The world’s leader in MMA returns to London’s O2 arena on Saturday 16th March 2019 for the biggest card that has been put on in the venue for quite some time. Some fans were beginning to become disgruntled with the standard of fight card that the UFC were offering domestic fans but all of that talk disappeared when this weekend’s stellar lineup was revealed. The evening’s headliner sees fan favourite, Darren Till, look to rebound from his recent title fight loss against hard nosed veteran, Jorge Masvidal. One of Till’s teammates, Mike Grundy, will open the show and look to set the tone for British fighters that will make the walk after him during the night’s action.
Since early 2018, Grundy’s name has been rumoured to appear on many European shows that were announced but despite his own team’s and fan’s best efforts to get him a slot, it never came to fruition. However, Grundy (11-1) never lost hope that the call would eventually come and is relishing the chance to make a statement to the rest of the division.
“We tried to get on a few UFC cards in the UK previously but we were told that the featherweight division is stacked so there wasn’t enough roster spots available,” explained Grundy. “With the division being so deep, it is harder for them to make space to get new talent in but they did approach us after a few conversations to give me my opportunity which my coach was pushing hard for. I got a lot of support on social media which helped too. Now the time is 100% right for me to join the roster – I am totally ready now!”
By the time Saturday night comes around, Grundy wouldn’t have competed inside the cage for nearly 18 months which naturally leads to conversations about whether or not ring rust will factor into his performance. Many debuting fighters also comment on how ‘octagon jitters’ are real and explain how it takes them time to adjust to competing on the world’s biggest stage. However, this isn’t something that the 32 year old envisages happening.
“I am always calm before I fight and I will be calm in the UFC octagon too. I’m excited more than anything,” stated Grundy.
Largely due to Darren Till’s rise, Team Kaobon have received a lot of attention recently and are getting plaudits for the quality of fighters coming out of the gym. Upcoming talent from the team have a spotlight on them now more than ever with fans expecting a certain standard of performance under the tutelage of coach Colin Heron. With so many high level performers all under one roof, it’s easy to imagine what training must be like on a day to day basis.
“Training at Team Kaobon is tough but we have a good work ethic. We are all there for each other and work hard together,” highlighted Grundy. “Darren brings a lot of attention to the team which only helps us all. I’m looking forward to fighting on the same card as him as the atmosphere in training has been great.”
For many fans, Saturday night will be the first time that they have seen the Englishman in action. Grundy would describe himself as an explosive wrestler who is always looking for the finish and is looking forward to fighting a notable name to domestic fans in his UFC debut. He is facing former Cage Warriors featherweight champion, Nad Narimani (12-2), who has so far gone 2-0 at the start of his UFC career. Grundy will be aiming to hand Narimani his first loss in the promotion and then progress through the featherweight ranks.
“I have had my eye on Nad for a while now as he’s always been the same weight as me and an up and coming prospect like myself,” Grundy discussed. “I’m looking forward to fighting him and I’m looking forward to putting on a performance of the night! I have no predictions for how the fight is going to go but I am going to win.”
UFC Fight Night: Till v Masvidal can be seen at 8pm on BT Sport 1 following prelims kicking off at 6pm on the same channel.
Image courtesy of DN4 Photography/Jamie Lee Smith