Kendall Grove explains why he’s coming back for one ‘last hurrah’ and revisiting the bloodiest fight in KSW history


When UFC and Bellator veteran Kendall Grove turned 40 this past November, he thought his fighting career was already over.

He made a promise to his father prior to his death that he would not fight past 40, and with a growing business through his gym based in Maui, Hawaii, the Ultimate Fighter season 3 winner seemed content to essentially consider himself retired.

But then a strange thing happened.

Thanks to an extended break from fighting with his last mixed martial arts bout taking place in 2019, Grove started to feel much better because his body finally had time to heal. Grove had been fighting continuously since 2003, and it was proving to be a strain on his body.

” I’ve been there by choice, just to give my brain a rest,” Grove said to MMA Fighting. Grove said that he had worked hard throughout his entire career and was especially frustrated when he was let go by the UFC. It was something I really wanted to do.

“When I first fought in KSW, I fought two times in f****** less than six months. It was back-to-back defeats, but I was still trying to win those victories and get the big names. I just kinda ran myself ragged. Not really smart the way I was doing it.”

The time away was good for Grove’s health, but also allowed him to rekindle his love of the sport. He started doing grappling competitions while also training up and coming athletes in his gym, which suddenly reignited his own desire to fight again.

The difference was Grove admitting that time was running out, but coming back with full understanding that fighting was something that he enjoyed and not just because he had to.

“I just turned 40 in November and I promised my dad before he died, I wouldn’t fight past 40,” Grove explained. “Then [KSW president] Martin [Lewandowski] gave me a call and I was like ‘oh f*** I just turned 40!’

“But it’s a great opportunity and I’m not past 40 yet so I gave myself through Nov. 12, 2023. This is my last hurrah.”

In his return at KSW 78, which he’ll headline on Saturday, Grove will face off with a familiar foe as he clashes with Michal Materla in a rematch from their first fight that took place back in 2013.

It was an unforgettable fight for many reasons, including Grove blasting Materla using an upkick which actually knocked him unconscious temporarily until he hit a canvas and then woke again. But it is also being hailed the “bloodiest fight” in KSW history .”

Materla suffered a fractured nose, and bleeding from his eyes during the fight. Grove was clearly not happy with the blood, as he continued to clean it from his skin even after the fight ended.

” I washed at the event, then went back to my hotel and washed,” Grove stated. “I got home to Hawaii, I showered. The next day, I showered again so this is like three days later after the fight. All his blood was in my ears so I used a Qtip to clean them. It’s gross now but it wouldn’t have been gross 100 years ago. F*** it’s just part of the job.”

The fight itself was a back-and-forth battle that actually required the middleweights to go to a special deciding fourth round, which was not something Grove expected.

In Grove’s mind, he had already done enough through 15 minutes to secure the victory and truth be told, he didn’t even know a fourth round was a possibility — until he was told the fight would continue.

” The fact that he had been so badly cut and bleeding, that I thought he might have suffered a fracture in his orbital, the fact I believe I may have popped his eardrum by hammer fists from my back, Grove stated. Grove said, “That is why I was on the ropes [celebrating]. after the third round.

” It was my fault. It was my fault, but it wasn’t obvious that we would be going to the fourth round. Maybe I should have read the fine print but spilled milk. I can’t complain. I was bitter for a long time but I’m over it.”

Although the rematch may be billed as Grove’s chance to exact revenge on his past decade, in truth the fight is more than just an opportunity for him to erase a losing record.

With Grove accepting that there is only so much time in this sport, he hopes to get his last fights in the ring.

” I am fighting for myself,” Grove stated. “I’m fighting so when I’m 50 talking to my grandkids, telling them the stories of my career, I’m not going to have any regrets. I am leaving on my terms