Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and future Hall of Famer, Forrest Griffin, gave an exclusive interview to Heidi Fang of MMA Fight Corner about his impending retirement from MMA. With his UFC Hall of Fame induction coming up at the UFC Fan Expo in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on July 6, Griffin reflected on his 15-fight career with the UFC, explained how it almost didn’t happen, and said he may not be done with fighting yet.
While Griffin noted that the TUF Finale battle with Bonnar was undoubtedly the defining moment of his career, he also revealed that he wasn’t even originally cast to be on the series. In fact, he was called up as an alternate. The Athens, Georgia native had just started working in law enforcement and had given up cage fighting. In a life changing decision, Griffin took a leap of faith to give his MMA career a second chance and quit his job as a cop.
“I was actually a last minute replacement,” Griffin explained. “Some poor guy, who I won’t name, actually failed his drug test for weed, and so I got his spot. I only had 17 days notice. I had just become a cop, and I’d quit my job being a cop in 2002 to become a professional cage fighter. And after years of being broke, and then a low-level bouncer, I decided to finish college and go back to law enforcement.
“And I had just started, had a new job, things were looking up, I was maybe going to take some grad school classes or something – probably not, but the idea was there. I had the application anyway. I was going to do it. But then I was like, ‘Man, it’s that evil mistress, she’s come back. She’s broke my heart once, but she wants me back.’ So I gave it another shot.”
“I’m glad,” Griffin said.”If I didn’t, I would have a lot of regret. Like ‘Man, I could’ve been a big superstar like that Stephan Bonnar if I had only done that show. If they’d given me more than 17 days notice’.”
With the history he’s had scrapping with some of the highest caliber fighters in the sport including: Anderson Silva, Tito Ortiz, Shogun Rua, and Stephan Bonnar, Griffin said it wasn’t easy to determine which of those men gave him the toughest fight ever.
“It’s tough to say. I’ve had a lot of tough fights, a lot of bad performances. If people liked me, it’s because I was very real. I never looked super human. I looked less than human sometimes. So, they were all tough. I don’t have a good answer.”
For the time being, Griffin knows it’s in his best interest to walk away from the sport. With three wins out of his last four fights and a unanimous decision win over Tito Ortiz at UFC 148 which earned Fight of the Night honors, Griffin is one of few recently retired fighters to leave the sport off of a W.
But, is it really over? Have we really seen Griffin step into the Octagon for the last time? According to Griffin’s jiu-jitsu coach, Robert Drysdale, Forrest was in the gym as soon as he was cleared to workout after his latest surgery. Drysdale said he wouldn’t be surprised if Forrest made a comeback because of his work ethic and desire to keep pushing himself.
“But, to say I’m unusual for that, most professional athletes have that,” Forrest said of his drive. “Most guys are like ‘Ok when can I start training again?’. I got into this because I like fighting, I like training. It’s fun, you know,” Griffin told MMA Fight Corner.
“I’ll start training again, September, August. Maybe if I’m just magically healed and like everything works great, then I’ll have to try [fighting] again. But, I’m not healthy now.”
Watch the video here: