Sometimes getting back to where you want to be is harder than the first time you made it there. In MMA, it is an obstacle course of smaller promotions and smaller checks, but if you're dedicated, and willing to make sacrifices, it is an achievable goal. After being released from the UFC a year ago, Kendall Grove is determined to take the necessary steps to once again grab hold of his dream, to make it back to the big show. I recently interviewed Kendall to get some last minute thoughts leading into his June 16 fight with Terry Martin. Their bout will serve as the co main event on ShoFIGHT's first all pro card, in Springfield, MO.
Stephie Daniels: You're facing a tough striker in Terry Martin, but you will have the grappling edge. Is it your plan to get this fight to the ground, or do you want to go for broke and stand with him?
Kendall Grove: I really don't know. I've kind of quit thinking about it. I know he's dangerous, and I'm going to try to keep him at the end of my range. If I do take him down, I'm just gonna do what I do on the ground. I don't really do too good with gameplans. I love to fight and I love to win, but I'm a human being, and sh*t happens. I'm just gonna go out there and fight my ass off. Whatever happens, happens. I feel that I'm prepared, and that's all that matters. I can't guarantee anything except that I will go out there and fight my heart out.
Stephie Daniels: In MMA, especially in the larger organizations, a loss can mean being cut, so we end up seeing a lot of point fighting. What are your thoughts on that?
Kendall Grove: I'm a victim of that, too. In my fight with Ikuhisa Minowa, I point fighted a little. I'll be straight up, I don't know where I'm at right now. I've got to get back to where I was when I beat Alan Belcher and Evan Tanner. This sport evolves every day. I'm trying to evolve with it, and the only way I can figure that out is in competition. I'm just trying to find myself again.
It's kind of risky for me going up against a guy who has been a pro boxer. He has the ability to knock people out, and I have been knocked out before, but I didn't come into this sport to fight easy fights. I do feel my stand-up is the thing I need to work on the most. I know I have to set things up by using my stand-up, but I'm not going to leave myself open to take a stupid shot.
I'm my own worst enemy, but I'm making sure that the Kendall Grove that was beating guys and was dominant, and I hate referring to myself in the third person, but I've got to make sure that I bring that guy back. My camp has been fairly short, because I just got word on this fight three and a half weeks ago, but I feel it's been a good one, and I'm confident in myself.
Stephie Daniels: When you say that you're your own worst enemy, what exactly do you mean?
Kendall Grove: I think too much, I put too much pressure on myself and I doubt myself a little. When it gets close to fight time, sometimes I second guess myself. My mind is f*cked up, you know what I mean? [laughs] I'm a fighter. We're all f*cked in the head. That's my curse, though. I've just got to relax and go out there and have fun with it. It's something only I can fix.
Stephie Daniels: You said that you learn best from experience, so what are you taking from your last fight with Jay Silva into this fight that might give you an edge?
Kendall Grove: Just like every other fight that I got dropped, keep my hands up at all times [laughs]. I've got to try to listen to my coach, and make a better effort at sticking to some kind of gameplan. I feel like if I stay strong mentally, the gameplan won't go out the window, and I can beat this guy, seven days a week and twice on Sunday. If it goes out the window, then I'm giving him a better shot at winning.
All my fights where I looked great, it's because I stuck with it. I was strong enough mentally where I couldn't break. The times I break, I get over excited and make mistakes. I just want to put on a good show. I want to finish everyone I step in that cage with, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. I'm not in here to get an easy paycheck. If I wanted to do that, I'd go get a 9 to 5.
Stephie Daniels: It was looking like you were going to be the face of Proelite, but they seemed to have hit a brick wall. Where are you looking to plant down some roots while you try to get back to where you want to be, or would you like to continue fighting in different organizations?
Kendall Grove: I can't tell you what happened to Proelite, but I hope they come back. I wouldn't mind getting into a Bellator tournament, too. Right now, ShoFIGHT is taking care of me. When I win next Saturday, I'll be their middleweight champ. It's one fight at a time, but I definitely wouldn't mind fighting for Bellator or Strikeforce. I do want to go back to fight the best, and the best is at the UFC. I've got to show these people that I still have what it takes to be a contender in the middleweight division.
I've got to rack up the wins and be consistent. I think that's why I got fired, because I was inconsistent. I let my mouth run a little, bad-mouthing people, and I shouldn't have. The only way to get back to where I want to be is to win, win dominantly, and show some consistency in my MMA game. I've got to fight tough guys, so I can prove it on paper.
I've got the family support, good training partners, and the option to travel and train. I'm hungry to win. I'm staying healthy, and closer to my target weight, so my cuts aren't so hard. I feel great. I'm excited, and I can't wait to go out there to fight, and more than anything else, I hope the fans enjoy it.
Follow Kendall via his Twitter, @KendallGroveMMA