This weekend at GLORY 34 Murthel Groenhart will once again get his chance against long-reigning GLORY Welterweight Champion Nieky Holzken. Holzken has long-been considered unbeatable at this weight class. After toiling for years without recognition, Holzken is finally being recognized the world over for his immense talents. No other fighters in kickboxing is able to piece together the combinations that Holzken can assemble, from ballistic shots at different levels and angles to rapid-fire assaults on an opponent's midsection until he is forced to take a knee.
Yet, Murthel Groenhart was able to punch through Holzken's tight defenses and his punch-heavy output in their last meeting. Just forty seconds into the second round Murthel found a combination that worked against Holzken. In fact, he landed a kick to the body that put Holzken off-balance; a rare weakness shown from the champion in front of a very friendly crowd for him. When all was said-and-done, many felt that Groenhart had been done a disservice by the judges for Holzken getting the nod.
The truth was that it was an incredibly close fight, regardless of who you viewed the winner. But both men walked away different. Groenhart walked away feeling robbed, while Holzken walked away looking mortal. Since that loss Groenhart has gone 5-2, losing a decision to Cedric Doumbe in GLORY, then losing to Artur Kyshenko in Kunlun Fight in China. Holzken defeated Yoann Kongolo since then and fought in boxing to not only keep himself busy, but to keep his flawless boxing record in-tact.
But things are different.
Holzken was once the untouchable iron man of the division, but Groenhart has shown what it takes to hurt Holzken and keep him from falling into his pattern of destruction. Groenhart himself was a bit of a lost fighter for many years. The talented, powerful and explosive fighter jumped around divisions -- once winning the K-1 World MAX tournament at 70kg and having fought up in weight many, many times. GLORY cementing the 76kg weight class has been beneficial to both Holzken and Groenhart, who finally have a home to showcase their skills.
It took another win in a contender tournament for Groenhart to get what he deserved in a rematch, but now it's time for him to show that the last fight with Holzken wasn't a fluke, but instead it was the evolution of the once-wild brawler into a composed fighter. For Holzken this is a chance to show that he's unstoppable and the king of this division, worthy of the praise and attention that he receives in the Netherlands as a national hero.
So while everyone is hyped up for Badr Hari appearing in the GLORY ring against Rico Verhoeven, perhaps the best and biggest fight of the year will be happening in Denver, Colorado on October 21st between two of the best kickboxers in the world.