Despite the fact that the winner would earn a shot at UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, the UFC 160 bout between T.J. Grant and Gray Maynard did not receive much hype before Saturday night.
That may have been due to the fact that the fight was a lightweight bout on a card that was topped off by two heavyweight fights. It may have been because Grant and Maynard aren’t the "sexiest" names in the UFC. Whatever the reason, if fans used the Maynard versus Grant bout as their planned bathroom break, they made a mistake.
Grant entered the fight on a four-fight winning streak. Maynard came in not too far removed from his two memorable battles with then-UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Maynard started the fight by winging punches that said one thing, and one thing only: knockout. That fact was noticed by UFC president Dana White, who said after the event, “When that fight started Maynard was not respecting him at all. He was walking right into him, throwing bombs at him.”
The result of that style, as White observed was that Maynard, “ended up getting caught.”
Getting caught may be somewhat of an understatement. Grant dropped Maynard with a right and went for the finish. Grant assaulted Maynard with multiple punches and knees, finishing the fight and earning “Knockout of the Night” honors thanks to the intervention of White’s guest for the night, Mike Tyson.
As White said at the post-fight press conference, “The ‘Knockout of the Night’ was going to be Junior dos Santos. That got vetoed by Mike Tyson who said it should be T.J. Grant.”
Grant’s rise to the top of the lightweight ranks has been swift and largely unnoticed by many. Since dropping from welterweight in 2011, Grant has run through the division. As White described Grant’s ascent, “It was a shocker, (he) just turned it on and is wrecking everybody, literally wrecking everybody.”
As for those who say Grant doesn’t deserve the title shot that he earned with his knockout on Saturday night, White felt otherwise: “For T.J. to knock out (Maynard) the way he did tonight, he earned it.”
No date has been set for the fight, but Henderson is already looking forward to the bout.
* All quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report MMA unless otherwise noted.