A sit-down with the charismatic Forrest Griffin
Forrest Griffin may or may not have hepatitis, depending on who wants to know.
The charismatic former light heavyweight champion was an hour late for our interview, and when we finally connected, the topics of conversation instead ranged from the results of his recent hep test, getting accosted by adolescent girls and how to work the fact that you’re married into every conversation. After tackling the more important issues of the day, we got around to discussing his upcoming fight with Rich Franklin too.
Sit back and enjoy Heavy MMA’s one-on-one with “The Original Ultimate Fighter,” Forrest Griffin.
(Note: prior to turning on the tape recorder, Griffin explained that he was late because he needed to return to the doctor’s office to have his hepatitis test redone and the test came back negative.)
Heavy: I’ll be sure to include that fact in the interview.
Griffin: That is important.
Heavy: So that everybody is aware and everybody knows, Forrest Griffin does not have hepatitis.
Griffin: Actually, you just go ahead and tell all the single women that I do have hepatitis so they stay away.
Heavy: Perfect. I think my wife might want me to share that plan from now on too.
Griffin: Just drop it casually, like, whenever you’re talking to women. What I always do is the “you know my wife” thing, just to make sure it doesn’t get awkward. Then you can just drop my hepatitis things too.
Heavy: In the year-and-a-half I’ve been married, I’ve become very skilled at the “my wife and I” any time there are single women around. She’ll be glad to read that.
Griffin: Well there is some exciting news for me, are we recording this, because this is the good shit?
Heavy: I am, we are; we’re ready to go.
Griffin: Good. Alright, well, I actually just had a very uncomfortable experience. I guess I was going to Starbucks the same time the school here let out, and I got cat-called by a bunch of teenage girls. It wasn’t as fun as you would imagine. It was actually kind of degrading.
Heavy: That’s not cool.
Griffin: It’s not cool. Why are high school girls and teenage girls making fun of me and cat-calling me?
Heavy: Oh – making fun of you cat-calling you, not even like…
Griffin: Well I don’t really know. I don’t even know how to take that. When did women start with the “HEY!” I thought I was walking passed a construction site. “Hey Forrest!” Goodness, I’m afraid. Stop. Please.
Heavy: A man can’t even go get a cup of coffee after an arduous hepatitis test situation without getting accosted. That’s shitty.
Griffin: I know. Why would you do that? So what else? Let’s talk about fighting. I mean, I don’t really want to but I’m sure you have to, so let’s just do it. We’ll get that shit out of the way.
Heavy: I do have to and I appreciate you indulging me a little bit. How excited are you to finally get back into the cage?
Griffin: I’m very excited and I’m very nervous. It’s been a long time. I know I’m preparing myself mentally. The first minute is going to be a little awkward, but I know one we get going after a minute or so, I’ll find home again and it’ll just, you know, it will be easy again.
Heavy: Yeah, no fights in 2010…
Griffin: You know, its rough – a guy like me doesn’t get an undercard type of warm-up fight. A boxer that had been off a year would get a tune-up fight, you know? Maybe take a little cut in pay, fight on a smaller show, something like that, then jump back in the thing, but no: a year off, second-to-last fight of the night. No pressure.
Heavy: And against a former champion in Rich Franklin.
Griffin: Right, right. Way to welcome me back. Thanks for taking it easy on me.
Heavy: This is an early fight for 2011. Ideally, coming out of things healthy and such, how many fights do you hope for this year?
Griffin: You gotta understand, the two weeks, three weeks before a fight-really the last month-it’s just get this fight out of the way; survive this, don’t die. You’re stupid to talk about the future, and I always use the analogy… have you ever climbed a mountain?
Heavy: I’ve climbed a small mountain, yes.
Griffin: Okay, well if you look up at the mountain its intimidating; it goes on forever, you’re never going to reach the top of the mountain. If you look down, its terrifying; you’re going to fall, you’re going to die. So you keep your eyes level and you watch your foot and your hand grip every time. That’s how you climb a mountain, son, and that’s the best analogy I’ve got going. So basically I never, ever talk about the future.
Heavy: Fair enough.
Griffin: Well you know, I might, I heard there are buses roaming around, just waiting to kill people like me. So that proverbial bus is right around the corner, so one step at a time.
Heavy: Well, the current step and the current mountain is Rich Franklin. What are your thoughts on getting thrown right back into the heat of things with a former champion?
Griffin: The only real thoughts I have, the genuine thought is that I hope it is the fight I know it could be. It has the potential to be a great fight. It’s going to be a little awkward for me because I hate frickin’ southpaws; everything is all backwards and whatnot. I just really hope that, we’ve both had some really good fights in the past and I hope that together… it’s almost like chemistry when you date, you know? One thing doesn’t dictate another, but there should be really good chemistry for this to be a good fight.
Heavy: I agree with the chemistry or the dancing analogy that always gets used. Some people may feel its over used, but the truth is that you can’t look as good if the other guy isn’t dancing with you. Is this a chance to remind some people-the fans, the media, the UFC even-that you’re amongst the elite in the light heavyweight division?
Griffin: Naw, naw, you’ve got me all wrong. I would just as soon everybody overlook me and forget about me. I don’t, I don’t know, I don’t want to be know, I don’t want to be feared, I don’t even care if I’m respected. I figure you don’t have to respect me unless you’ve been in there with me, then I’ll try and get you to respect me, but I don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks.
The UFC has always been great to me, so I don’t care. I got nothing to prove to anybody.
Heavy: That’s a fair outlook to have. I actually just finished John McCarthy’s judges course this past weekend with Bill Mahood. We got talking a little and I know he’s been in there with you and he respects you.
Griffin: He was actually out here not to long ago with some guys for a couple of week, and I hung with him a little bit. Nice guy.
Heavy: Definitely. You said the UFC has always been good to you; the first opportunity they gave to you was The Ultimate Fighter. The six-year anniversary of the debut show was January 23rd. What are your thoughts on where you’re at and how things have changed over the six years?
Griffin: So much has changed. You gotta think, when I started, the UFC was at best a part-time job. You couldn’t make a living doing it, and now it’s a way to get rich. The whole dynamic has changed; athletes do this now. World-class caliber athletes, I mean, how is this not on ESPN? What’s going on there?
Heavy: I don’t understand why the mainstream hasn’t caught on.
Griffin: I mean, I like boxing. I like football; I follow the playoffs. If any of my teams are in the playoffs in basketball, I’ll watch that, so don’t hate on my sport. I just don’t understand.
Heavy: I don’t either. I talked with Herschel Walker last week and he said the same things.
Griffin: You never, every time I watch SportsCenter, I see a bad football fight; a fight that’s not very good. A basketball fight where guys seriously don’t know how to fight. Why don’t you just throw some highlights up of a guy who knows how to fight, you know?
Heavy: I want to know what seven plays from last year were better than Anthony Pettis’ “Showtime Kick?”
Heavy: It was probably something we’ve come close to seeing before, but we’ve never seen a kick like that.
Griffin: Part of it is that you have to have done something to have an appreciation for it. Guys played a year or two of Little League, guys played a year or two of high school football or basketball; they know how impossibly difficult that is. Guys that didn’t wrestle and have never been punched in the face, they don’t realize how much timing, how much skill (it takes to do this.)
To me, it looks easy to hit a baseball; it doesn’t look like it should be hard, but that’s because I’ve never tried. I’m sure when you’re standing in the box and shits just flying by you’re like “Am I supposed to hit that?” You have to have done something and tried it or failed at it to have an appreciation for it, you know?
Heavy: Golf looks like it should be pretty easy, but I’m awful.
Heavy: That’s all I’ve got, man. Thanks for taking the time and I’m glad the Hep test came back okay.
Griffin: Speak of which, I’m going to go celebrate by shooting some heroin intraveinously.
Heavy: Nice; try not to get accosted by any teenage girls in the process.
Griffin: I’ll try not to get heckled if I can help it.
Heavy: Alright dude, take care. I appreciate this.
Griffin: Later boss – take care of Canada for me.
Tune in to Fight Day Live, our new 90-minute pre-fight show, this Saturday live from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas at 4:30pm ET/1:30pm PT