Maui Native Kendall Grove will be headlining for ProElite once again, as he is set to take on one of the most entertaining fighters in Japan. Ikuhisa “Minowaman”Minowa or “The Punk” as he is also known as, will be making his official US Debut on January 21, 2012 in ProElite’s third event since returning to MMA. Grove talked with Mmaabsolute.com about facing the 51-32-8 Minowa and how he feels about returning to the cage.
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: When did you first find out that you were going to be facing Minowa?
GROVE: “Basically about two day’s before everyone else did. It was between him and Drew McFedries because Drew fought on the same night as I did and he did good, you know he won. I’m not sure what happen with that but I was suppose to fight him before Joe Riggs but that didn’t go through so I ended up fighting Riggs. After that fight I mentioned to them (ProElite) that I really wanted that fight with Minowa. He’s a Legend and he’s a tough guy and I’m down to fight anybody and get my career going again.”
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: What are your thoughts on fighting Minowa, especially since this is his first fight in the United States?
GROVE: “I’m excited, he’s a legend, he’s done a lot in Japan and in Asia. He fought some pretty tough guy’s you know, Bob Sapp, Butterbean, Rampage basically the who’s who in Pride and I’m just super excited.”
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: Have you started your training camp for this fight?
GROVE: “Oh yes, well I haven’t started my offical training camp yet, but I’ve been training ever since the Riggs fight, kind of casual training. I’ve been hitting it hard for the past three weeks, but I’ve been in the gym everyday teaching and I just closed up shop to start worrying about myself.”
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: Will you be focusing your training here in Hawaii or are you going to be packing it up to train in the mainland?
GROVE: “I will be here till the 26th of December and then I will be finishing my last three weeks in Orange County Cali.”
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: Who do you train with in Orange County?
GROVE: “The Rouka Gym and my head trainer Justin Mccully.”
MMAABSOLTE.COM: Whats the difference training here in Hawaii then in the Mainland?
GROVE: For one I take myself out of my comfort zone here I have the moral support from my wife and that helps alot cause when I leave she is a single mother of three with a full time job so it takes alot for her to let me go but she knows that’s where I get the best training and that’s why I get better. And another reason is that it stops me from slacking when I’m at home sometimes I feel lazy. But when Im up there I live with my coach and he pretty much makes me do everything, I kinda get in to that rythum those are the main reasons why I go up there.”
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: Now we are right in the middle of the holiday season Thankgiving has just pasted and we still have Christmas and the New Year coming and us local people we love to eat, has that been hard for you as far as dieting and staying in that fight mode?
GROVE: “Not really my weight has been good for the last two years of my career, I’ve never really had to lose alot of weight I think my last six fights, the most I’ve had to lose is 4 pounds and I pretty much eat what I want. I will eat red meat up until two weeks before my fight and I will eat full meals up until a week until my fight and then I start eating salads and cut my carbs. The worst is behind me Thanksgiving is done that’s the big one, I won’t be home for New Years, Christmas there’s some ham but thats about it. In the beginning I used to walk around at 210 now I walk around at 197, I think my body just got used to it, it knows where to be I guess I’m blessed my metabolism is kicking.”
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: Talk about fighting for the Pro Elite Promotion and Guys like T.J Thompson, and Rich Chou?
GROVE: “Its been good they have history from what I heard they took a break and my fight with Riggs is there first show back and they just had another show in Indianapolis but I enjoy it I like it, I can’t wait to fight I can’t wait to put on a show I’m gonna try to put on the best show and keep this orginization going I’m gonna try to give the fans what they like and thats a good fight, I mean me matched up against Minowa he’s a character and I’m not saying that to insult him, he’s also a great fighter. Just because he lost to a bunch of though guys doesn’t mean anything. You know he stepped up he fought these bigger guys and was successful against alot of them he’s a good leg lock guy he went toe to toe with Phil Baroni and lose but came back and won the rematch he’s a warrior he is a crazy f***en kamakazi Japanese and I’m a warrior you know I’ll fight till the end or until you can stop me from doing whatever I’ll do what I gotta do to finish you, You know when they first told me I was going to fight the punk I had a big smile on my face cause i know he is going to bring it, i knew his game and i know he is a fighter.”
MMAABSOLTE.COM: In your first fight with ProElite, you were originally set to be the Co-Main event but at the event you turned out to be the Main event, what happen?
GROVE: “I was actually the Main event two weeks prior to the weigh ins, that’s what I was told by management, but it really doesn’t matter if I’m the first fight or the last as long as I’m fighting, as long as I get to do my job and put on a show for the fans of Hawaii and all the fans around the world watching on HDNet fights, that’s all that matters.They pay good money and they support our sport 100%, and you know there is dumb ass, uneducated fans out there that just want yell “KNOCK HIM OUT”. Their still in that stage where they don’t understand the sport because it is a new sport, but we are the fastest growing sport. You know that the only thing I care about, is putting on a good show for my family and the fans.”
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: You and Riggs met once before in the cage and Riggs won that meeting, What was it like to avenge that lose to Riggs, especially the way you did it?
GROVE: You know it was, I believe 7 years in the making, and I said it in a resent interview. It was kind of hunting me, it was my first loss. When we met in the cage I was 4-0 as a Pro and my Amateur record was undefeated. I knew who he was, I seen him fight before, I knew he was strong. I actually seen him do a submission wrestling match with Mark Laimon who was my Jiu-Jitsu Coach at the time, and back then Mark would smash me, and in that super fight with Riggs he had a hard time, he could not submit him. I knew the caliber of fighter he was and the dog in me says yeah I’ll take that fight on five days notice, and that was me, early in my career it might not have been the smartest move but I wouldn’t change it cause I am who I am today because of that, so to come back and fight that fight it was heavy for me because like I said it was kinda haunting me threw out my career.If you seen that first fight between me and Riggs he devastated me and in my mind it was still with me so it kinda motivated me, I turned it into motivation. I said this guy had his shot and he beat me now its my turn there is no way in hell he’s going to beat me two times in one life time, that’s what I kept saying through out my whole camp.”
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: You know Kendall, you never was the type of person to call people out, but is there anyone out there that you would like to test your skills against.?
GROVE: Well there’s a lot of good middleweights out there, and I’m cool with everybody but it is a job. I wouldn’t mind jumping into the Bellator Tournament, don’t get me wrong I’m not calling out anybody, but Career wise I would love to fight Lombard. He looks unbelievable tough, and he would be a great, great opponent and a true test for myself. I wouldn’t mind fighting Boetsch again, or Jason McDonald. I can’t really think of anybody else right now, but basically anybody. That’s my job, I don’t really call people out unless you piss me off, and even then I don’t let you get into my head that way, but if you sign the check I’ll fight just let me know when and where.”
MMAABSOLUTE.COM: Well thank you so much for taking time to talk with us. Is there any last word’s or shout out’s to anyone that you would like to make?
GROVE: Yes, thank you to ProElite for making this fight happen, thank you for giving me the opportunity to fight a legend. Big up’s to my agent Joe Baxster thank you so much for always being behind me, for getting me out of a lot of S*@$, my wife Anna Grove and kids, my daughter Chloe who I don’t get to see, she lives all the way in Kauai, my daughter’s Taimane, & Teata, my Son Toa, my family, my Sponsors. RVCA, Thank you Pat, Magna flow, My Coaches Justin McCully, Wayne Cambra, Donovan Moleta from Central Maui Boxing. My training partners who’s helping me in Maui, and my training partners in Cali thank you so much for all the support & help. The whole ESS Nation. Defend Hawaii thank you Mike Malone, and anyone I forgot you guys know who you are, thank you for the support, I love you guys. To all the fans that support me 100% this next one’s for you!