by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Tyson Griffin faces one of the toughest tests of his career when he takes on former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion Sean Sherk this weekend.
Interestingly, there has been a lack of talk regarding this fight. Sherk claimed the vacant lightweight belt with a unanimous decision win over Kenny Florian back at UFC 64. He successfully defended it against Hermes Franca but was subsequently stripped of the belt after he tested positive for steroids in July of 2007. Sherk was eventually reinstated but failed to regain the title when he was stopped by BJ Penn at UFC 84.
Tyson Griffin has fought some very tough opposition in his career including Clay Guida, Urijah Faber, Marcus Aurelio and Gleison Tibau. Regardless of the previous talent he has faced, Sherk may be the biggest name he has yet to fight and could potentially be his toughest match-up to date.
“To be honest, Sean Sherk has got a big name. But it’s just another fight,” Griffin said of the upcoming showdown. “I trained my butt off. I’m going to go out there and do what I do, and put my name above his in the rankings.”
The 24-year-old fighter’s most recent victory came at UFC 86 where he scored a unanimous decision over Marcus Aurelio. This upcoming bout will be his third fight this year and for Griffin the timing couldn’t be better.
“I couldn’t of asked for better timing. I usually fight on the New Year’s show around this time, but they got me back in camp sooner than usual, so I didn’t have as much time to get out of shape. It actually worked out in my benefit. My weight’s normal and I’m in great shape.”
Sean Sherk has excellent wrestling and is considered by many to be an underrated striker. He is known for his rigorous workout regimen and never-ending cardio. Sherk’s primary game plan is to take the fight to the mat and implement his ground and pound. Although Griffin is preparing for that, he is also making sure he has a game plan for wherever the fight may go.
“You’ve got to be ready for anything in MMA,” commented Griffin. “I know what his game plan is and I know what mine is, but we’ll basically see what he brings to the table and just feel it out. I got a game plan. I also got a plan B, plan C, plan D. You have to be ready for everything out there.”
Griffin has been working very hard improving his striking over the years. Training out of Xtreme Couture with great strikers such as John Alessio and Martin Kampmann will only help transcend his stand-up game.
“I’ve been working on my stand-up for four years now. I think I’ve come a long way. I can’t ask for a better camp to work on my stand-up. Everybody here has good stand-up and good wrestling. It’s all coming together.”
Griffin has been watching tape on his opponent, but doesn’t revolve his training camp around the footage. “I check it out, but I don’t bank on what I see in a fight because everyone is going to fight an opponent differently,” he said. “There are some holes in his game that I think I can exploit.”
This fight will have serious implications on who will get a title shot next. Kenny Florian and Joe Stevenson are set to square off at UFC 91 next month with the victor making a big leap up in the lightweight ladder. If Kenny Florian wins his fight, he will likely get the next shot at the title. However, if Florian loses and Griffin wins, an opportunity to contend for the gold could very well be in Griffin’s near future
Tyson Griffin realizes the ramifications of a victory over Sean Sherk and he isn’t looking past his opponent. “I can’t help but think about it when all of the questions keep coming up. He fought for the title once. He won it once. He fought for it again and lost it so I don’t see why it wouldn’t put me somewhere in the line up there. I’ll think about that after.”