CHICAGO – T.J. Grant is on a tear. He knows it. His boss certainly knows it. And the Canadian believes the rest of the lightweight division now knows it.
Grant (20-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) picked up arguably the biggest win of his UFC career when he stopped Matt Wiman (15-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) late in the first round at UFC on FOX 6 on Saturday. A brutal series of elbows and fists did the trick.
That Grant shut down a fighter in Wiman who hadn't been stopped since his first UFC fight six and a half years ago was impressive enough. But he also moved to 4-0 in the UFC's lightweight division since his drop from welterweight, and put the weight class squarely on notice.
UFC on FOX 6 took place at United Center in Chicago, and Grant's win over Wiman closed out the FX-televised prelims to lead into the main card on FOX.
"I just feel like going along early in my career, it was quiet and flying under the radar," Grant told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps
) after the fight. "I built up a lot of experience in the UFC and I've had 10 fights. I'm fortunate for that. It's really important, that octagon experience, and I feel like I'm putting it all together and I made a statement."
UFC President Dana White seems to agree. Grant's four-fight win streak at lightweight started with a submission of Shane Roller, continued with convincing wins over Carlo Prater and Evan Dunham and culminated with his most dominant performance yet, the knockout of Wiman.
All four of those fights took place on prelims, but that may change for the Canadian going forward.
"After the weigh-ins, we had said to him and Wiman, 'Your fight's a big deal. This is a big deal not only for the night on FX – you guys are the main event – but it's also a big deal for you two for where you sit in the division,'" White told MMAjunkie.com. "They knew what this meant going into it, and this breaks that kid into the Top 10. He's got big fights ahead of him now."
Grant said preparation for Wiman consisted of knowing the fight had the potential to be the knock-down, drag-out variety. But he wasn't intimidated looking at Wiman's resume and seeing no stoppage losses on there for him since UFC 60, the only time he had been stopped in his career before Saturday night.
"Just watching his previous fights, he likes to come forward – and I do, too," Grant said. "That's going to be the battle: Who can dictate and get in each other's face and control the ring? I felt like he leaves some holes and I could exploit them, and I did. I know he's a tough, durable guy, but I feel like I can knock people out.
"I don't try to punch to score points. Every punch I throw, I'm trying to do damage to the guy. That's just the way I fight, and that's the way I'm going to continue to do it."
Grant said he took virtually no damage in the fight and if he has his way, he'll be matched up again soon to try to run his streak to five.