Aiming for the Main Card: Grant Ready for Almieda at UFC 124
Usually after a hard day’s work, the average person likes to put his or her feet up and relax. With TJ Grant, you can say he is a little more then the average person. After coming off a win two months ago, he will step back into the octagon to face Ricardo Almeida at UFC 124 on December 11th. He knows that a win in Montreal would mean some big things will come.
“If I win this fight, I see the main card in my future definitely,” says Grant. “It’s going to be a tough fight with Ricardo. I know that he has a good set of skills and has fought a lot of tough guys so I am going to get in there. I have a big test in front of me and I look forward to it.”
Grant will be coming into this match with some momentum. The Cole Harbour native is coming off a win against Julio Paulino at UFC 119 in Indy. In the match, Grant was able to use both his wrestling and BJJ skills to take Paulino down at will and control the match. On paper for this fight, he would be advised to keep it on his feet where he feels he has the advantage. Almeida is a BJJ specialist who has received his black belt from Renzo Gracie. His skills on the ground had given him a fight winning streak since making the move from Middleweight to Welterweight with victories coming over the likes of Matt Brown and Kendell Grove. However, that streak stopped as his skills were no match in his last fight as he was submitted by former champ Matt Hughes via Arm Bar at UFC 117. A win over Hughes would have put Almeida into title contention, so he will be looking to make an example out of Grant to move back up the ladder. With the short time period off, Grant sees this as an advantage come December 11th.
“I feel healthier now then I did for my last fight,” says Grant. “I have been maintaining a high level of training. I backed off a little while after the last fight, you don’t want to hammer down and drive your body into the ground. He (Almeida) is going to be pretty hungry coming off a loss in the fashion that Matt Hughes beat him. With a guy with his pedigree he will want to come back and prove something but I will be standing in his way.”
While he will be looking for the biggest win of his career, he will be making sure that all the pieces will be put together. Although Grant will be looking to use his Muay Thai skills to be the winning factor, he will be prepared if the fight lands on the mat. While he is no slouch on the ground, he would rather not take the chance of getting caught in a submission. His team at Fitplus brought BJJ standout Leo Santos to help him out. Also, recently his trainer Scott Maclean affiliated his gym with Team Nova Uniao which has fighters the calibre of UFC Featherweight champ Jose Aldo and Wagnney Fabiano to name just a few. So Grant took the opportunity to fly down to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to train with some of the world’s best in BJJ. While he took another step in his game, there were some things that maybe he did not expect to see in the hot sun.
“The training was awesome, they have a great group of guys down there,” says Grant. “Everyone is there for each other. It was a great experience with there high level BJJ but not only that I was really surprised because everybody’s wrestling was really good and they also got some good stand up too. Getting to train with these guys will really help in this fight.”
While there are so many factors for how Grant will make out in Montreal, you have to wonder if there is more pressure for him to put on a great fight. As most MMA fans know, World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) has now been merged in with the UFC. With the roster expanding, guys like Grant, who have not been able to get to main card status will have more people competing with him for top status. While it is hard to see if this will affect Grant and how his fight game will go, he is always up for a good challenge.
“Getting on the main card is where you want to be on this sport,” says Grant. “I am kind of now in the same position that I was in my first fight, my name is not really out there as much as I would like it to be. All I can do is go out there and fight my best and try and put on an exciting fight. My last fight was not the most exciting. I did what I had to do to, I took what my opponent gave me. This fight I am looking to make this exciting but I am also looking for the win.”
With all that said, it is still hard to say how Grant will do against Almeida. Regardless, win or lose you know that Grant will give 110% to get it done.