- UFC 86: FORREST GRIFFIN IS UP TO THE CHALLENGE

June 30, 2008
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by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
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Four years
ago, Forrest Griffin nearly walked away from mixed martial arts. Despite a 9-2
professional record at the time, he had pretty much decided it was time to forego
the low pay, long hours in the gym, and battle scars.

 

Just then,
he got the call to join the cast of the inaugural season of The Ultimate
Fighter… and the rest is history. He and Stephan Bonnar made it to the light heavyweight
final that season on put on an epic battle that helped to change the course of
the entire sport.

 

That was
April 9, 2005. Now, three years and change later, Griffin readies himself to
step into the Octagon at href="http://www.mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/rumors.asp?articleid=5822&zoneid=14">UFC
86 at Mandalay Bay to face the greatest challenge of his career. He will
attempt to wrest the UFC light heavyweight championship away from fellow
Ultimate Fighter Season 7 coach and href="http://www.mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/topten.asp?articleid=15&zoneid=15">No.
1 ranked 205-pounder in the world, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

 

He’s not
the first Ultimate Fighter alum to get a shot at a title, but that’s not
anything that worries the laid back Xtreme Couture fighter. “I was very
fortunate with The Ultimate Fighter. A lot of guys have done it now, but I’m
glad it took as long as it did,” said Griffin in an exclusive interview with
MMAWeekly.com.

 

Of his
transformation from competitor to coach on the television series that helped to
launch the current rise in success that mixed martial arts has received,
Griffin delivered in his brutally honest style that always makes you wonder if
he is dead serious or dripping with sarcasm.

 

“It’s
easier to tell people what to do than do it. But actually I’m a selfish
bastard. I care about me primarily. So I’d rather be getting trained than
training people,” he said.

 

“I don’t
lead nothing man. If we were all on a deserted island, lost, I would not be
Jack.”

 

In Jackson,
Griffin faces a man that is riding an impressive six-fight winning streak,
including a title-crowning win over Chuck Liddell and a subsequent five-round
defense against former Pride light heavyweight and middleweight champ Dan
Henderson.

 

But Jackson
is also a man whose last defeat was a knockout at the hands of former Pride
205-Pound Grand Prix champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua… the same fighter that
Griffin defeated last September by submission near the end of the third round.
Shogun was widely regarded as the No. 1 light heavyweight in the world at the
time.

 

The win
propelled Griffin into the championship challenge of Jackson and landed both
the stint as coaches on season seven of The Ultimate Fighter.

 

Now, it’s
crunch time. Yet, despite training non-stop for this chance of a lifetime,
Griffin offers little by way of predictions, not even how he sees the fight
unfolding. “I don’t care where it goes as long as I win,” he said. Adding,
“I’ll tell you one thing, the price of gas will continue to rise.”

According
to many insiders, Wanderlei Silva – who also trains at Xtreme Couture and
holds two crushing victories over Quinton Jackson while both were fighting for
Pride – has been in Griffin’s ear and in his face for the Ultimate
Fighter alum’s training camp for this bout. It’s something that Griffin readily
confirms and has reaped tremendous confidence from.

 

“Wanderlei
is just an animal… He’s not normal. You work out with him, see him in here;
he’s on his own world man. You really got to be a specific guy with a specific
skill set and specific cardio to fight like Wanderlei. I can’t emulate his
style,” admitted Griffin, not giving any impression that he intends to fight
Wanderlei’s fight against the champion.

 

He does
appreciate the opportunity to train with the former Pride champion though. “I
love him as a training partner. It’s that unchecked aggression,” said Griffin
with a smile on his face.

 

He has
acquired some fight advice from Wanderlei though. “The one thing he said was
immediately grab the head and throw the knee instead of trying to set it up and
make the perfect… bam! Grab and go, start throwing, don’t sit there and let him
think about it.”

 

That
aggressive, in your face style, patented by Wanderlei and Shogun’s former team,
Chute Boxe, has been quite successful against Jackson. Over the past several
years, Jackson has racked up wins over Liddell, Henderson, Ricardo Arona,
Murilo Bustamante, Matt Lindland, and several others. But in his last 15 bouts,
only Wanderlei and Shogun have cracked to the code to the current UFC light
heavyweight champ.

 

It’s a
promising portent for the typically aggressive Forrest Griffin, but Wanderlei
Silva won’t be in the ring with him on Saturday night at href="http://www.mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/rumors.asp?articleid=5822&zoneid=14">UFC
86. It will just be him against the champ; the way Griffin likes it.

 

href="http://videos.mmaweekly.com/view_player.php?id=2616">UFC 86 Pre-fight
Video Interview: Forrest Griffin

 

href="http://videos.mmaweekly.com/view_player.php?id=2615">UFC 86 Pre-fight
Video Interview: Tyson Griffin

 

href="http://videos.mmaweekly.com/view_player.php?id=2192">UFC 76 Pre-fight Video
Interview: Forrest Griffin

(Prior
to fighting Mauricio “Shogun” Rua)

 

href="http://videos.mmaweekly.com/view_player.php?id=2394">UFC 76 Pre-fight
Training Video: Forrest Griffin

(Prior
to fighting Mauricio “Shogun” Rua)

 

href="http://videos.mmaweekly.com/view_player.php?id=1605">UFC 59 Pre-fight
Video Interview: Forrest Griffin

(Prior
to fighting Tito Ortiz)

 

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