Michael Graves makes no excuses for his role in a 2016 domestic violence arrest that ultimately led to his release from the UFC. Instead, he insists simply that he’s learned his lessons and is actively working to better himself outside of the cage.
“I put myself in a (expletive) spot,” Graves told MMAjunkie. “I understand (the UFC’s) position and what they did, and I can’t really hate on them too much for that. I did what I did, and it was (expletive) up, so if they want to let me go or fire me or cut me or whatever you want to call it, I understand.
“I’m working on things off the mat so it doesn’t ever happen again.”
Earlier this year, Graves was released from the UFC following a third-party investigation into an alleged October 2016 domestic violence incident with his fiancee that saw “The Ultimate Fighter 21” veteran arrested and charged a single count of misdemeanor battery (family violence).
Graves said the charges were ultimately dismissed, and he remains engaged with his fiancee. The two have a 2-year-old son together and hope to book a wedding at some point – a plan which could be made easier now that the welterweight prospect has signed an exclusive multi-fight deal with Russia’s Fight Nights Global.
“Having my son was a little unexpected,” Graves said. “It’s been kind of hard to set a date and make it. We’ve kind of been struggling ever since we had him, and right now I haven’t been able to fight in the UFC and make any money. I’ve been working consistently, and I had a little bit saved up from the UFC, so right now, we’re about as comfortable as we’ve ever been.
“Me kind of getting a fresh start with Fight Nights, going over there, I hope to do big things over there. I’d like to get the belt within a year. I think that’s very doable. I know there’s a few tough guys.”
Fight Nights Global officials confirmed the signing and said Graves (6-0-1) is expected to headline an as-yet-unannounced Sept. 16 event against Nikolay Aleksakhin (19-5).
In the meantime, Graves is living and training in Georgia, balancing his job in construction with his passion for MMA, and he insists he’s growing as a person, as well as a fighter.
“I’ve taken steps as far as alcohol and going to classes that aren’t even court-mandated, just me trying to do it to better myself in that type of way,” Graves said. “We’ve been going to different counseling together. We’ve been pretty good since then. I’m sure we fight like many couples do, but nothing to that extent.
“I’m taking the steps that I think are best to have me handle myself better in the future. It happened, but I’m just trying to get past it.”
For more on Fight Nights Global’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.