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Marat Grigorian finds late changes of opponent “frustrating”

Published on Mar 20, 2017
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Belgium resident Marat Grigorian (48-10-2, 29 KO's) made his first appearance for GLORY back in October 2012 with a second-round TKO win over Alex Vogel at GLORY 2 BRUSSELS at the Vorst National Arena.

Now, four and a half years later, he will return to the same arena for his second GLORY fight on home soil for a meeting with Bulgaria's Anton Petrov (10-6, 3 KO's) in the co-main event of the GLORY 39 SUPERFIGHT SERIES card.

By coincidence, both his GLORY 2 fight and this GLORY 39 fight were subject to late changes of opponent following the originally-scheduled fighters picking up an injury in training. Grigorian was supposed to meeting Hysni Beqiri this coming Saturday night but now finds himself facing an unknown quantity.

The late switch worked in his favor at GLORY 2 as he took Alex Vogel out in the second round with low kicks. But he's also had a late switch turn into a nightmare for him, when he faced the tricky Serhiy Adamchuk on just two days' notice at GLORY 22.

On paper, he holds the advantage this week – Petrov is unranked and has not been competing frequently – but, on the other hand, Petrov is 3-1 in his last four fights and is a training partner of another GLORY lightweight contender, Niclas Larsen, at Mikenta Gym in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Marat is such a focused guy, it's frustrating for him when he gets a late switch of opponent, because he is super-focused on preparing for one guy all through the camp. He has his gameplan worked out and he knows what he's going to do and then suddenly it all changes. He doesn't like it,” says his coach Nicky Hemmers.

“It's a little frustrating as a coach also but it depends. If it was Harut Grigorian, you can wake him in the morning and tell him he is fighting someone that afternoon and he doesn't care, it's all the same to him. But Marat likes to be very prepared for his opponents.”

Late change aside, Grigorian is one of the strongest presences in the lightweight division and is the heavy favorite to win on Saturday. That would maintain his status at #2 in the division and keep him in the title shot mix. But having challenged current champion Sitthichai for the title twice and lost decisions both times, plus a third loss outside GLORY, is he condemned to second place so long as the Thai holds the belt?

His coach doesn't think so.

“Their first fight came on two weeks' notice, the fight in Paris was close - actually I think Marat beat Sittichai in Paris; 90% of the world agreed – and the last fight was a split-decision, it was very close,” says Hemmers Jr.

“[At GLORY 36 in December] Marat was the aggressor, Sittichai ducked the fight a bit. People say to be the champ you must beat the champ and I agree with that, but if you're there to really stall the fight then it's better if you stayed home.

“But, that said, if you can stay away from Marat Grigorian for five rounds then I have to say you're a good fighter, not many can do that. I was more frustrated with what Marat did to be honest. He wasn't really awake in the fight, wasn't explosive.

Grigorian is well known for his relentlessly aggressive forward-pressure style and that is the kind of opponent he likes to fight against. Sittichai playing matador against him in Germany denied him the exchanges he needed.

“I was thinking Sittichai would want to try and control the fight more, but it seemed he just wanted to survive. We expected him to fight more, like he did with Robin [van Roosmalen], but I think the fight with Marat [at GLORY 28] in Paris shook him up a bit, the punches he took from him, so at COLLISION he was like, 'I just want to win this fight, keep my title and move on.'”

By way of another coincidence, Sitthichai is also on this Saturday night's card, defending the belt against Dylan Salvador of France. Salvador earned the title shot by winning the Lightweight Contender Tournament at GLORY 36 and this will be the third meeting between him and Sitthichai; they are 1-1 against each other.

“That's an open fight I think. Either one of them can take it,” says Hemmers Jr. “You could even say that maybe the advantage is with Salvador. If he wins it would be more interesting for everyone I think, to have Marat challenging him instead of challenging Sitthichai again. But whoever wins, Marat is right there waiting.”

GLORY 39 BRUSSELS takes place this Saturday night at the Vorst National Arena in downtown Brussels and features two world title fights. Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong defends the lightweight title against Dylan Salvador and Cedric Doumbé defends the welterweight title against Yoann Kongolo.

A small number of tickets are still available via Sherpa.be


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Who will leave GLORY 39 as welterweight champion?