Alejandro A. Alvarez / Philadelphia Daily News
Friday, Aug. 7, 2009 | midnight
- What’s next for Silva?
- Penn delivers encore performance
- Champs put on dominant display at UFC 101
- Tale of the Tape: Breakdown & Picks
- Fighters, Philadelphia fans weigh in
- Breaking down UFC 101: Penn vs. Florian
- The new and improved Kenny Florian
- Even champions need comebacks sometimes
- Breaking down UFC 101: Silva vs. Griffin
- Griffin returns to comfortable role as underdog
- Silva already putting on a show
- Road Blog from Philly
- Fighter says struggles only made him stronger
- Las Vegas fighter will battle in home state at UFC 101
- All-Star Victorino welcomes UFC to Philadelphia
- Philly native pumped for UFC's first event in hometown
- Complete UFC 101 coverage
Forrest Griffin found his self-deprecating humor as a way to avoid being picked on as a youngster.
While the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder would have few problems taking care of bullies nowadays, his quirky personality stuck with him — making the former light heavyweight champ a UFC fan favorite.
But for media members often trying to tell the former Georgia sheriff deputy’s tale can be a struggle as Griffin’s true individuality is often intertwined with his punchy press conference persona.
“Yeah it takes a little while to get a read on him,” says Ron Frazier, Griffin’s boxing coach at the Las Vegas-based Xtreme Couture gym.
“But I’ve been around him so much now that I can pretty much see through all of his emotions.”
Fans packing the Wachovia Center for Saturday’s historic UFC 101 card will be able to read Griffin’s emotions like a book if he is able to shock the world’s top pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in Anderson Silva.
If not, they can just go to the store and buy a copy of Griffin’s New York Times best-selling page-turner: “Got Fight : The 50 Zen Principles of Hand-to-Face Combat.”
“That just shows you how bad society has gotten if I’m an author,” Griffin said on Spike TV’s countdown show to UFC 101.
Actually, the book according to its author, Griffin, is the most in-depth offering into the psyche of the political science graduate from the University of Georgia.
Plus the ensuing tour of his sarcastic autobiography/self-help book allowed Griffin to clear his mind after losing his 205-pound title to Rashad Evans at UFC 92 in December.
“I didn’t worry about the loss too much, you can’t harp on those things or they’ll eat you up,” said Griffin (16-5 overall MMA record), who after controlling the first two rounds of the bout with Evans, lost in the third when “Sugar” connected with a barrage of big-time punches.
“The book was a nice distraction. At some point writing it became more to me than a paycheck. I put a lot of myself into it and tried to make it as good as it could be.”
If things work out right on Saturday, Griffin may have to amend the chapter talking about Silva (24-4 overall). He praised the Brazilian superstar’s freakish talent.
However, Griffin, said even more dangerous than the UFC middleweight champ’s long frame and lethal striking abilities with both his hands and feet, is his mental approach to the sport.
“If you just look at the way he fights, he's always relaxed," said Griffin of Silva, who holds a UFC record nine-fight win streak.
"Even when Dan Henderson was trying to maul him up against the fence, he was composed, relaxed, not wasting any energy, just moving and waiting for his opening. And when he fights guys, it's almost like he does stuff that shouldn't work but his timing and sense of distance is so acute that he can make those things work.”
Griffin, a three-to-one underdog at some sportsbooks, said he’s not exactly sure how his game plan will play out against Silva, who hasn’t lost in more than three years.
“I don’t know if I’m gonna be the aggressor or not, but I’m gonna center myself in the cage,” said Griffin, who UFC President Dana White credits for helping save the UFC because of his thrilling victory over Stephan Bonnar on the first season of its popular reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.”
“If I was a better wrestler I’d take him down and make him wear my weight. Be heavy on him in the clinch, and the mount, stuff like that.”
Griffin’s trainer Jimmy Gifford says Griffin is as loose as he’s ever seen him and all the pressure is on Silva to “put on a show” — especially after Silva’s un"Spider”-like performances in drawn-out wins over Patrick Côté and Thales Leites.
“In the Rashad camp, it was like he was (expletive) at the world. He had a chip on the shoulder, he felt the pressure of being the champ and have everyone coming at him,” said Gifford, whose working his third fight with Griffin.
“He feels good about this one. He really relishes the underdog role and he’s ready. There’s no pressure, it’s a win-win situation. To fight the best and test yourself not only as a fighter, but as a man, you couldn’t really ask for more.”
Except for a shocking win, which would most certainly require the author, err, fighter to get back to his day job of penning a sequel.
Andy Samuelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-948-7837.