Posts Tagged ‘Gray Maynard’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting/Tim Burke Bloody Elbow

An event that was light in relevant fights led to barely a ripple in the official UFC rankings this week.

The official UFC rankings haven’t seen much in the line of changes over the past few months other than in the lightweight division. With no titles changing hands in 2013 as of yet and a lack of major upsets, we’re left with the same familiar faces. UFC on Fuel 10 didn’t have many of those faces to start with, so it’s not surprising that the rankings were barely touched by Saturday’s event in Brazil. But we can go through the few minor fluctuations at least.

You can check out the full rankings here, and use the dropdown menu to see the individual picks of the five BE contributors (myself, T.P. Grant, Chris Hall, Fraser Coffeen, and Steph Daniels).

The one somewhat important shakeup came in the heavyweight division. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s second-round submission loss to Fabricio Werdum caused him to slip from the eight position down to ten. Travis Browne and Mark Hunt each moved up one spot, to eight and nine respectively. Werdum didn’t move from the three spot, but that’s not very surprising considering who is ahead of him.

The two other changes were just delayed adjustments. Gray Maynard somehow moved back up a spot in the lightweight rankings to the number four position, while Josh Thomson dropped to five. Maybe T.J. Grant getting the title shot over Thomson convinced a few people to drop him down? I don’t know, it’s kind of odd. Also in the bantamweight division, T.J. Dillashaw and Ivan Menjivar flipped spots with Dillashaw going up to nine and Menjivar dropping to 10.

And that’s a wrap. I don’t see UFC 161 causing a whole of change either, but maybe UFC 162 will flip things around a bit.

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Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE/Mike Bohn MMAMania

Benson Henderson will put his UFC lightweight title on the line against T.J. Grant in the main event of UFC 164 on Aug. 31, 2013 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

When it came to the next Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight title fight, we knew the who and the what. Now we know the when and the where.

On Aug. 31, 2013 at UFC 164 in Milwaukee, Wis., reigning 155-pound titleholder Benson Henderson will put his belt on the line for the fourth time against No. 1 contender T.J. Grant in the main event of the evening from the Bradley Center.

The championship bout was announced on Tuesday’s (June 4, 2013) edition of FUEL TV’s “UFC Tonight.”

Henderson (19-2) is coming off a razor-thin and highly controversial split decision victory over Gilbert Melendez at UFC on FOX 7 in what was his third successful title defense and seventh consecutive UFC victory overall.

“Smooth” said he was “surprised” when Grant earned a title shot with a first-round knockout of Gray Maynard at UFC 160 and admits he “doesn’t know a whole lot” about his next opponent.

Grant (21-5) will try to take exception to Henderson’s unawareness of his talents by making the champion his sixth victim in a row since dropping to the lightweight division in 2011.

The Canadian is supremely confident in his skills after going 5-0 in the weight class including back-to-back finishes of Matt Wiman and Maynard, and knows that win or lose Henderson won’t look good against him at the end of their title fight.

UFC 164: “Henderson vs. Grant” goes down Aug. 31, 2013 from the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Along with the lightweight title headliner, a heavyweight match up between former champions Frank Mir and Josh Barnett has been confirmed for the event.

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting/Adam Guillen Jr. MMAMAnia

With both Josh Thomson and Donald Cerrone coming out winners in their previous outings against Nate Diaz and K.J. Noons, respectively, does a match-up between these two lightweight contenders make sense? “The Punk” seems to think it does.

On the heels of his history-making knockout (KO) of Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 7 last month, Josh Thomson is already pining to get back into the Octagon.

As he eyes a direct path to a Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight title fight against division kingpin Ben Henderson, Thomson is willing to face whoever matchmakers put him up against, as long as it gets him closer to his shot at the gold.

Indeed, if he wants a crack at “Smooth’s” strap, he’ll need at least one, maybe two more impressive wins inside the eight-walled cage to prove his worth in a talent-rich division.

Speaking to reporters prior to UFC 160 (via MMA H.E.A.T), “The Punk” says a bout against Donald Cerrone might be the next logical step, seeing as how the rest of the 155-pound contenders are either tied up or already stomped out.

His words:

“I’m talking, like who’s next? I’m assuming like, probably Cerrone if he wins. I just beat K.J. so I don’t see that happening. Nate’s out for I don’t know how long because of his suspension, so, I don’t really see anyone else in the top 10 that I think they are going to have me fight. I think [Cerrone is] the only option that they will probably give me if he wins tonight. If he doesn’t win, then, I’ve already beat K.J. If it gets me to the shot at the title, whoever they want me to fight.”

“Cowboy” did get the “W” in Las Vegas, Nevada, as he bloodied up Strikeforce import K.J. Noons (see the carnage here) en route to a unanimous decision victory at UFC 160. The win got him back on track after being kicked silly by Anthony Pettis at UFC on FOX 6 last January.

And while it’s too soon to determine who either man will face next, a showdown between the two scrappy lightweights is definitely one to consider.

Meanwhile, T.J. Grant is the next contender to Henderson’s lightweight throne, as he earned his title shot the old fashioned way by viciously knocking out Thomson’s gym stablemate Gray Maynard last weekend (May 25, 2013) in “Sin City.”

And yes, Josh is game to fight anyone they put in front of him, however, he is adamant he won’t ever fight his friend, “The Bully,” on his way to the title.

What say you Maniacs, does a 155-pound showdown between “The Punk” and “Cowboy” make sense to you?

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE/Tim Burke MMAMania

UFC 160 didn’t provide a lot of changes to the UFC fighter rankings, but lightweight T.J. Grant did make a jump after his win over Gray Maynard.

The UFC fighter rankings usually see a fair amount of changes after each event but despite a bunch of ranked fighters competing at UFC 160, not a ton changed. Junior dos Santos cemented his place as the number one contender, Glover Teixeira won but couldn’t move past some bigger names, and Donald Cerrone’s win didn’t move him up either.

You can check out the full rankings here, and use the dropdown menu to see the individual picks of the five BE contributors (myself, T.P. Grant, Chris Hall, Fraser Coffeen, and Stephie Daniels).

One guy that did make a move though was T.J. Grant. The Canadian lightweight defeated Gray Maynard by first-round TKO and earned a title shot against champion Ben Henderson. That was enough to move him up two spots from number 5 to number 3. Unsurprisingly, Maynard dropped from the three to five. There was no more movement at 155.

One other development at UFC 160 was formerly-ranked Brian Bowles losing to George Roop. Bowles fell from the weight spot to right off the list. Mike Easton and Ivan Menjivar moved up one spot each (9 to 8, 8 to 7), and Team Alpha Male fighter T.J. Dillashaw makes his debut on the rankings in the number 10 spot. Dillashaw has won four fights in a row, most recently defeating Hugo Viana at UFC on Fox 7.

The only other division affected was heavyweight. Roy Nelson passed Alistair Overeem for the five spot despite not fighting, while Travis Browne passed Mark Hunt for the nine spot due to Hunt losing to Dos Santos.

Finally, Ronaldo Souza passed Constantinos Philippou for the five spot at middleweight, one week after taking out Chris Camozzi at UFC on FX 8.

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE/Adam Guillen Jr. MMAMania

Current UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson admits he was prepared to defend his strap against Gray Maynard next, however, he now has to dedicate his time to trying to learn everything there is to know about T.J. Grant after the scrappy Canadian knocked out “The Bully” at UFC 160 to earn a title shot against “Smooth.”

Heading into last weekend’s (May 25, 2013) UFC 160 lightweight clash between Gray Maynard and T.J. Grant, both competitors stepped into the Octagon with the added pressure of knowing a victory would earn them a shot at Ben Henderson’s division title.

127 seconds later, “Smooth” knew who he would be defending his strap against as Grant blitzed through “The Bully” en route to a “Fight Night” bonus-winning knockout (KO) of the former No. 1 contender.

The only problem for Henderson, is that he doesn’t know a whole lot about the FitPlus standout after the Canadian slowly but surely made his mark in the lightweight division. And while Grant doesn’t necessarily have the household name (yet), he proved he does indeed deserve a shot at the title after earning his fifth straight victory since making the drop down from welterweight.

According to Henderson, he was already preparing for a bout against the heavily-favored Maynard, but now has to quickly learn all he can about Grant as he prepares to defend his title for the fourth consecutive time.

His words during a recent appearance on “The MMA Hour:”

“I am a little bit surprised. I think most people had Gray winning. Most people picked Gray to win and not only did T.J. prove everyone wrong, but in the manner and in the fashion that he did it, pretty impressive performance for him. I did (think Maynard was going to win). I thought Gray was going to be the next guy I faced. I was already kind of preparing for that and now I got a new guy to prepare for. I don’t know a whole lot about T.J. to be honest. I know he’s 5-0 at 155 now, he used to be a 170 pounder. From what I’ve seen of him, from the promos and highlights and stuff, he doesn’t seem too flashy. He’s one of those guys, a grinder, good fundamentals and solid. It is going to be my job to learn about him the next month or so to get ready for him.”

Benson admits his previous bouts weren’t the best of his career. He does, however, vow to have a better one against T.J. and says he doesn’t necessarily have to get a finish; he just needs to be on his “A” game to walk out with his strap.

He explains:

“I don’t think I need a finish. I think I need to have a great performance. Again, hats off to Frankie and hats off to Gilbert, but (against) both of those guys I don’t think I had my best performances. Against Nate Diaz I think I had a pretty darn good performance. I think I had like a nine out of a 10 performance or an eight out of 10. Against Frankie the first time, I think I had like a seven or eight performance. Against Frankie the second time, he did a great job of keeping me from having a great performance. He did a good job of making me not do well, that’s his job, is to keep me from looking good. I think I had like a four out of 10 in the performance. Against Gilbert, I think I had like a five or six out of 10. I didn’t have my best performance. But, hats off to Gilbert though, he made me not have a good performance. Against T.J. Grant, as long as I have like an eight or nine or 10 out of 10 performance, the rest will take care of itself. Whether it’s a knockout or submission or whatever, it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care if I have 25 decisions in a row as long as I have great performances each time.”

Since winning the belt from “The Answer” back at UFC 144, Henderson has won three straight decision victories with his fight against Frankie Edgar at UFC 150 and his scrap against Gilbert Melendez at UFC on FOX 7 being ever so close.

He did manage to dominate Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 5, however, “Smooth” wasn’t too thrilled with his own performances against “El Nino” and “The Answer” and says when it comes time to face Grant, he will be looking for a near-perfect outing.

And he’ll need it, too, as Grant is determined to spread his name to the masses and be the first since Anthony Pettis to defeat Henderson in the process of becoming the “new blood” of the division.

He’s on the right track so far.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting/Mike Chiappetta MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS — T.J. Grant is making 2013 a year to remember. So far, he’s welcomed his first child into the world and sealed his spot as the No. 1 contender in the UFC’s lightweight division. He also has his wedding set for an October date. And prior to that, he hopes to capture a championship belt.

Grant, who knocked out Gray Maynard at UFC 160, said afterward that he hoped to get the fight in before marrying his fiancee. UFC president Dana White said he would make that happen.

One possible target date? The UFC on FOX Sports 1 show scheduled for Aug. 17 in Boston.

“There’s four fights we’re looking at right now for that show. That’s one of them,” White said.

White would not name any of the other fights under consideration.

Each of champion Ben Henderson’s last two fights have taken place on the FOX network. Last December, he successfully defended the belt with a strong unanimous decision over Nate Diaz, while in April, he scraped past Gilbert Melendez in a split-decision.

FOX Sports 1 is a new venture from the UFC’s TV partner which will launch on Aug. 17. The UFC will have a major presence on the channel, moving programming including “The Ultimate Fighter” and “UFC Tonight” there.

The channel will also air live fights. As of now, the UFC has announced Alistar Overeem vs. Travis Browne, Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Johnson and Thiago Alves vs. Matt Brown for the TD Garden show.

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE/Geno Mrosko MMAMania

The ZUFFA brass handed out its usual post-fight bonus awards to select fighters coming out of the UFC 160 event last night (Sat., May 25, 2013) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check out who took home the extra coin for their efforts.

UFC 160: “Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2” from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, has officially wrapped, which means it’s time for those select fighters who went above and beyond in their respective fights to get a little extra grease for their efforts.

To the tune of $50,000 each.

The promotion dished out its standard post-fight monetary bonuses to four of the 24 fighters on the card, and it’s probably no surprise who’s heading home with a second sack of simoleons.

Initially, UFC President Dana White was going to award Junior dos Santos with “Knockout of the Night” honors for his spinning heel kick destruction of Mark Hunt. But Mike Tyson vetoed that and decided T.J. Grant’s impressive finish of Gray Maynard was more deserving.

Instead, “Cigano” will have to settle for “Fight of the Night,” certainly not a bad consolation prize.

Finally, Glover Teixeira continued tearing ass through the light heavyweight ranks with a “Submission of the Night” earning guillotine choke of James Te Huna.

Here are the special fight bonuses for UFC 160:

Knockout of the Night — T.J. Grant

Submission of the Night — Glover Teixeira

Fight of the Night — Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt

Again, each fighter received $50,000 extra for their performances in addition to their respective base salaries, which we will pass along as soon as that information becomes available.

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