Forrest Griffin (TUF Light-Heavyweight season 1 winner)
The law enforcement officer from Augusta, Georgia was a simple man and a love for comedy. After a short career in law enforcement, Griffin would focus on Mixed Martial Arts in 2001. Training under HardCore Gym with the Singer brothers, Griffin would make his MMA debut against the UFC Hall of Famer Dan “The Beast” Severn at RSF 5 in 2001. Forrest would be out muscled by the larger opponent, losing via decision. After dubuting with a loss, Griffin would win his next seven fights to names like Jeff Monson, Travis Fulton and Chael Sonnen before losing to Jeremy Horn via knockout of the second round. Griffin would rally back with a first round knockout over Edson Paredao, eventually giving him a spot on the Ultimate Fighter season 1.
On the show, Griffin would defeat Alex Schoenauer due to strikes at 1:20 of the first round. He would follow that up with another tko victory over Sam Hoger at 1:05 of the second round, Solidifying him a position in the finals against Stephan Bonnar.
The fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar is considered the greatest MMA fight of all-time. It was a complete slugfest for three rounds with both fighters getting rocked multiple times. Forrest would get the split-decision victory, and would be the Light-Heavyweight season winner with a six-figure contract to the UFC. Stephan Bonnar would also receive a six-figure contract, due to his performance against Griffin.
Staying at Light-Heavyweight, Griffin would collect two wins against Bill Mahood and Elvis Sinosic before setting up a match against former Light-Heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz at UFC 59. Forrest would come in as a significant underdog. The first round would begin with a successful takedown by Ortiz, then followed up with brutal ground-and-pound. Ortiz would completely dominate the first round, but Griffin would start getting the better of Ortiz in the striking and succeeded at defending the takedown. The third round would go the same way as the second, but Otiz was able to secure a takedown for less than a minute. Ortiz would win in a contraversial split-decision. Forrest would gain many fans that night, as well as the confidence that he could compete with the best in the world.
The highly antisapated rematch between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar would take place at UFC 62. The fight was very entertaining, but did not live up to there previous performance. Griffin would prove to have grown into a more well-rounded fighter than Bonnar, resulting in a win via unanimous decision. Griffin would then face the heavy-handed unorthadox striker, Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine at UFC 66. The fight stayed on the feet with both fighters taking hard shots, until Jardine timed his uppercut perfectly to the chin of Griffin, leaving him on wobbly legs. Jardine would engage immediately with a flurry of strkes, dropping Griffin to the mat, followed by hard shots to the head by Jardine in a sloppy full guard. The fight would be stopped at 4:41 of the second round via tko. After realizing that he lost, Griffin would begin crying in frustration, due to his performance.Forrest would climb back up the Light-Heavyweight ladder with a solid victory over Hector Ramirez at UFC 72 via unanimous decision.
With the UFC purchasing Pride FC, many fighters would transition into the UFC. One of those fighters would be the 2005 Pride Grand Prix champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, presenting a brutal striking style, as well as a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. At the time, Rua was considered the number-one Light-Heavyweight in the world. Fans where shocked when Griffin called out Rua for his UFC debut. The fight would later be signed and then scheduled for UFC 76. Forrest would once again be a huge underdog. Forrest would avoid the striking of Rua by taking the fight to the ground. Both fighters where able to reverse there positions, but Griffin would look to be the more dominant fighter in the first round. In the second round, both fighters where able to complete a takedown, but the majority of the second round would stay on the feet with Griffin throwing and landing more strikes than Rua. In the third round, Rua was able to land an early takedown. Showing signs of fatigue, Rua landed little to no strikes in the full guard. After a few minutes on his back, Griffin would lock in a Omaplata, resulting in back control for Griffin. Rua would roll into guard, but would later be mounted. Forrest would start throwing punches to the face of Rua, forcing him to give up his back. Griffin would then sneak in a rear-naked choke at 4:45 of the third round. Many MMA media sources would award the fight with upset of the year.
The victory would grant Griffin with his first title fight against knock out artist, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Both fighters would coach against each other on TUF season 7. The show would fuel tension between the two fighters, resulting in a great main-event at UFC 86. The majority of the twenty-five minute war would take place on the feet, with Griffin landing powerful leg kicks that took away alot of the power from Jackson’s punches. Jackson was able to rock Griffin with a right hand that forced him to pull guard, but it wouldn’t be enough to sway the judges. Forrest would win the Light-Heavyweight title via unanimous decision. The fight would be awarded the Fight of the Night honors, plus be awarded Fight of the Year in 2008.
Forrest would have his first title defense against the undefeated, “Suga” Rashad Evans at UFC 92. The fight was entertaining on the feet, with both fighters slugging with punches. Evans wouldn’t use his wrestling until the third round, where he had one takedown followed by powerful ground-and-pound that would stop the fight at 2:46 of the third round via tko. Griffin injured his hand during the fight, which would result in a long layoff.
The former Light-Heavyweight champion would finally return to the octagon to face the UFC Middleweight champion at Light-Heavyweight at UFC 101. Griffin would be completely destroyed with precisely timed punches by Silva, resulting in a tko finish at 3:23 of the first round.
Now riding a two fight losing streak, Forrest would try to get on the right track with a rematch against Tito Ortiz at UFC 106. Griffin was more prepared for Ortiz, with a much better grappling game and good selective strikes. Forrest would get the split-decision victory. Griffin announced to the audience that “Tito is a guy coming from back surgery and he couldn’t put anything together offensively. We’ll do it again, i won’t break my foot, he’ll be in better shape.”
After getting a long awaited victory, Griffin would face the former Middleweight champion, Rich “Ace” Franklin at UFC 126. The match would take place on the mat in the first round with Griffin in the top position. Forrest would drop Franklin with a powerful combination, but would quickly recover. Griffin would control the rest of the fight with powerful leg kicks and tactical striking. Griffin would get the win via unanimous decision.
Griffin would then rematch Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 134 in Brazil. With Rua being a Brazillian, Forrest would be surrounded by booze from the audience. Griffin was never able to pull the trigger in the fight, resulting in a dominant knockout victory for Rua at 1:53 of the first round. Griffin’s wife was expected to give birth two days later, which could have effected him emotionally in his fight with Rua.
The trilogy between Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin would finally take place at UFC 148, with Ortiz announcing that he would retire after he fought Griffin. Ortiz was able to rock Griffin, then would take griffin down into full guard. Forrest was able to get back up to his feet, but was taken down once more. In the second round, Griffin was able to stuff both takedown attempts by Ortiz, and would start scoring with his striking. The third round started the same as the second, until Ortiz would catch Griffin with another strike and follow that up with a takedown. Forrest would get back up to his feet, and continue to strike until the fight was over. The fight was very close, but Griffin would take a unanimous decision over Ortiz.
On December 5th, 2012, Forrest would pull out of his fight with Phil Davis, due to both an ACL and MCL tear. It is still unkown when Forrest will make his return.
Forrest Griffin is a perfect example of a complete MMA fighter. He grew and evolved in front of us and is a true icon in Mixed Martial Arts.
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