While much of the spotlight heading into UFC 160 has been focused squarely on the card’s main card heavyweight tilts, for understandable reasons, the May 25th event will also feature a pretty compelling and pivotal lightweight tilt. Perennial contender Gray Maynard will take on the rising TJ Grant that night, and it was announced not long ago that the winner will move on to face champion Benson Henderson.
The title shot implications caught some folks off guard, due to the fact Maynard has fought just once since he was stopped by Frankie Edgar in October, 2011, as he worked his way to a split decision win over Clay Guida last June (it was a fight you may have tried to forget). Grant, on the other hand, has looked ridiculously good at lightweight and has won four straight fights, but he hasn’t defeated any top contenders. That’s where Maynard comes in.
Although Grant is coming off a wince inducing and memorable stoppage win over Matt Wiman (standing elbows will do that), the Canadian knows he’s still a big victory away from getting widespread recognition. The 29 year-old, former welterweight told MMA Fighting.com:
“In this sport, all it takes is one fight to turn people’s opinion around. You get judged off your last fight in this sport. If I beat a guy like Gray Maynard, who’s so well-respected and has been around a long time, that will get people’s attention.”
Maynard has been down the title shot path before, so if he defeats Grant some fans may not warm to the idea of having him fight Henderson, even though that has “great fight” written all over it. If Grant takes out Maynard in impressive fashion, however, the UFC can push him as a new threat in the lightweight division. Both men could present interesting challenges to Henderson no?
Stay tuned to MMA Frenzy.com for more coverage on UFC 160 as the event draws near.