When Dwight Grant steps into the Octagon at UFC 236, it will be his third UFC fight in just under four months.
Seizing on the opportunity afforded him by winning a contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series last June, Grant is determined to make up for the years he spent adrift in other promotions, watching matchups fall through and going through extended periods without plying his trade.
A beyond-avid collector and player of video games (“Anytime I go anywhere, I bring games with me. Even if I go to the store and I’m gonna be outside for 10 minutes with nothing to do, I bring my games”) it’s only fitting that his short stint in the UFC has been propelled by a video game-like viral highlight clip of Grant knocking Carlos Pedersoli’s mouthpiece into orbit last February in Prague.
We sat down with the laid-back and hilarious welterweight ahead of his Saturday tilt with Al Jouban in Atlanta.
UFC: We all saw the flying mouthpiece highlight on ESPN. What’s it like to come home after a fight and see yourself on SportsCenter?
Dwight Grant: It was cool for me to see it, but what was really cool was to have my parents see it and call me and say “Hey, I saw you on TV” without me having to tell them ahead of time that I’m gonna be on and to turn on your TV.
UFC: Both this fight and your last fight have been super-fast turnarounds. Is that intentional? Is that a pace you want to keep up?
DG: One hundred percent intentional. If you look at my record, you see I didn’t have any fights for, like, a year. I didn’t have any fights because they kept getting canceled. One of the best things about being here (in the UFC), as I keep saying, is having a pool of people to fight. It sounds silly for people who don't experience it, but when you go through not having fights and having fights canceled all the time, you want to get as many fights as you can. So I just want to keep going at this speed.
UFC: Al Jouban is a veteran in this game. What do you make of this matchup and how do you see it going?
DG: I see myself winning. For my standard, it’s gonna be a knockout in the first round or second. Hopefully in the first. Whatever it is, I’m going for the win and I’m going for the KO. That’s what I always do. There’s no secret, there’s no coy behavior over here. It’s just “I’m coming to win by KO.” That’s it.
I heard that he did have some other people to choose from, and then he chose to fight me because he thought it would be exciting. And I'm happy for that because that means that the guy is coming to fight.
UFC: You won your UFC contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in the TUF gym in Las Vegas. That’s a pretty hot, singular place to fight. What do you remember about it?
DG: I remember somebody told me I would have to drink a lot of water. So I got there and I drank, like two gallons of water. I was on the bus and I had to go to the bathroom super bad (laughs). That’s the strongest memory.
You know what was super cool about that fight, and super weird? There was probably like 14 or 15 people outside [in the audience]. So it was really quiet. When you looked into the stands, you could see people’s faces directly. You’re like “Hey, how you doing?” (Laughs)
UFC: So if you get that big KO victory this Saturday, how are you going to celebrate here in Atlanta?
DG: Oh, everybody that knows me knows exactly what I’m going to say: chocolate chip cookies, chocolate milk, cake everywhere. This has been the celebration that has been going on for the past 10 years. The first dine or bakery I can find, I’m going all in. I’m thinking about it now. That’s how I get to sleep at night.
Right now, you’re all cutting weight, you’re all hungry like (groans) “Man, I wish I had some food.”
I’m thinking about the cake. I’m thinking about the cookies. I’m thinking about the chocolate milk, and maybe even a milkshake if we’re getting crazy.
Steve Latrell is a writer and producer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheUFSteve