“It’s really unfortunate that they had to cancel the whole show, but that was the main event. If you’re champion of the world, you should fight anyone, any time, as long as you’re healthy — he was healthy. He had a full training camp, Sonnen didn’t. Sonnen was going to be under-sized significantly. I think Sonnen, stylistically, would be a less dangerous opponent than Dan Henderson. I think it’s Jones’ obligation to take that fight, but it’s his decision and he did what he had to do.”
But Grant’s not about to sit around and sulk. A win over a tough opponent like Dunham will send a message to the lightweight division.
“This is a big opportunity for me and I was really looking forward to fighting on the main card,” Grant said. “It doesn’t change anything. I still have to go out and fight Evan Dunham and I’m excited about that.
“I’ve been in the UFC for ... this will be my ninth fight now. I’ve yet to reach the masses. It’s something I’ve been working to do. I guess I’m just going to have to keep on working. Nothing’s going to change. I’m going to prepare if it’s on the pay-per-view or not ... I’m just looking to go out there and win, first and foremost. And second, to put on a great show.”
Putting it all out there wouldn’t be anything new, though. Grant has been on a tear since dropping to 155 pounds late last year, submitting NCAA Division I wrestler Shane Roller before winning a dominant unanimous decision over BJJ black belt Carlo Prater.
If Grant is looking to snag a fight-night bonus, he has got the right opponent standing on the opposite side of the cage. Both fighters are aggressive grapplers not opposed to trading leather.
Grant said his main focus is to pick up the victory. A bonus would simply be the icing on the cake.
“Ideally, I’m going to take him out real quick, but that’s probably not going to happen,” Grant said with a laugh, who earned knockout of the night honours for his TKO victory over Kevin Burns at UFC 107 in late 2009. “I think this is going to be a great fight and be very exciting. If we get any type of bonus, or I get any type of bonus, that’s great. But right now, I’m just looking to let it all hang out and get the win.
“I just really want to entertain the fans. That’s really my style. I don’t like to take breaks. I like to keep the pressure on and work hard. By the end of the fight, I want to be exhausted. I want to have left everything in the cage. That’s my goal going in.”
Though Grant knows Dunham is as tough as they come, he is confident he can get the job done.
“I see opportunities pretty much everywhere in the fight,” Grant said. “But he’s as well-rounded a fighter as I’ve ever fought in the UFC. He comes out, he’s got really crisp striking, he’s a southpaw, he’s aggressive, doesn’t like to back up and he stays really long with his punches, which is something you have to respect. So I’ve got to be careful in the stand-up.
“If it does become a clinching battle, or a takedown battle, I have to be first. I have to initiate and keep him backing up. That’s always the key for me in any fight — dictate, control and fight my fight.”
UFC 152 BOUT ORDER
Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort
Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson
Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann
Matt Hamill vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
Charles Oliveira vs. Cub Swanson
Vinny Magalhaes vs. Igor Pokrajac
Evan Dunham vs. T.J. Grant
Lance Benoist vs. Sean Pierson
Marcus Brimage vs. Jim Hettes
Seth Baczynski vs. Simeon Thoresen
Mitch Gagnon vs. Walel Watson
Charlie Brenneman vs. Kyle Noke
SPIDER HOT TO FIGHT GSP
Anderson Silva is determined to face Georges St. Pierre.
St. Pierre is slated to unify the welterweight titles against interim champion Carlos Condit at UFC 154 in Montreal on Nov. 17. Earlier this month, UFC president Dana White said St. Pierre needs to win for the superfight with Silva to become a reality.
However, during a recent interview with Sport TV in Brazil, the middleweight champion said he wants to face St. Pierre even if Condit is victorious.
“Regardless of who wins, even if St. Pierre loses, a fight with me can happen,” Silva said. “A fight like this is above anything else. St. Pierre is one of the greatest of the UFC.
“Right now, a fight with Condit is meaningless.”
If the bout were to occur, White has hinted the two would meet at a 178-pound catchweight.
SWICK GETS NEW DEAL
Mike Swick has inked a new deal with the UFC.
“Last thing I did before leaving for Philippines... Signed new 4 fight deal w/ @UFC!” Swick wrote on Twitter.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 competitor made a triumphant return to mixed martial arts at UFC on FOX 4 earlier this month, scoring a vicious KO victory over DaMarques Johnson. The win netted the 33-year-old welterweight knockout of the night honours and an additional $50,000.
Prior to the bout, Swick had been sidelined for 30 months due to a combination of injury and esophageal spasm, which forced him to completely overhaul his diet.
With his new contract in place, Swick will meet slugger Matt Brown at UFC on FOX 5 in Seattle on Dec. 8. The card will be headlined by a lightweight championship bout between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz. The co-main event will see Mauricio (Shogun) Rua take on Swedish striker Alexander Gustafsson. Also, B.C. native Rory MacDonald squares off with B.J. Penn.
BELFORT A BLACKZILLIAN
Vitor Belfort has joined the Blackzilians.
The MMA legend is set to challenge Jon Jones in the main event of UFC 152 in Toronto on Sept. 22. In order to get the best insight into what makes the light-heavyweight champion tick, Belfort has enlisted Rashad Evans as his head coach.
“This is the most important fight of my life, so the time is perfect to join (manager) Glenn Robinson and the Blackzilians and their world-class training camp at JACO Hybrid Training Center in Delray Beach,” Belfort told 5thround.com. “I will have the best trainers and the top fighters in the sport, including Alistair Overeem and Rashad Evans helping me prepare for this title fight.
“I will run my whole training camp at JACO and will win the belt for my fans, family and the Blackzilians in South Florida.”
If anyone knows Jones’ tendencies, it’s Evans. Not only are the two former training partners under coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, Evans went the distance in a losing effort against Jones at UFC 145 in April.
A host of big name fighters, including three former UFC champions, will compete at ONE Fighting Championship’s next event.
ONE FC 5: Pride of a Nation takes place in Quezon City, Philippines, on Friday and will see a fourth encounter between former UFC heavyweight champions Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia. Also, inaugural lightweight titleholder Jens Pulver meets undefeated Eric Kelly in a featherweight scrap.
The main event features former DREAM bantamweight and featherweight kingpin Bibiano Fernandes taking on Gustavo Falciroli.
The free preliminary fights kick off at 8:30 a.m. ET, while the full card can be purchased via online pay-per-view for $9.99 at onefc.livesport.tv.