Since making his lightweight debut on Oct. 1, 2011, TJ Grant has put together a five-fight winning streak. He was pitted against Gray Maynard in his last outing at UFC 160 in a title elimination bout. Grant knocked out Maynard in opening round to earn a title shot against then-champion Benson Henderson.
A bout between Grant and Henderson was scheduled for UFC 164, but Grant was forced out of the fight due to a concussion suffered in training. Anthony Pettis replaced Grant and defeated Henderson to become the lightweight champion.
Grant was then lined up to face Pettis on Dec. 14 in the UFC on Fox 9 main event, but hadn’t been medically cleared for the concussion and had to decline the match-up.
“TJ Grant is in one of those unfortunate situations where he’s had a title shot and he’s had to pull out twice,” said UFC president Dana White following the UFC 166 post-fight press conference on Oct. 19.
While Grant waits to be medically cleared, the division has moved on. Josh Thomson now faces Pettis on Dec. 14. Gilbert Melendez, who lost a razor-close split decision to Henderson for the title on April 20, jumped right back in title contention with a Fight of the Year candidate performance against Diego Sanchez at UFC 166. Undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov has emerged as a contender by defeating Pat Healy at UFC 165.
Having had to pull out of two title fights, Grant’s top contender status is now in jeopardy and he may have to take another fight when he returns to reestablish himself as the No. 1 contender.
“He might come back and have to fight another fight. We’ve got to keep this thing rolling,” said White. “It’s a huge setback for TJ Grant.”