Forrest Griffin's Road to Redemption: Three Possible Opponents for UFC 108

Nate Lawson@NateLawsonCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2009

Forrest Griffin re-emerged in the media this past week for the first time since his demoralizing UFC 101 loss at the hands of Anderson Silva.

Speaking with AOL Fanhouse, Forrest vocalized his interest in returning to action at UFC 108, which will serve as the UFC’s big year-end show.

Griffin has fallen on hard times since defeating the recently retired Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 86 for the UFC Light Heavyweight belt.

The fan favorite has gone on to consecutive knockout defeats at the hands of Rashad Evans and Anderson "The Spider" Silva.

For the first time in his career, Griffin has suffered consecutive losses, both ending in brutal fashion. The loss to Rashad Evans symbolized the loss of his light heavyweight belt. The loss to Anderson Silva symbolized the lowest point in Griffin's career.

Since his devastating loss to Silva, Griffin vanished from the media spotlight, only to appear most recently stating that he would be interested in joining the UFC 108 main card.

However, Griffin's options as far as opponent involve a very short list given the UFC light heavyweight division's current landscape.

With Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva, Lyoto Machida, Mauricio Rua, and many other top light heavyweights locked up for future events, three names come to mind when discussing Griffin's next obstacle: Rich Franklin, Keith Jardine, and Stephan Bonnar.

All three fighters are coming off of losses, with Bonnar and Jardine having consecutive losses alongside Griffin. These three fighters are available and make the most sense regarding Griffin's next opponent. While there are several young fighters available for Griffin, none really qualify as opponents as these three do.

All three of these men have proven themselves as solid and successful fighters in mixed martial arts. However, only one will be granted the opportunity to stand opposite Forrest Griffin inside the octagon.


Stephan Bonnar

Bonnar and Griffin are rooted deep in the UFC's successful history after their epic shoot out at the "Ultimate Fighter's" first season's finale.

However, Griffin traveled the road to success, while Bonnar fell short of the success of the original "Ultimate Fighter," including another loss to Griffin at UFC 62.

Bonnar has always been a solid fighter, yet he, like Griffin, has dropped two fights into the loss column, losing to Jon Jones and Mark Coleman.

A fight with Griffin could be a make-or-break situation for Bonnar. Three losses in a row is a scary situation, as is a fight with a Forrest Griffin who undoubtedly feels he has something big to prove.

That being said, a third installment would certainly round out a nice trilogy. Unfortunately, the fact that Bonnar lost each time causes a third bout to lose some of the allure it could claim had it been a rubber match.

While this fight is unlikely, the UFC could have a field day promoting it. With a tag line such as "the match up that started it all," the UFC could look back once again at the season finale of "The Ultimate Fighter's" first season, displaying how far the UFC has certainly come since that point.

Unfortunately for Bonnar, this fight makes little sense in terms of a match up based on rankings. The latter two options would certainly serve as better opponents for Griffin, who has risen to a level well above Bonnar's.


Keith Jardine

Keith Jardine has built a career off defeating big names and former champions. His record includes victories over Chuck Liddell, Brandon Vera, and Forrest Griffin.

However, his last two fights have led to unfavorable outcomes for "The Dean of Mean."  After dropping a close decision to Quinton Jackson, his brutal knockout loss to Thiago Silva at UFC 102 has sent Jardine several steps back from a title shot that may forever be out of his reach.

However, while he may be on a two-fight downslide, Jardine has incredible value to the UFC, regardless of his recent performance. He is always willing to fight the best, and he is never to be counted out of a fight, as his bouts with Liddell and Griffin have proven.

A rematch with Forrest Griffin is an interesting match up for Joe Silva and the UFC. Jardine is always looking to fight big names, and Griffin is certainly a big name.

However, Jardine does not have nearly as much to gain from a victory in a rematch as does Forrest Griffin.

Jardine repeating past success would simply be proof that the first time was not a fluke. However, Griffin defeating Jardine would be revenge for the former champion.

If one fighter beats another fighter, then loses in a rematch, the second fight's result always holds more weight. Jardine may be best off with simply finding a different opponent.

However, a match up between Jardine and Griffin would give "The Dean of Mean" an opportunity to prove his worth once again, while Griffin would receive an opportunity for redemption.

Each fighter desperately needs this win to regain lost legitimacy in the division, which makes this rematch a very intriguing one.


Rich Franklin

Vitor Belfort's demolition of Rich "Ace" Franklin may be the last time the former middleweight champion fights below the 200-pound mark, as he looks forward to a stint in the light heavyweight division.

However, Franklin has built a reputation as one of the best all-around fighters in the UFC and will land a big name upon his entrance back into the 205-pound division. Forrest Griffin could very well be the big name that awaits him.

Griffin and Franklin have both become fan favorites over the years, and this fight would certainly be a huge opportunity for each fighter.

Another similarity the two share is that they have each been decimated by recently anointed pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva.

A bout between Griffin and Franklin makes the most sense out of the options presented. While the UFC would have a hard time pushing this fight as a main event at this point, each fighter is a huge name in the sport.

Fortunately, UFC 108 is not a sub-par card in the least, and this solid match up could find its way onto it.

However, this fight is not only a great match up, but the timing is also phenomenal. UFC 108 is scheduled for Jan. 2 of next year, giving each fighter plenty of time for preparation.

While this fight would not even serve as a co-main event on this card, it would certainly round out UFC 108 nicely, which makes a Franklin vs. Griffin bout possibly the UFC's best option in terms of finding an opponent for Forrest Griffin.


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