T.J Grant earned a title shot against, the then champion, Benson Henderson, when he defeated Maynard by TKO at UFC 160 earlier this year. Due to an unfortunate severe concussion, Grant has not been able to train let alone fight since. The big machine (UFC) keeps on moving despite injuries and as the lightweight division keeps progressing, Grant’s stock is falling… and fast.
Nate Diaz defeated Gray Maynard via TKO last week at the UFC TUF Finale 18 in what many are calling Diaz’s most impressive performance to date. Nate did have a vintage Diaz performance as he unleashed his volume striking on “The Bully” and talked trash to him in the process, but how much of an accomplishment is beating Maynard these days?
Gray Maynard was a promising prospect coming out of the fifth season of the ultimate fighter, beating ranked fighters in the lightweight division which earned him a shot at the title against, then champion, Frankie Edgar. Having beat Edgar before, Maynard went into his title fight very confident and had a memorable fight that was a nominee for fight of the night in 2011. Unfortunately for Maynard, the bout was called a draw and he did not win the belt.
Since that five round war, Maynard has not been the same fighter. He has been knocked out in three of his last four fights and just doesn’t look like the same fighter that earned a title shot almost three years ago.
Other than Maynard, Grant has not fought another opponent ranked in the top 10 at lightweight. As MMA fans, we have such a short term memory and we are quick to place the fighter with the most recent impressive win in line for the next title shot. Since Grant last fought, Henderson lost his belt to Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez had an epic fight against Diego Sanchez that is a worthy nominee for fight of the millennium, and Maynard got knocked out again. Even Diaz looks as if he is in a better position for a title shot than Grant at this point.
To make matters worse for Grant, #4 Josh Thomson will take on #1 Benson Henderson on January 25 at UFC on Fox 10. If Thomson wins, he will inevitably jump in line in front of Grant, who is currently ranked #3. It seems like by the time Grant gets back to health, he will have to climb the ever so deep ladder of 155 lbs.
Let me know where you think T.J. Grant stands in the lightweight picture in the comments below.