by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy of kendallgrovemma.com)

Kendall Grove’s popularity has been on the rise since his stint on The Ultimate Fighter Season 3. His skill level has also been rising throughout that time. Grove is riding a four-fight win streak that includes notable wins over Ed Herman, Chris Price, and Alan Belcher.

He looks to continue that rise to prominence and to hone his skills when he faces Patrick Cote at UFC 74.

Every time Grove steps into the Octagon, you can see an improvement in his repertoire of skills. Ed Herman and Kendall Grove put on a fantastic show at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter. After his unanimous decision victory over Herman, he took care of Chris Price in the first round by mounting him and finishing him with strikes. At UFC 69, Grove disposed of Alan Belcher with a choke in the second round.

Needless to say, this kid has talent. Grove’s biggest advantage in any fight will be his size and reach advantage. Standing six feet, six inches, there aren’t many contenders in the middleweight division that will be able to match his size.

After Grove finished training with coach Tito Ortiz on The Ultimate Fighter, he decided to train with Tito at Big Bear in California. In December of 2006, Grove moved to Las Vegas to train at Xtreme Couture. Grove believes the experience has been invaluable.

“I train with world class fighters. You train with the best, you become the best,” Grove explained. “I know why I’m here. One day I’ll be a champion. I don’t get this kind of training in Hawaii.”

Even though Kendall went out to Vegas, he still remains very good friends with Tito Ortiz. “He’s a real good friend of mine,” said Grove. “He’s helped me out with training, fighting and sponsorships. He’s almost like a brother to me.”

Grove will face a very tough test in his next fight at UFC 74 in Patrick Cote. Cote has had his ups and downs in the Octagon, but is a game fighter and packs heavy hands.

A win over Cote in this fight would move his status as a top title contender up quite a bit. Grove isn’t taking him lightly though. “He’s gonna bring out the best in me, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to bring out the best in him.”

Cote presents some possible problems for Grove, but he’s aware of them. “He’s dangerous and he has dynamite in his hands. I would like to see this fight go the distance and have us beat the sh** out of each other, but I don’t think he’ll be able to handle my conditioning. My conditioning is at it’s best.”

Kendall isn’t looking past the French Canadian, but he does have some ideas of whom he would like to fight next. “Not looking past Cote, but I wouldn’t mind fighting Jason MacDonald next,” Grove said. “He says he’s the TUF killer. Let’s see him beat the TUF champion.”

With Anderson Silva literally mowing through the competition, Grove could be on the fast track for a title shot. ‘Da Spider’ feels a little different.

“Right now, I feel that I’m not ready for Anderson. To jump in there right now with him, I just feel he’ll destroy me. Give me a year, maybe a year and a half to better my skills and I’ll jump in there with him. Hopefully when the UFC goes to Hawaii; that should be about a year and a half from now.

“When I’m ready, I feel like I should get a shot. No disrespect to nobody else in the weight division, I just wanna climb that ladder and get my respect and pay my dues. I don’t want to cut in line. I just want to mature and grow as a fighter.”

Those words are from a very smart young man who wants to take his time and not get pushed into a title shot. When he is ready though, it should be a great fight.

But on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Grove will look to take that next step up that ladder with a win over Cote at UFC 74.