(Photo: DN4 Photography / Jamie Lee Smith)

Mike Grundy Ready To Dominate In Japan And Prove He’s Worthy Of A UFC Call-Up

UK featherweight Mike Grundy says he's going to prove he's worth a call-up to the UFC by winning the Pancrase featherweight title.

Mike Grundy is considered one of the premier featherweight talents in Europe and in August he’s heading to Japan to further prove his credentials by winning another world title.

Grundy, 31, trains out of Team Kaobon in Liverpool, England and is currently riding an 8 fight win streak hat includes 4 wins via submission. Having fought in multiple organizations over the last few years, Grundy will now take part in a 4-man featherweight tournament in Japanese organization Pancrase.

Speaking with Jim Edwards earlier this week, Grundy revealed how the opportunity came about.

“It came as a bit of a surprise to be honest, but I’ve fought in Japan before on Shooto and I think they like me in Japan,” Grundy said. “I’ve been offered a lot of contracts from around the world in different organizations, but we were holding out for the UFC because of Darren [Till] headlining the Liverpool show.

“That’s what we waited for and that’s what we wanted, but it wasn’t to be. Pancrase offered us a good deal and the timing was right, so I took that.”

Offers on the table

Pancrase airs live on UFC Fight Pass and is considered one of the premier fight promotions in Asia. Grundy explained he received multiples offers since winning the Aspire featherweight title in Brazil last year, but that it was the Pancrase deal that was the most suitable for him at the time.

“I’ve watched Pancrase a lot and it looks like a really great show,” Grundy said. “They obviously know how to put on a really good show and it’s going to be on UFC Fight Pass so it’s good that all my family are going to be able to watch. 

“I got offers from ONE Championship, Brave CF, to name a few, but the timing was never right and the stars just kind of aligned with Pancrase. The timing was just perfect really.”

(Photo: Lee Hamilton Cooper)

Stacked at 145-pounds

In the lead up to the UFC Liverpool last month there was a plenty of talk of Grundy getting the opportunity to step up to the UFC and get his own opportunity to prove himself in the world’s premier MMA organization. Unfortunately for Grundy, the opportunity never came to fruition but he revealed that he was in dialogue with the UFC matchmakers.

“There were discussions and stuff, but because there are so many guys in my weight category it was more of wait on standby sort of deal,” Grundy explained. “There were no real pull outs at 145 and it’s a stacked weight category so I just never got my shot.

“It’s a very busy division, but we have discussed things with them and it didn’t come off this time. The plan is to go prove myself even more, win another belt and then they’re going to have to sign me.”

The UK Ben Askren

Whilst he didn’t get the opportunity to prove himself at UFC Liverpool, Grundy isn’t giving up hope of one day being able to prove his talents. One man who was in a similar position to Grundy throughout their entire career was former ONE Championship and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren. With comparable circumstances surrounding them, Grundy says he can related to Askren’s frustrations.

“Being at UFC Liverpool, it was just incredible because I had so many fans coming up to me and asking why I’m not in the UFC yet,” Grundy said. “It was nice to hear because that showed me it wasn’t just my family and friends thinking it. 

“I will never give up though. I’ve worked hard my whole life and I proved in wrestling I can make it to the highest level. I feel a bit like the UK version Ben Askren to be honest. He was undefeated and an incredible wrestler, but never really got given the opportunity to prove to the world he’s the best in the world in the UFC. It feels a bit like that. Maybe it’s the style, but this is MMA and if people can’t stop the takedown then that’s just part of the game.”

(Photo: Lee Hamilton Cooper)

“I’ve always followed Ben because of the wrestling. We wrestled in similar competitions in like Kiev in the Ukraine and we’re kind of a similar weight so I’ve always kept track of him. 

“I can understand his frustrations because he’s just good at a sport that not that many people like. He definitely deserves to be in the UFC fighting the top guys and he did absolutely everything he could do. Way more than me at this point and I think he deserves the credit.” 

Wins and world titles

The saying goes good things come to those who wait, but Grundy isn’t just going to sit around waiting for an opportunity. In his mind, the only way to prove he’s ready for a UFC call-up is to continue racking up the wins and winning world titles and that’s something he be striving to do in Pancrase starting on August 5.

“The second fight will be for the Pancrase belt, so hopefully I will win that, defend it once and then see what happens from there,” Grundy said.

“Hopefully if the UFC comes in between those fights I can get a release from Pancrase. My ultimate goal is still to be in the UFC.”

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