by Samantha L. Johnson – MMAWeekly.com
After losing a split decision to training partner and friend Evan Dunham, Tyson Griffin (14-3) came back to his home base in Las Vegas ready to recover from a hard camp and take a break before booking his next fight.
However, when an unfortunate injury forced Joe Stevenson to pull out of his bout with Takanori Gomi, Griffin was quick to step in and fight just six weeks after his battle with Dunham. Having just fought and finished a camp, he was still in shape, making it easier to feel confident going against such a seasoned veteran.
“Being that I was in shape, it’s not exactly short notice for my body and conditioning and weight and things of that nature,” said Griffin. “So, yeah, it was short notice as far as only having a little bit of a warning, but as far as being in shape it’s not that short of notice.
“I’ve been looking at Gomi for a long time now, ever since I started my career. I kind of expected to fight him one day.”
When Griffin turned professional in 2004, Gomi was at the height of his game. Then 25, he went on a 10-fight winning streak that lasted thru 2005, when he lost via submission to Marcus Aurelio. In recent years, many have questioned the 31-year-old and wondered if he still could contend with top tier fighters. More questions were raised after his disappointing UFC debut versus Kenny Florian in March. Although some have, Griffin doesn’t want to short sell the Pride veteran and is planning for the best Gomi possible.
“I think the game may have caught up a little bit,” said Griffin when asked if Gomi had declined or everyone else had just stepped it up. “More than anything though, I think it was a little ring rust. He’s been out for a while. I don’t know the exact timeline; he hasn’t been staying that active and training that much. But now that he’s had the fight with Kenny (Florian) and he was training for Joe Stevenson, I imagine he’s going to come in there even better than he was when Kenny fought him.”
Preparing for the best Gomi, and knowing what he is capable of, is something that Griffin sees as an advantage. With Dunham, since Griffin had trained with him, he knew his strengths and weaknesses and was not afraid to get knocked out. According to Griffin, he was rushing and did not hold back for fear of getting caught.
“The one thing you might see is me a little more patient on my feet,” said Griffin. “I think it actually works to my favor. Being a little reckless against somebody like Evan, because I wasn’t worried about getting knocked out, got me taken down. When I fought Hermes (Franca) I wasn’t reckless, I was really patient because I knew he had knockout power. I definitely wasn’t scared to trade with him and I ended up knocking him out… so who knows, it might help me.”
L. Johnson is a freelance writer originally from Southeast Idaho, currently living in Las Vegas, NV. Visit her www.sxjohnson.net for her ramblings of on living in the MMA Mecca.