by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Stepping into the main event of
Ultimate Fighter 7 Live Finale this Saturday night, former Ultimate Fighter
winner Kendall Grove has refocused his life to prepare for his match-up with
Evan Tanner. He went home to Hawaii where he trained with good friend B.J.
Penn, he’s got a daughter on the way in August and a school of his very own
opening in September.
Coming off of back-to-back losses, Grove knows the
importance of this bout, but he won’t yield to the pressure that he says cost
him in his last two fights.
“Honest to God, I ain’t got no pressure coming into this
fight,” said Grove in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio. “That’s what I did
wrong in my last fight with Jorge (Rivera), I took into that fight like ‘aw,
(expletive) I can’t get hit, I don’t want to get hit, I don’t want get hit.’
“That’s what screwed me up in the past is me putting all
that pressure on myself. I’ve got to win. I’ve got to win. No, I’ve just got to
go out there and fight. That’s all that matters.”
Grove said he went back to Hawaii to train with Penn and be
with family and remember how to have fun with fighting like he always intended
on doing. The camp has him at peak performance going in against Tanner.
“Every day is a learning experience, and just opened my mind
up to a whole new different kind of training,” he stated. “I love it. My cardio
is the best I’ve had it.”
While the Season 3 winner went home to Hawaii to train, his
fight on The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 Finale will be a return home to the show
where he fought and defeated Ed Herman to earn his contract with the UFC.
Now, Grove feels like many of the competitors on the show
are there to be famous and not be fighters.
“Is it The Ultimate Fighter or the ultimate actors?” he
commented with a laugh. “There are fighters that come on the show, but they do
pick a lot of dramatic guys who want to be actors. They’re there for the wrong
reasons. Every season there are game fighters who are there for one reason, and
one reason only, and that is to fight and win. But you’ve got to understand
there’s also guys there to pursue their acting career, to get their 15 minutes
of fame on TV. That kind of makes us as other Ultimate Fighters look bad.”
And with this season focusing on middleweights, Grove’s
weight class, he feels he may have a few challengers from the latest class of
“There’s 16 guys there I wouldn’t mind smacking up,” he said
about this season’s cast.
The challenge in front of Grove right now though is former
UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner, and the Hawaiian takes this fight very
seriously. He refers to Tanner as a “legend” and one of the best fighters to
ever step into the Octagon, but he also knows just how important this fight is
to both of them, coming off of losses in their last bouts respectively.
“This is a make or break fight for both of us,” stated
Grove. “We’re both coming off devastating losses, make it or break right here.
I think that’s what’s going to make it a good fight. Each one of us has
everything to gain and everything to lose. I forget who told me this but
‘America is built on winning,’ and nobody likes a loser, so there you go.
“I lost twice and I hate it. The worst feeling in the world
right there to get embarrassed, and that’s what happened in my last fight. I
got embarrassed bad. I brought it upon myself and not taking anything away from
Jorge, he’s a great fighter, great competitor, but it just wasn’t me.”
Grove will look to get back on the winning track when he
faces Evan Tanner in the main event of href="http://www.mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/rumors.asp?articleid=5625&zoneid=14">The
Ultimate Fighter 7 Live Finale on Spike TV, Saturday night, June 21.