UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Don't You Dare Count Out Forrest Griffin

Derek BolenderSenior Analyst IJune 6, 2008

Forrest Griffin will once again be a heavy underdog in a marquee fight when he takes on Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 86 on July 5, 2008. 


It was Forrest’s most recent fight against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 76 that proved one thing.  The underdog status is something Forrest doesn’t mind one bit.  In fact, he thrives on it. 


That night Forrest would shock the world with a third round submission of Shogun in arguably one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.   


What most people don’t know is that the Shogun fight was one he specifically proposed to UFC management after his unanimous decision victory over Hector Ramirez at UFC 72. 


Shogun had just signed a UFC contract and Forrest wanted to go out of his way to test himself against a fighter who was, at that time, ranked #1 in the world at 205 pounds by most MMA publications. 


What kind of a fighter specifically asks to pick a fight with the best fighter on the planet?  It’s a guy who is extremely confident in himself and his abilities.  A guy who has a lot of heart and courage and one that seeks out a challenge.  It’s a guy like Forrest Griffin. 


Forrest will step into the octagon against Rampage sporting a 15 – 4 professional MMA record.  He’s beaten a number of great fighters already in his career including the aforementioned Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Jeff Monson, and Stephan Bonnar twice. 


Two fights that Forrest has lost, against Tito Ortiz and Keith Jardine, have been just as important to his career as all the victories.


Fighters tend to learn from losses not victories and those two fights are prime examples.  The Tito Ortiz split decision loss at UFC 59 taught Forrest that he could finally hang with the elite fighters in the light heavyweight division and that he was indeed talented enough to be one of the best. 


The Keith Jardine fight was also a big learning experience.  It taught Forrest that he needed to stick to a game plan instead of making himself one dimensional. 


What fans wanted to see were two guys on their feet swinging at each other for three straight rounds.  Those are the types of fights that are the most exciting and Forrest wanted to put on a show.  However, when he got caught by Jardine late in the first round this type of mentality had cost him the fight.


Will Forrest be able to control the fight with Rampage and take his belt away?  I don't think so, but on second thought, it wouldn’t surprise me.  I shouldn’t doubt a guy like Forrest Griffin.