Upon his release by the UFC last year, The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove has rebounded nicely with back-to-back wins over tough competition, starting with revenge on a fighter that beat him back when he was first starting out in MMA.
“I fought Joe Riggs in ProElite (in August) and choked him out in 59 seconds,” said Grove. “I’m stoked he took the fight when he didn’t have to. He kicked my ass once, so he had nothing to prove. But when I first fought him I was a boy in this sport.
“I had three or four fights under my belt, and he fought an inexperienced boy. Not to make excuses, but that’s what it was. When the opportunity came to fight him again, I knew what I was capable of doing. I knew I wasn’t the same fighter.”
Grove followed up his win over Riggs by returning to ProElite in January, defeating Japanese fan favorite Ikuhisa Minowa.
“I tried my hardest to finish him,” said Grove. “He’s tough – obviously, he’s had around 100 MMA fights – and has fought a who’s who of fighters. I got the unanimous decision, and came out injury free, so that’s good.”
Grove’s road back doesn’t get any easier from there. On Thursday night, Grove steps up to face fellow former UFC middleweight Jay Silva in the main event of SCC 4 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
“I’m taking this fight seriously,” said Grove. “If he catches me sleeping, he’ll knock my head into the third row. So I have to step up my game. Maybe I can surprise him with my striking, or take him down, and submit him.”
Grove continued by telling MMAWeekly.com that while he knows Silva’s weakness, but he still may be in for a long night.
“I know his ground is his Achilles’ heel, but he’s tough,” said Grove. “I’ve watched his fights against C.B. Dollaway and Chris Leben, and they had a hard time finishing him too.
“I’m going to try to stand with him, and if it’s not going my way, I know I have other tools in my arsenal. If you give me the opportunity, I’ll take advantage of it. I’ll rip your arm off or choke you unconscious.”
Grove’s confidence is something that’s grown not only with his recent success, but because he’s let go of a lot of the weight he carried on his shoulders during his time in the UFC.
“I was on the top of the world, fighting for the biggest organization, but at the end of the day I can’t blame anybody but myself for putting the pressure on myself,” he said. “I turned it into a job. I got into this sport because I loved it.
“I love punching people in the face, love figuring out how to beat you, and I’m finally practicing what I’m preaching. I let go of that stress and I’m just having fun going out there fighting for myself. The confidence in my head has just skyrocketed. I’ve begun to believe in myself on that level.”