by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Before fighting Tito Ortiz at UFC 59, former Ultimate Fighter champion Forrest Griffin was being discounted as a reality show star who could never compete against top level talent like the former light heavyweight champion. After a hard fought bout that saw Ortiz pushed to the limit, Griffin seemed to gain the respect he deserved, but still lost a close split decision.
On the rebound and needing a win to stay in the picture for possible title contention,. Griffin will get that chance at UFC 62 when he rematches with his former housemate from Season 1 of the Ultimate Fighter, Stephan Bonnar.
Their first fight was mentioned for months as possibly the greatest fight in UFC history. Now, with both men coming off losses, this match-up takes on a whole other meaning. Back-to-back losses in the Octagon can simply be devastating to a fighter’s career.
Griffin, who doesn’t appear to let the pressure get to him, just trains and prepares for the fight just like any other. During the fight with Ortiz, Griffin was also battling a few injuries that may have affected his performance, but he looks to be back at 100% for his fight with Bonnar.
“As close as I ever get,” Griffin stated about being at his top physical health for this fight.
With the knowledge that losing two fights in a row could really hurt his career, Griffin puts more stock into winning the bout than who his opponent is. While his bout with Ortiz was close, he still lost the judges’ decision and it still ended with a defeat on his record.
“Its kind of the most important thing in my life right now,” said Forrest about the fight with Bonnar.
Griffin also stated that he would welcome a rematch with Ortiz if the opportunity presents itself down the road, but he is focused on the job at hand and that is beating Stephan Bonnar this Saturday.
There will also be added pressure on both fighters because of how the first fight was seen by many as one of the greatest of all time. That is next to impossible to ever duplicate, but it doesn’t phase Griffin.
“There’s additional pressure for me because I’m coming off a loss,” said Griffin. “The only other pressure I think about is the fact that the first fight was close.”
Being the second headlining fight behind the main event of Chuck Liddell and Renato “Babalu” Sobral is also a big slot for Griffin vs. Bonnar 2. The desire to finish the fight has to be there to impress not only the fans, but also the UFC brass. Forrest just wants to win no matter what.
“I do want to finish, but I’ll take a win any way I can get it,” said Griffin. “I always have a game plan until someone hits me in the face. I’m almost 30 years old and I haven’t figured anything out yet.”
After their first fight, Griffin and Bonnar seemed to become fast friends making appearances on television and on the internet for the UFC, paired up multiple times for promotions. Friendship aside, Griffin understands the importance of this fight and doesn’t let anything personal interfere.
“Its just a fight,” said Griffin. “I mean, he’s a good guy and personally I think Stephan’s a cool cat and I wish him the best when he’s fighting anybody but me.”
Forrest will get his chance to make it 2 for 2 against Stephan Bonnar this Saturday at UFC 62 live from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.