When he returns, T.J. Grant deserves his shot at the title.

For the last couple of months, the Canadian has been on the sidelines while recovering from a concussion that he suffered in July in preparation for his title fight against Ben Henderson at UFC 164. As a result of the injury, Anthony Pettis stepped in as a replacement and took the title from “Smooth” after a first-round submission victory.

Shortly after the title changed hands, Grant was linked to a fight at UFC on Fox 9 in December for the title. The two being linked to fight each other didn’t last long, as Grant was still ineligible to return to training due to lack of medical clearance. That opened the door for Josh Thomson to get the title shot. Soon thereafter, that fight was canned when Pettis, too, became injured, but that’s another story for another day.

To say it as simply as possible, the Canadian earned his shot at the title, fair and square. When Grant is healthy, the title bid should be his.

After alternating wins and losses during his time at welterweight, Grant shed the additional 15 pounds and continued his career at lightweight. From there, his career took off. He won five in a row, closing out the streak with an exclamation point of a knockout against Gray Maynard. Grant was on his way to the top until he suffered the concussion that still has him on the sidelines.

Concussions are such a hot topic in the world of sports right now. Athletes from a diverse range of sports suffer them on a regular basis, whether it is in a contact sport like football and hockey or a non-contact sport like baseball. But the thing with concussions is that there is no defined amount of time it takes to recover from the injury. A broken arm will heal in about six to eight weeks, whereas a concussion can put someone on the sidelines for a year or longer.

Let’s assume that if and when Grant returns to the cage, he is 100 percent free of his concussion symptoms, cleared to go and ready on all accounts. The first two are a must, of course, but the latter will be the key. If that is the case, then he deserves the title shot that he earned, regardless of how long it takes him to recover.

Considering this is a case where the fighter worked his way up the ladder and earned the title shot, rather than backed his way into a title the way that Chael Sonnen did when he met Jon Jones, there’s little reason for Grant to start again at the back of the line. Nothing against Thomson either, but rather than clearing his own way to a title fight, the path was cleared for him with the head injury to Grant. With Pettis now injured and out, it wouldn’t be a stretch for the UFC to start from a clean slate with Grant as the first challenger upon Pettis’ return.

To take the title shot away from Grant would be unfair. He put in his time and worked his way to the title. An injury shouldn’t rid him of the right to compete for the strap. He proved he is the No. 1 contender, and the UFC should still let him have his chance.

Photo: T.J. Grant (R) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.