The buzz in Toronto last weekend surrounded UFC 165 on Saturday night, but earlier in the day the promotion opened up their hearts for the "Rally for Kids with Cancer" charity event downtown in the city.
Participating in this event on behalf of the UFC was none other than Canadian lightweight T.J. Grant (21-5). I had a chance to catch up with the Cole Harbour native to discuss a variety of topics including his health, the UFC lightweight division and TUF Nations: Canada vs. Australia.
"(The UFC) does a great job of helping us give back and setup charitable functions every time they're in new Canadian cities – for me to be able to come here and do this, it's pretty awesome." Grant told TSN.ca
"I'm happy to have the opportunity to come here and to have UFC choose me -- Cancer has touched me, it's touched everybody, it's an awesome cause and I'm just fortunate to do (Rally For Kids With Cancer)."
While Grant was in good spirits, last week he broke the unfortunate news that he's still not ready to compete inside the octagon. Back in July, the 29-year old suffered a concussion while practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu in training and is still feeling the effects.
"It's getting better I mean every day I'm making progress -- I really feel like I'm going to be back very soon."
Grant earned a lightweight title shot back in May, as he made short work of former title challenger Gray Maynard at UFC 160. The concussion kept him out of action for that championship match at UFC 164 and now will be absent versus newly crowned champion Anthony Pettis at UFC on FOX 9.
"It's just hard to commit, I know the (title fight) was three months away but there's still that unknown. I didn't want to make a bad decision for the long term so it doesn't hurt to wait it out."
One of the topics of discussion has been if Grant will lose his title shot due to being inactive.
"I don't feel like I have to reprove myself. You can never predict what's going to happen with the title. Who really knows? I'm just taking it one step at a time and getting healthy."
Being from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, we had to discuss if he knew Sidney Crosby, who ironically also suffered a concussion that kept him out of most of the 2011 NHL season.
"He's younger than me; I have some friends that were friends with him. I never really met him or anything. He's a great guy from what I hear, I'm happy for his success."
"I know the dangers of repeated concussions. I just want to heal man, that's all I'm trying to do."
Replacing Grant in that title fight against Anthony Pettis in December is Josh Thomson, who most recently became the first man to finish TUF 5 champion Nate Diaz inside the octagon at UFC on FOX 7.
"I think that he's probably the guy I would have picked just because of where he's ranked in the division -- He's a great fighter, I think that those two guys are going to have a good scrap."
The UFC's decision to pick Thomson in that title fight has sparked much debate, but Grant believes fighters who finish their opponents dictate title shots.
"If you're fighting boring fights and you're barely winning, holding guys against the fence, (UFC) is going to do everything in their power to not give them a title shot. Unless you beat absolutely everyone."
"I (finish fights) because for me, that's the only way to do it. You've got to go in there and impose your will, the best defence is a good offence and that's just the way I am."
In addition this weekend, the tryouts for TUF Nations: Canada vs. Australia took place at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in downtown Toronto. Grant sees this as a great platform to showcase many up and coming Canadian fighters.
"There are so many talented fighters from Canada; they're going to have an opportunity to really jump start their career with The Ultimate Fighter."
"It kind of opens the door; you get thrust on such a big spotlight. I'm happy that it's happening it's great that they are having a Canadian team and Canada will be represented well. They have a lot of talent."
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