Forrest Griffin: I never thought I would wind up a UFC championPosted on June 25, 2012, 01:36 PM by Mike Searson
At UFC 148, Tito Ortiz will step into the Octagon for the final time as a fighter. Much has been written about Ortiz's farewell bout and his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame on July 7, but what of his opponent, Forrest Griffin? In an exclusive interview with our good friend: Bryan Levick at Fightline.com, the Georgia native discusses Tito Ortiz, Shogun Rua and his own future.
Griffin began his career in the UFC thrilling fans in his performance during The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale, a fight against Stephen Bonnar described by UFC President Dana White as, "The most important fight in UFC history". Known for his reckless abandon and fearless nature in the Octagon. Griffin would go on to take the Light Heavyweight belt from Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at a time when Rampage seemed unstoppable.
Griffin first fought and lost to Ortiz at UFC 59 in 2006 by Split Decision. They fought a rematch, three years later which Griffin won by Split Decision, himself. Three years later, the conclusion to this trilogy is coming at UFC 148: "This Tito fight is what it is, it's his last fight. Tito was Jon Jones before there was a Jon Jones. He was Chuck Liddell before there was a Chuck Liddell. I don't know what the future holds for me because I won't look past Tito, but when this fight is over I will sit down and assess what I want to do. There are some fights out there that do get me excited. I like what Matt Hughes is doing, he picks the fights that he thinks he can win and does it on his own terms. I want to fight on my own terms, I'm on the other side of the fence now and don't see myself fighting these younger guys like Alexander Gustaffson."
His last fight took place at UFC 134 against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in Brazil. It was a rematch which Griffin lost via knockout at 1:53 in the first round. Although he blames no one but himself, his wife was due to give birth that same weekend: "It wasn't an easy fight to prepare for knowing I was going to be so far away from my wife. I'm not making excuses because I could've turned the fight down, but that's not my style. I hated being that far away from my wife when she was so close to giving birth. As soon as that fight ended, Dana had me on the jet on my way back to Las Vegas. I was in the hospital still wearing the shorts I fought in, but I made it their in time and saw my daughter being born."
Like most fighters, Griffin does not want to stop competing and knows that despite his history in the UFC that fame can be fleeting: "I really don't know how I want to be remembered when my fighting days are over. It's an honor if people do remember me at all. For now I will keep fighting as long as my body holds up and I can keep doing it. No one wants to stop fighting and have to get a real job, especially me! Fighters want to fight forever, when people retire they wind up dying! When I first started fighting I just wanted to make enough money so I wouldn't have to work. I never thought I'd wind up a UFC champion, maybe in some distant dream I did, but I never imagined it would really happen."
Aside from his self-depreciating humor, Griffin is one of those fighters that will most likely stay with Zuffa, if and when he retires from fighting. However, if he has his way, it may not be in the role of a commentator or referee. Griffin wants to be in a position to use his ability to give back to others: "I was lucky enough to spend some time with a 14 year old boy who was sick. The UFC set him up with some tickets for one of my fights and I took some pictures with him. Unfortunately he died when he was 15. When the father called to tell me the news I was on the verge of tears. I really want to help those less fortunate, I want to help feed the hungry both young and old. I want to help convince others to lend their time and money to charity. I've done some work with the Make a Wish Foundation and I really enjoy working with little kids. I can totally see myself working in that type of capacity, working with the UFC and making a difference in other peoples' lives."