Forrest Griffin is one of the finest fighters to have performed in the UFC, and it’s hard to believe that his career started by working in the Georgian police force. Despite being born in Columbus, Ohio, the state of Georgia quickly became the home of Griffin, as he went to the University of Georgia.
Not many people could have foreseen his rise through the rankings of UFC following his career in the police, but Griffin is considered by many as one of the fundamental reasons why the UFC was able to become so popular in this modern era. Nowadays, UFC events take place every weekend, and making UFC predictions with the leading sportsbooks are among the most betted on occasions. However, that wouldn’t have been the case without Griffin.
The Fight That Changed Everything
Before the opening season of The Ultimate Fighter, Griffin had given up on a career in mixed martial arts, as he set out to climb the ladder in the police force. However, a call from UFC president Dana White changed everything for him, as White urged Griffin to reassess his future and think about taking part in the first season of the reality show. Griffin agreed to change his mind and went on to reach the finals of the Ultimate Fighter in its first season. In that final, he came up against Stephan Bonnar, and this was the fight that White later revealed was the ‘most important’ in the history of the company.
The bout was one of the main reasons why the company was able to get mainstream attention, and Griffin’s win in the fight also saw him earn a six-figure deal with the UFC. It’s hard to understand where the UFC would be nowadays if it wasn’t for this fight, and that was highlighted by the fact that it ranked first in the rankings for the top 100 greatest fights by the UFC themselves.
Griffin’s Continued Success
After that first fight as part of The Ultimate Fighter, Griffin went on to beat Bill Mahood and Elvis Sinosic in the first round. However, a first defeat would soon follow against Tito Ortiz, which was latest awarded as the Fight of the Year. A re-match with Stephan Bonnar soon followed in August 2006, with Griffin repeating his feat from the reality show, as he claimed a second win against his rival. Griffin’s biggest victory of his early years in the UFC came in September 2007 at UFC 76, as he shockingly made Mauricio Rua submit in the third round. That win was later awarded Upset of the Year.
Title success soon followed as he went on to win the Light Heavyweight Championship from Quinton Jackson in July 2008. However, his title reign would last just a few months, as he was beaten by Rashad Evans. A second defeat would soon follow against Anderson Silva, as he was knocked out in the first round. Griffin would end his career on a high in July 2012, as he beat Tito Ortiz by unanimous decision. However, his legacy is unquestionable, and that was evident by the fact that he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in July 2013.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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