T.J. Grant's amazing 2013 suffered a huge setback with just a single heel to the head during a jiu-jitsu session in June. The resulting concussion forced him out of his UFC 164 lightweight title fight with Ben Henderson, and gave conspiracy theorists something to talk about when Anthony Pettis replaced him.
Pettis, who just happens to live in the town UFC 164 is taking place, is the last man to beat Henderson and the bout is seen as more marketable than a bout with Grant. The people wearing their tinfoil hats find the whole situation pretty convenient, but the Canadian lightweight has continually shot down the idea that he'd voluntarily give up his title shot. He said on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani earlier today that he considered still fighting with no sparring in camp:
"I’m not scared to fight anyone," he said. "If I was healthy and I knew that I could get in shape, I would’ve [tried it.]. It’s a little scary. I wanted to kind of make the best decision for myself."
"I want to do what’s best for me," he said. "I want to fight for a long time. I want to live a long time. I want to enjoy my baby girl and all that stuff, so I thought about it a lot and talked to the UFC doctor and all the doctors here. The decision was 100 percent mine."
Grant wasn't even assured a title shot when he returns either, based on his conversation with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva:
To the conspiracy theorists, Grant would like them to know that he wouldn't sell out for anything. And besides, he wasn't even guaranteed a title shot by matchmakerupon withdrawing. Sure, Grant hopes to fight the winner of Henderson-Pettis, but the only thing Silva told him is that if he has to take a step back, it will only be one, minor step; in other words, another likely title eliminator.
Grant says he's okay with either scenario though. He thinks he can return by November and while he obviously wants the title shot he earned, he'd be fine with fighting a top contender like Josh Thomson first.
So who is he rooting for the in the main event of UFC 164 then? Henderson or Pettis?
"I’m not rooting for anyone," he said. "Honestly, I don’t really care. I hope they have a good fight, they beat each other up good. I hope the winner doesn’t get injured though, because I want to fight him."