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Forrest Griffin Wants Chuck Liddell Next
ATLANTA -- At least one prominent spectator will have a vested interest in the main event bout pairing Chuck Liddell with Rashad Evans at UFC 88 “Breakthrough” on Saturday at Philips Arena. Forrest Griffin (Pictures) believes the winner could be next in line for a shot at his light heavyweight championship.
“I think we’ll know Sunday [who I’ll defend the title against],” Griffin said.
A prohibitive favorite against the unbeaten Evans, Liddell looked rejuvenated in his rousing unanimous decision victory over Brazilian legend Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) in December and appears fully recovered from a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for much of 2008. A high-profile bout between Griffin and Liddell, provided he defeats Evans, would likely draw enormous interest from the buying public.
“Everybody at this level is really good, but so many guys don’t have huge names,” Griffin said. “For me, it’s easier to get up for a huge fight like that. In a fight like that, I’d go out and do the best I can, and if I lose, oh well. I don’t want to say I want Chuck to win, but it would probably be better for me if he did. OK, I want Chuck Liddell to win. There, I said it. I’m a fan, too.”
Griffin (16-4) legitimized his standing as one of the world’s best at 205 pounds in July when he upset Quinton “Rampage” Jackson -- the only man to topple Liddell twice -- by unanimous decision at UFC 86 and captured the promotion’s light heavyweight crown.
“I realized at that point things were never going to get better for me; that was really the apex of my life,” Griffin said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “It feels good to win fights. Losing feels so bad; that’s why I want to win.”
Based out of Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas, Griffin has reeled off three straight victories -- a rear naked choke submission against Brazilian superstar Mauricio “Shogun” Rua included -- since his TKO loss to Keith Jardine (Pictures) in December 2006. While Griffin wants to atone for his loss to Jardine at some point, the stars have not yet aligned for the rematch. Jardine lasted just 36 seconds against Silva in May, interrupting his climb up the light heavyweight ladder.
“He’s not doing so well right now, but in a few years, our roles could be reversed,” Griffin said. “Things change quickly in this sport.”
Perched atop the UFC’s deepest division, Griffin has a long list of potential challengers through which to navigate. Aside from an eventual match with Liddell, Griffin might also have to contend with the undefeated Lyoto Machida (Pictures) or Team Quest juggernaut Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (Pictures) in the near future. Rematches with Jackson and Rua remain possibilities, as well.
“There’s no shortage of work,” Griffin said.
Whispers have also begun to surface about an eventual showdown with reigning middleweight king Anderson Silva (Pictures), who seems more than willing to bounce between two weight classes.
“I’d fight him,” Griffin said. “I can’t possibly do any worse than the guys he’s been fighting. I’d last more than two minutes with him.”