In case you missed it, T.J. Grant is hurt and out of his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight title fight against Ben Henderson. Former WEC champion and the last man to beat "Smooth" -- Anthony Pettis -- will get his long-awaited (and deserved) rematch against the champ in "Showtime's" hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
One of the first things that nearly everyone thought (including commenters here on this site -- just check that above linked article) was that this injury was extraordinarily convenient for a number of reasons.
First of all, Pettis is one of the most exciting fighters on the entire roster.
Secondly, he's from the site of UFC 164 in Wisconsin, which would certainly help local interest and ticket sales. The third reason is that he's certainly a legitimate candidate to knock off "Bendo," as he's done so once already.
Next up is the nature of his injury. A concussion is a "hidden" injury that could easily be faked without a lot of nonsense and hoopla.
It certainly isn't obvious like a broken bone.
Thanks everyone for your concerns. I am healing from a concussion I suffered in BJJ of all things. I hope to be back training very soon— TJ Grant (@TJ_Grant) July 13, 2013
There's certainly more, but I'll stop with the following: No one knows who T.J. Grant is aside from us hardcore fans, while Pettis has been on mixed martial arts (MMA) highlight reels since the end of 2010 when he landed the Showtime Kick against...
Thanks, UFC, for uploading one of the greatest highlights of our young sport to YouTube for everyone to see.
I love how it includes one of the great calls of all time (HE RAN UP THE WALL LIKE A NINJA!) by the recent Hall of Fame inductee Stephan Bonnar.
Simply put, this rematch makes too much sense to not happen, and happen while the irons are hot. We've just seen the luster get pulled off potential "super fights" with Anderson Silva falling to Chris Weidman, and Pettis already screwed the pooch once by thinking he could hangout under Clay Guida for three rounds and catch him with a submission.
Okay, that takes away from what Guida did, but shrug, that's MMA judging for you.
Regardless, they had both fighters willing and able to go, every opportunity to profit from the situation and all they needed was the mostly unknown T.J. Grant to not be in the fight anymore. Nothing a little payola couldn't handle, right?
First of all, how much would Grant --who denies a payoff -- have to take to do this? A hundred thousand? Two? He'd make that much just from winning the belt and then fighting Pettis, probably more. Canada has shown they LOVE their MMA champions.
Then you've got to pay off everyone in Grant's camp, including his coaches and anyone else he trains with to keep their mouths shut, which is a goddamn impossibility in this day and age of social media. Same with Grant's family and hell, maybe even his neighbors, too.
Why open yourself up to that kind of continual headache and potential blackmail just to push up one fight that they could run anyway?
There's also the same argument against the UFC fixing a fight.
It's a young sport that still struggles for airtime and credibility. If they lose the public trust that things aren't on the up and up, they lose WAY more than they could ever gain out of even just one mega-fight. This isn't one of those fights, by the way. Pettis vs. Henderson is bigger than Grant vs. Henderson, but nowhere near along the lines of say, Jon Jones or Georges St. Pierre versus Anderson Silva.
Let's not forget that there's no guarantee that T.J. would ever get a shot at the title down the road.
Remember what happened to the other main actor in this drama? Anthony Pettis was promised a title shot, but there was a controversial decision, and he decided to keep active by fighting Guida. Then he lost. That was two years ago. Pettis was 24 at the time. Grant is 29. I guarantee you that T.J. doesn't want to wait until he's 31 to get that title shot.
It sure is nice to come up with convenient amusing theories on what's happened lately with the UFC, but Cat Zingano didn't get knee surgery just for a laugh so Miesha Tate could step in. Anderson didn't throw a match by losing consciousness and countless brain cells when he could've tapped to a submission earlier.
And TJ Grant isn't passing on the opportunity of a lifetime just to keep his mouth shut and lose his chance.