The issue of concussion in contact sports has entered the national consciousness, and mixed martial arts is no exception. Among the most prominent cases of concussion in the sport at present is Canadian UFC lightweight T.J. Grant.
Grant was on a five-fight win streak, capped with a first round KO of Gray Maynard in May. A title shot was announced.
Then Grant suffered a concussion in training, with a variety of unfortunate and continuing consequences. In a sport where players punch, kick, elbow, and knee each other in the head, the injury happened while rolling, in a gi.
“I was doing jiu-jitsu in a gi, and I was on top, trying to pass the guard,” said Grant to MMAJunkie. “My partner kind of went inverted and went to roll over. When he came back, his heel hit me in the head. It was just a good, clean shot in the head. I was kind of impressed that it didn’t f—ing knock me out. It was a really hard hit, and there were actually two impacts on the same roll. I don’t know which one did it.
“We just kept rolling after the first shot. From that point, later on in the roll he went for a sweep, and like I always would, I used my head to post out and stop it. That was right at the end of the roll, and after that I knew that I rattled my brain a little bit. I never really had a concussion that I can remember. I’ve never felt anything close to it, but it is what it is."
That was in June.
Grant was out of a scheduled title fight with Benson Henderson, and Anthony Pettis was in. Pettis took Henderson's title, and Grant remained the #1 contender. But a fight with Pettis was scratched due to continuing effects of the concussion. Those lingering effects continue even now, some five months later.
On Wednesday's UFC Tonight, Ariel Helwani reported that while Grant is improving, he is not yet 100%, and does not know when he will be able to return to fighting.
At present, Grant hopes he can start training hard at Christmas. He is currently working on his cardio.
Grant is confident he will be back, but does not know with certainty when. And by the time he does come back, the rankings may have moved on.
"He's in limbo," UFC President Dana White said recently. "He might come back and have to fight another fight. We've got to keep this thing rolling."
When Grant does return, who do you want to see him fight?
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