TJ Grant made a statement at 155 when he knocked out Gray Maynard, one that the MMA world heard loud and clear. Grant was ready for a title shot at Benson Henderson was happy to fight him. Seemed straightforward enough at the time, but it didn’t quite play out that way.
Grant was forced to withdraw from his Lightweight title fight with Bendo, due to an injury in training, and in stepped Anthony Pettis. Showtime shocked the world by submitting Henderson in round one, and set up a title clash at UFC on Fox 9 with Grant. Grant was once again forced to withdraw, sighting the need for time to heal as the reason.
Josh Thomson was quickly marked as a replacement and Grant is once again left sidelined. Dana White spoke at the UFC 165 Media Scrum regarding the situation with TJ:
"These things happen," White said. "Bad things happen like this. It's part of the sport. There's nothing you can do about it. I'm sure he's really upset about it and it's driving him crazy. Dominick Cruz did that season of 'The Ultimate Fighter' against Urijah Faber and was supposed to fight on the Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen II (card) and get a piece of pay-per-view. That kid lost his lottery ticket."
"It's one of those unfortunate things that can happen in a contact sport. We're not going anywhere. Kid's just got to take his time, heal up, relax and we'll see what happens. Carlos Condit went through this. Chuck Liddell went through this at one point. This happens."
White’s respect and trust is not easily gained, and Grant’s recent five fight win streak will likely play a huge part in his bosses sentiments. It’s always hard to return from a lengthy lay off to fight, let alone for a title.
"Going in and pushing yourself and saying, 'You know what, I don't want to miss this opportunity, so I'm going to hurt myself to do it,' it's ridiculous," White said. "We're not going anywhere. The belt's going to be there. No matter who has the belt, it will be there, and we'll figure the T.J. Grant thing out when T.J. Grant is healthy."
The UFC 155lb. division is changing rapidly, who knows where it will be by the time Grant is healthy again.