Last Saturday, MMA fans were impressed again with a stunning performance by none other than Kendall Grove, which ended by split-decision over Goran Reljic. Kendall's retirement will be sad to witness; however that was not the only thing resting heavily on his conscience in the weeks leading up to this fight.
As you will see, Kendall has been dealing with more than just career related issues. As a father, Kendall has met with much difficulty in trying to gain visitation rights for his daughter Chloe. Having not seen his daughter for months with the thought of retirement weighing on his shoulders, it was very impressive to see Kendall take the win like a true dedicated athlete.
Eva: You fought last Saturday at UFC 116 against Goran Reljic. How do you feel about your performance?
Kendall: Yes and no. I was happy because I did everything according to the game plan. I liked my performance. I didn't expect him to take me down. I was chasing him the entire time and I feel like that's why I won. In a way I just fought smart and it paid off and I won.
Eva: Looking back on the fight, you were pretty close to ending it a few times with those vicious up-kicks. Did you think you had knocked him out after you landed that first big kick?
Kendall: I thought I did. I thought I knocked him out, but I knew he was tough. He really took those shots. When I kicked him I saw him fall on his butt and when I got up I thought he was hurt so I went in.
Eva: So where do we go from here? Has the UFC thrown any names your way or is there anyone you want to fight?
Kendall: I really don't think about all that. I just take the fights as they come to me. I want to fight for a title--eventually I want to get there--but I know I am not ready yet. Wherever I end up, I end up. Wherever they put me, so be it. I'm not going to call out anybody. I just want to fight. That is my job, and whoever they put in the other corner, I'll fight him.
Eva: Everyone knows about the controversy surrounding your comments about Spike TV. The result of that was them pulling your fight off of the prelim card. Later on the pay-per-view, your fight was shown anyway. Now that this is all behind you, how do you feel about that experience?
Kendall: It was a touchy situation. I had no intentions of purposely putting anything out. I guess I upset a few people which I didn't mean to. Like I said, if it wasn't for Spike, I would have not been fighting in the UFC at that time. I was really going to train hard and and fight good to get there, but they really gave me my shot. Now it's behind me and I'm glad that it is behind me. I said my apologies. I talked to some executives from Spike. I told them that I'm very sorry and they told me to go out there and kick some ass, so that's what I did.
Eva: So it ended civilly?
Kendall: Yeah. Well, it ended with my foot in my mouth, but other than that yeah it was pretty civil.
Eva: Many fans express interest in both your height and reach advantage. Speaking only of your height, what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Kendall: I think my advantage is I get to keep them far away from me. Goran also had a long reach because he's almost the same height as me. Against shorter guys, if I keep the fight on the outside, I can be deadly. I can end fights very quickly. If I fight like a dumbass (like I have numerous times before) it takes away from my advantages and I get knocked out. The one good thing about when I fight in close is that I like the clinch. I guess I need to break the habit of getting too comfortable inside against shorter guys because most of the time I am fighting shorter guys. I have to work on that boxing and thai boxing collaboration. I'm working on it.
Eva: You fight in the middle weight class which is 185 lbs. What do you walk around at when you are not training?
Kendall: Well right now I'm heavy because I'm being a pig. I usually walk around at 199.
Eva: You have said before that you can't picture yourself doing anything other than fighting. If the situation came about where you were to be cut from the UFC, would you continue to fight somewhere else or just retire?
Kendall: I plan on retiring in the next 3 years. I see myself teaching. I enjoy teaching a lot. I see my students and it is a big inspiration for me to look forward to something when I am done fighting. They do encourage me to go out there and fight and I want to fight every time I see them fight. Teaching is a good back plan. I know that this is the fastest growing sport and I see some young kids out there that I know we'll see in the future because they're so damn good. If me and the UFC don't work out in the next two years, you might see me fight two times, but I plan on hanging it up. I think I've accomplished a lot in here. I mean, I'm 27, but I'm feeling a lot. My lower back is killing me. My knees are jacked and I haven't had surgery on them yet. I see myself still in this sport as a coach though.
Eva: Now that we're on the topic of you as a coach, let's talk about your gym, the "I&I Training Center". What is your goal for the gym?
Kendall: My goal is to be known as the most feared and hated gym. We're already the most hated. All of my students are all of my friends. They grew up with me. I look at myself and what I've learned and what has been taught to me. There is a lot of talent out here. I really enjoy it. I enjoy seeing all of my students kicking ass and growing in the sport the same way that I did.
Eva: Your Hawaiian pride should never be in question. The tattoo on your back is a basic indicator of your love for your state. What do you love most about being off of the main land?
Kendall: I am home with my family. I love the beaches. I am a family oriented kind of guy. I like being around my mom and my dad and my sisters and brothers and my nephews. The reason I had moved away is because I wanted to be a fighter. I feel that I had accomplished that so I moved back home. Also I have my daughter and I didn't really want to raise my daughter in Vegas.
Eva: You are a recent single father. How are you dealing with that? How's everything going for you?
Kendall: I'll be honest with you, it's really hard. Dealing with the break up is tough. You can't help but hate it when you can't see your kid like when I can't see my daughter. I'm sure it happens to everybody, but it's still tough. I'm doing good though. I stay positive. I've been taking parenting classes and it has been helping me out a lot. It is teaching me a lot to mature not only as a parent, but as a person.
Eva: What are some things that you and your daughter enjoy doing for fun to make sure that your time together is well spent?
Kendall: Since we broke up I've seen her twice. Monday I get to see her. We went to court and all of that stuff. Monday will be the first visitation that I have. I get to pick her up and bring her back to Maui for a week. I can't wait. I got to see her for two days for Father's Day and it was the best. I love my daughter and I can't wait to spoil her rotten.
Eva: Every parent has that moment when their kids are young and they say something that's shocking to the core. Is there anything your daughter said that surprised you?
Kendall: Yeah, with her being two she hasn't really started to talk. I went a month without being able to see her or talk to her and when I saw her she was like, “Hi Daddy!” It blew my mind how fast kids can grow and mature. Just like that she's going to be 18 and going to college. That's what has always surprised me the most about kids. They grow up so fast.
Eva: Do you think your career will have something to do with the boys she chooses to date fearing or respecting you?
Kendall: Nah, I don't want to be known as that strict dad. I just want to raise a daughter teaching her how to make the correct decisions. Whatever happens, happens. I came to the conclusion that my daughter is going to be my daughter. She has her own life. I think a testament to when they're that age is how you raise them now. I just have to be positive and be truthful to her. I have to educate her in the things that a lot of parents don't like talking to their kids about, like sex or drugs or alcohol, and just be truthful. I have to tell her about the disadvantages and how they are unhealthy. She will have to learn from that and make the correct decisions herself. That's all you can do. From what I've seen, the more you hold them back, the more they are going to want to do it and rebel. That's my theory and that is how I'm going to raise my daughter. I pray to God that she is smart and will make the right decisions. Don't get me wrong though, I'm going to spank her if she does wrong, but I'm not going to beat her over it. I'm just going to teach her right from wrong. I want her to know the consequences before she does it so she won't do it.
Eva: It's been wonderful talking to you. Is there anything you would like to close with?
Kendall: I would like to thank all of my family for supporting me. I want to thank all of my fans out there. You guys make this sport. Thank you for giving me this interview. You help us out a lot as fighters. You educate the fans on us. You really let us tell our stories. I want to thank TapouT and all of my coaches. I&I Training Center. Jill Baxter my agent. My daughter Chloe: I love you. I want to thank God for giving me this gift.
NOTE: For reference, here is Kendall's quote about Spike:
"Spike TV pretty much runs everything on The Ultimate Fighter. They could be sub-leasing the UFC name, but I'm sure Dana and the UFC are getting a nice little pay check from Spike but other than that, Spike runs the thing. Dana doesn't choose who's going to be on the show, it's Spike executives. Even when I was on there in the earlier seasons, they were picking a couple guys with funny personalities. I'm pretty sure I got on there not because of my good looks, but because I had a pretty good personality. Everything is ratings to these guys. Just like that season where they shot [expletive] inside the fruit...people do that stuff. Why? Because of ratings. Is it a health violation? Yeah, but did you see the Spike TV people stop that from happening? It sells ratings and that's all they care about. They could give two [expletives] about our career. They just care about the six-weeks that they're shooting and get as much drama and stupidity out of us. That's all we are to them is cattle and sheep. They way they run things, they're slowly controlling us to be like that."