TJ Grant Excited to Fight Evan Dunham at UFC 152: “The Best TJ Grant Hasn’t Been in the Cage Yet; Not Even Close”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Not every fighter who drops down to a new weight division has the success they envisioned ‘reinventing’ themselves, but in the case of TJ Grant, so far so good. After going five hundred as a welterweight in the Octagon, the Canadian has not only scored back-to-back wins as a lightweight, but he’s worked his way into a battle with noted veteran Evan Dunham.
“I was pretty thrilled when I got the news I was fighting Dunham,” Grant said about the bout, which will take place at UFC 152 on September 22nd. “He’s a great fighter; he has a big name and he’s exciting. I figure those three things is going to make for a good fight. It’s going to be a lot of exposure for myself.”
The fight was originally slated for the event’s main card, but after the addition of a light-heavyweight bout between champion Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort, the fight was moved to the prelims. Despite the switch, however, the fight remains a pivotal and compelling match-up.
“I’m happy the UFC has the the faith to put me in there,” said Grant, who went 3-3 as a welterweight in the Octagon before moving to 155 pounds. “They’re confident I’ll put on a good show. I’m there to win. I believe in myself and it’s good to see the UFC’s giving me an opponent like Dunham with the name he has.”
“Before I moved to lightweight I didn’t fight for close to a year,” added Grant, while discussing his decision to leave the welterweight division. “I feel like in that time, it was unfortunate that I had to drop out of a few fights, but in that time I learned so much and I really evolved as a fighter…Going down to 155 was just one more thing I did to elevate my career. The best TJ Grant hasn’t been in the cage yet; not even close.”
Of course, one of the key reasons the fight holds a lot of importance for Grant (18-5), is due to the resume of Dunham (13-2). After joining the UFC in 2009, the Xtreme Couture fighter quickly inserted himself into the title shot conversation, by winning four straight. Although he dropped back-to-back bouts to Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard, Dunham has returned to his winning ways more recently by defeating Shamar Bailey and Nik Lentz.
“A win over Evan would be great for my career, but again, if I win this fight, it just means one more really tough guy,” said Grant, who was earned wins over Shane Roller and Carlo Prater as a lightweight. “The lightweight division is really stacked and I’m sure the UFC will come up with another tough fight for the winner of this one. Right now though I’m focusing 100% on Evan Dunham.”
While Grant may not be as familiar a name with some American fans, the Nova Scotia fighter joined the UFC approximately two months after the 30 year-old Dunham did in 2009.
“I’ve been around awhile,” noted the 28 year-old Grant. “I feel like I’m still young and I still haven’t hit the prime of my career. I’ve also got to fly under the radar and get fights, improve my skills, learn from losses, and I’m just happy where I am at in my career. I didn’t take the fast road and I’m becoming a veteran of this game.”
Grant credited Dunham for being an “exciting” fighter, as the veteran has been involved in several memorable battles to date.
“I’m sure he’s confident in his skills as I am,” Grant told Full Contact Fighter. “This fight isn’t going to come down to just one thing; execution is going to very important in this fight. Whoever can execute their game plan and impose their will is going to win. If I were to say who has the better ground game or better stand-up, that’s up for debate. We’re going to get in there and put on a good show.”