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Davey Grant: UFC London bout will be the performance of my life

British bantamweight Davey Grant came through season eighteen of The Ultimate Fighter but subsequent injuries meant he has had to wait two years to make his official UFC debut. That comes on Saturday night when he faces Ecuador’s Marlon Vera at UFC LONDON.

"Everyone says this but I really mean it: this has been the best training camp ever," he tells Bloody Elbow. "I feel great. No injuries, easy weight cut, I was eating all week. Normally I am dying coming up to the weigh-ins, no carbs for days, but there was nothing like that this time."

Tomorrow night's fight is a big moment in Grant's career but he sounds perfectly relaxed as he discusses his opponent for UFC London (UFC Fight Night: Silva vs Bisping).

"I watch a little bit of tape to see how they move, but I don't overdo it. I don't want to excessively focus on him and study him and let him into my head. I want him to worry about me and what I do, not the other way around," he says.

"I am not really one for predicting fights but I know I am going to win it. Submission, knockout, decision, whatever it takes to win while at the same time putting on the performance of my life. And if I can claim a bonus while I am it, even better."

Grant is based in the north-east of England but for the three months of his training camp was travelling several hours each way to Manchester, in the north-west, in order to train at the SBG Manchester facility under head coach Karl Tanswell. The team there includes Saul Rogers (TUF 22), Martin 'Stapes' Stapleton (TUF 9, Bellator), Matt Inman and Jordan Desborough (CageWarriors).

"I would come down on a Monday, go back on Tuesday, then back down on Wednesday, back up on Thursday, then on the Friday I would come down and go back up in the same day. A lot of travelling back and forth but it meant I could get home to see the kids a few nights a week. Plus at the start of the camp I was still coaching back home," he says.

"So the first part of the camp I was travelling there and back each day, and over Christmas the same. So it was a bit of a grind but look: everybody has a job, everybody has to get up every day and go to work and do what they need to do, and this is just what I need to do. So no complaints from me. It was costing a bomb, but I got helped out by some sponsors who bought most of my train tickets over the last few months so I didn't have to put too much to it myself."

Grant was part of The Wolfslair several years ago when the Liverpool outfit was the UK's super-team. When the facility was wound down, he took up training in his home city with a gym called North East Top Team, where he still trains when at home. Liverpool and Manchester are close - a 30 minute drive - and so Grant switched his attention to the SBG team.

"The thing about SBG Manchester is you get everything under one roof, you don't have to go to all these different gyms to get the different things that you need," he muses. "I already had some relationships there and Karl Tanswell is one of the best MMA coaches not just in the UK but in the world.

"I was enjoying things back home, North East Top Team is a really strong group of lads, but I just felt like I needed a head coach. And when I tried it I was like yeah, this is the right move for me. It was the best choice for me and my career for sure. I like to represent both, I still get over to NETT whenever I can, and I've been with them for a couple of years now, but all this camp was with SBG Manchester really.

"Stapes, Saul, Matt, Jordan... they are all brilliant training partners, awesome, they have been around for years and they have that growth mindset and that winning mentality. Definitely it is one of the best teams in the UK, without a doubt. I feel like I have improved in all areas. I am now the 'HD' version of what I was. Everything has just fallen into place."

Grant used to train with Michael Bisping at The Wolfslair and expects to see a victory for his former team mate in tomorrow night's headline fight with former middleweight champion Anderson 'The Spider' Silva.

"I think Bisping is going to win, I do. I like Mike, he is a good mate from the Wolfslair days, and I think he takes it here because I think Anderson is just a little past his time. He had the leg break and then the steroid thing and I think those things have affected him. If you look at his fight with Nick Diaz he was very stressed, you could tell, and then this steroid suspension will have added to that," he says.

"He's had longer layoffs recently than ever before in his career. Fights are won and lost in the mind and I think his confidence has been maybe affected a bit by what's happened, but Mike's is rock solid. So I am putting my money on Mike to take this. I am looking forward to it."

Another fight Grant is looking forward to is SBG Dublin's Conor McGregor against Nate Diaz. Even though Grant and McGregor both fight under the SBG flag, it is actually Diaz who Grant has shared mat time with. He went on a training trip to the US last year and spent some time in Stockton.

"I like Conor and I like Nate, actually I trained with Nate when I was over in Stockton a while ago. I trained with him, then I went to San Francisco to train with Melendez and I finished up in LA with some time at Glendale Fight Club. I love what Conor is doing for the sport, the attention he is bringing to it, and when Nate called him out recently I was like 'oh my god, I would love to see that fight!" he says.

"Their press conference was hilarious. Just hearing them talk sh-t to each other is almost as good as the fight. I really don't know who is going to win, Nate is strong in a lot of ways and Conor is as well. Conor gets into people's heads and destroys them before the fight but I don't think he will be able to get into Nate's head, so that's going to be interesting. Then Nate is also a southpaw and he's got a big height advantage, so there's some real factors there.

"I've got so much respect for Conor for taking fights like this. All these guys talk about wanting big fights and superfights but then it never happens, like with Jon Jones and Anderson a while back, but Conor does it. He says it and he does it. As soon as he won the featherweight belt he wanted to move up a whole weight class and challenge there.

"That's a big risk, not many fighters are willing to do things like that. And now he wants to fight Diaz at 170lbs? You have got to respect that. He's creating a legacy. I think he is mustard, as we say in England."

Grant then considers his TUF 18 coach, former women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. He didn't train much with her when he was in Glendale - "I did a lot more with her when we were in The Ultimate Fighter house because when I was at Glendale our camps kind of conflicted" - but he thinks he has seen enough to predict a successful bounce back from her loss to Holly Holm.

"I think she will come back and regain her title. A loss in this game makes you better. It makes you come back and refocus. When you are winning and winning you think everything is right but then when you lose you realize where you need to get better," he says.

"I remember a few years ago I took a Muay Thai fight and I went in a bit unprepared, I didn't take it seriously. It turned out to be one of the hardest fights of my life, a proper five-round war, and I said to myself that I would never be caught unprepared again. After that between Muay Thai and MMA I went on a winning run of eleven or twelve fights. It was a valuable lesson. She'll be back."