UFC lightweight contender TJ Grant has been out of action since his impressive knockout win over Gray Maynard at UFC 160 in May 2013. Scheduled for a shot at then-champion Ben Henderson last year, Grant suffered an unfortunate concussion that has kept him on the sidelines for almost a year.
After suffering repeated setbacks on his road to recovery, Grant was removed from the official UFC rankings this week. UFC president Dana White said the Grant’s absence was due to inactivity, which could be a justifiable reason. However, Grant’s trainer Scott McLean told Full Contact Fighter that while Grant will be back no matter what, he hasn’t been refusing fights that he could otherwise sign up for:
“I don’t think it matters in the long run regardless, but it seems a little silly, a little premature on their part. If he was refusing fights and healthy, well, then that’s up to them. But that’s not the case; they know the difference.”
Maclean is quick to stress that Grant would fight were he able to, and while it’s not a direct barb at Nate Diaz, who was also removed from the rankings this week due to inactivity, he does believe the promotion may be acting on a bit of a double standard, citing injured contenders Cat Zingano and Dominick Cruz as examples:
“I would question the UFC’s decision again as Dominick Cruz is still ranked at #9 and Cat Zingano at #1. I am sure there are others. In the long run I doubt it will make much difference, but that’s not the point.
For me sometimes things are a little bit more about principle. The principle of knocking him off the rankings. It’s completely fine if they follow suit in everybody who hasn’t fought in eleven months and two weeks, and whatever days, whatever it happens to be, if they’re bumped from the rankings, but if not, then you know what’s the reasoning behind it? If it’s just due to inactivity, cool, then they’re going to have to do that for everybody.”
Maclean does makes some excellent points, and he sounds confident that Grant’s removal from the rankings won’t actually end up mattering in the long run. That’s the best attitude he can have, because with Grant’s future in the Octagon unknown, there’s no reason to cry over the current rankings.
However, it is getting a bit unsettling as more and more time passes with Grant out. It’s becoming apparent that his concussion was much more than just a simple matter, and head injuries are obviously nothing to take lightly; especially in a contact sport like MMA.
There’s not much doubt that Grant will quickly return to the rankings once he does make his way back to the cage, but just when will that be?
Photo: Tom Szczerbowski for USA TODAY Sports