UFC's Matt Grice Opens Up About Family, Picks Ian McCall and More
Sometimes life isn't fair.
For Matt Grice, this certainly was the case. Over the course of the past several years, Grice hasn't endured the bright lights and fame, but rather battled against injury after injury. On top of that, Grice saw his mother fighting a serious illness that would forever change her life.
But Grice didn't use any of this as an excuse. Instead, the UFC featherweight continued to push on and got better and better. As a result, Grice has finally returned back to his dream of fighting in the UFC.
In a recent interview with Bleacher Report, Grice shared of his family struggles and more.
Garrett Derr: I know you went to Oklahoma to wrestle and fought some injuries during your time there. What made you give up wrestling to pursue the sport of mixed martial arts?
Matt Grice: I actually stopped wrestling right after I graduated from college. That's really when I started to have a bigger interest in fighting. I needed to take some time off and kind of let my body heal. I took about a year and a half off from wrestling and did nothing. That time really allowed my body to go back to normal.
I still wanted to compete, so I started fighting. I never really thought about the Olympics while I was at Oklahoma. I did early on in my high school career, but after some injuries, I decided it wasn't a good idea. I still wanted to try mixed martial arts, so after that break, I decided it was time to give it a shot.
GD: We haven't seen you in nearly a year. But the last time we saw you, you were coming off a loss to Ricardo Lamas. Where do you think you went wrong in this bout and how hard was that loss to overcome?
MG: If anything, I think the loss made me a better fighter. I'm in the right weight class now at 145. I think the time off was probably good for me. I came off a pretty active year before Ricardo and I fought.
I had some more injuries after that fight when training for the Nam Phan fight, so it took me a little longer to get back than I thought. But I'm ready to go now.
GD: You mentioned your transition to the featherweight division. What is the biggest difference you’ve witnessed since dropping to 145? How does your body feel?
MG: This is definitely the best I've ever felt. I got a nutritionist for this fight, and I honestly have never felt better in my life. I feel stronger and faster. I have all the energy for training, and I'm not dragging during the workouts.
So, this is by far the best I've ever felt. When I started this camp, I was 180 pounds, but that was coming off a year layoff. Usually when I'm training in the gym, I'm about 170 pounds, but I feel great and my weight is spot on right now. I feel great.
GD: You’ll be taking on Leonard Garcia at UFC on FX 3. As we know, he has an exceptional submission game. What have you done differently to prepare for an opponent like him?
MG: You know, I really have worked on improving my overall game. I worked a lot with guys who are experienced in the sport. Being around the toughest guys in Oklahoma has made it a good place to be. Over the past year, I've become the best fighter I've ever been.
I'm thinking as long as I go out there, impose my game plan and get in his face, it won't matter if it's 30 seconds or 15 minutes. I'll come out on top. Style-wise it's a good fight for me. Leonard is a tough guy, but I think I'll be able to dictate where this fight goes.
GD: If you take a look at his numbers, you’ll see he’s lost six decisions. You, on the other hand, have never lost a decision. So, is your goal to push this fight out as long as it can go and try to wear him down?
MG: I can't get in there and get sucked into his game plan like some of these other guys do. I want to get in there and establish my own game plan.
But I'm definitely not afraid to stand and bang with him, that's for sure. I think you're going to see a little bit of everything in this fight. But I just need to stick to the game plan.
GD: Who wins the main event? Demetrious Johnson or Ian McCall?
MG: It's a tough fight to call. The first time these guys fought it was extremely close and could have went any way. It should have went to a fourth round. I don't know if they are using that same system again, but if they are, I can see them going to the fourth round.
I think Ian McCall kind of figured Demetrious out the later the fight went on. So if I had to pick, I'd probably go with him this time around.
D: I know you have an extremely close relationship with your mother and father. Talk to me a little bit about your relationship with them. How meaningful are they to you?
MG: I've always had a close relationship with my mother and father. They've been divorced since I was just five or six. My dad was always there for me and coached me while I played sports. He was always there for me in that aspect. My mother is an extremely awesome person as well. She had a stroke when I was in fifth grade and was in the hospital for four months.
We had to reteach her how to walk and talk. They had to feed her through a tube for the longest time. She's an extremely tough lady, and if you look at her, you'd never know there was anything wrong with her. She struggled with a lot of different things and has a lot of things wrong with her vocal chords.
She's a fighter, man. She fought through all of that and has always taken care of my sister and I. My parents get to most of my fights. My dad will be working this weekend, but my mom will be here. My wife, my sister and my kid will be here as well. It's the first time my kid will be able to come see me fight. It's great having family there.
Garrett Derr is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
For additional information, follow Garrett Derr on Twitter.
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