T.J. Grant On Upcoming UFC On FUEL TV 3 Fight With Carlo Prater: “I’m Going To Be In His Face From The First Second”
By Tom Taylor
On May 15th, at UFC on FUEL TV 3, TJ Grant will clash with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist, Carlo Prater. The fight will be Grant’s second since shaking up his career by dropping from the 170-pound division to the 155-pound division.
Against Prater, Grant, who trains out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, will look to make a statement in his new division. So far, he says his training has been fruitful
“Training has been going really well; my body is healthy. I’m coming right along and my weight’s good. Everything is looking good for four weeks from now.”
In his first fight at 155-pounds, in October of 2011, he scored an impressive submission victory over Shane Roller, securing an arm bar in the third round. With his fight against Prater looming, Grant says lightweight now feels like a permanent home for him.
“Fighting at 170, I was able to do some things and make it a certain distance in the division, but at that point, guys were just too big and cut too much weight—I’ve always been kind of giving up the advantage there. Finally I feel at home. I feel like when I get in there and get taken down, or even taking a guy down, size is definitely no longer an issue. I’m as big as all the 155-ers, and it’s definitely my home. I’m there to stay.”
Grant emerged from his first fight at lightweight with favorable results, but will face a stiff test in Prater, who has secured more than half of his wins by submission. Despite the latter’s abilities on the mat, Grant feels Prater is well-rounded and will prepare accordingly.
“He’s not just a jiu jitsu guy. He’s got good striking; he comes from a pure Jiu-Jitsu and a pure Muay Thai background. He’s shown he has some good Judo, and some good takedowns and he’s dangerous with his chokes. You’ve got to kind of respect him in all the aspects, but at the same time, I know what I’m good at, and I’m going to try to keep the fight where I feel stronger.”’
To counteract the versatility of his Brazilian opponent, Grant plans to apply pressure from bell to bell.
“When we get in there, I’m just looking to overwhelm anybody. I’m going to throw everything I’ve got at them. But again, I’m going to try to be smart as well. I’d say, just be prepared for a high-paced fight. I’m going to be in his face from the first second.”
While the fight will mark Grant’s second fight at lightweight, it will be Prater’s first. Prater’s last fight was a controversial win at welterweight, over Erick Silva. The bout saw Silva thrash Prater from the opening seconds, stopping him with strikes just 29 seconds into round 1.
Several of these strikes were believed to be illegal, however, and so Prater was awarded a disqualification win. Grant feels that this verdict was not necessarily justified.
“I can understand where the referee was coming from, in the sense that the guy was getting hit in the back of the head, and he was unable to continue. I respect the fact that he made a decision, but I would have probably called it a no contest just because Carlo Prater did nothing in the first 20 seconds or whatever it was in that fight,” Grant said.
“It’s kind of a shame to give the guy [Silva] a loss on a perfect record, based off of that.”
Regardless of the controversy that surrounded Prater’s last win, if Grant is able to secure a win on May 15th, it will propel him upwards through the lightweight ranks. This fight will also be a chance for him to get back on track following injuries that forced him to withdraw from two fights last year.
Leading up to his fight with Prater, Grant is well aware of what’s at stake.
“It’s just going to keep me moving forward. I had kind of a crappy year, last year,” he said. “I only got to fight once. I was glad to win, but at the same time, having to back out of two fights isn’t something that I really am used to. I’ve never had to do it before. I’m just looking to stay healthy now.
“I know what’s at stake here. It’s a really important fight for me and I’m putting it all on the line. I’m looking to get out there and just get a win. Obviously the next step is just a tougher opponent—he’s tough—but a more well-known opponent. I haven’t fought on the big show, on the main card, yet, and that’s something I’m definitely looking to do. I’m just trying to take it one step at a time.”
Despite his focus on taking small steps and working his way through the ranks gradually, Grant says, as fighter, fantasizing about the belt is something he can’t avoid.
“Everybody is thinking about the belt at this point. I don’t want to bow down to any man. I never have. I think that’s something that most fighters have. I don’t want to sit there and go; oh that guy’s better than me. I always want to be the best guy,” Grant said. “It would be a dream to fight for the title.”
Regardless of his championship aspirations, however, Grant takes great pride in representing Canada in the UFC.
“It’s awesome. The fans in Canada are very supportive. I go to different shows in the States and I get people coming up to me. When they come up with a poster or picture of me and want to get it signed, it means a lot,” he said.
“I want to keep representing them and giving them what they want on the 15th of May. A vicious knockout, or a submission or, hell, I’ll take a decision or whatever I can. I just want to be impressive, that’s for sure.”
Grant may have several opportunities to represent Canada on his home soil this year, as the UFC will be making stops in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal in the near future. He is hopeful that he will get a chance to appear on one of these cards.
“I was born in Calgary and have never been back since I was a kid, so that’d be a pretty cool homecoming,” he said. “I’ve got to worry about what happens on May 15th, but I’d definitely be open to being a reserve; being someone who had to step in on short notice for that. I’d love to fight on Stampede week in Calgary. I have lots of family out there and it would be a dream come true.”
Regardless of the outcome of his next fight, and the locations of his fights following it, Grant promises that his love for the sport will keep him competing for a long time.
“I love this sport. I love combat. I love competitive sports. It’s something I’ve always been driven to. Whether I was fighting at a high level in the UFC or not, it’s something that I love to do and I’m definitely going to keep doing it for a long time.”