Thursday, August 10, 2006 - From The Knucklepit:
At the time of this interview, Forrest Griffin is in the gym preparing for his rematch with Stephan Bonnar, and he has taken time out to chat with us.
Since defeating Bonnar at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) #1, Forrest's upcoming bout with Stephan has been a highly anticipated event. And now these two warriors will face off again at UFC 62 on August 26, 2006.
For their first meeting, Forrest was coached by Chuck Liddell, and Stephan fought under the guidance of Randy Couture. During the bout Griffin showed he had adopted some of the Iceman's techniques, such as the powerful overhand left and right fists that Chuck is known for.
By the end of the first round, UFC president Dana White and the rest of the house were on their feet. Ring commentator Joe Rogan declared, "That's the most exciting round I think I've ever seen." Then towards the completion of round two, Mike Goldberg asked, "Could we be blessed with a third round?"
And blessed we were, as the gladiators came out for another five minutes of undiluted combat. No sooner did one man appear to be getting the edge then the other fighter momentarily gained dominance. After a total of 15 action-packed minutes, the audience knew they had been treated to one of
MMA's most memorable battles.
While the judges scrambled through their scorecards, Bruce Buffer announced, "Ladies and gentlemen in attendance, and the millions of UFC fans watching around the world, you have just witnessed three rounds of the greatest action seen inside the Octagon, in the history of UFC..."
For referee Herb Dean, this was probably the easiest match he'd ever worked. At no time did he have to separate the fighters or tell them to stay busy. After such an epic bout, it's no wonder fans are eager to see a rematch.
Forrest, you're known as a slow starter in bouts. Is that something you're looking to change?
: "I don't know how to change it. I mean, before my last fight I was wet with sweat. It's just that I am a slow starter - I don't know why. You tell me how to change and I'll do it."
You wouldn't consider having pre-fight punch-ups in the carpark?
: "Ha, ha...I don't know that that's the best advice."
What did you think about the judges awarding the decision to Tito at you last fight?
: "It's fair enough, I guess. I should have thrown more punches at the end. I kinda just wasn't confident enough."
Did you think it was a fair decision?
: "You know, I've caught some breaks from decisions before, so I really shouldn't complain about them."
Were you feeling confident at the end of round two?
: "Of course not. I felt like garbage."
I thought the opposite. I thought you withstood the onslaught and you just stood there in defiance.
: "No. I was just mad at myself."
After you weathered the storm of the first round, did you hear the crowd getting behind you?
: "No, actually I didn't hear them until after I was leaving the arena. I was trying to hear from my corner, but I couldn't."
Since you last fought Stephan, you've fought some very tough opponents (Elvis Sinosic, Tito Ortiz). Do you feel the caliber of fighters you've been up against will give you an edge over Stephan?
: "He's fought some tough guys as well, so... I don't know if it will help a whole lot, but it can't hurt. The best thing is just getting out there in front of everybody. The more you do it, the easier and more routine it
Do you expect the rematch to go the distance?
: "Well, I've never seen anybody catch Stephan on the chin and knock him down, and I've got a pretty decent chin, myself. I'm not an easy guy to submit, and he's not an easy guy to submit, so you've definitely got to get ready for 15 minutes on this one."
Should it be pretty much a stand-up war?
: "I don't know, man. I've been working my wrestling a lot, believe it or not. So I'd like to stand with him, and if things aren't working out, maybe take him down then."
Is Stephan more likely to want to keep it standing?
: "I'm not sure. He's taken a lot of guys down. I'm sure he'd be happy in the top position. I think he'd like to put me on my back. Either of us would have the advantage if we were on top."
If this fight does go your way, what's next for you?
: "Hell if I know. Win this fight, that's all that matters. That's what I like about this: Life's one fight at a time, and that's it."
Would you like to lock horns with Tito again?
: "Of course."
How about Chuck Liddell?
: "I've got my plate full right now, but I think that would be a good fight."
Is there anything you'd like to add?
: "I've got a good group of guys I've been working with. They've really helped me a lot, and I'm excited about this fight. And I wouldn't be able to do this kind of thing if it weren't for the fans. I'd like to thank all the people who have supported me...and even the people who haven't supported me, but who've kept watching and helped to pay the bills."