLORY 38 in Chicago on February 24 at the Sears Centre Arena, in what will be the former K-1 Max winner’s first fight since losing to former GLORY welterweight champion, Nieky Holzken, at GLORY 34 last year in October.

Groenhart looking to use his boxing skills to beat  Thongchai

Speaking ahead of their clash, “The Predator” was in confident mood about how he feels his, ‘boxing for kickboxing’ skills will give him an advantage against the one-time Lumpinee stadium champion; and how he intends to apply relentless pressure coming forward and capitalise on his improving boxing skills to secure victory against Thongchai.

“I think his guard is not as close as they say his guard, you know. I’m just going to go throw some good punches, solid punches to his face. My boxing skills are upgrading. I’m doing boxing lessons you know, lots of boxing lessons with Mike and yeah, I’m just gonna go forward this time from round one, just go forward. Don’t give him any chance to do his thing or something. You put the pressure on a Thai guy it’ll be a whole different game. I don’t think they kinda like it when you put pressure on them.”

The welterweight scene has seen some significant changes last year, with Holzken’s three-year reign as GLORY champion coming to an end by decision to, Cédric Doumbé at GLORY Collision – a result that no one in world kickboxing had seen coming. As well as the signings of various Thais including, Thongchai and Petpanomrung Kiatmoo9 by the promotion last August.

Doumbe’s shock win over Holzken in Germany

Reflecting on his arch-rival losing the welterweight crown in the manner he did in December, Groenhart believes that there was a degree of exceptional circumstances that contributed to Doumbé pulling off the biggest upset of 2016 and that the timing of the fight (so soon after their own clash at GLORY 34) hindered Holzken with his performance on that night in Germany.

“I was surprised when he won from Nieky because the time I fought Doumbe I was injured in the first round, the first minute we did something, I was injured in my stomach so I couldn’t do something. I went on fighting, it’s not in my blood to cancel any fighting. So I just kept on fighting it was stupid but I lost. I think Doumbe wasn’t gonna beat Nieky but he did. If I must be honest, he did exactly what I did in Amsterdam. When I fought Nieky in Amsterdam it was more fight than now you know for Doumbe.

“I think he fought me in Denver it was a very hard fight you know. So a couple of weeks later he fight again for Doumbe in Oberhausen. I think it was short time for him because he fought a hard fight against me and I think he got some bruises. I think his toe was broken or bruised; his knee. So you know, he got a lot of injury and he went to another fight. His focus wasn’t there you know, he already fought a hard fight that year against me in Denver and that was the end. He should wait.”

Groenhart weighs-in on the GLORY 39 main event

Doumbé will make his first title defence against Yoann Kongolo at GLORY 39 in Brussels on March 25, after Kongolo won the most welterweight recent contender tournament at GLORY 37. This will be the third encounter between the two fighters with Kongolo twice winning by decision before.

When asked for his prediction on, Doumbé vs. Kongolo, Groenhart was pretty blunt with how he foresees the matchup unfolding between his two welterweight rivals and how he believes he will eventually become champion later this year.

“I think Yoann Kongolo will beat up Cédric Doumbé and Yoann Kongolo will go with the belt. If my prediction Yoann Kongolo will win the belt, I come in, I beat Yoann Kongolo and then you got a new champion.”

Click here to listen or download the full podcast with Murthel Groenhart.