Where Does Forrest Griffin Go from Here?

T.P. Grant@@TP_GrantAnalyst IAugust 10, 2009

UFC 101 was a complete disaster for Forrest Griffin. His defeat at the hands of Anderson Silva was one of a fighter who was completely outclassed and a defeat of the career crippling caliber.

Just one year ago Forrest was the Light Heavyweight Champion, was getting pound-for-pound discussion and was considered one of the toughest fighters on the planet. After Saturday night all that is a memory.

Silva put on a display of head movement, bobbing and weaving under Forrest's hooks and jabs, and didn't allow Forrest to land a single strike. Silva, on the other hand, scored at will.

Reports are that Griffin's jaw was very badly hurt on the first knockdown, dislocating it and causing hearing loss in one ear. This to an extent explains the ease of the third knockdown, but its hardly an excuse as Silva shattered his jaw in two minutes flat.

This does explain why Forrest left in such a hurry, not staying for the officially announcement, as he was advised to head straight to the hospital. This is a relief to an extent, as Forrest is one of the classiest guys in the sport and the way he ran out looked very bad as the broadcast team had no explanation.

Jaw injury aside, the fact of the matter is that Forrest, coming off a KO loss in a title match, was just made into a highlight reel with possibly the most embarrassing KO defeat in recent UFC history. The legend of his chin has been effectively shattered and now he is facing serious durability questions moving forward.

The question now is, what is next for Forrest Griffin?

First of course is healing up, it won't do him any good to come back with an only partly healed jaw. There is going to be some serious healing time and then some serious training time to get back into fighting shape.

This training period will be crucial because Forrest is likely going to have to reninvent his game to stay competitive:

The first problem is the myth of his chin is forever shattered, many fans already knew or suspected that Forrest's chin was not all it was cracked up to be, but Silva but it truly on display for the whole world.

Give Forrest all the credit in the world, he kept fighting with a shattered jaw and has a crazy pain tolerance, but one good power shot and he is in a world of trouble. Light Heavyweight strikers will be licking their lips to get a crack at Forrest when he returns to the cage and he must adjust.

A prority with his stand up game must be the addition of more head movement. You can't hurt what you can hit or what you can't hit well. Many boxers or MMA fighters that are considered to have great chins have great head movement.

Fighters can take that little bit off a punch with a roll or avoid it entirely. Forrest has a very bad habit of leaving his stationary to get clipped.

Since the Jardine loss Forrest has made attempts to become a more well rounded fighter and those efforts have paid off with is two most impressive wins over Shogun and Rampage. In both fights Forrest used previously underrated kickboxing and ground skills.

These ground skills are nothing new, Forrest has been a Jiu Jistsu practitioner since he first became interested in MMA in the 90's but rarely used them, preferring to standing and brawl.

These ground skills are a possible path back to contendership for Forrest. He talked a great game about using them against Silva, but was never able to find an opportunity to attempt a takedown.

Forrest's self professed greatest weakness is wrestling, but at Xtreme Couture there is wrestling coaching in spades for him to work under. If he can become more effective at taking fighters to the ground and strike from safer positions it will likely benefit Forrest's health.

The opponent Forrest next faces can't be a title contender quality guy either. He has fought four elite level fighters in a row (Shogun, Rampage, Evans, and Silva) and coming off a serious jaw injury and back-to-back losses and deserves a back in the saddle type fight against a tough, but beatable fighter.

A rematch with Kieth Jardine jumps to mind, revenge an earlier loss and Jardine's skill set has not really advanced since their last meeting. Also if Krzysztof Soszynski keeps winning fights pair him with Griffin. Another possibility is Brandon Vera, who has the talent but has struggled mightily since moving down to Light Heavyweight.

Despite this loss, its embarrassing nature and the visual that will be burned in fan's minds for some time, Forrest is still a very good fighter, but it is very clear that he is not an elite fighter. He likely doesn't have the skill set to be an elite fighter, but if he adjusts his game he could maximize his strengths for a return to the title picture.

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