Kendall Grove is hoping to bounce back from a loss to Brandon Halsey. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Kendall Grove recently came up short in the biggest opportunity of his career to date, but despite that setback, his championship aspirations remain the same.
“The Ultimate Fighter 3” winner was submitted by Brandon Halsey in the main event of Bellator 137, a bout in which Grove was the only one eligible to win the promotion’s middleweight crown after Halsey was stripped of the belt for missing weight. While Grove made no effort to hide his disdain for Halsey leading up to the fight, he also isn’t making any excuses for the May 15 defeat. Still, with that bout now four months in the rearview mirror, Grove couldn’t resist taking a few jabs at his former foe.
“I lost. It wasn’t my first one. It definitely hurt. No excuses, he kicked my ass,” Grove told Sherdog.com. “Well, he didn’t kick my ass, but he did enough to stop me. Even though nothing really hurt me, maybe one punch on the standup. It didn’t buckle me, but it made me want to grab him. On the ground he was pitter-pattering me. It looked worse than it was. But hey, he beat me. F--k it. He had great wrestling; he sat on me like a wet blanket. I was in the best shape, but I got tired because I was trying to move that big f---ing juice monkey around. He won fair and square.”
Now it’s back to the drawing board for Grove, who has yet to win a major title in 37 professional bouts. The lanky Hawaiian will return to action on Friday night when he locks horns with Joey Beltran in the Bellator 143 co-main event at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. The evening’s main card airs on Spike TV beginning at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
“That [last loss] was yesterday. Tomorrow is Joey. Get a win over him and wherever they want me to fight after that -- try to constantly climb that ladder,” Grove said. “Try to get back into a rhythm in this, you could say, lackluster weight division.”
Grove attempts to clarify himself when asked about the “lackluster” comment. He’s well aware of the buzz generated by the promotion’s recently completed light heavyweight tournament, and he sees the talent influx taking place in other divisions. Now, Grove wants to see some of that excitement carry over to 185 pounds. Most recently, the biggest news at middleweight was the resurgent Tamdan McCrory’s exit to the UFC.
“I left a title shot in [Bellator] to come to the UFC,” McCrory told UFC.com. “If I wanted to win that belt, I could have stayed and done it, but I wanted to be back in the sport of MMA, not the MMA entertainment business.”
McCory’s defection resonated with Grove, who would like to see his division get some positive attention.
“After he left we were kind of getting scrutinized,” Grove said. “The moves that [Bellator President Scott Coker] is making, I would be down to see bigger names at our weight division. Look at the 205-pound division that he created. It’s huge now. I’m looking forward to seeing the new talent that comes in the middleweight division.”
Grove enters his matchup with Beltran at a well-traveled 32 years old. It seems as if “TUF 3” was a lifetime ago, but for now, “Da Spyder” continues to plug away. Although his title dreams fell short against Halsey, Grove has no plans on calling it a career. There are still more goals to accomplish.
“How long i want to fight remains to be seen. [It depends on] how my body feels tomorrow, you know? And when tomorrow comes, how it feels the next day,”Grove said. “It’s a day in day out process on that. Right now my body’s good. It’s reacting. I have no serious injuries.
“What I want is obviously to be a champion. If you come into this sport not wanting to be a champion, good for you, but I think that should be everybody’s goal. I’m still searching for that. I came up short in my last fight. I had my opportunities; I didn’t pull the trigger. Now I got to bust my ass to get another shot.”