Kendall Grove emerged onto the MMA scene just two years ago when he upset Ed Herman to become the Ultimate Fighter Season 3 Champion. A lot has happened to Grove and his career since that fateful day, including two consecutive knockout losses. However, the Kendall Grove that you see today is not the same one that you have seen since the Herman victory. In fact, that Kendall Grove no longer exists.
“I killed Kendall Grove,” he told UFC.com. “Kendall Grove is dead. He was weak. He was bringing me down. My next tattoo is gonna be ‘In Loving Memory of Kendall Grove.’”
Grove said that he has an alter ego, “Trotter,” that will now be entering the Octagon in his place.
“He’s somebody who’s just gonna go in there and fight,” Grove explains. “At the end of the day, that’s all I can do – train hard, go in there smart, and fight.”
Grove knew that things needed to change if he wanted to be the successful MMA fighter that everyone thought he could be, just two years ago. And he knew that the only person that can initiate those changes was him. However, the development of an alter ego was not the only thing that he changed.
“I cleaned up my life a lot and my eyes are wide open,” Grove said. “Like (UFC President) Dana (White) told me in the beginning, watch out for the “cling-ons.” In a way you’ve got to experience it for yourself and I got blinded for a second, but I’m on track.”
The new Grove, or “Trotter,” is now focused on what he has to do to live up to those hefty expectations. He recently moved back to Hilo, Hawaii to seek out the tutelage Hilo’s finest Mixed Martial Artist, BJ Penn. And, it took an MMA legend to remind Grove why he fighting in the first place. Because it made HIM happy.
“He asked me, ‘Why do you do this? This is for you,’” recalled Grove. “He said, ‘Yeah, you fight for where you come from and for all these people, but at the end of the day, you fight for yourself.’”
After winning TUF, Grove thought that it was his responsibility to take care of everyone in his extended network, including the “cling-ons.” He soon realized that those people are fickle, and disappeared nearly as quickly as they came.
“I went through this like ‘I made it, I’m successful, I’m gonna help people,’ but everyone’s just gonna use you,” said Grove. “Everyone got comfortable getting, getting, getting, and when I wasn’t giving no more, they turned on me. In the end, the only guy I can depend on is myself.”
Grove added, “Everybody’s seen me on top and they wanted a piece of me on top, and as soon as I had some setbacks, nobody’s with me no more. I have my true fans and true friends, but people like to use people and it’s a dog eat dog world, so I don’t care anymore.”
Grove now looks to take his new found focus into The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 Finale against UFC veteran and former Middleweight Champion Evan Tanner. Although Tanner is 12 years his elder, Grove knows that he is in for the fight of his career, if not his life.
“I see a dangerous man trying to end my career, and he’s no joke,” said Grove about the former Champ. “A lot of people are saying ‘oh, he’s old,’ but look at Randy Couture and what he’s done. Age don’t matter. It’s not like I’m trying to downplay myself and hype him up – that’s the truth about him; he’s the former middleweight champ for a reason. He’s done his thing and I’m honored to fight this man.”
Grove will certainly be looking to do his thing Saturday night, because he knows that three consecutive losses could very well end his short-lived UFC career.
“I lose this fight, I’m done and everybody hates me and I go back to people saying, ‘Who’s Kendall Grove?’” he said.
I don’t think Grove needs to worry about that, because from the looks of it, Trotter will make sure everybody knows.