Three months ago, T.J. Grant had never stepped into an Ultimate Fighting Championship cage. But on Saturday night, the Cole Harbour native will be part of what UFC is dubbing the “biggest event in mixed-martial arts history.”
Grant will fight Dong Hyun Kim of South Korea in the preliminary portion of UFC 100 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas as part of a star-studded event that features the likes of Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre.
“I remember watching all the UFCs way back like 10 or 12 years ago, before anyone even knew what it was,” the 25-year-old Grant told Metro Halifax on Thursday night. “No way did I imagine there would be a 100th UFC and I would be in it.”
It’s Grant’s second bout on a four-fight UFC contract signed earlier this year. He is 14-2 overall after winning his debut against Japan’s Ryo Chonan at UFC 97 at Bell Centre in Montreal in April and is riding a five-fight winning streak.
Grant landed this fight after two previous UFC bouts were cancelled. He got the call for UFC 100 to replace Quebec’s Jonathan Goulet, who injured his shoulder.
He landed in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
“I had no idea how big (UFC 100) was until I arrived here,” said the Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt. “The buzz down here is crazy for this show. Billboards, posters, you name it. Even the blackjack tables have UFC 100 printed on (them).”
Kim, nicknamed Stun Gun, has an 11-0-1 record and has two victories since joining UFC last May. Most have pegged Grant as the underdog, but that makes it a golden opportunity to get exposure and make a name for himself.
“This fight is everything to me,” said Grant, who made his MMA debut in 2006 as part of Extreme Cage Combat 1 in Halifax. “I will be as ruthless in there as I need to be.”
Lesnar, a former WWE wrestler with a 3-1 record, and St-Pierre, from St-Isidore, Que., are the co-main events.
The six-foot-two, 265-pound Lesner has a heavyweight tilt with Frank Mir (12-3). St-Pierre, 18-2 and riding a five-fight winning streak, shows down with Thiago Alves (16-3).