Anthony Pettis has barely put on his newfound belt, and there’s already a line of challengers stretching out the door. Pettis took the title in dominant fashion this past weekend, snapping Benson Henderson’s arm with a vicious armbar.
It must’ve been an interesting fight to watch for T.J. Grant, who was originally set to face Henderson at UFC 164. Unfortunately, an injury sidelined Grant, and Pettis stepped in to take his place for the Milwaukee event.
Now it seems that attention has turned to a potential super fight between the new lightweight champion and the current featherweight champion Jose Aldo. With the excitement over that potential match up brewing, Grant does not want the fact that he’s earned a title shot to be forgotten. He recently addressed his concerns in an interview with MMA Fighting.
“I’m pretty sure Aldo is a little banged up as well right now,” Grant said. “My opinion — I’m a fan, and I love watching UFC fights. I watch all of them, whether they’re people I’m potentially fighting or not, I enjoy it. Pettis against Aldo is an exciting fight.”
“But, hey, I just won my last fight in two minutes. I knocked [Gray Maynard] out. I knocked the guy out before that [Matt Wiman]. I feel like I’ve earned it. I feel like I’m the guy. I’ve been in the UFC a long time. I’ve never really gotten the push that I feel like I need but I’ve also built a lot of experience in fighting and haven’t been in the spotlight, which is nice too. But I’m ready to be there and I’m ready to go out there. Give me the opportunity man. I feel like I’ve earned it.”
The injury that forced Grant out of that match up was a fairly serious concussion he suffered while training for the title shot in July. It’s an injury that’s plagued him for almost two months, but it’s also one he feels that’ll be behind him soon enough.
“I’ve begun some light workouts and I’ve had no setbacks in that regard,” he said. “You know, it’s kind of weird, concussions affect a lot more than just having a headache. I couldn’t play with my kid for more than a few minutes without being exhausted and being really nauseous. That was early in the summer. I feel like the worst is behind me and I’m just getting better. I know concussions affect your mood, and I’m a lot happier now. They’re all good signs.”
Grant estimates that he’ll be good to go by UFC 168 in December, or by the latest in January.
“There was a little bit of contact with Joe Silva in the past week,” he said. “Just seeing where I’m at and how I’m feeling. I’m starting to feel a lot healthier. It’s just been a crappy summer not getting to be a normal human being. Watching the fights this weekend, I wasn’t that disappointed anymore – I’ve already had that emotion go through me. I’ve already dealt with that. I’m just ready to get out there and start working my way back to get healthy.”
As for the new title holder, Grant actually seems very pleased that he might be fighting Pettis instead of Henderson.
“[Pettis]’s a killer — he’s a finisher, and he goes for it,” he said. “And I’m not saying Benson doesn’t either — he’s a top dude. I feel like if Pettis came in healthy and his knee wasn’t affecting him, I thought he’d win the fight. I’m just excited because that’s the type of guy that I want to fight, the guy who’s willing to go out there and find out who’s better. We don’t need two or three rounds to figure that out. Let’s go out there and do it. I’m not trying to sound like a [Quinton] Rampage Jackson, but why do you need five rounds when you can sort it out in the first two or three minutes?”
“That’s what I’m all about. Just going out there to fight,” he added. “There’s a lot of strategy and everything, but I aint trying to win rounds punching a guy against the fence.”
However, a potential title shot will depend a lot on how Pettis and Aldo are feeling. Aldo is currently out for the rest of 2013 with a broken foot, and injury he sustained defending the title against Chan Sung Jung. Meanwhile, Pettis is currently being looked at for a potential knee injury he suffered against Henderson.
“If it’s an ACL or something like that, that’s nine months to a year,” Grant said, addressing Pettis’s knee. “I’d probably be looking to fight. I’ve been hearing my name a lot. Josh Thomson obviously wants to fight me, and you can’t fault the guy for that. And you know what? That’s another guy I’d like to fight because he’s exciting and he brings it. We’ll see what happens with Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez, too. I’ve been a big fan of Gilbert’s for a long time. He’s been fighting since before I ever got in the UFC. Those guys all come to fight. But Pettis is the guy I want. I feel like I’ve earned my position. If he’s going to be on the shelf for a while, and I’ve got to fight somebody, it would be those other two guys.”
“Again, I’m not specifically calling them out,” he concluded. “I want a healthy Pettis, and I want a healthy me, and I want us to get in there and do battle.”