While this weekend’s spotlight may be shining on Anderson Silva’s attempt to avenge his last loss, 8,000 miles away a different middleweight will have his sights set on evening the score with an opponent who handed him his first.
In May 2004, Ultimate Fighter Season 3 winner Kendall Grove was three fights into his career when he ran into Joe Riggs at Rumble on the Rock 5 and suffered a knockout a little more than midway through the opening round. Fast-forward to August 27, 2011 and he’ll once again be locking horns with Riggs in Hawaii at the newly reformed ProElite’s inaugural event.
The bout’s significance is not lost on Grove who is fighting for the first time since parting ways with the UFC.
“I’m a fighter. I don’t just do this to say I’m a fighter. I do it because I’m good at it, and I want to make an impact in this sport,” the lanky competitor explained in an official ProElite press release. “So I’ve trained extremely hard for this fight. But how much bigger of a fight can I get than fighting the guy who gave me my first loss?”
“I’d be lying if I said there was no emotion behind the fight,” he continued. “I’ve been waiting for this fight since that loss. I’ve been telling my guys this camp that when he fought me before, I was a boy…now I’m a man.”
Grove’s growth as a Mixed Martial Artist was evident during an initially successful run in the Octagon where he racked up three straight wins including an outpointing of Ed Herman to win the TUF 3 crown five years ago. However, after choking out Alan Belcher at UFC 69, “Da Spyder” went 4-6 over his next ten UFC fights and was handed his release on the heels of back-to-back decision defeats.
When it comes to this weekend, though, the 28-year old has made it clear he expects to show people a different fighter will be on display come showtime in Honolulu.
“It’s hard to say that fans are going to see a new Kendall Grove, but I have to make sure they do. I have to get out of this rut I’m in. People have figured me out. So I have to change…it’s mandatory. But I have not only changed, I’ve gotten better and evolved. That’s what the fans are going to see Saturday night. When the fans see me fight Saturday, they’re going to see someone lay it all on the line. I’m just excited to be back home for a great organization. I get to help build this organization, and what better way to do that than in front of my home crowd?”
Other pairings scheduled for the ProElite card, streaming live for free on Sherdog at 10:00 PM PST / 1:00 AM EST, include former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski taking on 5-2 finisher Ray Lopez and hard-hitting Drew McFedries mixing it up with island favorite Kala Hose, as well as an appearance from undefeated Olympic silver medalist wrestler Sara McMann and the professional debut of Reagan Penn (brother of UFC star B.J. Penn).
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC