T.J. Grant's stint on the sidelines is nearly over. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
After more than a year away, T.J. Grant is nearing a return to the Octagon.
The former lightweight No. 1 contender has resumed training after a suffering a concussion during jiu-jitsu practice last year. Prior to the injury, Grant was expected to face then 155-pound champion Benson Henderson at UFC 164 in Milwaukee last August. When he was forced to withdraw, Anthony Pettis took his place and submitted Henderson to capture the strap in his hometown.
Concussion symptoms continued to persist for months after the initial injury, keeping the 30-year-old on the sidelines for longer than initially expected. Considering that Grant was in the midst of a five-fight winning streak in the UFC -- the most successful stretch of his Zuffa tenure -- the delayed recovery process was all the more frustrating.
In the meantime, Grant surrendered his No. 1 contender’s spot due to inactivity. Pettis will make his first lightweight title defense against Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181 on Dec. 6. Although Grant has lost his place in the divisional pecking order, he is grateful that his hiatus is nearing its end.
“It feels good. It’s definitely been a challenging year for me, but I’m near the end of it and I’m looking forward to resuming my career soon,” Grant said during a Tuesday press conference promoting UFC Fight Night in Halifax. “I hope to be ready to fight this fall, and I’m really close. I still can’t put a percentage or a timetable. But I’m optimistic, and I feel confident going forward.”
Grant will not be a part of the Oct. 4 event near his backyard, however. The Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, native is nonetheless excited for the card, which will be headlined by a welterweight showdown between Rory MacDonald and Tarec Saffiedine.
“This is a massive thing to happen to Atlantic Canada. I’m just thankful it’s happening in my time, and I’m looking forward to the show,” he said. “It’s gonna be awesome.”
Grant last competed at UFC 160 on May 25 2013, when he stopped Gray Maynard with punches 2:05 into the opening round of their lightweight scrap. A former welterweight, Grant has also posted triumphs over Shane Roller, Carlo Prater, Evan Dunham and Matt Wiman since dropping to 155 pounds.