TJ Grant talked with BJPenn.com Radio Wednesday night as he busily prepares himself for two major events in his life. The first, which is due to happen sometime this month, is the birth of his daughter; the second, his fight with fellow UFC lightweight, Gray Maynard, on May 25. For Grant, his impending fatherhood took priority to fighting, as he turned down a fight with Jim Miller slated for this month. “I didn’t want the two to be at the same time, because if I got to miss one I’m going to miss the fight, that’s for sure,” he stated. Respecting his decision, the UFC has given Grant a fight against 3rd ranked lightweight in Gray Maynard.
“I’m really excited when I found out I was fighting Gray,” Grant explained. “He’s the only guy other than Jim Miller who was ahead of me on the rankings. I’m really happy with the UFC that they think highly of me to put me in a fight like this. You know, I’m just going to go out there and fight him like everyone else. I’m not afraid of the guy, I respect what he’s done and respect him as a fighter, but I’m going to go out there and I’m going to bring a war to him…. my goal is to go out there and beat Gray Maynard. I’d love to make him say, ‘Uncle.’”
When asked about Maynard as an opponent, TJ admitted that it will be a tough fight, but credits his training as preparation enough to get the victory.
“Yeah, he definitely poses a lot of issues,” said Grant, “he’s got devastating power, he’s an elite wrestler, he’s not just a good wrestler, and he’s also fought five-round fights, he’s fought the best. Every fighter poses different troubles and different problems… [but in] training camp, you always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We’re preparing for the best Gray Maynard, and I’m excited for it. I’m going to have some new tricks up in my sleeve that hopefully I’ll get to show. I’m sure he’s going to be a different fighter, he’s had a lot of time off… he went back and corrected some of his mistakes from his last fights, you know, I’m looking to do the same. We’re going to go out there, and we’re going to throw down. Hopefully he’s willing to mix it up with me. If we go to the ground, that’s great too. I mean, I’ve been on the ground in every single one of my fights pretty much. I feel comfortable there. One thing I can say is, I’m not going to be intimidated. I’m ready to rock, I’m going to be looking to knock him out or submit him.”
To his credit, TJ Grant has almost two decades of martial arts training under his belt. Holding almost twice as many professional fights as Maynard, Grant certainly has a wealth of experience behind him coming into this fight. With 13 submission victories, Grant will be comfortable even against a powerful wrestler like Maynard.
“I started training Brazilian jiu jitsu when I was like 15” Grant explained of his introduction to martial arts. “My older brother got me into it. He boxed pretty high level. My mom basically said you got to stop wrestling inside the house and take it to the gym. I started training, and I wrestled in high school, but it wasn’t until after high school. I worked at a pizza shop and was training jiu jitsu as much as I could. I’ve done training with a lot of guys, man. Me and Scott MacLean, he started Fit Plus, and I was the first one there. Through that gym, we’ve brought in tons and tons of high-level grapplers to really hone our skills. I’ve done training with a lot of top guys, like Shane Rice, Jorge Gurgel, Leo Santos [and his brother] Wagney [Fabiano], Robson Mora is our jiu jitsu instructor. We’ve done a lot of training, you know, it’s been a long time. I mean I feel like, I got into this sport in 1999, and I’ve been a fan since 1994. Ever since I started my jiu jitsu I was always thinking, ‘OK this guy might punch me in the face, so I got to be ready for that.’ I never thought- I mean I like jiu jitsu in the gi, I train it all the time- I’m always thinking also like I got to be ready to fight. That’s always been my goal, and that’s always been my approach. I like no-gi as well, I do it all. I keep a humble approach to my training, I always try to prepare for the worst and never get too high with the highs and too low with the lows.”
This humble approach has allowed Grant to continue to learn and grow as a fighter, ultimately bringing him to a point where he is fighting in the top-10 contender-ship, and, quite possibly in this fight or the next, for the next shot at the belt. Despite this success, he maintains his humility.
When asked what he is looking for with a win over Maynard, TJ replied, “You know what, man, I don’t think I’m better or too good for anybody. I just want to fight somebody who’s going to take me further. If I’m number three, and this fight takes to number three or number two in the world, and they have to have a title fight in between, well I want my fight to be somebody who’s going to get me that next title shot. I don’t care, I don’t care who it is… Frankie Edgar left the 55 division, and [Anthony] Pettis has gone down as well for the title shot, and [Jose] Aldo will be coming up, so it’s up to the UFC, but I’ll trade two guys going down for one guy coming up, for sure. It’s a good thing. My goal is to get closer to the title and fight for it… But I ain’t looking past Gray Maynard at all, he’s a first-class warrior, he’s done a lot. I’ve got my hands full.”
With his first fight on the main card of a Pay-Per-View on May 25, this is TJ Grant’s first real opportunity to claim the spotlight for himself in terms of fans. While fighters like Chael Sonnen or Josh Koscheck have used such an opportunity to brazenly assert themselves and gain notoriety with their trash-talking, Grant seems content with allowing his fighting style to gain him fans.
“For me, I’m just myself,” he said. “I’m not going to be anybody that I’m not, then I’ll come off as fake; it’d be pretty transparent at that point. I’m just going to be myself. I feel like my fighting style is exciting. I go out there and I compete. To me, it’s a competition, but it’s a fight. I’m trying to break that guy, you know, I’m trying to impose my will… I’m not going out there to win three rounds, I’m going out there to knock him out or submit him. You know, if I win three rounds, great. I hope my fighting style alone [will do it]. That’s what I try to bring to the table, I try to be a fighter every day of my life. You know, if I went out there and trash talked, it’s not really my style. I’m really going to get into it, but I’m sure at some point, somebody is going to piss me off, know what I mean?”
Until that time, we can expect TJ Grant to continue his steady rise in the lightweight ranks as a calm and humble fighter. Be sure to catch his fight against Gray Maynard at UFC 160 on May 25. This card is headlined by a heavyweight title fight between champion Cain Velasquez and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
You can listen to the entire interview with TJ Grant here. Be sure to catch the first half of the interview where Grant talks about his decision to drop to 155, his last win over Matt Wiman, and his opinions on TRT and PED’s in MMA.Tags: Anthony Pettis, antonio "bigfoot" silva, Antonio Silva, bigfoot silva, BJPenn.Com Radio, BJPennDotCom Radio, Cain Velasquez, Chael Sonnen, fit plus, Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, Jim Miller, jorge gurgel, Jose Aldo, Josh Koscheck, mma, MMA NEWS, robson mora, scott maclean, TJ Grant, ufc, UFC 160, ufc news