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Exclusive: Kendall Grove Talks Do-or-Die Fight, Why Hawaiians Love MMA, and More

(Da Spyder)

Two years ago Kendall Grove was on top of the world. He came through season three of “The Ultimate Fighter” and beat out Ed Herman in a climactic bout to win the finale and a UFC contract. Now Grove finds himself back on another “Ultimate Fighter Finale” card, but in a much different situation. Coming off two straight knockout losses, he’s fighting to prove he belongs in the UFC, as is his opponent, Evan Tanner.

In this exclusive Cage Potato interview, Grove opened up about what it means to fight for your job, and how he plans to pull himself out of the lowest point of his career and get back in the win column in a fight neither man can afford to lose. Hey, Kendall. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. What have you been doing in training for this fight to prepare for Evan Tanner?

Kendall Grove: I moved back to Hawaii. I moved back to Maui, but I’ve been in Hilo working with BJ Penn. I’m just getting ready for a fight where anything can happen. Whatever happens, happens. I know he’s going to want to take me down so I’ve been working with some big wrestlers to get ready for that. I’m just ready for war.

Do you expect him to come in with a sense of desperation in this fight?

Yeah, I do. I think we’re in the same position that way. We both need to win. This is a do-or-die fight for both of us.

Does that mean you’re assuming that the loser of this fight will be cut from the UFC?

I think so. Nobody likes a loser. That’s just how it is. I think that makes for a great fight. We’re both fighting for our jobs, you know? When you’re fighting for your job you have to go out there and give it everything you have. That’s all you can do.

What’s it like fighting as the main event for an Ultimate Fighter Finale, fighting for your job, when just two years ago you were fighting as a contestant and it seemed like a high point in your career?

Yeah, it’s weird. I evolved there as a fighter. That’s where I was born into the UFC. I had my ups and suffered some downs since then. But it’s not like I was fighting punks. I was fighting tough guys and I had some tough losses. That’s why I’m in the fight game, to fight tough guys.

It was very nice two years ago to be fighting in the finale and it’s cool to see those guys coming out of it now, but I’m a different person now than I was then.

How are you a different person now? How is the Kendall Grove of today different than the guy who won TUF?

That guy’s dead. That Kendall Grove, I had to kill him. There’s no such thing as that Kendall any more. He was too nice a guy. He let people walk all over him. They mistook his kindness for weakness. So I had to kill him. Now I’m just trying to get back on track.

What do you mean when you say you were too nice?

I worried about too many other people. You have to worry about yourself and put yourself first sometimes. When I was on top, everybody wanted to be on top with me. And that was my motto, you know, when I’m on top, my boys are on top. And when I’m down, my boys are down.

Only when I was down all these people weren’t with me any more. It was all, ‘Oh, you’re a scrub. You’re a loser.’ Those were just guys who wanted to party and get free alcohol and all that. Don’t get me wrong, I have some true friends who were with me through all of it, but there were a bunch of other people who weren’t. I had to learn the hard way.

And so is this a fight to prove that you’re different now?

See, that’s the thing, I don’t think I deserve to be doing interviews and stuff like this until I get back to my winning ways. I got devastated. Everybody saw that. I need to win to prove I still deserve to be here.

In your mind, what went wrong in your last two fights?

With [Patrick] Cote, I just got caught. I thought I started off good but, like I tell myself, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. I was going good but Cote finished it. You know, he deserves credit for that.

With Jorge [Rivera], I think I brought that Cote fight into the next fight. I put the wrong pressure on myself going into that fight. I was so worried about not getting caught, not getting hit that I didn’t really fight. I mean, of course you’re going to get hit. It’s a fight. You can’t worry that you’re going to get caught. I have to not be worried about that and just go out there and fight.

Do you think you’ve learned from that? Are you trying not to bring those losses into this fight?

Most definitely, I’m not going to bring my last fight into this one. I know better than that now. This time I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve already been devastated and knocked out. I’ve woken up refreshed and ready to party, wondering what happened, you know? I know what that’s like now. What can Evan do to me that hasn’t already been done?

I’m just going to go out there and fight. If I get cracked, I get cracked, you know. I’m going to try and kick his ass and he’s going to try and kick mine. It isn’t rocket science. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that out.

Here’s something I’ve wondered, and it might sound like a stupid question, but why do you think Hawaiians love MMA so much?

Because we grow up fighting. We use our fists from the time we’re young. We aren’t scrubs who use guns. If you get shot out here you probably deserve to die. We use our hands and we fight each other from the time we’re young. You fight someone and then later on you’ll be friends, or else you won’t and you’ll end up fighting again. It’s in our blood.

You know, using guns, that’s what white people do. I know you’re white, but that’s what you guys do, right? You took the land from the Indians using guns. Then you came here and did the same thing to us with guns. We don’t fight with guns. We use our hands. At least, that’s how I’m feeling now. I know it sounds weird but you caught me the week of the fight and I’m ready to go to war.

It sounds like it. Are you at all worried about getting too pumped up or putting too much pressure on yourself since this is such an important fight for you?

Most definitely. Especially with a fight like this, that’s a concern. We both have to bring our A game because there’s no room for error. I’ve trained hard and I’ve trained good. I know Evan’s probably trained hard and good too. We’re just going to go out there and find out who’s the better fighter on Saturday night.

What advice has BJ Penn given you for this fight?

He’s just been coaching me, getting my head right. He’s the champ, you know. He’s been through some ups and downs. He knows how to deal with that. He’s been talking to me and making sure my head is strong and that I’m ready for this fight. I really appreciate that because this means so much. I just want to go out there and fight now. I’m ready.

Cagepotato Comments

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kuualoha- June 2, 2009 at 7:55 pm
Is kendal even hawaiian? his parents dont even look hawaiian but he rocks kamehameha on his back. Just cuz youre FROM hawai'i that doesnt make someone hawaiian. Its like bj sometimes he says he's hawaiian sometimes he says he's not.. which is it? Its not like any hawaiians are gonna like you less for not being hawaiian we're still proud just because youre from the islands but dont lie and say youre something youre not!

to all the racist making comments: why is it you guys dont say anything to our faces? youre cowards! you can talk a lot of trash here online but when it comes to face 2 face you guys are cowards! youre so used to being the majority in the mainland and when you come to hawai'i and no one treats you like youre special you get mad... get over it! no ones gonna bow down to you in the islands! whats funny though.. in the mainland all the haoles that have lived in hawai'i even for the shortest amount of time claim to be hawaiian and use hawaiian words theyve learned just so they seem special.. you guys are silly! grow up!

and history note: hawaii's monarchy was overthrown because there was a group of greedy american business owners that didnt want to have to pay the international taxes to ship their products overseas to america from hawai'i which was at the time another country so they got the american military to help confront the queen to give up her thrown to america. it wasnt voluntary, she was threatened that theyd kill hawaiians if she denied them. she cared too much for her people to let that happen and although she tried to hold out against them she saw that her people WERE being killed, raped and beaten to have their land and homes taken from them and so decided to give up her thrown to save her people. The history books you read are much different than what really happened.
Ha-Y-N fightGirl- April 30, 2009 at 4:32 pm
They petioned in 1954! White people overthrew the queen in 1893!!!! THEY petioned in 1897 against our ANNEXATION because of the overthrow, but we just got laughed at and told that all the homes, schools, and buildings that the MISSIONARIES built (remember, when missionaries came over they said they were building things as a way of TRADING with us when we gave them fresh water and food for their ships as they stopped over in Hawaii...then they threaten to burn everything to the ground. What the hell?!)They only petitoned because white people took over their lands after the overthrow, were making money off of it, and the hawaiians had NO IDEA how else to survive. We didn't have their giant ships, and were afraid to be cannoned if we tried to leave on canoes.

Your history class basically only told you YOUR side of the story, dude.
who cares- September 29, 2008 at 2:02 am
ok people what is up with all of this racism to be honest i am hawaiian and white people do use guns and hawaiians we do grow up using our not racist or anyhting but when you say darkies or dumb hawaiians are racist..this guy has an anger in him and you know what he looks like a good fighter...and when you say that bj penn is hawaiian in his pinky toe and the hawaiians live through him...we dont the boys in hawaii have it hard they dont have romodels and bj is one they look up too a guy who actually made it to the y must you white people take that from them.....its like african americans and martin luther king ...and you white people and BUSH basically what im trying to say is everyone has their peson to look up too and everyone has their own views but why should we care....and if most of you actually came face to face with kendall...he probably would beat your ass....oh wait you might shoot it just goes to show whos strong and whos weak.
fromhawaii- September 11, 2008 at 7:38 am
Yeah Hawaiians don't use guns cause they always have 10 guys to beat the hell out of one person. And yeah they all think they can fight which is a load of crap. It's funnier because since BJ Penn is Hawaiian in his pinky toe, they adopt him as being Hawaiian. I've lived here my whole life, and this is just another typical dumb Hawaiian running his mouth about others because they for some reason are better than everyone else. Oh and one last thing, I remember Kamehameha who was the one that "united" the islands. Gee nobody mentions that he used GUNS from the WHITE people to do it......
jmaster- August 17, 2008 at 1:57 am
Intellect and propensity/affinity for violence are frequently inversely proportional.
pimpwtalimp- June 23, 2008 at 10:07 pm
I love how a guy who's 6"6 can still have little man's complex - what a f'ing doosh.
the Evil white man- June 18, 2008 at 4:30 am
Typical dumb moke hawaiian. Only white people use guns? I lived in Hawaii for ten years and I got jumped by stupid hawaiians plenty of times. truth is they all think they can fight and act like it, but most cant. if one is losing to a haole guy, they all fuckin jump in. that gun thing is fucking bullshit, people get fucking shot in hawaii too, mostly by dumb meth'd out hawaiians. fuck this guy i hope he gets fuckin stomped on. oh yea great reference to how hawaiians are like native americans, cuz so many hawaiians got killed by white people right? oh wait, they didnt. thats just cuz liliokalani took it up the ass and get annexed.. wtf was hawaii gonna do anyway they had a 60 man army. fuckin dumb hawaiians. truth of the matter is, too many people from hawaii hate on white people whether they are hawaiian or not. now they are feeding off of BJ Penn cuz hes the only legit fighter from hawaii and now all the local faggits think they are BJ
Who Cares- June 18, 2008 at 12:10 am

White people use guns???? only white people??? i know he didn't mean it in a literal sense that ALL white people use guns but seriously why say that? The reason why Hawaiians like MMA is because they fight with their hands and White people use guns????

So now i know why they check all the fighters before the enter the cage, Crazy white fighters hiding guns in their shorts.

Now i have to become a MMA fighter so when i get on tv it can say my fighting style is Sharp Shooter OH YEAH!!!
jbourneidentity- June 17, 2008 at 12:22 pm
Hawaiians don't use guns because their state government took them away. If they had them, they'd sure as hell use them.
Solomons Missing Teeth- June 17, 2008 at 10:26 am
Team Dagger!
Anonymous- June 17, 2008 at 1:32 am
Grove sounds just like every racist Hawaiian who gave me shit for being haole growing up.

He just lost a fan who was with him in all his ups and downs for that comment.
Earl- June 16, 2008 at 10:54 pm
"Dagger!" Thanks guys. I had completely forgotten about Team Dagger. Now all I can think of is..."Dagger!" Oh yea, always liked Tanner. Hope he smashes Grove.
unodakine808- June 16, 2008 at 9:14 pm
hot dogs only cost 11 bucks at UH football games and the ice capades... otherwise it cost $9.50... and it comes with free foil to use for tv atennas
whaaa?- June 16, 2008 at 9:05 pm
Grove won't be able to use his reach advantage because Tanner is white and will be packing heat. Hawaiians don't use guns because the can't afford them, a fucking hot dog costs $11 on the island.
walrus- June 16, 2008 at 8:38 pm
I'm shoot this Hawaiian bastards.
Rumbler- June 16, 2008 at 8:28 pm
After reading this I thought 'Hmmm I'm going to write something that's funny and witty', but then I read this...

"I want to see Tanner win, so we can hear about him gambling away his fight purse and living in a dumpster."

Nuff said.
miah 4 ya- June 16, 2008 at 7:30 pm
I nearly shot my computer when I read this yeeehaah
Cracker Power- June 16, 2008 at 7:23 pm
All you darkies need to shut the fuck up and go cut some sugar cane. All you spics go get me some tomaters. Kendall, you and BJ need to go find me a nice stash and some fine Hula girls. Not those cracked out meth whores from Dog: The Bounty Hunter either. I am the pineapple king. BTW, Evan Tanner is now forever known as Evan "HOBO" Tanner. Props to Dizzle.
freako- June 16, 2008 at 6:11 pm
Kendall is a douchebag...his stand up sucks....his ground game sucks....he sucks.
Rob P- June 16, 2008 at 6:05 pm
Too bad Ed Herman does not get another shot at him. Get it? "Shot" Lame, I know!
Patrick- June 16, 2008 at 5:45 pm
He's right! White neighborhoods all over the USA are plagued with gun related violence....and don't get me started on the pilgrims....
"You" came in and took land from the Indians.
"You" did the same thing to us.

How dare "You", CagePotato.
How dare "You", every stereotypical gun slinging middle class white person in the USA!
mayhem420- June 16, 2008 at 5:25 pm
I know, I am just a lazy bastard. I didnt want to "actually" have to look up the correct info so I used some Cliff notes. lol
Mr. WhiteFolks- June 16, 2008 at 5:12 pm
Have to agree
Honkies love guns and being Honkies,
Blacks love White women, guns and Welfare,
Hawaiians love MMA and Herb.
Now can we get back to hating on Kimbo Slice
unodakine808- June 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm
@ Mayhem

I hope you know you shouldn't take wikipedia at face value...

Hawaii was not overthrown by native Hawaiians, but rather American colonist who had controlled much of the Hawaiian economy. Sanford B. Dole of Dole Foods (Pineapple) staged a coup where the Palace was taken and the Queen was disposed, presumably with guns. There Congress voted against returned the crown to the Queen, even though it was take illegally and made Hawaii a territory.

But I do hope Grove doesn't try and trade punches from the inside. He was such a long reach advantage that he doesn't use and therefore gets KTFO.
stop crying- June 16, 2008 at 4:48 pm
i just wanna c a awesome fight