The reality of what Jett Grande accomplished is still sinking in.
Grande, a 20-year-old Red Deer MMA fighter won gold in the junior welterweight division at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation World Championships in Manama, Bahrain earlier this week.
He went undefeated through four bouts at the event, three of which he won by unanimous decision. He topped Paddy Wilkinson of Ireland via a Majority Decision (29-28, 28-28, 29-28) to win gold.
“Greatest feeling in the world. Overcame all the obstacles, felt great. You’re one of the best in the world,” he said Friday in a phone interview.
“My goal was to win the gold medal and it was tough, it wasn’t easy. Really challenging and I knew it would be.”
Grande said he was nervous for his first fight, which he eventually won against a fighter from New Zealand. As the event moved forward, his confidence grew and in the final, he was simply able to execute.
“It was a tough fight but I edged it out and got the gold medal. I was very happy,” he said.
“My very first fight of the tournament I was very nervous. Didn’t really perform up to my level in that fight. The last fight I was a bit more nervous than the previous, but not as nervous as the first one. I got a feel for things. I knew there was lots at stake.”
The fighter added one of the biggest challenges was not knowing very much about his opponents and only have a little bit of time to plan for each bout. He also noted that battling a few nagging injuries and cutting weight made the short tournament much more difficult.
“It wasn’t even the competitors were tough, it was also making weight every day and battling through injuries. The whole tournament itself was tough. One of the toughest things I’ve ever done,” he said.
“I’m really used to more of a game plan. We had the matchup a day before, so would know beforehand who I would be fighting. We did a little bit of research, but we couldn’t study them to a T.”
In his amateur MMA career in North America, Grande is also undefeated with a 7-0 record. He plans on staying amateur for a while longer and build up his resume with a few more wins overseas. He hopes to eventually go pro and sign with a top organization.
“Not many people can say they are a world amateur champion. When I decide to go professional, this is just going to help me out a lot and add a lot to my resume,” he said.
“I might be doing a few more international tournaments before I go professional, so I can get a few more world titles.”