Former UFC No. 1 contender T.J. Grant unsure if he’ll return, feels MMA “kind of” left him injured and in debt

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

“I’ve been doing this sport, or I did this sport for a long time. Can’t say that I’m currently doing it. I’m not going to close the door on never coming back to fight. But at this point, I am just taking care of myself and my family first and foremost. I did well in the UFC. I wouldn’t say I made a lot of money, but I was able to buy a house and then buy another one. At this point, where did this sport really leave me? It kind of left me injured and then I had a little over a year where I just basically accumulated debt like most fighters do in between fights. Basically, I was hurt for awhile and I basically had to go back to work and be a regular guy for a bit. I would definitely entertain the thought of going back to fighting. But at this point, I have to also realize that to get back into fighting it costs money. You got training camps and basically put your whole life on hold. Right now it’s not something that’s in the cards for me having two little ones. It’s obviously taking precedence over my life and, you know, potentially in the future you never know. I still feel like I’d love to compete, I still feel like there is some fire in me. I definitely love combat sports and I love competing, so, I’d like to do it potentially, but I haven’t made my mind up at all.

-Former UFC lightweight No. 1 contender T.J. Grant talks to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour about why he might not return to MMA (transcribed by

Penick’s Analysis: Here is where the UFC and the sport in general fails to come across as a professional endeavor. This is a fighter in Grant who was so close to a title fight just over two years ago before a concussion took him out. It’s no longer the concussion keeping him sidelined, but the massive expense in putting on a fight camp when he hasn’t gotten a check from fighting since May of 2013. How sad is that? There’s little for fighters to do when they need to be working other jobs to keep themselves afloat when they’re supposedly pro athletes. Some shift is eventually going to be needed to change how fight pay is handled at this level, because fighters who are at the level a guy like Grant was in, whom the UFC was ready to put into a title fight, shouldn’t be forced out because the cost to train seems too daunting. It’s just sad.

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