TJ Grant was in the fight of the night at UFC 152 on Saturday against Evan Dunham. He not only earned the victory, but an extra $65,000 for his efforts inside the cage. MMARecap caught up with Grant to discuss the fight, not being on the main card, and where he stands in the light weight division.
How you feeling today about 36 hours after that crazy fight with Evan Dunham on Saturday?
I feel good. A little sore, but feeling good. I enjoyed myself yesterday, had a good time and trying to rest up now.
Any injuries or suspensions that we should be concerned about?
No, nothing like that. A little bit stiff and sore, like I was in the fight of the night on Saturday. The usual. Nothing that a few days of rest won’t heal up.
Now let’s talk a bit about the fight. It seemed every time you hit Evan with a heavy strike be it a punch or a knee he just sort of smiled and came back at you. Were you surprised at how much punishment he could take?
Yeah. I knew going in he was a mentally strong fighter. He’s not going to break, you have to put him away. That’s something I wanted to do, but it didn’t completely work out. I hit him and I felt like I hurt him, but he would just come back. He’s got a good mind for fighting and he made me work. It was a battle and a razor close fight. Props go to him.
You opened up a big gash on his forehead with a knee and the blood started just pouring out of him. It was never shown on tv, but did the doctor ever come in to check on his cut and did you think it could have ended the fight?
They didn’t stop it during the fight and they did a good job in between rounds to stop the bleeding. The cut was about two inches. It might have been a little bigger. The thing was huge and just bleeding. It kinda worked out because it was right down the middle and was just going down the bridge of his nose and then separating. It didn’t go into his eyes, but I ended up getting some of his blood in my eye at one point. Man it was crazy. It was slippery. A couple times in the first round I would clinch him and he would start just kind of rabbit punching his way out. I tried to stay composed and started thinking, if he is rabbit punching, I need to score with a knee. He was ducking his head, which is something you are told not to because if the knee comes it can make it bad. I threw a lot of knees and missed on a lot, but I connected on one and man it opened him up. I’ve never seen blood like that before.
I’ve been told after fights that are this much blood all you can taste is iron. Are you still tasting it?
I am sure I tasted some of it, but I don’t even remember. It was gross man. It was all over the place. I just watched my post fight interview and I didn’t even realize when I did these interviews I still had blood all over my face, lips, beard. My beard if it wasn’t red already, it was completely red after the fight. My shorts were covered in blood. I tweeted a picture about the white being completely red.
By the third round both of you seemed a little bit slower, is it safe to say this was physically one of the most draining fights you have been in?
Yeah. I’ve been in some draining fights, but there was no controlling the tempo from either of us. He would attack me and then I would attack him. Or we would attack each other. There was no stopping. There might have been a few lulls in the action. I knew that this fight had the potential to be like that. You get ready for the fight and you know what you are made of and all that. I was just sitting there knowing it was going to be a battle. I went out there and he was jumping around screaming and in my head I knew I had never felt so good going into a fight. I knew we were going to put on a good show. It was exciting. About three minutes into the first round I was like man we were going to get fight of the night. I wasn’t trying to get fight of the night, I was out there with my game plan and it started working. It was his game plan too. I think the takedowns, he got a couple trying to steal a close round. I am just glad that he didn’t do any damage or got to do anything with the takedowns. What a fight.
You mentioned it was your game plan and Evan’s to just go out there and swing for the fences. Knowing that you are both really good with submissions, was your plan always to stand and trade or were you thinking of testing your ground skills against his?
The idea was if I felt like there was a close round to sneak a takedown at the end. That was something that we went over. I knew how good Evan was going to be on the ground. I just figured that if one of us got the other on the ground, not much would happen. My plan was just to get back on my feet. At the end of the rounds that was what I was trying to do and he was just trying to hold me down. I had the feeling from watching all of his previous fights that he likes to throw the fists and let it go from there.
I scored the fight 29-28 for you with the third round going to Evan but it was a close round. When Bruce Buffer was reading the scorecards were you at all worried you lost the decision?
I was just thinking in my head that I felt like I won. My corner told me I won. It was a close fight, he didn’t hurt me with anything. He landed volume and I felt like I landed cleaner shots. I wasn’t sure if the judges were going to see the body shots. It was a super close fight. Especially with the takedowns. I was expecting it to be a split decision one way or the other. I re-watched the fight, but I felt like I landed the more quality shots.
The fight earned the coveted fight of the night honors. After your fight did you think that you had that bonus locked up or did you think a different fight might have earned it?
As much as they say anyone can win fight of the night or submission or knockout of the night, I still feel like the main card fighters have more of an opportunity to do it. Based on the fact that they are selling the fight and the fans buy it for that. And then if the fight lives up to the hype, the get the submission or knockout of the night. That’s just the way I see it, they say otherwise. I am not really too sure. I didn’t see a fight like ours. I was pretty confident that I got it. They told me after that it was awesome and it was fight of the night. Sometimes there are two bonuses and once all the fights were over I felt like we had it. We also had the blood factor on our side and we are two sick individuals and just stood there and traded punches and went after each other.
Now one debate that I have been having with some friends is that blood factor that you mentioned. We all agreed that the booing in the Demetrious Johnson Joseph Benavidez fight was uncalled for, but do you think it is fair to say that if either of those fighters had sustained a cut like Evan did, that we would be talking about it differently?
It definitely can. I didn’t get see much of their fight. I was a bit distracted. It looked exciting. The thing is at that weight class I am not going to say they don’t have power. But it is crazy they are moving so fast and hitting each other. They are hitting each other so many times that you almost get numb to how good of a fighter they are. It comes down to why the heavyweights get paid the most. The smaller guys are the best fighters in the world. That was one of the things I was worried about cutting down to 155 is guys get lighter, they get faster, they get better. It’s just one of the things. As soon as you get lower at the lighter weight classes, there’s more talent and depth. I am excited that the UFC has a 125 division. Those are two of the best.
Your fight was supposed to be apart of the main card, but then the UFC 151 cancelation happened. How bummed were you that you weren’t on the main card, but on the FX portion instead?
I was a little bit bummed out. And sponsors you know. I feel like this fight will help with the exposure. I feel like sponsors like you on the main card. It’s easier to sell yourself, sponsors like that main card slot. I know that everything worked out. I lost a little bit of money in sponsors, but we went out and stuck it to them. I knew that was going to be the best fight of the night. We came and we brought it and showed where we belong. I got a nice big fat fight of the night bonus.
Let’s talk a bit about your weight class, you are now three fights in as a lightweight after dropping down from welterweight. Who do you think you would need to beat in order to be considered part of the guys who are “in the mix” as Dana likes to say?
Out there at 155 I can compete with anyone. It comes down to the UFC and marketability. I got work to do. I know that the next fight will be another tough challenge. There’s guys that are knocking on the door like Pettis and Cerrone. Then you got like Clay Guida and Gray Maynard and Joe Louzon. Then there’s the guys who you have seen fight once or twice, but don’t have the exposure yet. Everything changes so quick. I just try to focus on the next guy. Then there’s guys who don’t have any name at all and are just as dangerous. I was glad Evan gave me the opportunity to fight. He had a bigger name than I did. The exposure thing. He has a great record at lightweight. I feel like right now I am in a good position. I just want to take a couple weeks and sit back and then get back into training and see what’s going on. You don’t want to stand still or you will get left behind.
When are you looking to fight again? Are you wanting to fight by the end of the year or more January or early February of next year?
That’s hard to say. I usually always have fought this time of year, then get a fight in December. That’s the way it has worked for me. I’d rather it be a month or two after Christmas or right before Christmas. Last year I was supposed to fight on December 29 but I sprained my elbow and had to miss that elbow. I don’t want to cut weight during Christmas. I would have been eating spinach and egg whites while everyone is eating turkey dinner. My body feels good right now. My training camp was tough. I didn’t bring any injuries into the fight this time. I am one of those guys who’s best work comes when I have something to build towards.
Any sponsors or people you want to thank?
Remote Access Technology, Ecko, Dungeon Sports Wear, Cash Bin ATM, Popeyes Health Supplements. All the guys at Fit Plus.
Where can the fans find you at?
Hit me up on twitter @tj_grant. Love to hear from you guys. My facebook is all log jammed, hit up my fan page.
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