In the MMA business the superstars are many. The recognizable faces to the casual fan are a mosaic of power, athleticism, pride, and entertainment.
Another aspect of the MMA business is that the most hardcore and knowledgeable fans realize a name and a popular face will only carry a fighter so far.
Guys like Frankie Edgar and Matt Serra can explain it to those who don't understand.
Two athletes still have to enter a cage and fight it out to earn such reputations, or at the very least back them up. A famous name or huge popularity is only as valuable as your last fight.
Such is the case for up and coming mixed martial artist Bobby Lashley (5-0) and his next opponent Chad Griggs (8-1). MMA fans have a deep interest in Lashley's career, as well as a few crossover pro wrestling fans.
His name is marquee and he generates a unique interest factor when he competes, but he is still just a young buck in MMA years and is still looking to define himself as a competitor. Who is Bobby Lashley really?
Tucson, AZ native Chad Griggs is looking to help MMA fans find out. Griggs is looking to introduce fight fans to a Bobby Lashley they have yet to meet.
Griggs took some time out of his extremely busy schedule as a paramedic, firefighter, and mixed martial artist to speak with Hurtsbad.com on The Truth Hurts radio show.
He opened the discussion talking about how enthusiastic he, his camp Apex MMA, and his management team The Fight Legion under Sky Andren were about the opportunity to compete under the Strikeforce banner.
“It’s great, it’s very exciting," Griggs said. "We signed a four fight contract and we are real excited about it. We have been talking to them off and on for awhile and knew we were getting close to something. This is great to jump right into this and get on Showtime; this is my opportunity go get in there and shine.”
Griggs directly addressed the star power of Lashley and gave a unique perspective as to how he thinks fans will react when he is challenged.
“Everybody knows who he is. They're expecting him to go in and smash another guy. I really think if I go in there and I stick him a couple times and hurt him, get him stepping back, get him confused, I think the fans are going to start changing their minds. I think the fans want to see him get beat up, I think the fans like underdogs.”
Griggs recognizes that he is the veteran compared to Lashely and that he has an opportunity to capitalize on Lashley’s inexperience.
“He’s a huge name and fairly new to the sport. He’s going to have huge potential but I think I'm getting him at the right time before he's fully developed. There’s no question that he’s a physical specimen. He’s very explosive, very strong, his wrestling is just outstanding. But I think I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve when it comes to the stand up game and when he actually does get me down.”
Griggs strongly believes he can put Lashley under pressure unlike any adversary he has faced so far.
“I think that has always been my style to get in there and bang. But obviously we have to change our style up a little bit and not be so offensive because we know what he wants, he wants to take us down. Got to move around on our feet a little bit more. But he hasn't been hit hard yet, he hasn't had the pressure.”
He points to the lack of competition Lashley has faced thus far as an aspect that will allow Griggs to capitalize when he surprises him with a different style of fight than he is used to in his short MMA career.
“When he gets somebody down they just kind of lay and squirm and he just bangs on him. We will see how he does react when he gets popped a few times, if he can hold it together or if he goes ‘oh I don't like that.'"
Griggs was sure to point out that he takes nothing away from Lashley; just that he is looking to be the first to make him work a fight that he is tested in.
“No one has seen it yet. We will have to see once we work him a little bit and see how he responds to it. There is no question that it’s going to be a battle for me. It’s not going to be an easy one, it’s going to be a long hard road. But we are confident we can get through it and find a hole in his armor somewhere.”
Griggs talked about the pressure to perform at all levels of the sport. No one is above the human elements of this game.
“Everybody is nervous, you go in there, I don't care who you are whether you're a big name or you're a nobody, even if it’s a little fight, you’re expected to win.
Griggs added, “Bobby says ‘no I'm good,' he’s got no reason to be nervous. He’s got everything riding on this fight, he’s lying if he says he’s not nervous and doesn't have any worries here. If I go in there and drop him in the first round well that just put a big chink in him fighting Fedor. So he has to be nervous about that.”
Griggs discussed how his career outside the cage as a paramedic and firefighter has helped him mentally prepare for his time spent in the gym and inside the cage.
“You've got to be able to react quickly, and handle things under pressure. So I think that’s going to take a little play in this too. Just to be able to react quickly and think under pressure, try and make things flow, and make things happen.”
His training is done at Joey Rivera’s Apex MMA in Tucson. He talked about a key ingredient to his preparation in his primary training partner.
“I’m down at Apex, love the place, Apex has been great to me. A lot of good guys there. I’ve got Mike Whitehead who has been living in Vegas, but he has come down for the past month to help me train. That has been a huge help, I can’t even explain how much of a help that has been.”
Their focus is not only on Chad’s strengths, they know there will be tests and are training Griggs as such. “We are trying to see through all the scenarios, and work through the worst ones so we are ready when it happens.”
Chad was recently invited to a signing at the grand opening of Tucson’s first ever MMA store, Fight Club. He appreciates the attention the sport is getting.
“It’s finally going mainstream and people are realizing it’s not a bunch of off the street and out of the bar bruisers looking to go and hurt people. It’s a talented sport so I'm glad to see it’s being accepted.”
Well said Mr. Griggs.
In closing when asked if he had any direct words for Bobby Lashley, Griggs was a fine representative of his sport and his camp and gave the answer of a class act and a gentlemen.
“I don't have anything bad to say about Bobby at all. I've never been a real trash talker. I’ve always been in the sport because I like the competition. I wish him the best, but he definitely seems very confident in himself.”
He went on to say, “So we will have to see, come the 21st, how it all works out, and if his confidence is for real. We have heard a few things, and we have studied him, and we are excited for the opportunity. I appreciate him taking the fight.”
In the end Griggs stated, “He’s a good guy and I look forward to meeting him in the ring."
You are definitely not the only one looking forward to this one Chad, that much is certain.
All in all, Griggs poses a more viable threat than Lashley's other opponents thus far. He has caught a few fighters on the down slope of their careers who may have seen their better days years ago.
Such is not the case for Griggs, who has nearly twice the fights as Lashley at 8-1 with seven KO victories. He hasn't made his name grinding fighters out, but he has done it putting fighters away.
Lashley should expect to be tested by Griggs, and Griggs should expect the same from Lashley. That scenario in and of itself is what makes this fight an intriguing one.
One fighter is looking to further his star power in MMA with a respectable talent and potential level. The other is looking to use his many tools and tricks to educate an up and coming fighter who has seen his momentum driven by more than just his skills.
Good luck and thank you to them both for hooking ‘em up for fight fans to enjoy.
To hear The Truth Hurts entire interview with Chad Griggs select the Hurtsbad Radio Icon at Hurtsbad.com where this article was originally featured.