Returning to action on Saturday at UFC 261 after over two years on the sidelines was Stefan Sekulic. The Serbian fighter, who had a two-year USADA ban to blame for his absence, was welcomed back by Dwight Grant.
Grant was competing for the first time since August 2020, after being forced to pull out of a December match-up due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Grant opened with a pair of low kicks and a right hand that missed the mark. Sekulic fired back with a leg kick of his own, and followed that with a second. As the action progressed, Grant slid in with a right hand and slipped out as Sekulic looked to land a head kick. Sekulic kept moving forward and Grant fired off a shot to the body. Sekulic then landed a body kick on Grant but Grant landed a leg kick in return. Sekulic kept pressing forward and exploded into a flying knee that just missed the mark.
In a closely contested round (and fight, as it turned out), Grant circled then moved in with a right hand that Sekulic slipped away from. Grant followed that up with a high kick that Sekulic was able to block. Shortly after Sekulic shot in on a takedown that was a long time coming, and took Grant to the mat. Grant was able to work back to his feet just as the round came to an end.
In the second, Grant came out and worked his jab, while Sekulic answered with a leg kick. Sekulic moved forward with a pair of kicks and Grant answered with his own. They exchanged more kicks, then Sekulic changed levels and got the take down. Sekulic now worked in half guard and Grant tried to lock Sekulic down. Sekulic tried to improve position but Grant exploded and was able to get back to his feet. Granted landed a straight right and a counter right when Sekulic looked to land the high kick. Sekulic then closed the distance to get into the clinch, but round ended before he could do any damage.
The opening of the third round brought with it the feeling that it was still anyone’s fight. Grant got off first with a high kick that Sekulic blocked; he fired off a second kick that Sekulic slid out of range of. Grant then shot in for a take down of his own and took Sekulic to the mat. Except, he didn’t seem to like the position and gave up on it, getting back to his feet. Grant landed a straight to the body of Sekulic and a second that followed, but Sekulic rushed forward for the take down and took Grant to the mat for a moment. Grant popped back to his feet and the two exchanged with Sekulic landing a hard straight punch that Grant answered, care of a right hand of his own.
Time was becoming a factor if anyone was looking for a finish. Grant now pressed forward with another hard right but Sekulic answered back with 1-2 combination that stunned Grant. Sekulic then took his opponent to the mat and locked in the guillotine but time was not on his side. Grant was able to survive until the end of the round, in what was the closest either man had come to a finish.
— UFC (@ufc) April 25, 2021
Despite Grant being the American fighter in an arena full of American fans, his split decision win was met by a chorus of boos on Saturday.
Official Result: Dwight Grant def. Stefan Sekulic by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)