MMAWeekly.com has done a piece on middleweight Kendall Grove, whom I like quite a bit, in which the Hawaii native admits that, should he get past Patrick "The Predator" Cote at UFC 74, he will not quite be ready to take on UFC middleweight king Anderson Silva any time soon.
"Right now, I feel I'm not ready for him (Silva). I'm all about giving the fans a good fight, and to jump in there right now with him, I just feel he'll destroy me. Give me a year, maybe a year and a half to better my skills, and I'll jump in there with him. You know what I'm saying? Hopefully when, if the UFC goes to Hawaii. That will be about a year and a half from now. When I'm ready I feel like I should get a shot, and no disrespect to anyone else in the weight division. I just want to climb that ladder and get my respect and pay my dues just like the rest of these great fighters at the 185 weight class have been doing. I don't want to cut in line in front of nobody, step on nobodies [sic] toes. I just want to mature and grow as a fighter," Kendall told the good folks at MMAWeekly.
I admire Grove for his humility and for honestly assessing his skills and his career thus far. I agree that in eighteen months, he'll no doubt be a much more complete, dangerous fighter. I also understand his desire to climb the UFC's 185-lb. ladder and pay his dues, and holding off to possibly fight for the title in Hawaii might work out brilliantly. Most of all, wins over Ed Herman, Chris Price, and Alan Belcher do not mean that you're ready for a title fight, and Kendall seems to understand this.
Title shots don't come around too often, and Dana White loves guys who will step up to the plate. Take, for instance, Patrick Cote taking a fight on very short notice against Tito Ortiz (and going the distance with Tito) back at at UFC 50. There's a reason Cote, despite a 1-4 UFC record, keeps getting fights, and that's it.
And back to the ladder metaphor: A loss to Silva in the near future, especially considering the current state of the middleweight division, wouldn't be that damaging to a young fighter like Kendall. He'd basically be falling down a very short ladder. Look at Nate Marquardt and Yushin Okami; both were within sniffing distance of the championship and, despite losing their big fights, are each probably just one or two more wins away from being back in the championship picture.
Nonetheless, I agree that Kendall probably isn't in the best position to take on a champion in the near future, but I've been looking forward to when he will be.
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