By Erik Uebelacker
Making his UFC debut in 2019, Mike Grundy is one of the few fighters that can say they made it to the pinnacle of the sport. His illustrious combat sports resume also includes a freestyle wrestling bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and a gold medal at the 2015 European No-Gi Championships.
But in Abu Dhabi, the 35-year-old’s focus was strictly on his son, Jack. Jack competed in the Youth A Welterweight division at the 2022 Youth World Championships, taking home a bronze medal for Team England.
“I’m gutted that I got bronze,” Jack said. “It’s not what I came all this way to get. I came all the way to get gold. I’ve still got the mentality that I’m going to be world champion.”
Jack went a perfect 3-0 in the group stage of the tournament on Saturday, beating two opponents by decision and one by submission. He lost his first elimination bout in the semifinals against the United States’ Eric Cortez.
Although he was disappointed in his placement, Jack recognized the potential benefits the event had on his future career as a martial artist.
“It was the best experience of my life, really – I fought the best people from each country,” he said. “I don’t want to lose, but if you lose at amateur, it’s not a big deal. It doesn’t affect your record in the future when you want to go to the UFC and all that stuff. So this is perfect for experience.”
Mike has amateur experience dating back to the early 2010s. He, too, acknowledges its value.
“To come to a tournament like this and possibly have five or six fights in a day, that’s massive experience,” Mike said. “Obviously, there’s less contact. When they can come in, they can get experience without getting injured or getting any kind of head trauma. So, it’s a good pathway for the kids, even before they go to other amateur bouts.”
The IMMAF Youth World Championships’ limited ruleset allows for this high frequency in bouts. But Jack hopes to return next year for the adult World Championships.
“I want to come again and do headshots,” he said.
Jack clearly has high expectations for his future MMA career, as does his father.
“I fully believe that he’s going to go further than anything I’ve ever done,” Mike said. “Obviously, I never pushed my son to do [MMA]. He’s just always done it. He’s wrestled in the UK. Jiu Jitsu is going great. So he has followed my footsteps.”