Friday night Maui MMA veteran Kendall Grove will return to the cage, facing AJ Matthews at Bellator 193 in Temecula, California.
The former UFC Ultimate Fighter Season 3 middleweight champion with 40 professional fights enters his match inspired by his brother-in-law, former Washington State All-American defensive end and NFL Draft hopeful Hercules Mata’afa.
“What else can you say but inspirational?” Grove said of the Lahainaluna graduate and 2013 Cover2 Manti Te’o defensive player of the year award winner.
“The guy came from nothing, had nothing and is self-made! Now he’s about to live his dream and I kind of see a lot of my younger me in him.”
Grove, who is coming off of back-to-back losses, thinks that Mata’afa’s transformation from undersized defensive lineman to consensus All-American proves that his dream of becoming Bellator champion can remain alive.
“Just the drive that he has.” Grove added.
“It kind of reminds me, okay you see him working hard busting his butt to accomplish his goals, do the same to maintain your dream. Maintain this. I’m getting old I’m 35, I’m on the back end of my career but I’m one-two wins away from being back on top and it starts with AJ.”
Grove (23-17-1) is a -165 favorite over Matthews (8-7).
Bellator 193 will air in Hawai’i on tape delay at 7:00pm HST on the Paramount Network.