Hard-hitting UFC lightweight contender T.J. Grant has to be feeling like a forgotten man these days. Grant is hoping to get his career back on track and is currently dealing with the frustration of lingering concussion issues. The timing is never good when it comes to a concussion, but it couldn’t have happened at a worse time in Grant’s case. His Octagon career was just hitting its peak and now the top contender finds himself on the long, slow road to recovery.
Grant has been forced out of two potential title fights in the last few months. First, he had to withdraw from a scheduled title bout at UFC 164 against then lightweight champion Benson Henderson. Grant’s misfortune became Anthony Pettis’s gain, as “Showtime” captured the belt with a first round submission victory.
UFC officials than targeted Grant for a title fight on FOX against Pettis in December, however, once again, that didn’t materialize because Grant stated he wouldn’t be ready by then. So Josh Thomson will now get that lightweight title opportunity come Dec. 14.
Grant had originally been promised a title shot after an impressive one round destruction of Gray Maynard in a title eliminator at UFC 160. For Grant, it was his fifth-consecutive victory since moving down from welterweight, and it was his most impressive performance. Then the concussion issues, and Grant remains on the sidelines with no targeted return date.
Now there exists the possibility that his road to a title shot could get even more complicated. The electrifying battle at UFC 166 between lightweights Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez had everyone buzzing as it was one of those fights that became an instant classic. Melendez, a former Strikeforce champion, narrowly lost by decision against Henderson in their title affair at UFC on FOX 7. He’s eager to get another shot. Melendez had been ranked No. 2 in the UFC’s top 10 and his stock has soared with that thrilling victory in Houston. He’s likely vaulted past Grant when it comes to title contenders and could be in line to face the Pettis-Thomson winner.
Another possible obstacle for Grant could come in the form of Jose Aldo. The long-time featherweight champion could be part of a possible superfight against Pettis in 2014 if both fighters continue to produce wins. The two champions have expressed their desire to meet. In fact, they had been scheduled to fight at UFC 163 for Aldo’s 145-pound strap, but Pettis was forced to withdraw because of an injury.
So, there are obviously a few factors that seem to be compromising Grant’s prospects of receiving an immediate title shot upon his return. Grant is certainly not as well known as some of the other big names in the division, and being sidelined indefinitely has worked against him, as well.
Grant may not get an immediate title shot upon his return, but hopefully the UFC will remember their promise. Grant shouldn’t have to win more than one fight before he receives the title shot that he’s missed out on twice and has shown he richly deserves.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.