Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight T.J. Grant has found his way onto UFC President Dana White's top 10 list after a one-round destruction of Matt Wiman at UFC on FOX 6: "Johnson vs. Dodson" at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Grant (20-5) utterly obliterated a very durable opponent in Wiman, landing elbow strikes from the clinch basically at will until he hurt Wiman badly enough to secure the knockout finish at the 4:51 mark of round one.
The win was Grant's fourth in a row since dropping to the UFC lightweight division in late 2011, giving him the second longest win-streak in the UFC at 155-pounds behind champion Benson Henderson.
While "Smooth" is undoubtedly still a few notches above Grant in the lightweight pecking order, UFC President Dana White said at the UFC on FOX 6 post-fight press conference (watch it here) that the Canadian's performance at the event was enough to move him into the top 10 in the division.
"After the weigh-ins we talk to all the guys and we had said to him and Wiman, ‘Your fight's a big deal. This is a big deal not only for the night, it's the main event on FX but it's also a big deal for you two and where you sit in the division," White explained. "So, they knew what this meant going into it and this breaks this kid into the top 10 and he's got big fights ahead of him now."
Grant's two most recent wins, a unanimous decision over Evan Dunham at UFC 152 and the knockout of Wiman, were by far the most impressive of his career. The native of Nova Scotia was known for his grappling prowess early on in his career, but as of late has showed tremendous improvement to the striking aspect of his game.
Many have wondered how Grant has managed to turn the corner in his most recent fights. While he can't chalk it up to one specific reason, Grant believes his work ethic and UFC experience played a major role in his breakthrough effort against Wiman.
"Tonight was just a great opportunity for me to showcase my skills and I had a great opponent, you know, I was ready for a really tough fight tonight but it all worked out," Grant said at the press conference. "Everything went picture perfect and I got the knockout.
"I just feel like going along early in my career I was quiet, quiet, like flying under the radar and I mean hey - I've built up a lot of experience in the UFC I've had 10 fights and I'm fortunate for that, it's really important that Octagon experience and right now I feel like I'm putting it all together and tonight I feel like I made a statement."
With the lightweight division being arguably the most stacked weight class in the UFC, there are numerous names that would qualify as "big fights" for Grant.
"There's a lot of really tough fighters in out there at that weight class," Grant told Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting in a post-fight interview. "I mean like I said Joe Silva's going to make his decision, Jim Miller just won his last fight, you got two really good guys fighting later on tonight, you know, but again I'm ready to take whoever the UFC puts in front of me, move forward and continue to take them out."
For a complete recap of Grant's victory over Wiman as well as the entire UFC on FOX 6 "Prelims" card, click here. For complete UFC on FOX 6 results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the night's action click here.