The last time we saw surging lightweight T.J. Grant inside the Octagon, he was carving up Gray Maynard en route to a first-round TKO. That beyond-impressive performance set Grant up for a title shot vs. then-champion Benson Henderson.
But the mild-mannered Canadian withdrew from the title bout when he suffered a concussion during jiu-jitsu practice, and we have not seen him since.
TJ Grant got a concussion from jiu-jitsu? What, did a ceiling fan fall on his head? OK, sorry. But I was looking forward to that.— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) July 13, 2013
Nearly 13 months later, Grant is speaking up, and it appears he wants to face off against either Nick Diaz or Donald Cerrone for his return bout.
From an interview with Fox Sports:
I would personally like to fight Nate Diaz or Donald Cerrone. ... But really I don't care. It's all about timing and some guys have fights, it's nothing personal. I just go out there and do my job. ... I'm not picky. ... Anybody in the top 10, it doesn't matter.
It will certainly be great from a fan's perspective to see Grant back inside the cage. The lightweight contender took a lot of flak from the MMA world for his long departure over what seemed to be on the surface like a run-of-the-mill concussion.
It reached such a fever pitch that he finally responded.
From an interview with MMAJunkie.com:
At first, just people questioning me like that, originally I was pretty upset. Just like, 'Oh yeah, suck it up.' I actually had a couple people say things like, 'I played football with a concussion,' and I was just like, well, you're an idiot.
"It was significant enough that, no matter what, I wouldn't have tried to push through it. I could just tell that it was dangerous to my long-term health.
With all the fallout surrounding concussions in the NFL, it seemed wise for Grant to treat a concussion—something many athletes are seemingly unconcerned over—with extra care.
If Grant can pick up where he left off, not only will he be fighting his way back into title contention, but more importantly, he can set a good, albeit extreme example in today's sports culture for how athletes can choose to deal with trauma to the brain.