LAS VEGAS – Once a middle-of-the-road welterweight, T.J. Grant is the next title contender in the lightweight division.

The Canadian’s amazing career resurgence continued Saturday with a first-round TKO of Gray Maynard in a title eliminator.

The lightweight bout was part of the main card of today’s UFC 160 event at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.

Grant and Maynard wasted no time going toe-to-toe, trading big punches as the first round got underway. Although two-time lightweight title challenger Maynard got the better of early exchanges, it was Grant who landed the first telling blow, staggering “The Bully” with a left hand.

Grant then landed a straight right that dropped Maynard, who tried in vain to survive. He made it to his feet, but Grant kept the pressure on and landed another punch that dropped the American and forced referee Chris Tognoni to intervene at the 2:07 mark of the first.

“This is like a dream come true, but the dream isn’t over yet,” Grant said. “There is still work to do. I knew if I left it all out there, the fans would love it. Gray is not a guy I wanted to go to the ground with and I saw he didn’t move his feet too well, so I knew there were openings. I wasn’t necessarily looking for the knockout, I was just looking to connect to the face. I felt good things would come from that.”

Grant (21-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC), who is ranked No. 14 in USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA lightweight rankings, is due for another huge leap up the top-15 list as he cinches his fifth straight UFC win. Maynard (12-1-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC), who was ranked fifth, sees another title shot slip through his fingers following a decision over Clay Guida in his most recent outing.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 160 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC 160, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

John Morgan and Matt Erickson contributed to this report on-site in Las Vegas.

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