MMA fans may have been raving about the show Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez put on Saturday night at UFC 166, but there’s one particular lightweight out there who wasn’t so thrilled about the action-packed shootout – at least not the outcome.
It appears Melendez’s victory and the warrior-like spirit he showcased in posting the unanimous decision win may have been the worst thing for former TJ Grant (pictured).
According to UFC president Dana White, Melendez is right back in the mix for a crack at the crown for his part in what many are calling the fight of the year.
“TJ Grant’s in one of those unfortunate situations where he had the title shot and he had to pull out twice,” White said following Melendez and Sanchez’s instant classic. “He’s in limbo. He might come back and have to fight another fight. We’ve got to keep this thing rolling.
“Yeah, it’s a huge step back for TJ Grant.”
Grant initially earned next dibs after steamrolling former top contender Gray Maynard at UFC 160. He was slated to challenge then-champion Benson Henderson at UFC 164, then current champ Pettis at UFC on FOX 9, but a concussion forced him out on both occasions.
What also doesn’t help Grant is the fact Melendez lost a title bout to Henderson in his big league debut. Now that Pettis sits atop the throne, there’s a better chance for “El Niño” to storm into a championship affair with Henderson momentarily out of the picture.
Josh Thomson, who is ranked one slot below Grant in the UFC Lightweight Rankings at #4, now challenges Pettis on December 14.
No word on when Grant will be cleared to return to action.