At 14-years-old, Davey Grant was training in a kickboxing gym when he first discovered the sport of MMA.
“I had my first amateur fight when I was 15, and really enjoyed it. I played lots of other sports too. I used to play a game of football on a Sunday morning and then go and play a full game of rugby straight after. I love team sports as I’m a sociable person, but the thrill involved in fighting, the pressure and spotlight being only on me; I just knew it was for me.”
After living his teenage years to the fullest, Davey didn’t start dedicating his life to MMA until the age of 21.
“I was watching the a fight with my mates and I told them I used to do it. Nobody believed me because I’m not the kind of person that gets into fights, I just like to get along with people and have a laugh.”
To prove it to his friends, Davey went into training for a fight that they could all come and watch. He won, everyone saw, and “the buzz” had returned. Davey never looked back. A scaffolder at the time, Davey was only able to train threetimes a week. He made it work.
Davey made his name this year on the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality show. I asked him about his experience on the show and the difficulties spending six weeks away from his family in Las Vegas.
“Obviously it’s strange because you’re living your dream, but at the same time you’re missing your kids so much. I just had to try and keep that to the back of my mind because I knew what a good opportunity it was. I really enjoyed it in the house and met some amazing people, also I ended up on the same team as my mate Michael Wooten. Even when it got tough, giving up never crossed my mind because I knew at the end of the day, this is what I want to do.”
At the semi-final stage of the competition, Davey’s opponent, Anthony Gutierrez failed to make the 135 (+1) pound weight limit. Davey received a bye to the final but was visibly upset at not being able to fight his way there.
“I was devastated. I didn’t even feel like I was in the final. Ronda [Rousey] was a big help and luckily it was only a couple of days from the end of the season so I was able to refocus, knowing I’d have to fight Chris [Holdsworth] next.”
Ronda Rousey, UFC Womens Bantamweight Champion, was Davey’s coach on TUF. She fights in the co-main event at UFC 168 next week in what is expected to be the company’s biggest show of 2013. Davey and Rousey have stayed close since the show.
“I was living in her house for a week before the TUF finale. I won’t be there next week, but I’ll speak to her and let her know I’m thinking of her.”
Davey lost his final with Chris Holdsworth. But shortly afterwards, UFC President Dana White announced that Davey would be signed by The UFC regardless.
“I was so excited to fight Chris, and wasn’t really feeling the pressure. In the fight I just made a few bad decisions. I should have kept it on the feet, but I tried to finish him because I’m exciting fighter. It was a mistake taking him to ground because he’s a black belt in BJJ but I thought I saw the finish. I would definitely like to avenge the loss. Not taking anything away from Chris, I think I lost the fight rather than him winning it. You learn more from a loss than a win, and that was my first loss since my professional debut. It’s just made me even hungrier.”
“I found out that I was being offered a contract when a friend sent me a text. Dana had been on “Beyond the Octagon” and announced it. I went on twitter and I was getting loads of tweets. I couldn’t believe it.”
Davey said he’s ready to fight whenever the UFC tell him to and he’s willing to fight anyone. With an event in London in March, it’s possible he might appear on that card.
“It’s surreal being at UFC events now because everyone there is a fight fan so I’m like a celebrity. Fans want photos and autographs and it’s nice, I don’t mind it at all. Yesterday I was shopping in Newcastle and a boy came up and asked for a photo, but that doesn’t happen a lot outside of events yet. The sport will grow in the UK, and hopefully I’ll still be fighting when it does. It would be a dream come true, to see MMA get the respect and exposure it deserves. There’s no sport more physically demanding than this one.”
Davey is aiming to be a UFC champion within 2-3 years, and I wouldn’t doubt him for a second. He is as honest, humble and dedicated as they come in sport. England have a new prospect we can relate to and be excited about. It will surely only help the UFC’s popularity here moving forwards.
As for UFC 168, Davey Grant is picking Anderson Silva to regain his belt from Chris Weidman. I am not so sure, but there will certainly be fireworks on the 28th December as the UFC close out their year on a high.