Mike Grundy wants to turn his anger into an advantage when he takes on Lando Vannata at UFC 262 in front of a capacity crowd in Houston, Texas.
The Wigan-born warrior is a Commonwealth bronze medallist in freestyle wrestling but his career in the octagon has been limited to little more than two appearances in the last three years due to circumstances beyond his control.
Grundy (12-2) was supposed to fight Nik Lentz (30-12-2, 1 NC) in early 2021, but the fight was cancelled after one of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to pack his bags and fly back home to the UK.
The British UFC fighter makes his third trip to the cage after nearly a year away against America’s Vannata (11-5-2) but is confident of not only shrugging off the ring rust but is also using it as inspiration.
When asked how he has kept himself motivated during his time away from the cage, Grundy exclusively told GIVEMESPORT:
“I’m not an angry guy but I’ve still got some anger inside of me that I need to let out. That’s how I feel right now, you know?
“I’d sacrificed a lot of time away from my family, I was training Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, so it was a bitter pill to swallow, really. But I’m mentally tough and I can deal with anything.
“I look at the featherweight division and I believe I’m the best wrestler in that division. You’ll see on Saturday night.”
The 34-year-old Grundy comes from fighting stock, having been coached since childhood by his father Dave Grundy, who is the head coach at Wigan and Leigh Wrestling Club.
Grundy values family above everything and praised head coach Colin Heron for instilling a team-first mentality at Team Kaobon in Liverpool.
He also revealed Darren Till has been at the gym the entire time and helped him get ready for his fight against Vannata before he broke his collarbone in training.
“We’re all s*** scared of Colin [Heron], he’s a tough guy, whatever he says goes.
“But that’s the kind of family atmosphere he’s built, he’s built that loyalty, built that trust, that’s why we’re all so tight knit.
“This camp has been brutal. I did some rounds with [Darren] Till before he got injured because obviously he was meant to be fighting Marvin Vettori but he’s still there pushing us on. We look out for each other all the time.
“We’ve all been doing ten rounds a day just to make sure we’re ready.”
The proud father-of-three has high expectations for his eldest son Jack, an up-and-coming prospect with plenty of experience on the regional circuit.
Like his dad, Jack harbours ambitions of his own of competing in the UFC one day, something which Grundy is actively encouraging.
“He’s also a wrestler but he’s moving into mixed martial arts right now.
“His credentials speak for themselves; he’s an eight time national wrestling champion, he’s a European jiu-jitsu champion, and he’s had some boxing fights as well.
“So he’s got a lot of experience – he’s only 16 years old now – but he’s been training with me a lot in Liverpool with the lads. He wants to be the UFC champion one day, I believe he will.
“I could still be here in a few years time, and we could end up fighting on the same card, which would be nice.”