Profession: Mixed martial arts fighter
The car: 2005 Nissan Maxima
Made his debut at UFC 97 in April 2009, defeating veteran Ryo Chonan; won Knockout of the Night at UFC 107, defeating Kevin Burns in 2009; won Fight of the Night bonus at UFC 152, defeating Evan Dunham in 2012
Record includes 25 matches (20 wins; 5 losses)
Faces Gray Maynard at UFC 160 in Las Vegas on May 25
T.J. Grant is a rising star in the octagon; the MMA fighter is gearing up for a shot at the title of UFC Lightweight champion.
He faces Gray Maynard May 25 at UFC 160 in Las Vegas. The winner of that bout will take on Benson Henderson for the ultimate prize – the UFC Lightweight title.
And Grant has been on a winning streak. After defeating Kevin Burns at UFC 107 in 2009, he earned UFC’s coveted Knockout of the Night Honours. Along with it came a cash prize; he used the money to buy his first car: a used 2005 Nissan Maxima.
Why did you buy a Maxima?
I ended up getting the Knockout of the Night bonus. In this sport, nothing is guaranteed so I wanted to buy a car outright that I could rely on.
It had good reviews. I wanted to get a good, reliable vehicle. I wanted a comfortable vehicle with luxury. I test-drove the Nissan Maxima and it had low kilometres and all that good stuff. And it’s been good to me ever since.
Did you cross shop it against a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry?
Yeah. I was looking at Accords and stuff like that.
There’s a lot of cars I was looking at, but I found a good deal on the Maxima and I really liked it. It’s got everything I need.
Originally, I wanted a Jeep, but I realized the whole purpose of having a Jeep is to ride with your top down and I couldn’t do that here [Cole Harbour, N.S., where he trains] as often as I like so I decided to go with the car.
What’s your favourite feature on the Maxima?
It’s a comfortable ride, that’s the biggest thing. It’s got power – it’s got everything I need.
What don’t you like about it?
My car is not the greatest on gas. But it’s not the worst.
I broke the stereo, but it’s not really their fault. The stereo is really good, actually. It has Bose surround sound. I broke the CD player, but I don’t know how I did it, but I did it. Then I cranked the music too loud. The speakers are blown from that.
Other than that, the car is good, it works good. It’s a little bit messy at times, but I guess that’s part of being an athlete and having all of your stuff in the car.
Do you know anything mechanically about it – do you know what’s under the hood?
It’s a 3.5 V-6 with 265 horsepower. It’s a nice car – it can definitely go if it needs to. I enjoy that about it, too.
What does a Maxima say about you?
It says I don’t want to live beyond my means.
I bought a used car. Basically, I wanted to get a good reliable vehicle. Being a pro athlete is not a guaranteed thing – injuries happen. I wanted something I could pay off and I could drive and be proud of. I’m happy with it.
What’s your best and worst driving story?
My worst: I got into an accident when I was working construction. Monday morning, I was going to work and I got into an accident on the highway. I was driving my mom’s car – a Ford Tempo. I flipped her over on the highway.
I paid the price. It was pretty scary. I didn’t have a seatbelt on, but I lived. I got a bit of glass in my knuckle, but that’s it.
I was lucky. It could have been worse. I went to work that day, it was a pretty rough day, but I made it through.
My best experience was the day I bought my Maxima because it was the first car I ever owned. I had a lot of fun driving around and burning up some gas. It was definitely a happy moment.
What do you listen to when driving?
The radio works – I flip around a lot depending on how I’m feeling. I listen to a lot of old-school music. I like country. I really like rock and roll – more so, the old stuff. I listen to rap, mostly the stuff before 2000.
What do you listen to before a fight?
I listen to relaxing, chilled-out stuff. I don’t like to get too amped up before a fight. Here I Go Again by Whitesnake – it’s got a nice slow intro.
I like to keep my emotions in check, not really let it get the best of me. I want to save all of my energy for the fight. Once I get up there, I can let it all out. As long as you win, it’s the best feeling. I don’t need music to make me happier than I am at that moment. I enjoy the moment and take it all in.
Do you sing behind the wheel?
Yeah. I’m not going to lie. I do a little bit of singing.
What’s your driving style like – do you like to drive fast?
I kind of drive like an old man, to tell you the truth. I’ve had a few accidents and that changes your whole perspective on things.
I try to be as responsible as possible and, with a baby, I’ve got to be doubly careful.
As a new father, will you dump the Maxima for a minivan?
No. We just got my girlfriend a Volkswagen Golf. She was driving a Honda Civic with just two doors. It was getting to be too much of a hassle. It was time to upgrade a little bit.
I kind of wish I bought myself a new vehicle because now I’m jealous. Her car is newer than mine, but it’s all good.
If you win the UFC Lightweight title then will you dump the Maxima?
I don’t know. Maybe I’ll do an SUV.
We’ll see if we have more kids. I have to do more research. I’m happy with this car and I’m going to drive it as long as I can.
If I could bring you the keys to any vehicle what would it be?
I’d go with luxury – a BMW 7-Series. A foreign, luxury vehicle. I definitely want some horsepower, but I don’t need a race car – that’s for sure.
This interview has been edited and condensed.