There are many ways to describe Forrest Griffin. Former UFC light heavyweight champion. Three-time best-selling author. Family man. But when you strip away the cynicism and 'aw shucks' attitude, you're left with a man who is incredibly smart and analytical.
After months away from the cage, he's finally back to put an end to his rivalry with Tito Ortiz at UFC 148. At times there have been words. It's a rivalry that has been built upon a mutual respect as both fighters have been able to pick up a win over one another.
"Obviously, he's a great fighter. Sometimes I don't think that people give him enough credit. You have back surgery and you fight who? Lil Nog when he's at his best. Rashad Evans on three weeks notice when he looks like he couldn't look better. He's gonna fight this unknown guy named Machida," Griffin told Bleacher Report.
While Tito's career is coming to an end, Griffin isn't ready to call it quits. He's also not worried about his legacy at the moment. His reasoning makes a lot of sense when you look at it from his perspective.
"This f***ing genius who writes books, you should read them or you should just buy them. He said when you're climbing the mountain, if you look down, you're not moving forward. If you look back you've quit you're forward progress. If you look up, it's a daunting task. You're not paying attention. You look right at your foot hold and your hand hold. I'm still in the middle of it. And when you're in the middle of it and you feel like you're 'going through hell' like Churchill, keep going."
"It's not time to look back. There will be a time when I physically cannot do this sport. I think Tito's there and it's gonna suck for me because I like doing it."
Griffin also addressed the issues of fighter injuries. This summer has been one of the worst in UFC history with many top fighters withdrawing from fights due to various injuries. While I believed that it was the fault of the fighter's insurance, Griffin has a different point of view.
"Here's the thing man. You have all these guys at a high level and the thing about fighting is that you actually have to fight about twice a week to get good at it. I've always wondered why more guys didn't get hurt. It's like being a running back in the NFL." He added, "You're gonna get banged up. You're gonna get hurt and now one thing I think we can't have is like when people were really hard on Quinton."
"I didn't see the fight in Japan but he didn't make weight and he didn't' fight well. He fought injured. Everybody has had to do that at some point," Griffin said. "I don't think you should punish a guy for losing when they were hurt. If I sit around and wait till I'm 100 percent healthy then I'm outta shape because I'm not training."
Griffin has seen various ups and downs in his career. And one thing that's always consistent is that fans will love him when he's winning and abandon him on a loss. It's actually a common theme in MMA where fans are the ultimate front-runners and will only ride with a fighter when he's winning.
"I want people to like me. People just love to throw shit. It's weird man. I'm a nice guy. I'm trying to be positive. I've got my own things, I'm kinda crazy but I'm not trying to hurt anybody. I'm trying to be good and I'm doing the best I can. Just like everybody else. I don't appreciate and I don't think it's funny, the criticism, I hear the same shit."
Finally, Griffin addressed his infamous fight with Anderson Silva. It's a performance that he'll never be able to live down and one that he will likely regret for the rest of his career.
"If I could take the Anderson fight back I'd fake a f***ing injury and never do it. But I never thought like that before. Before I was like 'f**k it, I'll do it anyway", know what I mean? Then people are so harsh on you, they judge you so much. But you can't let people dictate what you're gonna do."
Forrest Griffin meets Tito Ortiz for the third and final time this Saturday at UFC 148.