Last weekend’s The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale made history when Julianna Pena beat Jessica Rakoczy for the inaugural women’s contract on the long-running show. But the most integral moment of TUF is and always will be Forrest Griffin’s decision win over Stephan Bonnar in a rousing war to end TUF 1.
Both Griffin and Bonnar went on to have lengthy UFC careers but it was Griffin who did the most with the opportunity. He parlayed his TUF contract into the UFC light heavyweight championship, taking the belt from Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in a controversial decision at UFC 86.
Unfortunately Griffin went through a long period of injuries that caused him to lose three of his next six bouts. Two of his wins in that span were over fellow reeling ex-champion Tito Ortiz, including a “Fight of the Night”-winning effort in the co-main event of UFC 148. That turned out to be his last fight ever as injuries took their toll.
Griffin appeared on “The MMA Hour” to discuss how he has accepted the fact that his body can no longer compete at a professional level:
“I physically can’t (come back). I didn’t want to be done, in the beginning. When I announced my retirement, that was actually when I was trying to come back and I realized, it just wasn’t viable. It passed me by. My shoulder is done. I brush my teeth with my left hand now. That’s just the way it goes. I can’t shoot a basketball, I can’t throw any kind of ball. I was right handed. The last three years, I was kinda fighting with one arm, on and off. It’s like, I’m going to work on whatever hurts the least today.”
Griffin’s ailments appear to have permanently changed his lifestyle, but accepting that fact is much better than pushing himself to get back in the Octagon until his body truly fails him.
He has a job locked up with the UFC and will be forever logged in MMA history books. There’s a good chance that the fast-growing sport may not possess the lofty status it enjoys right now were it not for Griffin and Bonnar. It was understandably hard to let go for Griffin. However, he knows that he can no longer fight at the elite level he required of himself.
Was Griffin’s timing just right? Or did he have the talent and work ethic to accomplish even more than he did in the Octagon?