Veteran heavyweight Neil Grove may have lost his last three fights, but the 41-year-old is nonetheless staying positive ahead of his UCMMA 31 interim title bout against Tomasz Czerwinski.
Grove, who was last seen suffering an April knockout to athletic prospect Todd Duffee, says he has regrouped from the challenging stretch and has worked diligently to improve his defense.
“I believe, if I felt I got truly beaten, I would’ve retired,” Grove tells Sherdog.com. “One of my fights I left up to the judges -- my mistake. And twice after, I dropped my guard -- rookie mistakes I have worked really hard [to correct] in the last six to seven months.”
UCMMA 31, which takes place Dec. 1 at the Troxy in London, was initially supposed to be topped by a championship collision between former champ Grove and reigning belt-holder Darren Towler. However, Towler was forced to withdraw from the booking due to injury, forcing promoter Dave O’Donnell to book Czerwinski as a replacement and change the bout to an interim title tilt.
“Of course I was disappointed [about Towler’s injury], but it’s the way the cookie crumbles,” Grove says. “Thanks to Dave O’Donnell, [we have] a replacement in big Tomasz. He’s huge. I will have to make sure to be faster on my feet to avoid the bombs he is going to throw my way.”
A former super heavyweight, Czerwinski last competed on July 1, when he knocked out previously unbeaten Kevin Camp in just 85 seconds to win the Cage Fighters Championship interim heavyweight title. Grove believes that Czerwinski, a fighter known mostly for his power, will be gunning for a quick knockout come Saturday night. Even so, the 41-year-old says he has taken nothing for granted ahead of his confrontation with the massive Pole.
“It might be a ‘W’ for me or the scalp of his career for him, so expect it to be technical and fast paced,” says Grove. “[There will be] loads of strategy in this one. I'm more experienced and will have the crowd behind me, and my guard has changed. I want to see if I can handle his punch.”
Though Grove is currently focused on navigating the challenge presented by Czerwinski, the veteran has also set goals for himself beyond winning the interim title bout.
“[I want] to win my next nine fights, train hard, eat healthy and stay uninjured,” Grove says. “I would love to fight in America again, and at least once in Toronto, too. They love MMA over there.”