In the sport of mixed martial arts, the saying goes is that you are only good as your last fight. If that is the case for TJ Grant , his odds of beating Johnny Hendricks are good at UFC 113 in Montreal on May 8th. The Nova Scotia fighter is coming off a knockout of the night win over Kevin Burns at UFC 107 back in December but he does know the danger that Hendricks beings.
“He is my toughest test so far and I have prepared super hard,” says Grant.
“I am still training, keeping the intensity up. I know what kind of fighter he is. He is one of the highest ranked wrestlers in the UFC, An opponent like that is a dangerous kind of fighter. They always have that to fall back on. All I can do is be ready.”
With Hendricks, he will need to be ready.. The Oklahoma State alum is a two time NCAA champion. He is also undefeated in his mma career with wins over TUF seven winner Amir Sadollah and more recently a unanimous decision win over Ricardo Funch at UFC 107.
With Grant, he is more known for his ground skills as well. Grant has a wrestling base and is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jistu from Jorge Grugel. While both fighters may be good on the ground the wrestling edge goes to Hendricks. While this may be a problem for some fighters when one of there biggest strengths is outmatched by there opponent, Grant is not scared or stupid when it comes to a match like this.
“I know I am not going to go out there and out wrestle him,” says Grant.
“If the timing is right, maybe a take down can happen or this and that. I am ready to go out there and throw the playbook at him. I got a lot of weapons in my arsenal and that is what I got to do to win this fight. I got to open up and punch him. I got to give him everything I have and I feel like I have more weapons then he does and I got to that to win. I can’t make it a wrestling match because he is the better wrestler, no if, end’s or buts. He is one of the best in the UFC for it and I am going to fight him in a mixed martial arts fight.”
While Grant’s has a full playbook ready to go, he is a fighter that is always looking to add new plays. He has been training hard with his teammates at Fitplus in Dartmouth. Also he and his coach Scott Maclean brought in Canadian standout Jordan Mein and former NCAA wrestler Micheal Chandler to help him out. Grant and his team also made there yearly trip to Thailand to improve on there Maui Thai skills with still 6 weeks to spare back home to finish up training camp.
Besides fighting and training, Grant’s name is starting to get bigger.. He did get to be on his first UFC trading card which he was happy to see. While he doesn’t know if he will be in the UFC Undisputed 2010 video game, he did joke that if he makes the game, that he could retire because he would have accomplished everything he wanted to. He has also been able to use his name to help out kids when he did some training with the wrestling team at Sackville Heights junior high school a couple of months ago. Grant was happy to work with the kids and a friend.
“I went out and coached the junior high practice in Sackville. I know the coach, Travis (McLeod) and he asked me to come out,” says Grant.
“I know how important wrestling is and I know that a lot of kids, it helps them for me to show up and be at there practice to let them know I was in the same position they were at one point. Just wrestling and enjoying it and that it can take you a long ways. I figured it was a good opportunity to give back.”
While Grant would like to try and do more of this kind of thing in the future, he is concerned with the task at hand May 8th. With his skills and his home country fans in the crowd, it should hopefully give him the edge.
Derek Leblanc is a local sports writer and broadcaster.