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Forrest Griffin undergoes surgery, September return at earliest

Las Vegas fighter out of action for 12 weeks while shoulder heals

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Forrest Griffin throws a left at Tito Ortiz during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 106 Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Griffin won the bout by split decision.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin underwent minor surgery this month to repair a right-shoulder injury that forced him to pull out of a fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira scheduled for Saturday.

The procedure will keep him out of action for approximately 12 weeks and out of the octagon until late September at the earliest, according to his trainer Jimmy Gifford.

"He saw a specialist in Los Angeles and had it worked on," Gifford said. "It was minor surgery, nothing crazy. He'll start physical therapy in six weeks and be on the shelf for 12 weeks.

"We're not sure on a return, but October would be a good guess. Maybe late September."

Reports of Griffin's decision to pull out of the fight surfaced May 3, however Gifford was well aware of the severity of the injury three weeks before that when Griffin sent him a text message at 5 a.m. saying the pain from his shoulder was making it impossible to sleep.

Griffin (17-6), who defeated Tito Ortiz in his last fight despite suffering a pinched nerve, bruised rib and broken foot during training camp, initially tried to fight through the injury before deciding to pull out.

Jason Brilz ended up sliding into Griffin's spot and will fight Nogueira on the UFC 114 undercard Saturday.

"He ended up saying he couldn't do it and I told him, 'Forrest, I told you that three weeks ago,'" Gifford said. "For us to even have that conversation shows another step in his professionalism.

"There comes a time when a fighter has to say to himself, 'I'm a pro. I still want to do this for awhile. I have to stay healthy.' But I know it killed him to pull out."

Because of the length of Griffin's expected absence, Gifford said it's impossible to predict who his next opponent could be — despite recent Internet rumors Lyoto Machida was looking to fight him.

The UFC does not have any official events scheduled for October, but is expected to take a show to London that month.

Should that become official, Griffin could put off his return as far back as December to avoid the hassles of traveling overseas.

"(The UFC) usually does a November show in the U.S. and a December show in Vegas," Gifford said. "Rather than go oversees, we'll maybe do a November or December date. He can't stand the travel and he loves fighting in Las Vegas."

Even if it is December before Griffin sees the octagon again, it doesn't appear the shoulder will keep him out of the gym entirely.

Shortly after the procedure, Gifford says he drove to the gym to work with UFC heavyweight Todd Duffee only to find Griffin's car sitting in the parking lot.

"It was crazy. I walked in and there's Forrest on the elliptical," Gifford said. "He told me, 'I can't just do nothing.' At least he wasn't running around or jumping. When I saw his car I thought he was going to tell me he wanted to spar with one arm."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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