If you’ve been watching the upper end of the Lightweight division over the last year, names like Robin Van Roosmalen, Andy Ristie, Giorgio Petrosyan and Davit Kiria will be familiar to you.
They have been the leading lights in a weight class which is not only stacked with talent, but which has at the top of it four fighters who are - according to recent results - all capable of beating each other on any given night.
Kiria is the current Lightweight World Champion after KO’ing Ristie at GLORY 14 ZAGREB, an incredible comeback victory all the more remarkable because Ristie had KO’d both Petrosyan and Van Roosmalen at GLORY 13 NEW YORK and was on seemingly unstoppable form.
The 22-year-old Armenian came into GLORY tipped as a potential future great and definite title contender, but after winning by KO in his debut (GLORY 2) and having a GLORY 7 MILAN outing end in a ‘No Contest’, he slipped off the radar.
“I had some visa problems,” he explains, with a shrug and a rueful smile. “I was born in Armenia but my parents moved to Belgium when I was two years old, because life was very hard in Armenia, there was no money.
“I was raised here but there were some passport issues and so on. But it is all taken care of now.”
On Saturday he will face Lightweight contender Robin Van Roosmalen (31-6, 19 KO’s) in the Headline fight of GLORY 15 ISTANBUL. It is a very tough fight in which to return to action in GLORY but Grigorian is feeling confident.
“I don’t like to make predictions for fights really. I like to say let the best man win. But yes of course I think I am on the same level as Robin and I am ready to show that,” he says.
“I think that I am on the same level as these four guys [Kiria, Ristie, Van Roosmalen, Petrosyan]. It is a close competition between them and now I want to be in there as well.
“After this fight I think I would like to fight three or four more times this year but it’s a case of getting the opportunities.”
What Grigorian really wants is to work his way up to a title shot.
The inaugural Lightweight title fight was contested at GLORY 14 ZAGREB between Davit Kiria and Andy Ristie. It turned into an epic war and a story of heart and courage, resulting in a comeback win for Kiria which will be talked about for years to come.
“It was a really good fight, one of the best fights I have seen for a long time. At first it looked like Kiria was finished, Ristie nearly won by KO but then he started to lose condition and Kiria came back,” he recalls.
“It was amazing when Kiria managed to knock Ristie out. Ristie is a very strong fighter over three rounds but sometimes his conditioning isn’t good if the fight goes to rounds four and five.
“But its hard to fight five rounds, it is very tiring. You have to be explosive with everything you throw so this is hard on the body.”
As he is a kickboxer who was raised in Belgium and still resides there, it seems natural that Jean-Claude Van Damme has had a part to play in Grigorian’s route to this weekend’s fight.
“When I was young I was obsessed with kung-fu movies and things like this, Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme, so my parents put me first in a kung-fu school and later I moved to kickboxing,” he explains.
That childhood obsession has led directly to Grigorian preparing to walk out in front of a sold-out arena full of manic Turkish fans on April 12. But does he give most of the credit to Lee or Van Damme?
“It’s hard for me to choose between them but I think that Bruce Lee is really a big legend. But I love the movies of Van Damme - like Bloodsport and Kickboxer - and of course he is from Belgium so he is a big inspiration to me,” he laughs.
GLORY 15 ISTANBUL takes place on Saturday April 12 at Ulker Arena, Istanbul, Turkey and airs in the USA on SPIKE TV at 8pm ET.
The event features a four-man World Championship Tournament between Tyrone Spong (90-5, 60 KO’s), Gokhan Saki (79-16, 56 KO’s), Nathan ‘Carnage’ Corbett (57-4, 45 KO’s) and Saulo Cavalari (28-2, 18 KO’s). The winner will emerge with the GLORY Light-Heavyweight World Title.
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