David Grant achieved his goal on this season of The Ultimate Fighter 18, but not the way he'd hoped. The 27-year-old Englishmen will represent Team Rousey in this Saturday's men's final, though due to one of his housemates' two botched weight cuts, Grant fought just once over the course of this season's eight-man tournament -- and he's not particularly happy about it.
"To be honest, I've dreamt about that moment, getting to The Ultimate Fighter finale so many times. Never once did I ever get there by forfeit," Grant said. "I'm a fighter. I wanted to fight. I wanted to earn my place, and it was just really disappointing. I wanted to show the world what I could do. I felt like I got cheated out of my final fight, and I just didn't want to be remembered as the guy who made it to the finale by forfeit."
After steamrolling through the quarterfinals with an impressive second-round submission over Louis Fisette, Grant was slated to meet teammate Anthony Gutierrez for a spot in this season's finale.
Gutierrez, himself, was awarded a free pass to the semifinals due to Cody Bollinger's failed weight cut. Yet he too failed to make weight and was subsequently kicked off the show in an episode that highlighted his poor dietary habits and proclivity for junk food.
"Me and Mike (Wootten), I think we were walking about at the same weight as Cody and Anthony," Grant said "I think they got themselves to blame. They should've been a bit more strict about it. They got caught up in the moment. It's hard, especially when you've got a lot of people around you, and sometimes it could feel like a little holiday had come to them. They should've been a hell of a lot more strict."
Standing 5-foot-8, Grant isn't a small bantamweight by any means. Even still, he cleared every round of weight cutting over the course of show without any semblance of trouble, and to that, he credits his focus.
"To be honest, it got easier every time. I felt a lot more comfortable with it each weight cut," Grant said. "I knew what I was there for. I'm a dedicated fighter. I've got a family behind me. There could've been [junk food] on the table every night and I still wouldn't have eaten it."
Due to his resolve, Grant stands as Team Rousey's sole remaining hope for a male TUF winner at Saturday's TUF 18 Finale, where he'll square off against Team Tate's Chris Holdsworth.
Although he generally trains inside his native England, this time around Grant has spent significant time preparing alongside Rousey out west, hoping in part to acclimate himself early to the conditions. And like many on his team, he believes Rousey's brashness on the show wound up unfairly overshadowing the softer side of her personality.
"I think she's been seen as a little bit more unreasonable than what she really was on the show," Grant said. "She's so competitive and takes everything so seriously, and that's come across a lot. But I think she's a lot more bubbly (than people think) and a really, really nice girl. So I don't think the show's portrayed her exactly how she is.
"She's a lot more happy, she's a lot more easy-going, but when it comes down to competition, she's just got that fire about her."