Five straight wins secured UFC lightweight T.J. Grant’s shot at Benson Henderson’s championship. However, he almost saw his hard work go to waste on a whim after former contender Anthony Pettis was forced to withdraw from a featherweight title-fight in early August and started lobbying for the spot Grant held based on the bout occurring later in the month. Though Pettis wasn’t able to receive clearance in time for the clash, his attempt to take food off of Grant’s table didn’t go over well with the seasoned Canadian.
“I wish it was handled a little differently; him of all people, I think it was disrespectful, to do that against someone who has earned the right to fight is not right,” said Grant in an interview with ESPN. “Unfortunately he got hurt but it was low class, I thought. I didn’t want to get into the whole talking thing. I got here legitimately and earned it. Ultimately, what he was saying was that he wanted my title-shot which was incredibly disrespectful. It was pretty dirty.”
“He’s 26 years old and he’s a great fighter. I think he’ll be a champion one day, but this is my time right now,” he continued, making it clear the bulk of his focus is on “Bendo” rather than a budding rivalry with Pettis. “It’s in the past now: He’s out, I’m in. It’s going to be a series of little battles in a big battle against Benson Henderson. He’s the man, and I want to beat the man and be champion. It’s what I’ve always wanted.”
Grant-Henderson are scheduled to lock horns on August 31 at UFC 164. Grant is 21-5 with seventeen stoppages to his credit, while the 19-2 Henderson is unbeaten in the Octagon and owns past wins over Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone, and Gilbert Melendez.