Glory today confirmed that the highly-anticipated trilogy match between bitter rivals Nieky Holzken and Murthel Groenhart will take place at Glory 34: Denver next month. Holzken is the reigning welterweight champion but Groenhart believes the belt should have been wrapped around his waist after their GLORY 26 fight in December. Now he gets a second chance at it.
The rivalry between Holzken (89-11, 46 KO’s) and Groenhart (60-20-3, 34 KO’s) dates back to their first meeting, a 2010 fight in Russia. Holzken won a decision, Groenhart bitterly disputed it, and there has been bad blood ever since. They rematched at GLORY 26 AMSTERDAM in December, with Holzken this time defending the welterweight championship. Holzken’s decision win caused a lot of debate and was even more strongly disputed by Groenhart, leaving the rift between them deeper than ever.
Fuel was added to the fire by the amount of trash-talk which preceded the December bout. Groenhart was relentless in his haranguing of Holzken via the fight media. Holzken has something of an old-school mentality when it comes to the talking game; he doesn’t like to engage in it and he finds a lot of it genuinely offensive. Groenhart is the polar opposite.
After the December fight, Holzken actually admitted that he had been so incensed by Groenhart’s comments that it affected him in training and in the fight. His claimed his annoyance clouded his focus and made him think about hurting Groenhart rather than out-kickboxing and out-classing him. In the ring afterwards he was able to extract a promise from Groenhart to put an end to all the talking in the future.
That lasted all of a week. Groenhart took the decision loss with sporting grace on the night, throwing no tantrums in the ring, but after a few days to gather his thoughts he had plenty that he wanted to say. He made his thoughts known and a dismayed Holzken was forced to realize that the war was not over.
Fans have wanted to see a rematch between the two since December. Various factors conspired against it until now, including Groenhart’s remarkably consistent inconsistency. There is no fighter out there who is so sure to lose a fight to somebody he is almost guaranteed to beat and then in his next outing run through a tournament of top-level opponents.
Groenhart’s loss to Cedric Doumbe earlier this year was witnessed by a ringside Holzken, who promptly turned to the television cameras and hooted “Get to the back of the line Murthel!” Worth noting is that both have had eleven fights in GLORY: Holzken has gone 11-0 while Groenhart has gone 6-5, with several of those losses being to fighters you would never usually pick to beat him.
Groenhart says the reason for his inconsistency is simple: he is only motivated by big fights, and that costs him when he is competing in anything else. His mind is simply elsewhere. But with today’s news that the trilogy match is signed and sealed for GLORY 34 DENVER on Friday, October 21, his focus will surely be laser sharp. And so will his trash-talk game; Holzken’s admission that it affected his focus for the last fight will only encourage Groenhart to double his efforts for this one.
According to a GLORY press release, the GLORY 34 DENVER card airs live on ESPN3 at midnight ET / 9 p.m. PT on Friday, Oct. 21, with a replay broadcast on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on Sunday, Oct. 23. It will be preceded by the GLORY 34 Superfight Series card airing live on UFC FIGHT PASS from 9.30 p.m. ET.
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