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Forrest Griffin: A Look Back

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Forrest Griffin sat cageside at UFC 160 sporting a spiffy new haircut and a bright sponsorless red shirt, looking just a few shades shy of the novelty shirt “Curious Griffin”, sold by former opponent, Stephan Bonnar.  He was there not only to watch the fights in his hometown of Las Vegas, but to announce his retirement at the post-fight presser.

After a storied career that began with a 2001 decision loss against MMA legend Dan Severn, Griffin has hung up his gloves, leaving the UFC with a 10-5 record, and a 19-7 record overall. Prior to entering the UFC in the premiere season of The Ultimate Fighter, Griffin chalked up wins over Chael Sonnen and Jeff Monson and lost via head-kick KO to Jeremy Horn.  His legendary battle with fellow castmate Bonnar was widely credited with helping to spur the current success experienced by the UFC.

Griffin is expected to receive a front office role in the corporation following his retirement as a fighter.  Months prior to the announcement, Griffin had hoped to rematch  Sonnen ,or ,failing that, clash heads with Phil Davis. But a string of training injuries, most notably an MCL tear and an ACL strain, kept him from re-entering the Octagon following his successful rubber match against Tito Ortiz at UFC 148 in July of 2012.

The writing has been on the wall for Griffin, who fought only four times in two and a half years.  He suffered a surprising first-round knockout to “Shogun” Rua in Brazil hours before the birth of his daughter. He also bizarrely left the cage prior to the reading of the fight results in Ortiz’s retirement bout, only to return and awkwardly replace Joe Rogan for the post-fight interview with Ortiz.

Throughout his career, which included winning the light-heavyweight strap from Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Griffin diversified his entertainment portfolio by authoring two books, appearing as an MMA fighter on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, acting as a police officer in the film adaption of Tucker Max’s “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell”, and being featured in all three UFC videogame titles for THQ.

Griffin based his entire career on toughness and heart, but as we saw in his later bouts, age takes its toll on the body only compounds the interest on old injuries later in life.  In 15 fights with the UFC, Griffin turned in four Fight of the Night performances, one Submission of the Night, and had three separate clashes voted as Fight of the Year:  in 2005 (vs. Bonnar), 2006 (vs. Ortiz) and 2008 (vs. Rampage).  He also won Upset of the Year in 2007 for his submission victory over Rua.  Thanks to Griffin’s retirement, current 205-pound champion Jon Jones has now defeated every active former champion to hold his belt.

For better or worse, Griffin will eternally be linked with Bonnar. According to Dana White, the two will be the next inductees into the UFC Hall of Fame in July of this year.

 Photo by: Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports Images

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