Groenhart: “It's too soon for Thongchai to fight a guy like me”
Published on Feb 15, 2017
Murthel Groenhart (63-22-3, 36 KO's) heads to Chicago, USA next week for his first fight of 2017.
'The Predator' will meet Thongchai 'The Thai Terminator' Sitsongpeenong (135-32, 46 KO's) on the Superfight Series section of the GLORY 38 CHICAGO card, which goes down Friday, February 24 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Chicago, Illinois.
Thongchai made a spectacular debut at GLORY 34 DENVER when he demolished Casey 'Go' Greene (5-7, 2 KO's) in the second round of their contest. Thongchai scored a knockdown followed by a knockout just two seconds before the end of the round in what was only his second fight under kickboxing rules.
A product of Thailand's Muay Thai world, Thongchai started training at nine years old and had his first fight at 11. He's had over 150 fights under Muay Thai rules and has won high honors in the sport, but stylistic differences mean that not every Thai fighter transitions seamlessly into kickboxing.
“I saw his fight with Casey and people were going crazy for him afterwards, but I wasn't really that impressed,” says two-time GLORY title challenger Groenhart.
“It was an OK performance, don't get me wrong, but winning like that over Casey Greene doesn't really prove anything. Casey isn't really a high-level guy, in my opinion, he is not anywhere near the level of Dutch fighters.
“So for Thongchai, I think it could be a little bit too soon for him to be fighting a guy like me. It would have been better for him maybe to get some fights under these rules, get used to the GLORY style. But if he wants to step up right away against a guy like me, that's fine with me.”
With Groenhart being a thoroughbred kickboxer and Thongchai being a lifelong Muay Thai fighter, the Chicago clash is a style war. Kickboxers are generally more mobile and favor hand combinations and low kicks while Muay Thai stylists tend to place more emphasis on kicks and knee strikes.
Thongchai breaks the mold for the average Muay Thai fighter, being more fond of using his hands and fighting for a finish rather than looking to pick opponents apart and win on points. Interestingly, both he and Groenhart are known for being savage knee-strike specialists. It's a weapon either of them can finish a fight with.
Gronehart shrugs when asked about tactics. “My mindset is that I am going for him when I see him there in front of me. Right as soon as the bell goes, I am going to go after him and do what I do best, which is chasing guys around the ring and letting 'The Predator' do his job.”
A continual contender in the GLORY welterweight division, Groenhart has now challenged twice for the belt and twice lost a decision to then-champion Nieky 'The Natural' Holzken (90-12, 46 KO's). But in December, Holzken lost to France's Cedric Doumbé (65-4-1, 39 KO's) in an upset which has blown the title picture wide open.
Doumbé will make his first defense of the belt at GLORY 39 BRUSSELS in March. He faces Yoann Kongolo (64-8, 46 KO's), who already has two wins over him from earlier in his career. It's an uphill struggle for Doumbé on paper, but he says the fight is the one he wants the most and he is confident of retaining his title and scoring a revenge win.
“I said before that fight with Nieky and Doumbé that Nieky was going into that fight too quickly, he had a hard fight against me in October and then a month and a half later he went to fight Doumbé. That made it a lot easier for Doumbé and also Nieky let him too much inside his head with the trash talk,” comments Groenhart, who also lost to Doumbé at GLORY 28 PARIS last year.
“Doumbé isn't a match for me and Nieky. That's not to take anything away from his win over me, he won fair and square, but I had some damage to my stomach at that time. I could have pulled out but I didn't and so I had to fight all three rounds with an injury.
“He's the champion now so let him enjoy his belt now and then Kongolo will take it from him in March. He's already beaten him twice. And then after Kongolo takes it from him, I am waiting there to get my title.”
GLORY 38 CHICAGO takes place Friday, February 24 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Chicago Illinois. The event is headlined by Russia's Artem Vakhitov defending the light-heavyweight title in a rubber match with former champion Saulo Cavalari of Brazil.