Kendall Grove Disappointed About Last-Minute Withdrawal of Opponent Terry Martin; Says He’s Trying To “Fight Guys That Already Have Names.”
Grove talks matchup with replacement opponent Derek Brunson
By Kelsey Mowatt
While former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Kendall Grove will still have an opportunity to add a championship belt to his resume at this Saturday’s ShoFIGHT 20 card , the middleweight will not be able to do so against a fellow UFC veteran. Yesterday, just three days before the event, the promotion announced that Terry Martin would not fight Grove as scheduled, and instead, Strikeforce’s Derek Brunson will take his place.
“Honestly? Disappointed,” Grove told FCF Wednesday, when asked for his reaction upon finding out that he would no longer fight Martin. “I got the word about three, four weeks ago that I was fighting for the middleweight belt against Terry Martin, who is well known, and he’s made his name in MMA. He’s had some big wins and a little success in the UFC, and that’s why I’m trying to do. Fight guys that already have names.”
Martin was reportedly unable to secure a license from the Missouri Office of Athletics, however, and the 28 year-old Brunson agreed to step in.
“No disrespect to Brunson or anything,” the 29 year-old, Hawaiian fighter added. “I give the guy mad respect for jumping in on just a few days notice; it shows what kind of fighter he is, but I’m definitely disappointed. I had my hopes set on fighting Terry Martin. It is what it is. It’s the game; this kind of stuff happens. No use crying over spilt milk.”
Although Brunson has impressed by scoring three consecutive wins with Strikeforce to extend his pro record to 9-0, the Jackson’s MMA fighter hasn’t competed in the kind of high profile bouts that Martin has yet.
“I didn’t honestly, but I’m so out of the loop as far as MMA,” said Grove, when asked if he was familiar with who Brunson was. “If you follow me on Twitter you’ll see me asking ‘who fought in the UFC last night?’ You know what I mean? I take this living island style seriously. I’m kind of off the grid. I didn’t know who he was but I know he must be tough if he’s taking a fight with me on short notice.”
Now Grove will have to adapt a strategy that he had prepared for facing a 5’8 tall, pro boxer in Martin, to a 6’1, former three time NCAA Division II, All American wrestler.
“I’ve had some success in the past; I’ve fought wrestlers,” Grove (14-10) noted. “I’ve fought national champion wrestlers and won and I’ve fought national champion wrestlers and lost….I’m excited. My strength is my jiu-jitsu. I think a lot of people don’t know that I started off in this game with my jiu-jitsu and as a wrestler. I only wrestled in high school, but after high school, I carried on with jiu-jitsu and just went with it until I accomplished my black belt.”
“It’s definitely a little weird changing it up last minute,” the 6’6 tall Grove acknowledged. “I was fighting a shorter, compact, professional boxer type… and last minute switch it up to a southpaw wrestler, slash, brawler-striker, slash, tough guy that’s well rounded. I’m excited; it’s going to be interesting. We’ll see what happens.”
Grove has gone 2-1 since he was released by the UFC last year, following a unanimous decision loss to rising middleweight Tim Boetsch in May. The former TUF winner scored wins over Joe Riggs and Ikuhisa Minowa while competing for ProElite, but according to Grove, he’s unsure of what the promotion’s upcoming schedule is and as a result, “got out of my contract.”
Now Grove will look to rebound from a submission loss he suffered against Jay Silva at SCC 4 in February, with what could be a championship win over a rising prospect.
“I’m just going to fight, and whatever happens in the future, happens,” Grove said, while discussing his future aspirations and whether or not it involves returning to the UFC. “If Joe Silva decides to call me up for a fight later in the future, or if he wants to call me up for a last minute replacement on two days notice, or whatever, but I’m really not looking past Brunson.”