T.J. Grant will not challenge newly-minted Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in the main event of UFC on FOX 9, which will take place at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif., on Dec. 14, 2013.
That distinguished privilege will go to none other than local mixed martial arts (MMA) standout, and former Strikeforce Lightweight champion, Josh Thomson, according to a recent announcement.
Here it is:
"The main event for UFC Fight Night on FOX December 14 has been verbally agreed to as UFC lightweight world champion Anthony "Showtime" Pettis will defend his title against number-five ranked contender Josh "The Punk" Thomson. Pettis recently reclaimed the belt from Benson Henderson, from whom he'd won the WEC lightweight title in 2010, via a first-round armbar that earned Submission of the Night honors. Thomson most recently earned a Knockout of the Night bonus for his highlight-reel finish of Nate Diaz. Neither Henderson nor Diaz had previously been stopped in their UFC careers."
So what happened?
Grant announced on Twitter.com this evening that he isn't healthy enough to compete against "Showtime," less than one week after UFC President Dana White revealed his intentions to book him (again) in the high-profile 155-pound MMA match of a lifetime.
"Hey people. Quick update. Unfortunately I won't be fighting Pettis on dec 14. I am still not yet 100% n can't commit to fight. UFC is going with someone else instead. It sucks but it is the best for both myself and the UFC. Please don't worry. Ill be back and if I gotta fight someone else to get back to where I wanna be then that's what I'm gonna do. I'm not bitter. Thanks."
Remember, Grant was supposed to fight then-champion Ben Henderson at UFC 164 late last month; however, he was forced to withdraw because of a concussion suffered in training. Pettis served as his replacement and went on to submit Henderson with a "Smooth" first round arm bar in the main event of the evening.
"Violent" Grant then went to great lengths to clarify that he is not "scared" to fight anyone, asserting that his health and future in the sport was more important than rushing back too soon from a head injury. He admitted then that he didn't know if the title shot, which he "earned" with an impressive stoppage of Gray Maynard, would be his upon his return.
And his latest message seems to indicate that unlike last time he will probably have to pick up a win or two before being considered again.
Meanwhile, "Punk" has the fight of his life -- almost right in his backyard -- fall into his lap. And all he had to do was register a "Knockout of the Night" over Diaz at UFC on Fox 7 back in April to punch his championship ticket. Indeed, the decision to reward Thomson -- who hadn't stepped foot inside the Octagon in nearly a decade prior to this year -- with such a big bout might ruffle a few feathers.
Fun fight regardless for an historically competitive division that is suddenly rather murky near the top.
UFC on FOX 9 currently features a co-main event between Bantamweight standouts Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald. For more information on UFC on FOX 9 be sure to hit up our complete event archive right here.