Mixed Martial Arts

Canadian Grant gets UFC lightweight title shot

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Associated Press
6/5/2013 4:44:41 PM
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TORONTO -- Canadian T.J. Grant has fought his way to a UFC title shot against lightweight champion Benson (Smooth) Henderson.

After reeling off five straight wins at 155 pounds, the 29-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., has been rewarded with a main event matchup against the American at UFC 164.

The card is slated for Aug. 31 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

Grant (21-5) earned his 155-pound title shot by knocking out longtime contender Gray Maynard in the first round at UFC 160 on May 25.

"It's been a long, slow road," said Grant. "At times, people have said to me 'How come you're not getting the exposure and this or that?'

"I just kept winning fights," he added. "That's the only thing you can control ... It's tough to get wins in the UFC. But if you keep rattling them off, you're going to make some noise."

As a lightweight, the hard-nosed Grant has beaten Shane Roller, Carlos Prater, Evan Dunham, (Handsome) Matt Wiman and Maynard. And he has looked better each time out, disposing of Wiman and Maynard in a combined six minutes 57 seconds.

"I don't really necessarily talk a lot of trash but I feel like I have an exciting style," said Grant. "I'm not flashy, I don't do any jumping-off-the-cage kicks or anything like that.

"But I know if you watch one of my fights, when I go out there I can guarantee win or lose, I'm going to put everything I have out there. I'm going to take risks, I always do. I feel like the fans can connect with that.

"Hopefully I made some fans in my last fight. I just like to go out there and put on some exciting fights, obviously en route to victory always."

Grant took it on the chin early from Maynard, who rocked him with some solid strikes. The Canadian weathered the storm and then hit back, stunning Maynard with a shot to the head before finishing him off at the fence.

The finish earned him a US$50,000 bonus for knockout of the night.

Grant is bidding to become the UFC's third ever Canadian champion.

Montreal's Georges St-Pierre currently rules the UFC's welterweight division. Carlos Newton of Newmarket, Ont., held the same title in 2001.

Grant went 3-3 as a welterweight (170 pounds) in the UFC, alternating wins over Ryo Chonan, Kevin Burns and Julio Paulino with losses to Dong Hyun (Stun Gun) Kim, Johny (Bigg Rigg) Hendricks and Ricardo Almeida.

In the 29-year-old Henderson, he meets a fighter at the top of his game.

The lightweight champion was arguably the UFC's best fighter in 2012, when he dethroned Frankie (The Answer) Edgar in February at UFC 144 and then won a split decision in their UFC 150 rematch in August. He finished off the year by comprehensively defeating Nate Diaz in December in Seattle.

Well-rounded with great cardio and excellent wrestling skills, the Arizona-based champion opened 2013 by beating former Strikeforce title-holder Gilbert Melendez via split decision in April.

Henderson (18-2) went 5-1 in the WEC, losing only to Anthony (Showtime) Pettis. He is 7-0 since moving over to the UFC.

Henderson's last eight fights have all gone to a decision.

"He's the champion for a reason," said Grant. "He's beat guys and then he's defended his title. People can criticize him for winning these close, boring fights but I've never thought anything but how impressive he is.

"I know I've got my work cut out for me. He's a totally different fighter than my last opponent. ... He's dangerous in all kinds of areas so it's back to work."

Notes: It's been a big year for Grant. He and wife Belinda welcomed daughter Casey in April. ... The Milwaukee card is dubbed the Harley-Davidson Hometown Throwdown, since it is happening during the motorcycle manufacturer's 110th anniversary celebration.

T.J. Grant (Photo: Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
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