The last time T.J. Grant fought in the UFC, he defeated Gray Maynard by TKO in the first round. The victory was Grant’s fifth consecutive win after dropping to Lightweight in October 2011. The TKO won Knockout of the Night honors for Grant and punched his ticket for a shot at the UFC lightweight title.
Instead of fighting for that title, Grant sits on the sidelines, watching his chance of getting that title shot get slimmer and slimmer.
Grant suffered a concussion while training for a fight against then champion Benson Henderson. The injury forced Grant to withdraw from the bout, which was scheduled to headline UFC 164. Anthony Pettis took Grant’s place on that card, and defeated Henderson, capturing the title with a first round armbar submission.
Pettis’ first title defense was expected to be against Grant, but the lingering effects of Grant’s concussion saw the UFC booking Josh Thomson against Pettis instead. That fight is set to take place at UFC on Fox 9 in December.
The promotion doesn’t know when Grant will return to the Octagon, and after Saturday’s UFC 166 card, UFC president Dana White said that when Grant does come back he might not be fighting for the title:
T.J. Grant’s in one of those unfortunate situations where he’s had a title shot, and he had to pull out twice, so he might have to come back and fight another fight, we have to keep this thing rolling. It’s (Melendez’s win) a huge step back for T.J. Grant
One of the main reasons behind White’s comments was the bout between Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez that took place on Saturday. The three round battle will be under strong consideration for 2013’s Fight of the Year, and it solidified Melendez’s ranking as one of the top fighters in the division.
If Thomson upsets Pettis in December, expect the UFC to book Thomson versus Melendez. The two fought three times in Strikeforce, with Melendez winning two of those three. If Pettis scores the win over Thomson, don’t be surprised to see the UFC book Pettis versus Melendez.
As for Grant, all he can do is take the time to he needs to get healthy, and remember what White said in September when discussing the situation, “We’re (UFC) not going anywhere. The belt’s going to be there.”
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