UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin will be defending his title Dec. 27 against Rashad Evans at UFC 92 in Las Vegas. Griffin became the champ when he beat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson by unanimous decision at UFC 86. I spoke with Griffin earlier this week about almost everything, including why working at UPS was the worst job he ever had, how he plans to stop Evans (he needs your help), his thoughts on the economy and how it will affect the sport, why he considers himself a “boring dude,” his first tastes of fame, the toughest part of being Forrest Griffin and who he would like to face after Evans.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s been the biggest change in your life since defeating Quinton Jackson to win the belt?
Forrest Griffin: Well, I’ve gotten real into Scientology.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Ha. Wait ... what?
Forrest Griffin: Yeah, it seems like a lot of successful people are doing it so I decided to get on board with it.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Um ... so ... has that been a big change for you? (Note to readers: Even though I was familiar with Griffin's sense of humor, this was the first time we'd talked, so I wasn’t sure whether or not to take his comments about Scientology seriously. My first instinct was to laugh but then I didn’t want to offend him if he was being serious, because then I’m the jerk laughing at someone else’s religion. The whole thing threw me off for a good couple minutes.)
Forrest Griffin: No change, I hate change. It’s scary. I try and stay away from that. ... You know what the best thing about Baltimore is?
MMA Stomping Grounds: No, what’s that?
Forrest Griffin: The Wire. It’s pretty good.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Absolutely. Although I missed the boat when it was on TV and had to watch the DVDs.
Forrest Griffin: Yeah, I saw it on TV and was like, whatever, but then I got the DVDs. I think it’s a show you have to watch on DVD to get the whole experience.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Yeah ... so, after the win over "Rampage," was there any talk about a rematch?
Forrest Griffin: Yeah, at the post-fight press conference Quinton talked about it. Eh ... I didn’t really remember it. I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I’m fighting Rashad Evans on December 27.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think of Evans?
Forrest Griffin: He’s a hell of an athlete. His quickness and speed is going to be a problem. It’s something a lot of guys have a hard time preparing for because it’s hard to find training partners that are that quick and have that upper body movement combined with wrestling. He has a lot of attributes ... I don’t know if that’s the word I’m looking for. You’re a journalist, you can figure it out.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you consider yourself the favorite in this fight?
Forrest Griffin: No, hopefully not. I would like to be under the radar and an underdog. I’d like to be the first guy to walk out in a title fight as the underdog.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you feel like that’s something you need, that chip on your shoulder?
Forrest Griffin: Nah, I just don’t like to overstate things. I just kind of like to stay ... there’s no chip on my shoulder or anything. I’m kind of a grinder. I’m not super explosive or a flashy guy, so it only makes sense that I would be an underdog.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s the best part about being Forrest Griffin?
Forrest Griffin:That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure. I get to work out for my job and punch people and wrassle, that’s a pretty cool job. I’ve had actual jobs and this is the coolest by far.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What other jobs have you done?
Forrest Griffin: I’ve framed houses, worked on an asphalt crew, I was a cop, a lifeguard. I worked in a dining hall in college and I worked at UPS for a full three weeks -- it was the worst job I ever had.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Why was it the worst?
Forrest Griffin: It was from like 3 in the morning until like 8 and it was routing. A lot of memorizing numbers and figuring out what’s going on when you’re half asleep, and if you didn’t pull your packages, the guys behind you get jammed up and it’s a mess. The other good thing about my job is I continue to have enough money to buy gasoline, which is important.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s the coolest experience you’ve been able to have because of your celebrity status?
Forrest Griffin: I’ve done a lot of bit-part acting. I do a lot of endorsement stuff they don’t ask average people to do. I’m surprised they ask me because I’m a pretty average-looking dude.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Did you enjoy the acting?
Forrest Griffin: Nah it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. But the acting is up there, I don’t know. Every now and again you meet some people and they are cool and genuine. You just happen to be hanging out at the same place or waiting for a flight, you know it gets kind of nice. Actually, I was in the Dallas airport, I think I was, and I met some cops there and kind of hung out with them, and they actually ride the Segways, and they let me ride their Segways around. I had a couple hours to kill, so that was pretty cool.
MMA Stomping Grounds: On the flip side, what’s the toughest part about being Forrest Griffin?
Forrest Griffin: I don’t know. The expectations. People are always gunning for you in practice and in life and a lot of people want to talk to you at inappropriate times, like when you’re trying to train or work. I don’t mind talking to people, I like talking to people after practice but when you walk into the gym to work out, there will be people there that just want something signed or a picture and you’re not in that mindset, you know? You’re ready to fight people and your head is not on talking.
MMA Stomping Grounds: When did you first notice your fame?
Forrest Griffin: Right after the TV (The Ultimate Fighter) came on. I was a lot younger and it was such a new and exciting thing. I thought it was great and I didn’t really know what was going on. It was almost the best of times in that you didn’t even really think about it. There’s no pressure, there’s just fun and people recognize you and it’s such a new thing. Now, there’s a pressure to maintain. You’ve done a little something but you’re only as good as your last fight or your next fight and that’s just the way the world works. They forget you easy, you have to keep working to get better and there’s more talent and guys get better as the sport grows. A wider diversity of people get into it and th talent pool is increased. The sport is really evolving quickly and you have to stay ahead of it or be left behind.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Have you ever had any weird interactions with fans?
Forrest Griffin: I’ve had quite a few, and I think that’s because I’m generally a friendly guy. I was actually just in Mexico and I hadn’t really met up with the people I was supposed to and my phone wasn’t working and I met these people at customs. I ended up seeing them later and they remembered me and I saw them on the strip area and ended up hanging out with them that night and it was pretty cool. They were like, “come hang out with us,” and I hadn’t found my people yet, so I was like “sure.”
MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you like to do away from MMA?
Forrest Griffin: I’m a boring dude, I’m really sad. I watch a lot of TV, a lot of movies. I read a little bit, not as much as I should ... and that’s about it, man. I like a lot of forms of entertainment that doesn’t involve doing anything for now. I try to abuse my body 100 percent during training so there’s not a lot left over for water skiing or anything like that. I don’t like to take risks. The most dangerous thing I do, besides driving because I’m a terrible driver, is play pick-up basketball. I play once a week maybe, I don’t play enough to not suck.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Were you involved in martial arts when you were younger?
Forrest Griffin: No, I never saw martial arts until I got to college. I played football and basketball growing up. There wasn’t even any wrestling where I grew up and I didn’t know anything about it. I thought Karate Kid was stupid and I didn’t care for Bruce Lee movies or anything. It wasn’t until the first actual time I was fighting people that I thought, “Oh, this is cool.”
MMA Stomping Grounds: When did you first realize you could do it for a living?
Forrest Griffin: I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to do it for a living. It just wasn’t the same sport back in 2001 when I was getting started, but I knew it was something I wanted to do. I figured it would be like a part-time job, something fun and extra on the side. I knew that the second time I ever rolled and boxed, I was like “Oh man, this is cool, I oughta do this.”
MMA Stomping Grounds: If you weren’t a fighter, what would you be doing?
Forrest Griffin: I’d probably be trying to pick up a Masters in administration and be in law enforcement in some aspect.
MMA Stomping Grounds: After Evans, is there anyone else you want to fight?
Forrest Griffin: The thing about 205 is there’s a ton of good guys. I’m not trying to be overly nice or friendly. There really are a lot of good fighters at 205. I would just prefer to fight the guys with the biggest names. I don’t think the difference in talent of guys at the top is too different. There’s a ton of good guys in that class.
MMA Stomping Grounds: After going through The Ultimate Fighter as a competitor and as a coach, what is one thing you learned about reality TV that most people might not know?
Forrest Griffin: One thing about reality TV, for me, I didn’t realize how much of a job it was. That I would just have to be at the same place for so many hours a day. It was one of those funny things where ... I was just watching the news and seeing how bad we’re [expletive deleted] economically. They just keep saying the same thing, I guess we’re screwed. I’m pretty sure my money is still in the bank. What were we talking about?
MMA Stomping Grounds: The reality show.
Forrest Griffin: Yeah, just how much footage there is to provide you with an hour show. There’s so much stuff I thought was worthy of being on and they can only put so much in and they have to make it cohesive. They can’t make it a bunch of random, funny stuff. Just how much footage they shoot for each show is stupid.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Well, speaking about the economy, has it affected you much yet?
Forrest Griffin: Well, I bought a house a year ago and it’s worth $160,000 less now and I’ve lost a little money.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you think it will affect the sport?
Forrest Griffin: It seems like it would have to. It seems like, to some extent, people don’t have the disposable money they had a couple years ago and everyone is starting to hide their wallets a little bit. But I tell ya, man, I go out to eat and you still gotta wait. People are still eating, the highways are still jammed with cars, people are still at the gym. It’s almost like a panic, but its business as usual for people. I live in Vegas and when people don’t come and people tip less, I mean the velocity of money in this town is very fast, and when it slows down the whole system breaks a little bit. I’m doing my part, I’m spending as much as ever. George Bush told me to and I’m doing it, damn it.
MMA Stomping Grounds: That’s because you’re a great American. Wrapping things up, how do you plan on stopping Rashad Evans?
Forrest Griffin: I’m not sure yet ... I was thinking about giving him some sedatives. If they make some sort of sedative I could put in his water or in his pre-fight meal to slow him down, that would definitely help. I’m open to your suggestions, if your readers have any ideas, they can tell you and then you can tell me. I’m definitely open to that.