As a former stuntman, Dwight Grant had been in additional horrifying conditions, specifically making a nine-foot leap off a New York Metropolis skyscraper to a ledge beneath simply days earlier than a combat. However when he obtained a dose of actuality from American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez early in his keep on the famend California fitness center in 2013, he admits to being a bit of shaken up.

“After I got here to AKA, I needed to go to the UFC,” recollects Grant. “I had simply completed making an attempt out for The Final Fighter present and I felt like I deserved to be on the present and deserved to combat. And I noticed the season play out on TV, and I mentioned I can positively cling with these guys. However then, I nonetheless didn’t have the arrogance. Then Jav mentioned one thing to me after I first obtained there that really terrified me.”

“You’re adequate to be within the UFC now, and also you’ll beat numerous guys since you’re powerful, however the prime guys will destroy you and also you’ll be caught within the center,” Mendez informed the newcomer.

“That was probably the most terrifying factor,” explains Grant. “It wasn’t about getting destroyed; it was about being caught within the center, the concept I couldn’t be the very best and I’d be overwhelmed by the highest guys. After that, I began coaching alone extra, coaching on the fitness center tougher, and I constructed this confidence the place I felt I may beat anyone.”

In the present day, the 33-year-old Grant is a member of the UFC’s welterweight roster after scoring a blistering second-round knockout over Tyler Hill on the June 19 version of Dana White’s Tuesday Evening Contender Sequence. He couldn’t be happier, and once more, it’s not for causes you’d usually count on.

“I’ve seen conditions the place I had one man telling me he doesn’t need to combat me and one other man is telling me he can’t combat,” Grant mentioned. “After which I watch these two guys combat one another. (Laughs) It’s loopy and I’ve seen it occur so many occasions that it grew to become disheartening. It began to actually have an effect on me in a private manner. I began to really feel like my time’s being wasted, I’m coaching for these fights, then they’re getting canceled for foolish causes. And now I’m in place the place individuals need to combat me. Regardless that it’s extra harmful, that’s what will get me enthusiastic about it. It’s the proper state of affairs for me.”

Identical to Northern California and AKA have been the proper state of affairs for the Kung Fu fighter from Brooklyn who noticed his early profession stagnate after he ran out to a 3-1 file on the east coast MMA scene. He wanted a change, and that meant getting out of New York.

“I had been combating in New York for therefore lengthy that there was no manner I may prepare wherever in New York as a result of I fought all people from each fitness center, so I’m not gonna be welcome,” he laughs. Subsequent it was off to Las Vegas, however nothing clicked there. However after talking to a buddy who had a cousin at AKA, Grant determined to provide the house of the likes of Cormier, Nurmagomedov, Velasquez and Rockhold a shot. That was March 2013. By August he was residing in California.

“It’s fairly superb as a result of I left right here with a dream, and it was so sudden,” Grant mentioned of the transfer. “I made the choice and I do know it appeared loopy to individuals. They have been like, ‘This man simply mentioned he was gonna transfer, and now he’s residing in California.’ However I used to be fully obsessive about changing into profitable in MMA, and I made the sacrifices I needed to.”

That doesn’t imply it was simple for a New Yorker to get acclimated to the Bay Space.

“I’d stroll super-fast, at all times trying over my shoulder on a regular basis,” he mentioned. “My mates can be saying, ‘What’s your rush?’”

That’s when he was capable of stroll. In New York, public transportation can get you wherever. That’s not essentially the case in San Jose.

“I’ve been to different international locations…” Grant begins.

“And it was simpler,” I interrupt.

“At the very least in different international locations, individuals count on you to not perceive,” he laughs. “I didn’t begin driving till I obtained to California. Folks have been like, ‘You don’t have a automotive?’ I stayed in a spot that was 14.eight miles away from AKA. My buddy used to provide me a experience, however he needed to go to Paris for 2 weeks, so the one manner I may get to the fitness center was to borrow a motorbike and experience the bike all the best way to the fitness center, spar with Luke (Rockhold), prepare with all people else after which experience the bike all the best way again.”

It was an exhausting two weeks, and never simply due to the fitness center and the commute forwards and backwards.

“I used to be not simply getting exhausted, however my behind was sore from driving that bike,” he mentioned. “Throughout coaching, I wouldn’t even need to sit down. I’d actually combat takedowns simply so I wouldn’t land on my behind as a result of it damage a lot.”

I can nearly hear Mendez telling the troops, “Take a look at Grant, he’s not even taking a break and sitting down. And he’s defending all these takedowns.”

Grant can chortle about these days now, and even on the tough ones, he was embracing every little thing that was being thrown at him.

“The construction of the coaching was so nice as a result of it was like a seminar on daily basis,” he mentioned. “I’m taking notes on every little thing. As quickly as I would depart follow, I’d go to my cellphone and write down all these things. I’d take photos on the web and make diagrams, all types of stuff simply so I’d be capable of take it in as a result of it was manner over my head. I didn’t even perceive among the phrases they have been utilizing – I needed to Google it. However that’s what drew me to AKA. I do know it sounds tacky, however martial arts, for me, is a journey and the entire level of it’s to develop into a greater man and to study and acquire knowledge.”

And when every little thing comes collectively, you set it into follow on combat evening. And Grant did simply that. Since shifting to California, he’s gone 5-Zero with three knockouts, the largest of which was delivered with the stress at its highest. However Grant doesn’t get rattled by a lot. Keep in mind, this can be a man who used to leap off buildings.

“Stuntman, skilled skateboarder, I needed to do every little thing,” he mentioned. “However every little thing pales compared to the enjoyment I get from combating.”

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