Hurtsbad Exclusive: Chad Griggs Talks Villante and Strikeforce HW Grand Prix

Todd Jackson@tjaxmmaSenior Analyst IFebruary 9, 2011

Working as a firefighter and paramedic in Tucson, Arizona, Chad “The Gravedigger” Griggs shoulders an intense and demanding schedule while serving his community. Those commitments alone provide a full plate for any schedule.

It is with that in mind that Chad’s ability to maintain a high level of ability and training as a mixed martial artist is simply stunning. To compete in this sport at the level that Chad has achieved is a full time job in itself.

To balance both his professional career and his athletic career as he has is a strong testament to his dedication to both.

Chad Griggs recently took time out from that busy work and training schedule to give an exclusive interview leading into his fight February 12th for Strikeforce in New Jersey.

Chad will square off with Gianpiero Villante a Strikeforce newcomer. Villante is an aggressive and heavy-handed banger and carries an impressive athletic pedigree, including a decorated wrestling background.

Griggs and Villante are competing to move on and become considered as alternates for the Strikeforce Grand Prix heavyweight tournament. In the event that one of the main fighters is injured, Griggs, Villante and other Strikeforce heavyweights will compete to step in under those circumstances.

Griggs is ready to jump in the mix and see how it all turns out, and leading into fight night sounds very confident.

Griggs told, “I'm healthy, feeling good, and ready to do it in New Jersey.”

Griggs has been around the game for some time compiling a record of 9-1 fighting for various organizations. He really put himself on the map for casual fans this past August. Griggs entered a bout with heavy favorite Bobby Lashley and earned a stunning upset over a man many gave him little chance against at first glance.

This game being as it is, unpredictable and fluid, dealt fight fans their unsuspected winner, Mr. Chad Griggs. But those who know Chad and are familiar with his career were not even the slightest bit shocked when he found his hand raised after the Lashley tilt.

Chad talked about how gratifying it was to stun the naysayers, but also explained he understands why they may have been skeptical.

“I was such a big underdog on that, and I think so many people were overlooking me. I definitely wanted to get out there and prove those people wrong. There wasn't a doubt that I could, it’s just he was a big dangerous fighter. He’s a big strong guy, and any time you get in there with a big strong guy it can be bad.”

Griggs went on to say, “Things did work out and we stuck to our game plan and just made him work and got him tired. And once he got tired it was our turn to beat on him a little bit.”

Griggs took some time off after the Lashley fight, but is now hitting the mats hard and feels both mentally and physically prepared to have a great fight against Villante.

One thing that stands out for a guy like Chad Griggs is the opportunity he has earned to fight live on Showtime on a card headlined by MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko. With so many eyes focusing on the return of “The Last Emperor” Griggs is on the biggest stage of his career.

He relishes the opportunity to shine.

“Anybody who's in the MMA world or outside of it knows who Fedor is. To be on a live card on Showtime with him is just a real honor. It’s another opportunity for me to get out there and display some of my talents and give another good show and get a knockout.”

Griggs added, “There is going to be a lot of people watching and hopefully we can make some sponsors happy, get some more fans, get some bigger paydays.”

The limelight aside, there is work to be done Saturday in New Jersey, a place Villante calls his backyard. Having done his homework, Chad sounds confident and knows his opponent fairly well.

“I know he has a wrestling background, but it seems like he likes to bang. It seems like he is pretty comfortable standing up. I guess he played a little bit of football. He’s a scrapper, I think his cardio is going to be good.”

Griggs shared a theory with leading up to his fight with Lashley, stating he had never been “pushed or pressured,” and Griggs felt he was the man to endure the storm and throw some leather of his own.

He has similar thoughts about his current opponent, a man not nearly as imposing as Lashley.

“I think he is going to be lean and quick but from the videos I have seen, once again I really don't feel like he has been tested. I don't think someone has just come at him and put heavy hands in his face. People have pawed at him and let him beat them up. We will see how he does under pressure. Let’s see what happens when he gets hit a couple times.”

With Villante’s wrestling pedigree Griggs recognizes the threat of the take down, but also isn't losing any sleep over the possibility.

“I think it’s going to start off as a brawl. But I think as soon as I catch him with something he is going to try to drop levels and take me down. I think our power strength for strength is going to be a little bit different in this fight than it was with Lashley, so I think I’ll be able to manage stopping those take downs.”

“Who knows, maybe I will end up taking him down and pounding him out. I have a feeling he is going to test the waters with the stand up and see how it goes. But as soon as he gets hit with something he’s going to clinch or go for that takedown.”

Griggs acknowledged the unique position he is in as a potential Grand Prix alternate, but is focused on now, nothing more.

“In the back of my mind that is a great opportunity but right now I am focused on beating this guy and then look down the road and say ‘OK, where are we sitting, and what can we do from here.’”

Even still, in a business like MMA, anything can happen and Chad knows it.

“This is the fight world, any of those guys can get hurt at any time. You train hard and injuries happen. So if I can get a win and get thrown in there, you never know, two or three fights from now I could be getting a pretty big fight.”

No matter how it all plays out, Griggs and his management team. The fight Legion have positioned him in one of the deepest heavyweight divisions in the sport. The opportunities to shine against top tier HW fighters are many, and he is already off to a great start with the win over Lashley.

Chad takes great pride in being a part of such a respected and deep stable of fighters.

“I’m excited, Strikeforce’s heavyweight division is just unreal right now. It really is an honor to be in that division with them and to have my name thrown out there. I’m honored and going to try to do my best to represent Tucson.”

Mr. Griggs was sure to mention some other entities he represents. The man has two signature series T’s. One is a signature Gravedigger T-Shirt created by the folks Untamed Industries, the other is a signature green tea found at Tia Lillys Tea Company.

Also Chad wanted to mention sponsors One Law, Unbreakable Mouthpieces, and Rockwell watches. All of them have been important components to Chad reaching the heights he has.

All in all it was a great conversation with the Strikeforce heavyweight, and once again Chad Griggs sounds more than ready to put on a show for fight fans. Be sure and check him out on Showtime Saturday night.

To hear this interview in its entirety visit Hurtsbad radio at where it was originally featured.

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