The Canadian lightweight was pulled from the main event in last weekend's card after he suffered a concussion in training. The injury has kept him from any real workouts since it occurred.
Because concussions can be minor or severe, TJ Grant wanted to make sure he gave his head time to heal after suffering the injury, and it's been a tough road back—one filled with some anguish and a bit of anger, but he's starting to find focus again.
"I'm starting to turn the corner and be able to do more now," Grant said Tuesday. "I'm able to watch TV, watch fights, hang out with people, drive, hangout with my kid all that stuff. That's all good for me, but it also puts things into perspective of how much I miss and how much I love training and doing this for a living.
"I'm able to do some light exercises and stuff, which is good. I'm just excited to hopefully move forward here soon."
Grant has seen other athletes push a concussion and rush back too soon. He's also seen the ill effects of the injury on others like NHL star Sidney Crosby, who has missed huge stretches of time due to concussion symptoms.
The time to return to action will be when Grant knows his head is ready for it, and not a moment sooner. Like every fighter, he is yearning to compete again, but not at the expense of his health and definitely not by taking a chance on suffering an even more serious injury.
"It comes down to me and when I feel symptom free, and I would like to be symptom free for a good amount of time before I go out there and start sparring," Grant said. "My goal is to be on the mat doing some jiu-jitsu and doing some light stuff in October."
Once he's back in training, Grant will begin preparation for his UFC lightweight title shot against Anthony Pettis. While there was some doubt after UFC 164 ended about who Pettis would face next, UFC president Dana White confirmed Tuesday that Grant would get the next shot at the lightweight belt when he's healthy.
Grant knows that a fight against Pettis will be one that the fans will definitely enjoy, and the judges can take the night off because there's no way it's going to decision.
"It's a competition there's a ton of strategy involved, but at the same time, I'm not taking the coward's way out," Grant said. "I'm trying to beat a man up with my skills overall. I'm not trying to hold a guy up against the fence and grind them down. I'm trying to fight and be violent and I think (Pettis) is the same way. I think it's an exciting fight and we'd put on a good one."
Pettis is out of action for at least seven weeks after suffering a knee injury during his title fight win over Benson Henderson, but the delay will also give the Canadian the time necessary to heal up from his concussion.
Currently, Grant is targeting the final two months of 2013 to get back into full training and preparing for a bout against Pettis in the new year.
"I'm optimistic, but I realistically think I could be in a training camp in November and December," Grant said. "So that's kind of where I want to be. I don't want to get passed over, and I don't want to lose my spot."
It's just a waiting game now for Grant to allow his concussion symptoms to fade while he sits by the phone for the call to say Pettis is also healthy and ready to schedule their fight.
Then it's game time, and that's when Grant is happiest.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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