Six fights into his UFC career, the future didn’t appear to look very bright for Canadian welterweight T.J. Grant. Coming off a loss to Ricardo Almeida, he was now 3-3 inside the Octagon and facing the reality that if he didn’t turn things around anytime soon, he’d be looking for a job. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt weighed his options and that’s when he decided to make a drop in weight.
Four fights after deciding to drop to 155 pounds, the future couldn’t have looked any brighter. With impressive victories over solid lightweights like Matt Wiman, Shane Roller and Evan Dunham, Grant was carrying an undefeated lightweight streak and some serious momentum into his forthcoming UFC 160 match-up. Thanks to that momentum, he was also now taking a major step up in competition. In his path was his toughest fight to date and a serious measuring stick for where he belonged in the weight class.
His opponent, Gray Maynard, was a former title challenger and decorated wrestler with very heavy hands, the likes of which Grant hadn’t yet seen in the lightweight division. Typically granted the luxury of being the more superior grappler when stepping into the cage, Grant would now have to rely on something else to get him by. The something else that he displayed in most recent fight with Wiman, where he kept the fight standing and hammered him with punches and elbows until he could no longer continue, would have to again be his weapon of choice.
In his most impressive showing yet, Grant throttled Maynard and did it without the use of any mat work. Blasting the former Michigan State standout with a right hand that put him on queer-street, he then finished him with follow-up punches to seal the deal. After the very impressive showing that earned him “Knockout of the Night” honors, it was then announced by Dana White that the victory had also earned him a shot at champion Ben Henderson’s title.
Now 11 Octagon appearances later, he is on the doorstep of stamping his name as a top UFC competitor and, more importantly, a champion. There wouldn’t be a more deserving or talented person for the honor, either. An excellent blend of pinpoint striking, fantastic grappling skills and a positive attitude, Grant would be a very worthy and graceful champion.
While he faces a considerably stiff test in Henderson, you can bet he welcomes it with open arms. He’ll employ his length and crafty striking to give Henderson more trouble than he has gotten thus far. In the event the fight hits the ground, he’ll be happy to show the excellent grappling skills he was once so feared for by many of the world’s welterweights. I made the mistake of going against him last time and I don’t plan on doing it again. T.J. Grant will remain an undefeated lightweight and become the new UFC lightweight champion.
Ben Henderson and T.J. Grant are expected to headline the UFC on Fox Sports 1 event.
Photo by Gary A. Vasquez – USA TODAY Sports