UFC lightweight contender T.J. Grant saw the opportunity of a lifetime slip away when a concussion suffered in training forced him out of his scheduled UFC 164 title bout against then-champion Benson Henderson.
As the story goes, Anthony Pettis, who was supposedly still healing from a knee injury that forced him out of his UFC 163 featherweight title bout against Jose Aldo, quickly stepped in to face Henderson in Pettis’ hometown of Milwaukee. The rest is history, as “Showtime” added a second victory over “Smooth” to his resume with a shocking first round armbar, locking up the UFC 155-pound title in the process.
Pettis is currently back on the shelf with another knee injury that required surgery, his timetable to return unknown as of right now.
Many people cried fowl at what had transpired, speculating that Grant was coerced to back out of the fight in order to book the more lucrative Henderson vs. Pettis rematch. But ESPN’s Brett Okamoto confirmed yesterday that Grant still has not been cleared to resume fighting after six months off:
As of today, T.J. Grant STILL not cleared to resume training due to concussion in July. Remember when some said it was a conspiracy injury?
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 7, 2014
It looks like the people who cried wolf at Grant’s initial absence will have to eat their words in a big way. Grant’s head injury from a session of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training is apparently much more serious than was initially put on.
Overall, it’s just an unfortunate circumstance for the Nova Scotian Grant. He was on top of the world after an impressive knockout of Gray Maynard at UFC 160 last May, a win that gave him five straight in the ultra-competitive UFC lightweight division.
There’s a litany of potentially great bouts that await Grant upon his return; it’s just a matter of when he can actually prepare for those.
Here’s to hoping Grant can get healed up and back in the Octagon soon; there’s no guarantee that the fast-moving division will wait for him to return to full health. Luckily for him, the title picture is extremely muddied at 155 pounds right now with Pettis on the shelf for the majority of 2014.
Josh Thomson will face off with Henderson in the main event of UFC on Fox 10 on January 25 in a perceived number one’s contender’s bout. But with it unclear when “Showtime” will next defend his championship, Grant may be campaigning for a bout with either of those fighters should he get cleared sometime this spring.
There’s no doubt that Grant is one of the top contenders at lightweight, so hopefully a seemingly innocuous injury won’t derail all of his momentum without him ever stepping into the cage.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports