UFC Liverpool’s official announcement was barely a minute old before Darren Till dropped his name.
Standing onstage at The 02 in London, with the biggest fight date of his young career announced, Till immediately switched the attention to his fellow Team Kaobon proponent, Mike Grundy.
It was rumored that the 11-1 Brit came close to securing a promotional debut against Nasrat Haqparast at UFC London. Cage Warriors featherweight champion Nad Narimani later filled the slot. However, the fight never came to be as Haqparast was forced from the card with an eye injury.
Grundy has been unbeaten for three years and currently boasts an eight-fight win streak. Although it certainly helps to have one of the brightest prospects on the UFC’s books calling for your debut, Grundy is adamant that he wouldn’t want to be in the big leagues unless he was convinced he was ready for the best that the UFC can pit him against.
“I wouldn’t want to be in the UFC if I didn’t think I could compete with the best fighters that they have in there. If I got that contract I’d be ready to fight anyone they’d put in front of me,” Grundy told MMA Fighting.
Unlike Till, Grundy hasn’t managed to capture the attention of the masses as of yet. That being said, fighters and media wax lyrical about him at any given opportunity.
When he met Australia’s Michael Tobin at ACB 65, he nearly wrestled the Australian back through the mat. That night, commentator Bryan Lacey remarked how some of the most respected names on the UK scene — Brendan Loughnane, Kane Mousah, Martin Stapleton — unanimously described Grundy as “a beast” at the mention of his name.
A Commonwealth Games bronze medalist in wrestling, Grundy believes his pedigree separates him from other fighters from the U.K. that UFC fans have watched in the past.
“There haven’t been many guys that made it to the UFC from the U.K. that have been able to wrestle a really high standard and compete with the Americans. Obviously a lot of those guys are Division 1 wrestlers, but I know I can compete with the Americans in that aspect of the game,” he said.
One of the main mysteries about “The Gorilla” is how he fares on the mat. Grundy believes that we will only see Till wrestle when he meets an opponent that can force him out of his striking comfort zone. Even then, his Kaobon teammate thinks he will shock a lot of people with his wrestling ability.
“His wrestling is really good,” stated Grundy.
“I guess it’s because he hasn’t had to use it that much that people still ask about it. He’s come on leaps and bounds. A lot of guys who are elite strikers like him just learn how to stop a takedown. He can attack and defend. He’s great in scrambles too so I think a lot of people will be surprised at what he can do if someone can force him into a grappling exchange in the future.”
The BAMMA veteran has been blown away by Till’s relentless support ahead of the Liverpool date.
“He didn’t need to do any of it. He’s been saying my name in a lot of interviews and he could just take all the limelight himself because it is all about him. Even when they announced the event at the press conference he made sure to say my name,” said Grundy.
“It’s great to have a guy that you work so closely with give you that recognition. Just like he’s helping me now, I always try to help him as much as I can too. We try to be there for each other as much as we can when we’re fighting.”
Although the clock continues to tick ahead of UFC’s maiden voyage to Merseyside, the 31-year-old remains confident that he will secure a deal in the coming weeks.
“I feel like things are going in the right direction based on the kind of reaction I’ve been getting on social media. The right people have been getting behind me and saying that I should be on the card,” he said.
“To be honest, I don’t know if it’s definitely going to happen. I haven’t been told anything yet by the UFC, but I’m staying confident. It would be a dream come true to get on Darren’s undercard in Liverpool.
“I’m remaining positive about the situation. Again, we haven’t heard anything yet, but I’m sure there’s still some time for something to happen in the next few weeks. And of course, I would like to know sooner rather than later so I can be in the best shape possible.”