Grove is a man of many blessings
Story by Anthony Springer Jr
Photo: Chris Cozzone
After a pair of losses, the winner of the second season of the Ultimate Fighter put his career back on track last June with a split decision victory over the late Evan Tanner. After the headlining fight, Grove took the remainder of 2008 off to spend time with his daughter who came into the world in August.
“My daughter motivates me every day to get up and hustle and make a better life for her,” Grove says. “Right now, the economy is shot in Hawaii and we’re going through some rough times. It makes me appreciate the life that I have. Being able to wake up and do what I do, which is fighting. Everyday could be my last day in the UFC.”
Economic issues aside, 2008 continued to look up for Grove. During his time away from the cage, Grove and training partner Troy Mandaloniz opened an MMA school in Maui. The new business also gave “Da Spyder” more time to spend with his daughter.
“She was with me all the time,” he says. “I’d take her to the gym; she’s already a gym rat at two or three months [laughs].”
And just like that, Grove became a father of two.
“Having a daughter and a school is like having two kids,” he says of his new responsibilities. “You have to give 100% attention to both of those things. I was drained from that but it made me hungrier having to deal with the business side and dealing with my daughter.”
Grove’s appetite will be satisfied this Saturday when he meets Jason “Dooms” Day on the undercard of UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine.
“[Jason is a] jack of all trades, master of none,” he says, when asked to size up his upcoming opponent.
On the surface, the comment seems to hint at a lack of respect. However, make no mistake about it—Kendall Grove is not looking past Jason Day.
“He’s a tough guy. Look at his record, he’s 17-7. He’s fought and beaten UFC vets. He’s no slouch. I don’t want to sound like I’m hyping him up, but I give respect where it’s due. If I don’t come correct, it’s going to be a short night for me.”
Short nights are one thing Grove doesn’t need. Though he snapped his two fight losing streak last year, he knows that a loss to Day could signal the end of his UFC career.
“My boy [Troy Mandaloniz] just got cut. He lost his fight, but it was a great fight. I’m under a little pressure to see what happens, but I just take one fight at a time. I’m happy to be here right now. I’m fighting on the biggest stage in MMA. At the end of the day, my daughter is going to love me and that’s all that matters.”
Win or lose, Grove is simply excited to get back in the Octagon and “get punched in the face,” or “punch someone in the face.”
With his personal and business obligations firmly intact, Grove anticipates fighting in the Octagon more often, and insists that barring injury, another extended vacation isn’t in the cards.
“I hope to fight three times this year—unless I break something or Jason breaks me.”