It has been a long, frustrating road to recovery for former no. 1 UFC lightweight contender T.J. Grant, but it now appears as though he is closer than ever to making a return. Grant, who recorded a first-round TKO win over Gray Maynard at UFC 160 in his last fight, has been out of action for over a year due to concussion-related issues.
Grant recently told FOX Sports that he’s been pushing himself in the gym and hopes to return at Fight Night 54 in Halifax. If he gets the green light, he’s hoping to square off against either Donald Cerrone or Nate Diaz.
It would definitely be a welcome sight to see the Nova Scotia native compete Oct.4 in essentially a hometown event, but the thought of him facing either “Cowboy” or Diaz would add an extra level of excitement. Either matchup would have the potential for fireworks, and would be an extremely meaningful fight in the 155-pound division.
Cerrone is one of the top candidates for Fighter of the Year, having produced three straight victories by way of knockout or submission. He’s racked up a trio of Fight Night bonuses in 2014, and has already picked up wins over Jim Miller, Edson Barboza and Adriano Martins. Diaz’s career has been in a holding pattern over monetary matters as he hasn’t fought since knocking out Maynard last year at the TUF 18 Finale.
It certainly appears as though Grant wants to make up for lost time, and isn’t interested in a tune-up fight after such a lengthy absence.
Grant’s career was at its height after his destruction of “The Bully” to nail down a title shot, but the concussion derailed that momentum. He was in line to get a title opportunity against Benson Henderson at UFC 164, but instead was forced to bow out of that fight after sustaining the injury while training. Anthony Pettis was given the chance and made the most of it with a first-round submission of Henderson to win the belt.
After going 3-3 during his UFC tenure as a welterweight, including losses to current champion Johny Hendricks and top-10 contender Dong Hyun Kim, Grant elected to test the lightweight waters. The move rejuvenated his career in a major way as he has reeled off five consecutive victories, including back-to-back first-round knockouts of Maynard and Matt Wiman. He’s also posted victories over Evan Dunham, Carlo Prater and Shane Roller.
Grant possesses precise striking skills and a strong ground game, and has produced an impressive 17 finishes in 21 career victories.
Grant fell out of the UFC’s top-15 rankings in May because of his prolonged inactivity. His well-rounded, aggressive fighting style makes him a dangerous assignment for anyone. Hopefully, Grant will soon be medically cleared to resume his UFC career, and will finally get the chance to prove he’s still one of the organization’s top 155-pound competitors.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports