Mike Tyson vetoed original KO of Night pick, redirected $50,000 award to T.J. Grant

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- If T.J. Grant ever runs into Mike Tyson, he owes the boxing legend a big thank you.

As UFC 160 ended, Joe Silva handed Dana White a piece of paper which included the nightly bonus award winners. For "Knockout of the Night," Junior dos Santos' name was scrawled on the page. The former UFC champ had flattened the iron-chinned New Zealander Mark Hunt with a spinning heel kick, a spectacular and rarely seen finish in the heavyweight division.

Tyson happened to be a guest of White's during the night, and seemed to have a great time watching the octagon action. He was still with White when the event ended and White was handed the paper. As White read it, Tyson shook his head. He wanted the $50,000 award to go to Grant. And so it did.

"Tyson's like, 'What? No way. That other kid won,'" White said. "Me and Lorenzo were like, 'Alright.' What, are we going to say no to Mike? I wasn't going to argue with him?"

Grant's knockout was not quite as spectacular as dos Santos', but it was far more unexpected. dos Santos was a strong favorite to beat Hunt, while Grant was a mild underdog in his fight with longtime contender Gray Maynard.

Grant caught Maynard with a straight right across the fence, putting him down. Maynard tried to work his way to his feet but Grant swarmed him with strikes, including a knee to the face in a fight-finishing sequence that lit up the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The stoppage didn't just impress Tyson, it also had a similar affect on White, who said it sealed Grant's spot as the lightweight division's top contender. Next stop: Benson Henderson.

"I wanted to make sure the next contender for the title was putting on great fights," White said. "Obviously, Josh Thomson just had a great performance against [Nate] Diaz. I wanted to see something good tonight. I wanted to see something special. And I saw it tonight. [T.J.] is getting the next title shot."

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